Just When We Thought It Was All Don and Dusted.
( This article was written on 5th November 2020 but I am happy to report that it looks as though it the Don has been dusted )
It’s early morning in Indonesia. A shaft of brilliant sunlight spears through the foliage and spreads a halo of golden light across my newly created garden. A stooped woman of indeterminable age comes at this time each day to collect the Frangipani petals that have fallen from the trees overnight. Her stoic determination is always an inspiration to me as she diligently stuffs her oversized bag with the white and pink petals that will be dried and sold to the perfume manufacturers at a mere 70c a kilo.
I have sat up half the night watching the see-sawing results from an election taking place many, many thousands of miles away knowing that, whatever the outcome, the decisions made by the American voters will affect us here on this side of the planet. Although the ancient blossom collector will, in some way be unaffected by this closely fought race as I suspect she has no idea who Donald Trump is or indeed where America actually is.
This election, which has seen more people than ever before cast a ballot in a country hopelessly divided but clinging to the democratic principals on which America was founded. However, this fiasco has dragged on long enough, and perhaps a change of government in America will apply a soothing balm to vicious wounds inflicted by both sides over the last four years.
As the nation and the rest of the world holds its collective breath while counting continues others are in their counting houses tallying up the billions and billions of dollars spent by either side desperate to either attain or hold onto the reins of power. Bankers, media companies, tech giants, polling companies, advisors and lawyers are drowning in obscene amounts of cash.
And when it is all over and the Trump/Pence and Biden/Harris bunting, flags and yard signs lie trampled underfoot will it all have been worth it? Will, the incumbent or the challenger wish his opponent well and disappear over the horizon to live out his years in comfortable retirement and trust the winner will do the ‘right thing’ and lead the country back from the abyss?
America and the world have been in this situation before most notably in the drawn-out election of 2000 when, after three long, arduous weeks the Supreme Court decided that the ‘hanging chad’ on some of the voting machines in Florida was enough to declare George Bush the winner over a gracious Al Gore. One would have thought that with technology and the current checks and balances, that this scenario would never transpire again.
How wrong we can be !!
The thing about winning and losing is, as Rudyard Kipling one said, “is to treat those two imposters just the same.” Winners need to be gracious when triumph comes their way for gloating over a defeated rival is bad form. Losers too have to accept their defeat with grace and acknowledge that a better opponent defeated them.
For the last eighteen years, I have come to understand losing watching my beloved rugby team succumb to a better side, often in heartbreaking, last-minute scenarios. But, we always we tell ourselves, “there is always next year.”
Unfortunately, I fear the sitting president will not be so gracious in defeat as the one thing he fears above all else is losing. Already he and his sycophants are crying foul even though there are still swathes of ballots to be counted. A torrent of tweets, written in capital letters to his eighty- four million followers flow endlessly into the ether that the election is being ‘stolen’ when in fact every measure has been taken to ensure that this was a free and fair election.
I will be glad to see him and his rapacious family leave the White House for, all in all, it appears to have been a failed experiment. His Napoleonic, bombastic reign has caused much pain and suffering for the poor and disenfranchised while the rich cheered him on reveling in the massive gains on the stock market. However, there is only so much wool that can be pulled over the eyes of the electorate. The millions who voted for him in 2016 are finally seeing through the opaque smoke and mirrors that he so cleverly created during his term and taking a chance on electing the challenger.
In a few weeks perhaps I can awaken each morning without having to rush to my computer to see what mischief the Commander in Chief has performed while I was sleeping. Maybe the environment will be able to take a deep breath knowing that the next occupant of the Oval Office will try to protect rather than exploit pristine swathes of wilderness from those intent on extracting that which is buried beneath. Perhaps America will resort to peaceful dialogue with its allies and adversaries without treating those summits as a forum to extract a favourable ‘deal’ as if it were a dubious real estate transaction. Maybe the deep divisions within the American community will heal.
One can only hope.
Posts such as this one might be annoying to my many American readers as, who am I to criticize how America goes about their business and how dare I cast dispersions on their sitting president? I am not an American citizen, but just someone who has always looked west to that great country with its breathtaking beauty its innovative people and, even with all of its faults a bastion of democracy.
Bali November 5th 2020
Paul v Walters is the best selling author of several novels and anthologies of short stories. When he is not cocooned in sloth and procrastination in his house in Bali, he occasionally rises to scribble for several international travel and vox pop journals.
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