A while back I wrote about my memories of Reagan and Thatcher – The blunting of the blood. (You don’t have to read it as this piece is based on that one.) How some of us now have such fond memories of those leaders of the 80’s. Yes, our memories take on such lovely scenery when we think of the days of yesterday. The good old days. Those photos of their smiling faces. When we still had crap music and even crappier clothes. I am so not going to talk about the hairstyles… We can laugh at how silly we were. But we can never allow ourselves to look back at those days and think that they were okay. They weren’t.

But all this reflection and softening of views make me turn to the current leader of the free world. G.W. Bush. Sorry, President G.W. Bush.

Let me be clear about this piece. Very clear. I don’t want any misunderstanding. I don’t want to be accused of something that isn’t there. No misreading please. This is not a reflection on America or the American people. I love America and Americans – and everything this country and the people stand for. I will back them till death do us part. This is one hell of a country and more important than most Americans will know. I am proud of the fact that my daughters have to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. But I won’t go into that today. Let’s just leave it at that. This is about President G.W. Bush and what he stands for and what he has done. I respect the office of the President of the United States and what it stands for – but I don’t respect President Bush and what he stands for. This is about never forgetting and never forgiving. This is about the memories we will have when we look back at the time President G.W. Bush ruled the free world.

__________________________

neverforget_500

I am shocked, or rather surprised, by a few people close to me who mentioned that he looks like such a good dad. He looks like a good guy. Maybe a bit stupid, but a good guy you know.

No I don’t.

I was shocked by my first immediate reaction when the person said that they hated what he has done but that he seems like such a good dad and that it looks like he really loves his wife. My reaction?

“Well, Hitler loved Eva Braun.”

I did regret saying it but it was an immediate reaction. Like the one second rule in self defense. I didn’t think about it – it just popped out.

I regret saying it because I did not mean in any way that Bush is like Hitler. Not in any way. What I meant was that loving someone does not mean I have to have any compassion for you. Or that I should in any way view your actions as okay. It’s not.

You loved someone. So what? There are a shit load of people out there you didn’t love.

You had good intentions? Well… We know about that road and good intentions…

You are better than Hitler. So what? It’s not really a yardstick to measure anyone now is it? I can only judge you on your own actions. And for that reason there will be no forgetting. No forgiving. No favorable views. No good memories. No blunting of the blood.

I can’t look at him and think that somehow there is a good man hidden inside. I can’t read minds. I can’t see his soul. I can only judge by the actions I see. And the bodies in the street.  

I can’t wipe away the bad that happened yesterday. The pain doesn’t actually feel less important. Time does not heal the dead left behind. I can’t blunt the memories of those who suffered. 

Can we look at Bush and think that he was a good guy who loved his country and not remember the warmongering? I don’t doubt or question his love for his country. A great country. It is worth loving. And it is worth defending. But the love for his country does not make him a good guy. It doesn’t change the lies of WMD’s. It doesn’t change the lies of victory never achieved in his time. The empty promises of war and vengeance.

Can we look at Bush and think that love ruled his life before anything else? Even though he never spoke out against terrorists of human rights in Saudi Arabia. He didn’t fund them. But he never spoke out against them. You are judged by the company you keep. And they weren’t nice people. And he wasn’t a nice guy. Sitting on a horse for the cameras or chopping wood for the reporters are called acting. Not real life. How many people died because of his policies? How much blood must he have on his hands before you look at the man and say he was fundamentally flawed? And remind yourself never to forget that this is the man who ruled and not the guy we want to remember as the one who loved.

Can we remember Bush as the President who amused us with his silly words and stupid remarks? Can we laugh at how much fodder he gave the late night shows and comedians? No we can’t. We can’t forget how he slowly but surely strangled the last line in Pledge of Allegiance. “…liberty and justice for all.” How the freedoms and rights and liberties and justice were slowly eroded under his watch. The Patriot Act was sold as the car with the latest safety measures and gadgets. And all we got was a second-hand salesman selling us a car that guzzled gas and made us more addicted to foreign oil. Guantanamo Bay was the victim of the hit-and-run accident that involved that car.

And I won’t forgive or forget his favorite side-kick either. Tony Blair… How can we forget his wishy-washy attitude about the war that was against the popular wishes of his own people. Now hiding behind his religious beliefs as if God send him to go into a senseless war. His willingness to follow Bush to the graves of the innocent. Like Thatcher and Reagan. So was Blair and Bush. Different sides of the same coin. He was bad. They are bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.

I am sorry. I can’t look at Bush and his stupid smile and feel any warmth. I can’t see his love for those close to him. All I see is the people dying in the streets and the erosion of rights. And him not speaking out against the terrorists of human rights. People dying senselessly. Blood on his hands. No forgiveness. No love. Nothing.

I am sorry. I can’t. I can’t… I can’t forgive if the person doesn’t ask for forgiveness. I can’t look at him and see a “good guy”. I can’t. I see him and I see the look of Reagan and Thatcher in the 80’s. He has given leadership a bad name. Because he did bad things. Blood on his hands. No love. No forgiveness. No good memories. Nothing.

I see his fake smile and teary eyes when he realizes his time in charge is over. And then I see his deeds. The blood on the streets. Rights ripped to pieces. Honor gone to shit. Ideals flushed down the toilet. I see him selling me shit but calling it sweets. You didn’t fool me then. And my memories won’t fool me now.

I won’t let time fade my memories. I won’t. No blunting of the blood. You ask for forgiveness and I will forgive. But not an inch until then. I won’t do it. I will honor the dead of yesterday. And I will honor the dead of today. I will honor them by not forgetting them. And not forgiving you.

You should have known better. You should have known better. You ruled the free world. It came with a responsibility. An oath to walk the straight and narrow. A promise to be the shining light in our dark world. And you snuffed it out like it was a single candle in a storm. Without a blink. Without regret. Without a moment given to the dead lying in your path. Without a moment of asking forgiveness. Because you didn’t care. You only cared about yourself. You were selfish and self absorbed.

Wash your hands and turn your back. That’s what you will do. Like they did then and you will do now. I don’t feel sorry for you. I don’t think you were a nice guy. I have nothing for you. You are empty. Meaningless to humanity. You have meaning only in the blood you left behind in the streets. The rights lying in the gutters of life. And the blood etched in our memories.

I don’t give a damn about what the terrorist and the fucked up coward in the cave did. I don’t give a damn about what Saddam did. I don’t give a damn about what the Taliban did. They deserve death beyond comprehension. But I don’t care about their deeds. I expected them to be evil. It was in their bones. In their blood. They were in my face. They were bad. And we knew it. We know it. We heard their hatred and saw their murdering ways. Like Hitler they were.

But you. You were supposed to be the promise keeper. The good one. The fair one. The just one. The one who would fight for us. Be on our side. On the side of the innocent. The bystanders. And you spat on us and those who suffered. And gave us a fake cowboy smile and a gun to our heads.

I won’t let my memories be blunted by the troubles of today. Today is today. Yesterday was yesterday. You were bad yesterday. And you remain bad today. I won’t let them say “he was really a good guy who loved his family”. I won’t let them think of you as being out of depth and maybe a little stupid. I won’t let you get away with it. I won’t. You weren’t stupid. Your mistakes were made by you. Knowingly. I won’t forget. Not while the blood is still on your hands. Not while the rights and freedoms and liberties and justice are lying shattered at your feet. Not while I still have my memories of the dead. Not while you forgot to ask for forgiveness.

No blunting. You let us down. You have blood on your hands. You. Are. No. Great. Leader.

No blunting.

Never forget. Never forgive. Don’t let it fade.

No blunting. Of the blood.

bush-faces

Advertisements

 

I come from a country where people were jailed because all they wanted was to be treated as equals.

I come from a country where people were killed because they didn’t agree with policies of hatred.

I come from a country where people were thrown in jail never to be charged – because the government could.

I come from a country where we gave up our liberties because of a false belief that it made us safer.

I come from a country where our true leaders were said to be terrorists because they dared to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves.

I come from a country where the government controlled the media through lies and deception.

I come from a country where the media didn’t tell us the truth because they feared the government more than what they loved the truth.

I come from a country were our leaders told us and taught us more about hate than about hope.

I come from a country where the church walked hand in hand with those who were the perpetrators of oppression.

I come from a country that tortured those who didn’t agree with us all in the name of national security and fear.

I come from a country where we were told that anyone with a black skin or skin with a different shade than pink were somehow different from us and not one of us.

I come from a country where people who disagreed with the government in the mildest of ways were told that they were traitors.

I come from a country where we shouted “kill him” when we saw someone we thought didn’t look or think like us – even when they did.

I come from a country where fear controlled our every thought even though we never knew it.

I come from a country where history was rewritten to fit the story the government ideology wanted us to believe in.

I come from a country where we were our schools taught not science and facts but what the government and church wanted them to teach us.

I come from a country where information were kept from us because being kept in the dark kept our mouths shut.

I come from a country where we looked for blame elsewhere and not at the place where it was – in our homes and in our hearts.

I come from a country where we only allowed “freedom” to those who bowed to the power of government.

I come from a country where people with different sexual preferences were kept from being who they are – through laws and lies.

I come from a country where diversity were seen as threatening and not embraced as Gods way of making us all unique.

I come from a country where freedom was only given to those who looked and spoke and believed the same and not to those who were truly oppressed and discriminated against – women, gay and black South Africans.

I come from a country where we had elections but no one who mattered could vote or be voted for.

I come from a country where we believed that the opinions of those outside our borders did not matter.

I come from a country where we believed that no one but us were right and damn anyone who didn’t agree.

I come from a country where we believed we were in a democracy but we were just lying to ourselves.

I come from a country where the hatred we had for our fellow South Africans ruled our lives.

I come from a country where we created more enemies just so we could cling on to power we never really had.

I come from a country where we were divided and never united even though we called ourselves South Africans.

I come from a country where we didn’t have what you have.

Remember… Your are American. And you are because they are. How can you want other people to love and respect America if you can’t even love and respect yourself. Your own countrymen? You make America with your fellow Americans. You define it through your actions and through your words and through your thoughts. Be proud. Walk tall. Be true. Live in hope. Believe in each other. Create your dream. Make it real. Be Americans. And make America yours. Because who you are and what you do and what you say and what you think will define the America of tomorrow.

Don’t waste it. Make it count. Don’t be scared. Always seek the truth. Don’t believe the lies. But most of all. Most of all. Never, never ever hate your fellow Americans.

________________________________________

Everything that has been said over the last few days, weeks and months… This election. It made me think. Why? Why the hell do I even care? I can’t vote. I am not American. So why do I care apart from some warped idea that I live here and have some interest. Or that people I care for in this world will be affected by this election. I still shouldn’t get so worked up. It’s was only when I started looking back at my own country and the past that I remembered why… Hope. America represents hope. To me and to most people across this world. America is the hope we want to believe in. Hope of a better future. We just can’t see it right now.

It’s time that I remind myself what I think of Zuma. The most likely person to become President of South Africa next year. He won his battle with Mbeki. He got Mbeki to resign as President. Okay. Technically it was the ANC who got a little help from their friends the Three Stooges – COSATU, ANC YL and the SACP. But Zuma is Mr Idiot. And that’s putting it mildly… Will someone close the door when he is done? Or at least wipe the rim? I wrote this a few months back when the battle started. It made it into the Mail & Guardian in South Africa and for some reason not everyone was pleased. To those who say I only bash Republicans. Read on. You’ll see I come down hard on any political leader who does’t hold his or her side of the bargain. Let’s bitch…

How did we get to this, Arch?

How did we get to this, Arch?

Don’t bitch about Bush – you got Zuma

I am extremely proud of being African and South African. What we have managed to do over the last 15 odd years have been unbelievable. From the most despicable Apartheid regime to a stable democracy and sound economic growth. From the bottom of the world pecking order, to the leading global voice on justice. A leading light in a world at war. We have shown the world how everyone can live in peace and harmony – and celebrate differences instead of letting it divide us. The region I come from has shown the world how Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Jew can all live together, celebrate our differences and enrich our lives in this melting pot we call home – instead of trying to wipe each other out.

Yes, like all other countries we have challenges. Crime, poverty and HIV/Aids being the biggest. At the heart is poverty – or at least the lack of shared wealth. Too much is still in the hands of a small group of umlungu’s. We have the systems in place to start addressing this – affirmative action will help, but we have lots more to do to address wealth distribution. But as a start affirmative action policies have been integrated into our procurement system in innovative ways, as well as in the workplace. At the same time the government has brought electricity, running water and housing to millions of people. And so much more that still needs to be done. We are very much a work in progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. Change doesn’t happen overnight.

We have won the Rugby World Cup – twice! Unfortunately, we continue to suck big time in soccer, but will show the world how to party in 2010.

We have shown how democracy can be a powerful way to bring real benefits to all people in South Africa. Since 1994 we have experienced mostly all the good and great things of having a democracy.

And then there was Zuma.

Zuma has just been elected as the leader of the ANC – the political party I have always supported and voted for in South Africa. He is now in a perfect position to become the next President of South Africa. The ‘Comrades’ at the ANC Congress last month celebrated his win as proof that democracy works and that anyone can be elected as a leader in a free and fair election.

But lets be clear about something. Zuma is an idiot. I have met him a few times and he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He has the charisma of a damp dishcloth. And the morals of a rat. He didn’t deny sleeping with the young girl that was not only HIV positive, but also a family friend. Whether there was consent or not is irrelevant. You would expect more from someone who is supposed to be a leader we look up to – who should be a shining light for us to follow. And the fact that he took a shower afterwards to ‘ensure’ he doesn’t ‘catch’ HIV speaks to his intellect. And I am not even going to go into the corruption charges. How the hell can the ANC Women’s League justify supporting this guy during the election? And when I was a unionist in South Africa we all saw Zuma speak at the COSATU Congress – how could you even think for a minute he would be a leader for the workers or the people?

I know that people don’t like Mbeki, but you don’t drink cyanide just because you don’t like Coke. Pick something else that won’t kill you. Okay, cyanide will kill you quicker than Zuma, but the outcome will be the same – Zuma will drag everything that Madiba and all our great leaders have worked and fought for through the mud. We will be the laughing stock of the world. Mbeki is a statesman respected across the world for not bending to popular demand, but sticking to what is just and right. Well, most of the time – he is fallible (read his HIV/Aids policies). Hey, I don’t even like him that much. But Mbeki is a giant compared to Zuma.

What really gets to me is the fact that these same ‘Comrades’ will be the ones bitching and moaning about Bush and other world leaders , but especially Bush. As they used to say at union meeting – ‘Comrade, you are out of order’. You lost your right to criticize the democratically elected leaders from other countries when you elected Zuma as your leader. Bush might be an idiot with policies we don’t like or agree with, but he was democratically elected (twice) by his people. Okay, he IS an idiot – just like Zuma. So, stop your bitching about Bush or Brown – or even Mugabe – you got Zuma. YOU just moved us from standing on the moral highground to crawling in the mud. YOU voted him in. YOU are responsible. YOU will be the laughing stock of the world. YOU just lost your right to bitch.

I know. Many of you will tell me, as you have, that this election has nothing to do with us foreigners. That it is all about America. The American choice. The American future. And you are (mostly) right. This is your choice. This is about the American future. This is about America.

But it does have something to do with us Johnny Foreigners. We do have a stake in this. Why? Because most level-headed people in this world still look to America for direction. We still look up to America. We look for guidance. We look to America for leadership in this crazy little sphere of ours. A beacon we can follow. A little light in the dark world of wars, hunger, poverty and injustice.

Others might not acknowledge that this is what they want from America. But they know that this is what they need and this is what they want. Think about it. If not you then who? The UK? Come on. It’s just a sh*tty little island and a has-been world power. Overtaxed and oversensitive – and trying to punch above their weight. The days of colonizing the world is over, but we won’t forget. And we won’t allow them to direct us and lead us. Not with their history. And do I need to remind you that even they follow you. Even when their people don’t want the war – they still followed.

France? Too French. No, seriously. Too many Frenchmen. You don’t get anything done over there – and they are in the same boat as the UK. A spent force. Germany? No thank you. We haven’t forgotten yet. Italy? Haha. Running out of options here…

All of them will deny it. But they know. They know we need America to lead. And all of us in smaller little countries know. And people fighting for justice know. We all know we need America. We need that light to shine on us. That light we can use to point to. Show people the hope of a better future. A world where I can look at my countrymen and say, “Look, I know it is tough. But keep on pushing forward. We can be a little America.” A world where I can help the poor and the marginalized and say, “Look, I know it is tough. But don’t give up hope. Don’t give up on your dreams. Keep on pushing forward. You to can have the freedom of an America.” A world where I can hold the hands of the dying and oppressed and say, “Look, I know it is tough. But you have the just and the right on your side. You are not alone in this cold world. You are not dying for nothing. There is a better future for your children. And their children. Keep on pushing forward. You to can have a life to live like an American.”

You might not want to give it. And you might not want to play that role. But that is not for you decide. Sorry. You have no choice. You are the superpower and with that comes influence. And most of all, with that comes impact. Impact on the world and the people who live there. So I might be harder on you than on anyone else. But that is because I love you. Because I know how much I need you. How much you mean to me. I hold you to a higher standard. Because I know my hope lies with you. My hope of a better world. My hope of a just world. I know it isn’t fair that I expect more of you than from others. But that just life. I think you are the greatest and for that reason I hold you to the highest standard. When I buy food at Whole Foods I expect more than from Wal-Mart. When I buy a Cadilac I expect more than from a Chrysler. When I buy business class seats I expect more than from economy class. That’s life. I hold you to higher standards because frankly, you are our only hope in this world. AWithout you I have no future. And my people have no future. And no hope.

We look at you and know that somehow you are on our side. We don’t want a China. We don’t want a Russia. We want a world of freedom. We want a world where we can talk about the World of the Free. So we need the Land of the Free.

We don’t want a Bin Laden. We don’t want Mugabe. We want leaders with vision. And we want leaders who sometimes look at us little people of the world and smile. I know you have your own issues you want sorted. And I don’t want to take that away. I just want a little light to shine on my path. Just a little warmth from standing next to you in this dark cold world. Just a little smile. Every now and again.

Yes. I know. There are people out there who don’t want this. Who wants their own little world to oppress. But most of us in this world just want a life to live. And a life to love. With little interference from those above us. A land we can call our own. A country we can be proud of. A world that has a little bit of space for each and every one of us. A world where we don’t have to look over our shoulder when we run. Most of us just want to be American. Wherever we are.

But right now we are lost. We walk around aimlessly in this world. Stumble from one hope to another. We look to America but we don’t see the light. We look to America and we don’t feel the warmth. And we are rudderless. We are without hope. Without direction. We need you America. We need you more than you will ever know. But we need an America that is strong. That is just. And that is right. If you don’t – then no one will.

We need an America where freedom reigns. Where the government doesn’t tap into phones. Where people can say what they want and when they want. I never liked it, but always understood that people can say what they want in America. I come from South Africa. And we have a history. A history that reeks of racism and hate. And here in America you have the KKK. Never got it. Never got why you tolerate that. And then I understood. That your freedom comes at a price. A price of allowing people to say things that you might not like. But that is the price of freedom. And we need that. We need that to show the world what ultimate freedom looks like. The freedom of tolerance and living with differences celebrated. But do you still have that?

We need an America where the rights of people are protected. Where the people are the people. And the people govern. Through their leaders. A true democracy. A democracy for the people and of the people and by the people. A democracy we can look up to and say. That’s how the people rule. That’s how the people rule. But the voices in DC. Oh, those voices in DC. The corporate voices drowning out the voice of the people. We need an America where the people rule. Do you still have that?

We need an America where war is the last option and not a preemptive action. Where peace rules before war. Where America goes to war as a last resort. An America that find new ways to break down the walls of injustice. The way America helped break down the walls of Apartheid. An America that broke down the Berlin wall. An America that broke down the communist regime of the old USSR. That’s the America that we need. And that’s the America that shows us how to bring peace and justice to the world. Without war. An America that goes to war with the support of the free world. Like we did in the war against Afghanistan. But not in Iraq. We need an America that uses the carrot more than the stick. Do you still have that?

We need an America where rights rule. Where people are treated with respect for human rights. Even when they don’t show that same respect themselves. An America that is morally and ethically above those who will murder and terrorize the free world. Because that is what the free world is about. We don’t sleep with pigs. Because we know it is a slippery slope when we do what they do. We need an America that doesn’t torture. Even when they torture us. We need an America that stands for more than what they stand for. An America does does less than they do. We need and want an America that says torture isn’t right. No matter who you are. Torture is for those who hide and those who are cowards. And those who have no respect for the people of the world. And who have no respect for the freedom and rights that go with that. A torture free America. A message of hope. Loud and clear. Do you still have that?

We need an America that shows no fear. Who are never scared at what others might do. An America that says, “Bring it on. Is that the best you can do?” An America that fears nothing. Because it is an America that can never be bullied or terrorized in their hearts. An America that stands for more than a single action. We need and want an America that is strong. That tells us and shows us that no matter what is thrown at them, America will always stand tall. Stand proud. An America we can stand next to because we know together we have nothing to fear. Nothing to fear but fear itself. An America that knows no matter how many times sick people fly their airplanes into buildings and plant bombs on trains, America will stand tall and not be scared. They can hide. But that can’t strike fear into the hearts of America. Do you still have that?

We don’t need you to be perfect. Nobody will ever be perfect. You’ll always have a Texan talking to loudly when visiting our shores. Or an oil company that forgets their responsibility. We know Reagan wasn’t perfect. We know Clinton wasn’t perfect. We know Bush Sr wasn’t perfect. Hell, we know Nixon wasn’t perfect. But we always knew that they were just and they were true to us. Always there for us. Always saw us as their partner – even when we don’t agree. But now? Now we have a world divided. A world that looks to America and doesn’t recognise the one we loved. Because it is an America that tells us there is but one way and that is their way. Not in partnership. But in forceful domination. We need an America that says it wants to be our friend and be part of a greater good – even though we know you don’t really need us. But do you still have that?

We need an America with a vision. A vision of a better world. A vision of a better future. A different future. Different from where we are today. All divided and alone. We need that America that can point us to the path we will walk. Walk hand in hand. Together. Do you still have that?

And we need an America that knows what a vision can bring. The power of a vision. The power of tomorrow. The power of hope. The power of change. Not looking back over our shoulders, but looking ahead to the path we create. The power of the people. We need to know that you have a vision. Not a vision of a better version of the past. But a vision of a better future. Like when you moved west. You didn’t want to build a new England. Or a better version of the East. No. You went west to create a new world. Of hope and change. A world still undefined. But a new world nonetheless. But today. Today you show us leaders who look back and have no vision. Do you still have it?

Yes you do. You still have it. You hold in your hands an America we can follow and look up to. An America that will be that light and banish the darkness. An America that will embrace us with the warmth of love and life. An America that smiles at us and holds out a hand. An America that is the land of the free. An America that is ruled by the people, of the people and for the people. An America that changes the world without us knowing it. An America that says no to war and yes to peace more strongly. An America that says no to torture and yes to justice. An America that shows no fear. That shows power without abuse. An America that can take us into the future without fear. That brings hope to the hopeless. Justice to the oppressed. And change to a dark world.

America. It is your world. Your choice. And we have little say. We have only hope. Hope you will remember us. Your friends who need you. We are watching. And we are waiting. We hope we can walk this path together again. Be wise. Be strong. Be just. Be free. Be American.

You choose. I just hope that you choose wisely. You choose and we hope to follow. We have little choice…

This might just be the last blog I write about politics in America. I have written about Obama being the American Mandela, the burden of the hope he brings, and the man he is in his own right. But I don’t know anymore. I still believe in Obama, but I just don’t believe in American politics anymore. If this is how they want to play politics in America then I don’t want to play anymore. This is too sick. This is nothing to be proud of. My fleeting experience has made me question this thing they call American politics in an American democracy. Yes, they won – the cynics and morally corrupt. All of them – left, right and centre. This isn’t fun anymore. I don’t mind the comments on my blog. I have a thick skin. But if this election is what politics is all about in the US, then I don’t know if I have the stomach for it. This is just not right guys. This is not what people fought for and died for.

This is not the America I got to know and love over the last 18 months. This is not the people I have met. And I hope to God that this isn’t a reflection of how people outside the US see America. But they do. Because it goes out to everyone out there. You might not care. But I do. And so should you. Because when your President says he wants to bring democracy to people everywhere… this is what they see. And I can assure you. This is not something you want to export.

I just can’t believe that this is what politics has come to. What democracy has come to. I don’t agree with President Clinton and other politicians on the left, right and centre when they say, “That’s just politics“. No. That’s how you made politics. That’s the direction you have taken politics. You are the leaders of this great nation. And you should be ashamed of yourself. You should be ashamed in turning this great democracy into the laughing stock of the world. And you should be ashamed of not inspiring people to participate anymore. You are the reason for democracy failing in the US.

But it is not just the politicians. It’s the media. Slurping up everything that the politicians say. Or trying to spew hatred about every politician they don’t agree with. They don’t question policies. They don’t look into the future these political promises. No. They spew hatred about the mis(character) of potential leaders whether it is true or not. Or whether it is relevant or not. You should be ashamed of yourself. I thought you were here to inform people and be the guardians of this great democracy. But no. You don’t. You spew hatred and take no responsibility. You just sit back and laugh at the people – all the way to the bank.

It is no wonder people don’t want to vote. It is no wonder that young people feel that it is not worth it. They are still young enough to believe that politics should be about leadership, honor and truth. But they look up at “their” political leaders and all they smell is the foul smell of corrupt souls. People with vested interests. A city of sin where lobbyist outnumber politicians. And the lies they tell and the stories they spin. You should be ashamed of yourself for lying to the people of America. And especially for making the young people lose hope even before they truly start off in life. You cynics and liers are making cynics of those with hope in their hearts. You make the young people old before they should. You make them lose their hope and love for America. You kill the American Dream little bit bit little lie. You should be ashamed.

I can’t believe the character assassination taking place. Whether it is an attack on Hillary because she is married to Bill and stuck with him because of his sleeping around. Or McCain because he changes his opinion on issues the way we all do all of the time. Or Obama because a black man spoke from the heart about race and you attack him as racist. Look in the mirror and ask yourself who would be a leader that you can respect and look up to. Can you live with any of these three if you kill their character like this? When you show no respect – can you expect any back? You should be ashamed of yourself.

And to Hillary and Mac and Obama. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I know you try to be honorable. But you are not trying hard enough. You should act like the leader people need and not just the leaders they want. You should be clear and direct with any of your supporters or those who work for you when they attack the character of the other. Whether it is a twitter message (McCain), or racist (Hillary), or monsters (Obama). Be the leader people need. Because it has never been more important than now. People are losing hope. Losing hope in American politics. And you are not helping.

And to the Republicans and Democrats. To the left and the right. Be ashamed of yourself. You talk more about how you are different. Why you hate the other side – because they are gay, pro or anti abortion, because they are for or against immigration, because they are godless or too godly, because they are pro or anti big business, because they are pro or anti war. But you never talk about what makes this country great. You never talk about what makes you American. What makes you one. You just try and carve your little niche of hatred. And you know what? It just gives your enemies more reasons to hate you – because you are telling them everything that is wrong about America. Instead of telling them what is great about America. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I have seen corrupt leaders. Morally corrupt leaders. I come from South Africa and lived under Apartheid. And I have seen the hatred that politicians and their followers can create. And you are walking a fine line here. I see so many PW Botha’s walking around parading as politicians here in America. And I see the Dutch Reformed Church in many places of worship. And Die Burger in so many newspapers and televisions. But I have also seen great leaders. I have seen Mandela who we all know well. But I have seen leaders I don’t agree with who brought greatness to themselves. FW De Klerk. I didn’t like him, but he showed his greatness as a leader by making the difficult choices “his people” didn’t want to take. I don’t like McCain or Hillary – but they can show greatness without my support. It is up to them. They make the choice.

I have been here for 18 months. And I got to love this country called America. It was nothing like I expected. The people are great, great people. Warm, open and friendly. And hardworking. More than you can imagine. I see them behind the tills and at the gas stations. Those are the people who make you great. Those people who will fight your wars not because they believe in the war, but because that is what America does when one is hurt – they all stand up. These people who sweat blood and tears every single day to pay the mortgage and give their kids a chance in life. These are the people you lie to every day. It has not been the America I read about in books or seen in the movies. I have seen why this country is so great. Why you can be proud to be American. And you should be ashamed for not liking them and for lying to them.

But when it comes to politics I am not so sure. There is just too much hatred. This is the worse case of democracy I have seen anywhere. This is not how you convince the world that democracy works. This is the ugly underbelly of America. The moral corruption of democracy but the sick and twisted who wants to win above anything else. And the people I speak to in the streets and the shops don’t like what they see or what they hear. And the lies create so much white noise that they don’t know what to believe in anymore. They thought they saw greatness and then it was taken away from them by hate-speech and lies. You should be ashamed of yourself.

You set the example for all Americans. You want to know why they take drugs in baseball and football? Ask youself what kind of message you send when you tell people that everything goes as long as you win. You can lie and you can steal. As long as you win. What are you telling those who grow up? And those who should entertain us with pride in sport? You should be ashamed of yourself. You are corrupting America every single day.

But most of all, you should hang your head in shame for what you have done to the Founding Fathers of this great nation. They have sacrificed and fought for your freedom. They were not perfect. But they were honest. And they fought an honest fight. They gave you everything. And you spit in their face with your lies and twisted speech. Look in the mirror and ask yourself what they would think of you. What would they say if they saw what you do and what you say? And what you think. You should be ashamed for belittling what they fought for and died for. Thank God that you were never asked to sign the Declaration of Independence. Thank God you were not one of those Founding Fathers. Because America would not be if it was for you. Hang your head in shame. Your founding father and everyone who have died for America and lived for America will be ashamed of you. You do not “hold up”. You should be ashamed for even calling yourself American. You put this country to shame. Shame on you. You don’t deserve greatness because you don’t know what it means.

———————————-

I won’t be writing about American politics anymore. I will write about my life and my experiences. And I will write about what bugs me. I will write about anything and everything that comes to mind. But not about American politics anymore. You know I support Obama. But I don’t think America is ready for Obama. And sadly, I don’t think America deserves Obama. Not those Americans who play these games. They will drag him down the way they have dragged me down. And the America I know is greater than that. Should be better than that.

I am busy reading The Audacity of Hope. And sorry. I just don’t have that audacity… or that hope. He is a better and a bigger man than me. I just hope to God I am wrong and he is right. But I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Tomorrow is another day. And I will still be proud of living in this country. When I see those people working behind the counters and in the factories. Those good to honest hard-working Americans who have shown me their love and affection. Those Americans I have come to love. I just don’t want anything to do with American politics anymore. That is just not American anymore.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by RSS

Add to Technorati Favorites
Digg!

I know. I wrote before that Obama reminds me of Mandela. But after listening to him yesterday I have serious second thoughts. But I decided not to write about it at first. First let me calm down (and that is difficult as you know) and take some time out to reflect. And last night I read his speech. Without his voice to influence me. Just words – black on white. And I am sorry to say. But Obama is no Mandela. Obama is not the American Mandela.

No. He is the first Obama. His own man in his own right. Making his own path. Building his own house. Leaving his own legacy. Obama is Obama. And one day we will write about another great leader being the next Obama. What we have in him is something special. We knew this before. But couldn’t put our finger on it completely. It got too muddled up in politics. Politics of speech writers. Politics of men and woman putting words in his mouth and reading things between the lines. Politics of the media either loving him or hating him. But always making him something they want him to be. Something they could love because he stands for what they stand for. Or something they could hate because he stood for everything they didn’t stand for. Someone they could put in a little box and point to and say, “That is who he is”. But last night he showed he is not someone to put in a little box. He is not an American Mandela. He is not a copy of what we want him to be. No. He is Obama. Warts and all – but the truth is what we see.

How often do we have the privileged to hear a man (or woman) speak about who they are? How often do we hear them talk about their personal ideals and not their political ideals? We hear them say what they stand for, but it is always in a political tone. Yesterday wasn’t about his political ideals. It was about him as a person. The good and the bad. But putting it out for us to all see and know the man behind the words.

It was him saying, “Here I am. Naked. Naked in front of you. You decide. Take me or leave me. But this is who I am”. It takes “balls” to say that. (My apologies, but can’t think of a better expression.) It takes courage to come clean and tell the people your real thoughts. Tell them about the real you. And not the you who they try to paint during elections. That “perfect” person doesn’t exist, but they try to paint that picture during elections – don’t they? Generally we don’t like what we hear. But we are human. And we know. Above all, we know. That truth and honesty is something you can’t buy. It is something that goes straight to who we are. We hate it when they lie to us. Most of the time we don’t know if they are lying or just spinning. But we know that we don’t know their heart and their secrets. We don’t know who they really are. Because they are so “experienced” in playing their games. And then we get a moment like yesterday when a politicians dares to tell the truth. The truth about himself and the truth about us.

Love him or hate him. But before you decide what to do when you go to the polls – just ask yourself one thing. Do you know who you are voting for? Do you know who they are? Have they really told you who they are or are they just telling you what you want to hear? Have they stood up – naked in front of you and say, “This is who I am. Warts and all.” I loved (love) Mandela because he came to us and told us who he is. Not perfect. Just him. And I am sorry to say. That Obama is the first person since Mandela who has opened up and told the people his real thoughts and exposed his real self. If I am in the trenches – I want to know the man next to me. I want to know if he will run or if he will fight. I don’t care what he thinks of me. I just want to be sure I know who I am stuck with – because my life depends on it. America. Your life depends on it. You decide. You vote for who you know because they came clean. Or you vote for someone who tells you anything to get your vote.

I am not going to do an analysis of his speech. It is there for you to read and make up your own mind. But I will quote him here. “Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well. For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can do that. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change. That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, ‘Not this time.'”

Of course you will find pieces you don’t like. That’s why this is so important. He isn’t telling you everything you want to hear. He is telling you what he thinks in an open and honest way. You have to look at his speech in that context. The whole context. Don’t pick pieces you don’t like. Look at what he said as a whole and ask whether you can trust this man who tells you the truth the way he sees it. Not what you want to hear. But what he needed to say to you so you can know him and thereby trust him. You can only trust what you know. And you now know him.

Compare him with what you have at the moment. Not only the current President. But the political leaders all around. Do they inspire you? Or do they make you go and hate someone else? Obama has made the game so much more difficult for other politicians. They will hate him for this. Because people might just expect them to tell the truth in future. And not the spin. Ask yourself when last did you see or hear a politician talk so straight about themselves and this country he loves?

My biggest concern is that America might not be ready for someone like Obama. That will be a shame. But it might not be that easy to remind people that everyone (every legal citizen) is American in this country – not so easy after so many years of a divided America. It might be too early to ask Americans to believe in themselves again. It might be to early for Americans to be asked to believe in this country again. It might be to early for Americans to see the difference between the realities of today and yesterday and the potential of tomorrow.

For those who want him to be their leader – don’t forget to push him up this hill in the next few months. People will be scared of what he said yesterday. Scared because it challenges them to be Americans united and not the easy way out by staying divided. And they will attack him. Oh yes. They will and have already started. For those out there who supports Obama – go out and tell the world. Your world. break the fear and share the love and belief he has in this country called America.

Obama will not be an easy President to have. No. He won’t. He made it clear yesterday that Americans will need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and start working to unite this country again. Make America a place for all Americans to be proud of again. Make the “American Dream” real again. It won’t be easy. Because, like yesterday, he will challenge you to think and think again in what you believe. He will challenge you to become part of the love Americans share and not the hate that divides them. He will challenge you to be an American that the world can aspire to again. An America to inspire the world and not divide it. He will ask you to work your heart out to prove that you want to be an American. He will challenge you to be proud of everything America stands for – the good and the bad.

So no. Obama is not the American Mandela. He is the first Obama. He is his own man. He made his stand yesterday. Not following in the footsteps of others we admire. But making his own path. He has shown he is a leader of this great country in his own right. Not because of his name. Not because of his color. Not because of his experience. Not because of his gender. Not because of his politics. Not because we love him or hate him. No. He has shown he is a world leader through that one thing that makes him stand next to Kennedy, Gandhi, Churchill and Mandela. You just know it when you see it. And you know it when you hear it. Some might be scared of this and fight him – they did with all of these leaders I just mentioned. But others will see it and say, “Now is the time”.

Add to Technorati Favorites
Digg!

Barack Obama. It gets people talking. Just mentioning his name creates debate. But we know where I stand. I know he is the right person at the right time for the right job. But the debate will continue on whether he is the right person and whether he as the experience and whether he is who he says he is. But let’s bring it back to basics. Let’s remind ourselves what this is all about. And to Barack – never ever forget what this is all about.

1. It’s about race

Don’t let anyone tell you that this is not about race. That America has moved beyond race. This is all about race. But for all the right reasons. Let’s never forget Harold Ford Jr. He was one of the first guys I looked at and thought – wow, this guy could be it. But Tennessee decided no.  But this time America has the opportunity to show the world, and itself, that it has moved beyond race. It doesn’t matter – and it shouldn’t matter. It should send the message to people like greyrooster99@bellsouth.net who emailed me a few times after my last piece on Obama and wrote in his last email: “You’re a f*cking traitor and should be hung from the nearest tree. Drop dead you sorry piece of sh*t.” Obama is America’s chance to tell the world that people like that is not part of the American psyche. Obama – never forget this. People will look at you a bit more closely than the usual. But that is okay. We want people to pay close attention. Because you will show them what an American President should be about. Race counts. But by the time you are done as President – it won’t. You have the opportunity to be remembered as one of the greatest Americans Presidents. And not the first African American President. We don’t want you to be remembered for that – because that is who you are. Redefining race in the race to become the next great American President.

2. It’s about the future

Everyone else reminds us of the past. Mac is essentially a good guy. But he is about the past. The difficult times of the past. The past where he became a hero in a war many people didn’t want. He stands for many of the things that are good about America. But that is the good things of the past. And he reminds us that he lost against a man that reflected an America of the past – an America at constant war. Cold War or real war – it doesn’t matter. It is a past that is over. America can redefine the world. But does it want to redefine the world at war? Or a world of peace and prosperity? And Hillary reminds us of a more recent past. A past where Presidents divided people. President Bill Clinton was loved by many, but he also brought out the worst in the conservative and right-wing politics we still suffer from today. Hillary will be a reminder of that past. A past where the American people remain divided between Democrats and Republicans – and every ugly bit that goes with that. What America needs is a future it can look forward to. A future of hope and a future of change. A future where Americans can be what they are – a powerful nation united for the good of the world. Obama – never forget that you must redefine the future. Take America to a better place and a better future all Americans can be proud of again. 

3. It’s about America

Yes, this election is about America. It is about the heart and soul of America. It is about a President that can be an American President. And not a Democratic or Republican President. And not a President of the few. And not a President of the corporate world. And not a President of the rich and privileged. And not a President of horseless cowboys and fake toughness. No. America deserves better. America deserves a President for all of America. An American President. Elected by the people and for the people. Obama – never, ever turn your back on the people. America needs you. Needs you to make them proud of their President again. Fight the vested interest each and every day – and in every corner. Americans love a good fight. Americans will always be behind you as long as they know you are fighting for them and not fighting for a corporate or party interest. America deserves better. America deserves an American President.

4. It’s about the world

But it is not only about America. It is also about the world. We, the world, need a strong America. But we need that strong America to be on our side. On the side of justice and peace. Not an America that divides the world and who leads the world into war. The world hasn’t been this divided since the Cold War. America must be better than that. It must be – that is the burden of leadership. It must be better than the radicals of the left and the radicals of the right. It must be better than the radicals of religion and the radicals of terrorism. That is what the world expects – an America that can point us in the direction of peace and prosperity. An America that can rise above the challenges thrown at us day in and day out. An America that can be the beacon of hope in a world divided. People across the world respect and love what Americans stand for. But we don’t know how to feel about what America stands for today. We know that Bush is not America. But we also want to know what America means to the world and what the world means to America. The world needs America to be on the side of the plain and simple people. We can’t survive the wars you make against the extremist of the world. But we can’t survive without a just and friendly America either. Obama – never forget that America needs to take its rightful place in this world. We expect it and America needs it.

5. It’s about you and me

This is the Last Chance Saloon. People are giving up on democracy. It is a joke in Russia. It is a joke in Zimbabwe. It is a joke in Iraq. And it has been a joke in America since 2001. People are losing hope. Losing hope that good people will run our world again. Because everywhere they go they see lies and more lies. It would have been called propaganda if it wasn’t for the facade of democracy. People like myself look at the world and hope and pray we can have another Mandela. Another Kennedy. Another Ghandi. Another world leader to be proud of. Another world leader that can give us hope of a better world. But more importantly – a better us. Obama – this election is about you and me. I put my trust in you. I am a cynic. I don’t think the world will get better. I just do what I do to make sure it doesn’t get too much worse. It feels like we are treading water. Not actually drowning. But not moving. We know that we will tire and eventually die fighting the waves of injustice, hunger, illness, poverty and war – all the worse things we face each day in this little globe of ours. Yes. I am a cynical and angry African. Angry because the world is not as complex as they would like us to believe. Angry because the problems we face are not that difficult to solve. Not if we all stand together and follow a leader we can believe will give it a good shot. Angry because our leaders laugh at us behind our backs. Yes. I am a cynical man. But I believe in you. I believe you are the man you say you are. But this is the last time I will do this. You will be the man and President we want you to be. You owe this to us. You owe this to me. You owe me the same belief in yourself that I have. You owe me another chance to believe in our leaders. You owe yourself a chance to be the leader I believe in. Obama – never forget that this is about you and me. My belief in you as the last chance for our political leaders to make me believe in them again. Don’t disappoint me. I don’t think I have it in me to believe in another one again. It’s you and me, Obama.

I know that this is a heavy burden to carry. The burden of hope. Hope of a better world. Hope of a better America. Hope of a better President undefined by race. Hope of a better future. My hope in you. But I know you have it in you. Stand strong and we will stand with you. We are the voices you hear when it goes quiet. We are the faces you see when the lights go out at night. We are you. Be strong. Be us. Be with us. Don’t ever forget the burden of hope. Our hope.

Add to Technorati Favorites
Digg!