LONDON – As the clock ticked past midnight, I eagerly awaited the second US presidential debate between Clinton and Trump, the 2005 remake of the movie War of the Worlds was being screened on BBC1. It was an apt prelude to what proved to be yet another energized dialogue in which a man suffering from a delusional savior complex showed the world – again – that anyone can indeed achieve almost anything in the ‘land of opportunity’ – though perhaps supporting rape culture is not what proponents of the phrase had in mind.
Leadership is a fundamental need, not to take charge and control, but to provide direction for the betterment of society. We expect our leaders to have the best of manners, to uphold values of fairness, and a loyalty to the citizens who elect them.
Instead, this electoral process has shown us something else, how it can be less about policy and more to do with loyalty to a group; in this case, the Democratic or the Republican Party.
This notion is not unique to America, the wider Muslim world itself is split between two – Sunni and Shiite – the cause of physical wars across the Middle East, as well as theological wars around the globe.
In the main, most people generally do not care about these differences, they just want to have the freedom to follow their chosen belief. However those seeking division exploit insecurities, lay blame, charge falsely, and where diversity is meant to add value, diversity is presented as the cause for failure.
Regarding Muslims, Trump referred to ‘Extreme Vetting’ while Clinton stressed that ‘We are not at war with Islam.’
Every nation has problems, America is no different. From #BlackLivesMatter to the unhealthy obsession with guns – resulting in 23 deaths at the hands of toddlers since the start of this year alone.
But instead of understanding the cause of citizen’s concerns, and providing solutions, the USA is split down the middle, with such harsh loyalty to their party model that a misogynist-racist-xenophobe has been able to make it this far as a presidential nominee.
Such is the focus on group and which club individuals belong to, that for months, supporters have either overlooked Trump’s often aggressive statements or jumped on the bandwagon becoming increasingly extreme along with him. Neither behavior is decent nor reflective of the Christian values so many profess to hold, such as ‘love thy neighbor.’
One of Trump’s streamlines is to ‘Make America Great Again’. For Americans to do this, they must step away from blind loyalty and have the courage to stop supporting an individual simply because a political party has put him forward as their candidate.
The way Trump for example responded to a question on ‘locker room talk’ was particularly shocking. First he dismissed it by normalizing such behavior. Second, instead of answering the question, he deflected and started talking about ISIS.
Some continue to dismiss Trump’s foolishness dressing it up as harmless locker room talk, but this normalization of ugliness towards women is neither suitable for the sports field nor the locker room. Worse, first he dismissed it, then, instead of answering the question, he deflected and started talking about ISIS.
The classical Muslim scholar al-Jahiz said, in the context of attitudes towards women, “This is a matter where the extremists have gone beyond the zeal for honor to the realm of bad manners and a lack of intelligence. The honor of men need not be found in the degradation of women.”
It may be convenient for their democratic electoral systems to become polarized into two main parties, but we as human beings of conscience should not support a person based on which chair they are sitting on, instead, on the words and values that they preach. Slowly, politicians are withdrawing their support for Trump, but the trickle rate at which this is being done is disheartening.
It is only when Americans adopt this approach, paying close attention to whether they unite the nation or seek to divide the nation with what they say, having the courage to replace Trump with another, better, candidate, that the United States of America will be ‘great’ again. And as Luke Cage who may be a fictional Marvels character said: “It’ is our job to push forward so that the next generation can be further along than us.”