Yesterday was July 4th and it’s a sign of America’s political profile – and soft power reach – that almost everyone on Planet Earth knows it’s US “Independence Day”. Yet it’s hard to remember America was once a colony of Britain – just like us!! The fundamental difference, of course, is they were a “settler colony” – colonised by its own citizens and other Europeans – and never treated by the Crown like our “plantation colonies”. The latter were just for exploiting their resources and transferring them to the “Mother Country”! The “mother” grew fat as the “children/natives” starved and died like flies.
The 13 British colonies on the American East Coast could then be indignant about the impositions – like taxes – of the 18th century British King, while we lustily sang “God Save the King” far into the 20th century. And so it was, that the American settlers rose up and threw out their British rulers in their War of Independence of 1776. (It actually wasn’t ended till 1783!). But when the settler colony of Haiti – which was by far ”richer” in terms of its economic output – threw out its French rulers just a decade later, the newly “democratic” Americans sided with France to impose “reparations” from Haiti to France!! After all, it was worried that its own slaves might get ideas!!
So when the US, in the next century and a half, held itself out as a beacon of democracy for the remaining colonial world to follow – there was quite a gap between the rhetoric and the reality. Even for itself, the rhetoric was self-serving. Its own slavery wasn’t ended till 1865 – after a brutal Civil War between the northern and southern states. But be that as it may, the democratic innovations of the American “Founding Fathers” did inspire freedom lovers across the world.
But what the latter didn’t pay enough attention to was the fact that those same “democratic innovations” coexisted with even institutions like slavery – and later “Jim Crowism”!! The lesson, of course, is those who aspire to democratic governance mustn’t just look at our formal institutions – but examine their impact on ALL the citizens, not just the ones with real power! In other words, we must PROBLEMATIZE democracy and freedom!
If we do, we’d appreciate the turmoil that’s presently roiling the US over “democracy”. At long last some of the content of the rhetoric of “American Democracy” is being questioned by what one analyst called the “remainders” of the society. That is, those who are “remainders” when the democratic pie is divvied up! These are interesting times and not just for America.
Just as with their Revolution, we can learn from their implosion.
…the PNC’s opportunism
And one of those American political learning moments is we shouldn’t ever allow political players to play fast and loose with the rules of the democratic game. In other words, “political institutions”. While the Americans are still reeling from the effrontery of Trump in running roughshod over so many aspects of American political institutionalism, we in Guyana had already gone through much worse under Burnham, decades ago. So we weren’t surprised by the shenanigans of Granger, the Sanctimonious Gangster, that were all directed at destroying our fledgling democracy.
Most fundamental is the rule of “one man, one vote” ensuring Governments derive their legitimacy from “we, the people”. When Burnham denied this principle by rigging elections for 28 years, he was in effect taking us back to the days of slavery and Jim Crowism in America when they boasted about “democracy”, but denied the franchise to African Americans. And that’s what Granger attempted to do after the March 2 elections.
Medals must be struck in honour of those who defied him!!
Your Eyewitness is confused. The sworn alibi provided for one of the Haresh Singh murder accused was that he was looking at Isaiah’s father’s Facebook feed of the autopsy. This was shown not to be true.
And this isn’t perverting the course of justice?