A Letter to America

In recent days I have been brought to mind of the very long running radio series “Letters from America”, by Alister Cooke which ran from 1946 to a month before his death in 2004. A staggering 2869 episodes. Cosy chats about everything from the very first broadcast – sailing from Southampton to New York, accompanying the GIs back to The States, some with their War brides; life in rural America; Broadway; Elections and of course the attack on the Twin Towers. It was a kindly but astute window into life in America. And he always ended with a funny or poignant thought. To a young person growing up, on the other side of the world, he kindled an interest in this massive country and all the people there..

I do wonder now, what he would’ve made of the last few years….

Over the weekend, the 46th president of the USA was elected. It is safe to say it has been an election watched the world over, like no other US election has been. And although there appears to have been a collective sigh of relief, I am left deeply troubled…

America, with the greatest respect you have a problem…  I somehow feel that Mr Biden did not so much win, as Mr Trump lost. But it was not the resounding win it should have been. I am deeply saddened that over 48% of everyone that voted, thought another 4 years of Mr Trump was a feasible option.

When Mr Trump was voted in 4 years ago, it seemed a case of him not winning as much as Hillary Clinton being rejected. And when people were horrified that he had won, I was confident that there were enough checks and balances to keep the country running and keep the worst of his eccentricities at bay. I was wrong. What has followed has been a horror show. I know some of you won’t agree. Some (48%) seem to think he is an ok guy. And there in lies one of your problems.

He came in with the slogan “Make America Great Again”, and the vision of that, has been terrifying to watch. He legitimizes abuse of women; racism; bigotry; lawlessness; cruelty and police brutality. A vote for him is an absolute insult to every woman who has been raped; every person of colour who has been beaten or discriminated against; every person who has been illegally arrested and detained; to any one whose religion has made them an enemy of the state; to any minority that doesn’t fit his very small narrative. You simply cannot separate The Man from The Office. You cannot say “Yes, he said those things, but they don’t matter, because he was going to do this for the country”.. Bullshit! He held the highest office in your land, and he embodied the very worst of human nature while he was there.

I have been told that it is none of my business who the President of the USA is. Incorrect. When the Leader of the biggest country in the “Free World” preaches sexism; racism; religious intolerance and lies and cheats, it becomes the problem of all of us. He enables the very worst of those traits in some of my fellow New Zealanders. “If its ok for the President to openly display those traits, its ok for me.” I have had to make hard decisions about people I associate with, because some of the stuff they now feel free to say out loud, is just not ok. And some of their actions have been harmful to me and mine.  And when a news anchor from a major US news service broadcasts blatant lies about my country, then it becomes my problem.

When Mr Trump became a science denier he enabled similar behaviour here. And when the global pandemic hit; he literally signed the death certificates of 10,000s of people around the world because he single handedly encouraged people to ignore the basic science of how viruses operate. When wearing a face mask became a political issue – more people caught C19, more needless and pointless deaths. Worrying more about the economy than people? Here’s the thing – dead people can’t spend money….

I keep reading about “Christianity; and this is what God wants”, in terms of how he is perceived and what motivates his actions. The Word of God I was taught as a child was of tolerance, acceptance; a life lived for others… Not hatred for anyone who lives life differently for you. There are passages in the bible that cover foods that can be eaten; clothes that can be worn… How can you cherry pick the bits that you are comfortable with and discard the rest; along with Jesus’s message of Love?

And even in defeat Mr Trump spreads misinformation; lying about vote tampering; misrepresenting how Your voting system works until FINALLY the media turned him off, and social media FINALLY blocked some of his mistruths. But the damage has been done, his party faithful are now convinced that he has, somehow been usurped of power. Somehow his presidency has been stolen.. all untrue, all make believe, all egotism gone bad. And I fear for how this righteous anger will play out in the next few weeks.

How did you get there America? How did this man get into this position, and why are so many of you so comfortable with it?

Why are you so afraid of Socialism? (which, by the way is not communism – as the grand daughter of a Polish refugee who suffered at the hands of Communists, maybe we could ask her what the difference is). What is so terrifying about a country using its resources to look after those who are unable to look after themselves? What is so hard about providing a decent safety net for when shit hits the fan?

              Capitalism – I pay my taxes, so if shit happens; I will be looked after

              Socialism – I pay my taxes, so if shit happens, other will be looked after

              Same taxes, different philosophy…

In Wolf packs, it has been observed that they move at the speed of the oldest and weakest. And when you are too old to hunt, food is brought to you.  Socialism in action.

Because it was fear of Socialism that drove you to not vote towards the Left. Somehow NOT looking after your neighbour is deeply entrenched in your culture.

Your other problem is your electoral system. I often think your greatest strength and greatest weakness lies in your size. Your sheer mass of numbers means you don’t need to look outside to see how other countries work. But it also means that you are tied to old, conservative ways and stuck in 2 tribes; from birth; with seemingly no critical thinking as to how to diversify. In a country of over 330 Million people, of diverse cultures, ethnicities, walks of life; how is it that only old rich men, get to run for president? How can they possibly represent you if they have nothing in common with you?

Don’t get me wrong. I love your country, and I have lovely memories from my visits there and the kind and generous people I met along my travels. I understand, from your history, how you got to be where you are today; but maybe look out, see how other people are representing themselves in these changing times…   I have good friends who live there. I don’t hate America. But I am deeply saddened by what I have seen in the last 4 years..

“Make America Great Again”? A truly great nation doesn’t leave anyone behind….. .

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