After my fourth visit to the USA, I’ve come back to Pakistan on America’s election day, with mixed feelings. Somehow life in today’s world is rather mixed and transitional.
I visited earlier in winter of 2007/2008. Then again next winter again; In 2009 I went to Washington DC to see preparations to receive Obama then – the first black president.
Distinctly, I remember the bleak times in which Obama became the president. It was one of the deepest depressions in the history of modern USA. After every few weeks people were getting downsized. Announcements were heard like ‘tomorrow names of 3000 or 4000 employees shall be announced – in such and such company to be fired. There was an air of uncertainty everywhere. People (including whites) who had worked for over fifteen years in one company were getting booted out too. The value of property everywhere had reached its all-time low. Persons paying mortgages were paying higher amounts while their properties were becoming lower in value.
During those years, I was pained to hear of soup kitchens in Seattle getting closed, due to lack of funds. The worst was when I heard of a mental institution also shutting down due to lack of funds. When I went shopping, I remember there would be hardly anyone in the shops. Except on black Friday, when I heard of two persons getting killed in a stampede of shoppers.
That was the scenario in which Obama came. His ‘Audacity of Hope’ and policies brought America out of that huge slump which has been forgotten by them. President Obama stayed with dignity and grace, and today he is ready to leave with grace too.
While being in Seattle for last two months, I saw a time in USA which is far more amazing than the one I saw last time in 2011.
Human nature is forgetful and tends to love ‘change’. As I watched television in an unconcerned way, I saw ‘The View’ where a vocal Whoopie Goldberg spoke blatantly against Trump. He became the butt of everyone’s jokes. The three ‘debates’ between Trump and Hillary were another forum of debate for all. Anyone siding with Trump was looked on with contempt. Everyone I met was either voting for Hillary or one of the independents. Personally, I believe, independents should be banned, as they only serve to divide the votes further. It confuses the dynamics of mathematics to tilt it in the wrong direction. The voters can proudly sport ‘I have voted’ while further confusing the math. Invariably the crucial and deciding numbers go to candidates who aren’t anywhere in the scene.
For the first time I saw USA experience what we in Pakistan experience in every elections. Here, all the candidates are not the first choice of any of the voters. Here it is always a secondary choice. So much so, that people come to the conclusion that it won’t make any difference either way, as both are not all that wonderful. Both parties try to air the dirty linen of its opposition.
Our first politician was Muhammad Ali Jinnah whom we fondly call Quaid-e-Azam. He was the epitome of integrity and honesty. With him died all the crystal clarity of politics in Pakistan in 1948.
In Pakistan we also say this failure of the democratic system is due to lack of education. If Pakistanis were more educated, things would be different. Democracy can only succeed with educated voters.
What will be said in USA now? Why is the outcome not being accepted?
Because the process of Democracy is not a foolproof one, that’s why. Firstly, at best only 56.8% of people come out to vote. Out of them, the votes are divided between four candidates. So, through this process Trump wins with just 25% of the votes. All this is perfectly legitimate in the current scenario. So, for next four years 100% of people are to be represented by the 25% who claim to be the ‘majority’. As far as numbers go, many times the number of votes in the loser’s favor are more than that of the ‘winner’. This is the case for Hillary as well.
So, how can 25% of a country make all the decisions for key institutions and ‘actions’ of the country for next four years ( – in Pakistan its five years) ?
So, definitely, the democratic process needs to be tuned up. Otherwise, this will continue. Now, there is online voting in the US, there are voting by post also. In Pakistan, we have to let the overseas Pakistanis vote online. As Imran Khan said there are flaws in the democratic systems in Pakistan. Now, we see there are flaws in the US democratic system as well. These must be rectified so that Democracy is ‘of the people, for the people and by the people’. (Correct me if I have the sequence wrong!)
All that being said and done. Let’s come to see what happens next.
Let us all accept that no power on earth can stop any individual from doing what they believe is the right thing to do. No one can stop you from being good to your neighbor. No one can stop you from feeding the poor. So, go ahead. Be your best self. As bad as the ‘systems’ get, or circumstances, just get your act together. Believe me, no one will stop you. Obey the laws, obey the systems which are tried out and good for the public. Pay your taxes and bills on time. If one wants to be patriotic, one can be that under any ‘system’.
Just remember to do a good self-analysis, see where your own performance went wrong. While I’m also upset with the outcome, (who wouldn’t be after seeing the way Trump spoke to women, special persons and others).
All those who are planning to leave the USA, please do not even think of it. Stay put. Be the best American you can be. In fact escalate all your usual efforts at being good Americans.
In USA last week I saw the bluest of skies, the most wonderful people, the best road systems and good people. I heard people talking about the age-old values that we all have stood by where ever we live in this world.
In Pakistan today, in spite of the absolute unpopularity of our political system which is hogged by two parties. We still have one of the best armies of the world, we are one of the most charitable countries of the world. We happen to be the most hospitable people. Our cuisine is one of the finest. Our dresses are amazing. The weddings here are like the most awesome ones. Our people are brave, intelligent and hardworking.
So, chin up. Just go on being the best form of yourself. Give Trump a chance to be the best that he can be too.
The best thing I liked about him was when he said he is against American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Exactly! During the last month or so, I read that a serving general in the US army had committed suicide. The incidence of suicides among the veterans is growing at an alarming rate. It is only because they are being made to do things which are against their conscience.
So, stop interfering in other countries affairs. Mind your own problems, you have plenty. But keep that inner and deep goodness that lies within most American institutions. The schools, the art galleries, the restaurants, the scientific inventions, the space trips, the research, and best of all the libraries and seats of learning are the dream of every underdeveloped nation. Be the best seat of learning that you have always been.
Yes, this too shall certainly pass. This is an opportunity to improve the flaws and holes in the ‘democratic system’.
Whether you are an American, Pakistani or belonging to any other country, my message remains the same.
- Be your best self.
- Give your vote wisely.
- Do not leave your country. Pay your taxes, bills and be honest.
- Do whatever good you can do for your fellow human beings, wherever you are.
- Find ways to update the ‘democratic’ process. – just as we keep getting all our other ‘systems’ in computers and mobile phones updated!
Meanwhile, stay blessed my dear reader 🙂