BIG STORY: THE IDES OF

MARCH ARE COME’ – BY SA­TEN­DRA NAN­DAN

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - by Sa­ten­dra Nan­dan jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

Julius Cae­sar: The Ides of March are come. Sooth­sayer: Ay Cae­sar; but not gone!

Shake­speare’s Julius Cae­sar, Act III, Scene 1. So the Repub­li­can Party is slowly wak­ing from its political stu­por into a night­mare. Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign jet is now fly­ing more tri­umphantly with T in­scribed brazenly on its sil­very tail. It will be dif­fi­cult to stop the jug­ger­naut of both style and money of the pres­i­den­tial as­pi­rant. What­ever we may think, the US pres­i­den­tial pri­maries for the most pow­er­ful po­si­tion in the world arouses world­wide in­ter­est. It’s one hell of a ver­sion of demo­cratic pol­i­tics.

Trump, dan­ger­ously wild can­di­date

Mr Trump , to me, has been a rather dan­ger­ously wild can­di­date, card or cad—take your pick. No-one en­vies him his real es­tate wealth or his rather well dec­o­rated jet. It’s all part of the great con­tem­po­rary political cir­cus. The sym­bol for G.O.P is an ele­phant; of the Demo­cratic party, it’s a don­key! In be­tween come crea­tures like us whose lives are af­fected by what hap­pens out there.

Nor­mally this would be fun. But there are wor­ry­ing signs about Don­ald Trump. He doesn’t seem to re­gard demo­cratic pol­i­tics with any gen­uine re­spect. In­deed he thinks, even per­haps be­lieves, the whole thing is a great tama

sha— the Hindi word is just the right one for his cam­paign. To think, if nom­i­nated in July and elected in Novem­ber, Pres­i­dent Trump as com­man­der-in-chief of the most lethal force on the planet, will have the se­cret codes of the nu­clear arse­nal on his fin­ger­tips, would be fright­en­ing were not such a pre­pos­ter­ous pos­si­bil­ity a far­ci­cal re­al­ity.

Right-wing lead­ers shap­ing the world in self-im­age

But one can’t be sure—there is that Great Leader of North Korea threat­en­ing to blow up parts of the world at ev­ery per­ceived threat from his neigh- bours. And he is not even think­ing of walls and punches. There’s a ten­dency in this cen­tury for sev­eral right-wing, toxic lead­ers to emerge and shape the world in their self-im­age. This has hap­pened in sev­eral democ­ra­cies. Most of th­ese men and women have no idea of how to deal with the new chal­lenges ei­ther in their so­ci­eties or in the plu­ral and ex­pand­ing uni­verse.

They want to cling stub­bornly to their be­lief sys­tems on which the op­pres­sive pil­lars of hi­er­ar­chy, pa­tri­archy, gen­der, race , re­li­gion, com­mu­nal­ism, class and caste are founded with the spe­cial priv­i­leges for the few, by the few. And they thrive on divi­sions and sub­di­vi­sions of fear, na­tions, re­li­gions, wealth and peo­ple. One great and dis­tress­ing dan­ger of all this is that it re­duces our faith in demo­cratic pol­i­tics.

And that is a tragedy for ev­ery­thing is, in the fi­nal reck­on­ing, de­ter­mined by the pol­i­tics of a na­tion, both vir­tu­ally and ver­ti­cally, with all the virtues and vices that hu­man flesh is heir to. We know in pol­i­tics the crooked tim­ber of hu­man­ity is present but the tree is very much there: we rest in its shade, we build with its boughs, we eat its fruits and leaves, we use its wood; and the birds build their nests in its fo­liage. And when we cut the tree down, the tree of men and women bleeds.

Pol­i­tics, oxy­gen of air we breathe

Pol­i­tics is re­ally the oxy­gen of the air we breathe – you pol­lute that at­mos­phere and we have less fresh air to breathe in. And sooner than later we’ll feel suf­fo­cated by more than car­bon emis­sions. It hap­pened in Europe, and In­dia, and even Fiji. We’ve had ex­pe­ri­ence of this in Fiji when we dam­aged our speak­ing tree of a hu­mane lan­guage and thought. The wrong kind of pol­i­tics can cor­rupt our in­ner- most cul­ture and val­ues. Pol­i­tics is ul­ti­mately about hu­man re­la­tion­ships and what a na­tion or a peo­ple can do to­gether against all odds.

The an­cient civil­i­sa­tions of Iraq and Syria are now in ru­ins and the desert land­scapes are starkly des­o­late and de­serted.

If we don’t get the pol­i­tics right, our in­sti­tu­tions and val­ues would be di­min­ished and dero­gated.

The great ex­per­i­ment of the US has been its ca­pac­ity to cre­ate, some­times through as­sas­si­na­tions and guns, the most dy­namic, mod­ern civil­i­sa­tion. There’s doubt­less crass ma­te­ri­al­ism but it’s of­ten bal­anced by gen­uine ide­al­ism. No na­tion has given so much to the world in such abun­dance. Life, lib­erty and pur­suit of hap­pi­ness are huge chal­lenges and great ideals, though when the ideals were be­ing fash­ioned, there were slaves un­der the log cab­ins and lynch­ings not far away.

Good pol­i­tics in In­dia

This gift of good pol­i­tics is part of the largest democ­racy, that is, In­dia. Ter­ri­ble deeds hap­pen on that vast sub-con­ti­nent and many peo­ple be­lieved that In­dia will never sur­vive as a na­tion. But it has and it will soon, I hope, show a new light to the world amid the en­cir­cling gloom of cur­rent Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­i­ment. But when you look around, de­spite its im­mense and im­mea­sur­able chal­lenges, the In­dian flag is fly­ing high.

In­dian democ­racy – plu­ral, di­verse, sec­u­lar - has be­come the hope of much of the world.

This idea of In­dia is of­ten chal­lenged from within and oc­ca­sion­ally from with­out but some­how the oceanic-Hi­malayan na­tion pushes the de­bris out of its main­stream. The main­stream is al­ways a few lead­ers and the mul­ti­tudi­nous ideas, poly­phonic voices of a bil­lion or­di­nary peo­ple.

Trump as Pres­i­dent- al­most blas­phe­mous The prob­lem with Don­ald Trump is that I haven’t come across a sin­gle idea the man has ar­tic­u­lated which de­serves our re­spect and at­ten­tion in the mod­ern world.

If any­thing, he has in­tro­duced a political id­iom of vul­gar­ity, vi­o­lence and vi­o­la­tions of many colours. Some peo­ple think he’s a colour­ful per­son­al­ity. That, I think, will be a tragic per­cep­tion of a very ego­cen­tric and shal­low per­son. You’ll have to go back to Europe of the 1930s to find par­al­lels with some of the most ne­far­i­ous dem­a­gogues. True now he’s top of the rat race : but even if you win the rat race you still re­main a rat! And to think Don­ald Trump could be the pres­i­dent of the US, af­ter Barack Obama, is al­most blas­phe­mous. Long be­fore Obama cre­ated his­tory by be­com­ing the Pres­i­dent of the US, al­most eight years ago, he wrote two books: Dreams From my Father and The Au­dac­ity of Hope, both pro­ject­ing a vi­sion of his coun­try and lead­er­ship. Imag­ine even a sig­nif­i­cant speech by Mr Trump that could com­pare with any­thing by Pres­i­dent Obama. And to think this man could re­place one of Amer­ica’s most in­tel­li­gent and thought­ful pres­i­dents is un­think­able. Sky­scrapers and jets don’t make lead­ers. It’s worth con­tem­plat­ing this at Easter.

To some Mr Trump seems to be the “sup­pos­i­tory of all wis­dom” as one of our for­mer lead­ers had re­marked ,and wanted to shirt-front Putin. Such political wis­dom should re­main where it is. And he has been dumped as a leader. The big­oted and in­cen­di­ary rhetoric of Don­ald Trump is po­lit­i­cally fa­tal. As Hil­lary Clin­ton re­marked: If you play with matches, you’ll a start a fire and that‘s no political lead­er­ship, it is political ar­son. We of course have ex­pe­ri­enced that in Fiji. Con­se­quently the cre­ative en­ergy of a gen­er­a­tion has been lost fight­ing that kind of evil. The ‘axis of evil’ of­ten comes home to roost? As some­one who lives by and in words, what I find most dis­tress­ing is that Mr Trump has re­duced the pos­i­tive en­ergy of lan­guage into the hol­low­ness of his thought­less­ness. One can barely re­mem­ber an in­spir­ing ut­ter­ance from the man. And that is the price a cul­ture pays if our feed­ing comes from the con­stant stream of ver­bal sludge of re­al­ity TV and puerile com­men­ta­tors. Mr Trump can­not, it seems, put a sen­tence to­gether. He speaks in sound bytes and his au­di­ence laps it up much to their gullible shame. Luck­ily in th­ese pri­maries hardly 20 per cent of the el­i­gi­ble vot­ers vote. So in Novem­ber, when the vot­ers are cast their bal­lots to elect the Pres­i­dent, one hopes the good sense of the ma­jor­ity will pre­vail.

Last Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent brought disas­ter But there’s the rub—can one count on that? The last Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent’s el­e­va­tion to that of­fice was fi­nally de­ter­mined by the US Supreme Court. And what a disas­ter—wars, waste of tril­lions of dol­lars, mil­lions of refugees, thou­sands of lives lost, an­cient cities de­stroyed, and an ug­li­ness spawned in the world of to­day in search of the nonex­is­tent WMD. From his Trump Tower, Don­ald might see the Man­hat­tan cityscape. But it’s well to re­mem­ber that even twin tow­ers are top­pled by a sense of mad­ness. And if you built your tri­umph on the men­dac­ity of your sup­port­ers, you’ll not be able to dis­mount that tiger in a hurry.

Pray for Hil­lary So I fer­vently pray for Hil­lary Clin­ton. And watch the fi­nals of T20 world cricket cham­pi­onships be­ing played in In­dia. Last Tues­day’s re­sult: NZ from down Down Un­der, thrashed In­dia in the first match. Not an aus­pi­cious be­gin­ning in the largest democ­racy of the world. Some things are worth cel­e­brat­ing even if you lose the first round! Sa­ten­dra Nan­dan’s Brief En­coun­ters was pub­lished last year. His forth­com­ing book is a trav­el­ogue – his first jour­ney from Nadi to New Delhi - to be pub­lished later this year.

US Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump dur­ing his cam­paign.

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