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February 19, 2019

G-Spot: Can we trust the people to always vote wisely?

Ordinarily, I don’t like to involve myself, or my readers for that matter, too deeply in the domestic politics of other countries. But there are cases when what may seem like little local politics affects the whole world.

A case in point is the United States. The world of non-US citizens is divided into US-phobes and Americanophiles. As a result, right now, many people outside the US are concerned about the upcoming US elections. When our poor American friends show too much interest in the political affairs of other countries, they are treated with suspicion — and so they should be. After all, they have a history of meddling in the internal affairs of others for, shall we just say, less than altruistic reasons.

Americans themselves are not immune to this sort of irritation when foreigners start pontificating about the US and it’s internal matters. I found this to my cost way back on the eve of the 1984 presidential election.

I was riding in a bus in England, travelling from London to the North Yorkshire city of Darlington. I happened to sit next to a young British woman who had been volunteering as a nurse abroad. 

Being young and idealistic, the British woman and myself were all for Reagan’s opponent, Walter Mondale, who had served as VP under Jimmy Carter and whose liberal campaign supported a nuclear freeze. 

As we spoke and wondered loudly how Americans could even dream of voting for Reagan, a couple of elderly fellow passengers seated in the row in front of us (they turned out to be US citizens and possibly Republicans or at least Reagan Democrats) attacked us viciously for having the temerity to even speak against Reagan and his policies. 

Reagan was going to be President, whether we liked or not, they said. And indeed, he won with a landslide, carrying 49 of the 50 states in the manner of Richard Nixon at the 1972 poll.

What my nurse friend and I had failed to grasp was the perception among ordinary Americans that the Reagan years had overseen a revival of national confidence and prestige after nearly two decades of hand-wringing and shame with the disastrous Vietnam war and the Nixon Watergate scandal.

Today, it looks as though the American people have fallen hook line and sinker for the atrocious Donald Trump. While we all know democracy is the choice of the people, I refuse to believe that the people can switch from the progressive Obama to this Trump fellow.

How it will all end in November remains to be seen, of course, but I would beg my American friends to think what their choice will mean for the rest of the world.

But if ‘the Donald’ emerges as the undisputed choice of the people, perhaps the people are not so smart after all. 

Maybe it’s time to reconsider the words of Winston Churchill: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all others that have been tried, from time to time.”

Might it be time to stop trusting “the people” and their choices and look for a new way?

Poll of the day