By Addissu Admas
There is a grudge in the Ethiopian American community against this Biden Administration for its handling of the civil war in Ethiopia between the TDF (Tigray Defense Force) and the EDF (Ethiopian Defense Force) during its 2-year duration. There is a strong urge to punish the current President by voting for his opponent Donald Trump for all the perceived or real damage that his policy has wrought upon Ethiopia. However, the question for Ethiopian Americans should not be whether there should be a reckoning for the decisions taken by Biden concerning Ethiopia, but what it means to actually vote for Trump.
For some time now, the two major parties in America, the Democratic and the Republican have been growing farther and farther apart, not only in their ideologies and worldviews, but also in their methods of achieving their political goals. Since at least the so-called “Southern Realignment”, and that is the embrace of Southern states of the Republican party that began in the early sixties, there have been in essence two opposing views of America. In reality, the two views have been present, at least in a broad sense in the American polity since the early days of the Republic, but they have assumed more definite political agenda and worldviews since Ronald Reagan. While the Democratic Party is committed to the very idea of “E Pluribus Unum”, i.e. out of many one (nation); sees the future of America as multi-racial, multi-ethnic, diverse in religion and confession, etc….; is not averse to the very idea that the Republic is ever in the process of perfecting itself (consider, for example, Obama’s insistence on the idea of building a “more perfect union”). The Republican ideology is conservative in a near literal sense of the word: it is the preservation of the idea of America that must not veer too far out from its original image: i.e. prioritizing the demographic superiority and privilege of the white population (why else this panic of the brown and black invasion; the constant drumming of “building the Wall”?), maintaining its Christian, specifically protestant, tradition, and demonizing anything that smells of fair economic arrangement, etc… I do not want to fall into the facile categorization of the Republican Party as being racist, and the Democratic as being multiculturalist and progressive. However, it is very hard from the outside not to view them as such.
I contend that if Donald Trump is re-elected again he will emerge as the most anti-African president since Richard Nixon; perhaps surpassing even Ronald Reagan, known for his outright crass racist epithets for African leaders. In Donald Trump’s worldview, the African Continent remains still the “Dark Continent” as the British used to describe it. He would not only not show any regard for our continent, but will have no qualm promoting policies that will ultimately be very damaging to us. Let us not forget what he said about African Countries, and what he obliquely suggested to Abdel Fatah El-Sisi concerning the GERD, the largest dam on the African continent. In fairness to Trump, he is as ignorant of Africa as he is of the world. However, the people who want to re-elect him are not enamored by his wisdom, knowledge or enlightened political or economic agenda, but by his desire to preserve an America that is slipping away from their grasp: and that is white and Christian. That is why they shamelessly want to see in him a God sent leader to save America from the heathen and degenerate Democrats. His un-exemplary lifestyle and his abysmal ignorance does not bother them one whit. Southern so-called Christians shamelessly compare him to King David, the biblical figure, who, despite his sinful ways, is considered an anointed of God. They do not want to accept the reality that America must and will change regardless of their resistance. Not only because the demographic trend states clearly so, but successful survival requires change and adaptation, even for a country like the United States. Obviously, the Republican Party embodies the worst instinctive tendencies of humanity: tribalism, sectarianism, illiberalism, cutthroat capitalism, etc… If one tries to convince us that there is another Republican party struggling to emerge, I consider him or her delusional since this tendency has always been there, it simply found the person to make it a reality without shame.
I am not advocating that Ethiopian Americans vote for Biden, or for that matter, for the Democratic Party. My message is simply not to vote for Trump, who not only violates everything that stands for decency, is abhorrently ignorant, but will also negate our very humanity, and stands against our rightful and legal place in America if he is voted into office. Voting for him tantamount to voting against our fundamental rights and our citizenship. It means reducing our own selves to second-class citizenship.
Sometime ago, it was suggested that Trump not being a sophisticated politician could be manipulated into being co opted for our Ethiopian cause. I think this is, besides being delusional, goes against a fundamental ethical point. Using an unethical person for one’s perceived benefit is beyond repugnant. It is no different than trying to achieve our political ends by hiring a criminal. As it is, Donald Trump and his millions of supporters stand in diametrical opposition to what we most profoundly desire as human beings and citizens. Not only do we wish to remain full citizens of the United States of America, but we want to be on the part of justice by promoting inclusion, democratic ideals and norms, rule of law, racial and religious peaceful coexistence and the promotion of economic plain level field. All things repudiated by Trump and his supporters.
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