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Opinions of Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Election 2016: Getting the Yankee style

By George Sydney Abugri

Someone goes and buys himself a pair of blue jeans and when he wears them; he looks incredibly flamboyant. Another fellow seeing this goes off quickly and buys himself the very same type of jeans. He disappears into a dressing room and re-emerges in the jeans, looking like an ageing circus baboon in sack cloth!

Wondering what might be the matter with him, the fellow goes to the first bloke to seek an explanation. The bloke offers him free counsel in a few words: Go get some style!

Get some style? What does that mean? Where might one get some style? Ask the Americans. They go into every national election and come out wearing the hat of Western democracy and we love it. When we try wearing the hat of democracy, it gets so problematic.

You probably recall what happened in US elections in 2000: First Television networks, basing their calculation on the almighty Florida vote, announce to the world that Al Gore has won the election.

Next, the television networks retract their announcement and inform the world that it is Bush who has won! Gore calls Bush on the phone, concedes defeat and congratulates George.

Then Holy Moses, the TV networks retract the Bush victory too! Gore on learning of this, promptly retracts his acceptance of defeat.

See? The advanced democracies of the West too encounter problems in the conduct of elections alright, but they always manage to pull off the delicate process without cracked skulls, broken bones and spilled blood.

Don’t you think Ghana would have gone up in huge tongues of flame and consumed herself, if the comic but also potentially dangerous scenarios which played out in the US elections in 2000 had occurred here?

Once the results were declared the Americans rallied as one behind the victor. I wonder how we could ever manage that here when people and political groups have built such tall steel walls of exclusion between them, and the 'them' and 'us' mentality appears so irreversibly entrenched!

I have never liked some aspects of US foreign policy. Not with all the heavy boot-stomping, gung-ho meddling of the US in the affairs of other nations, but the Yankees remain several streets up ahead when it comes to political organisation and the conduct of elections.

I blundered into a small election campaign rally the other day. On the edge of the crowd at the rally, two fellows were arguing about nothing if you see what I mean.

One bloke with apparently itchy fists screams into the face of the other:

“What?” The other bloke screams back: “What?” “What?” “What?” “What?!” “What?!!” “I said what?!” “And so did I!!” “I say piss off!” “You too f…k off!”

Sometimes, the agents of chaos during election campaigns are not the so-called foot soldiers who may be pardoned on grounds of mis-education about politics and elections, the over exuberance of youth and their manipulation by powerful forces.

Some adults who want political authority seem neither capable of respect for authority and discipline nor able to teach young followers respect for authority.

At a campaign rally in the run up to one of the previous elections fists flew millimetres away from the face of the Vice-President of the republic at the time, right on a VIP dais! A former minister of state and MP who wanted to contest his constituency's parliamentary elections again had a beef:

Some people hated his guts like hell and were trying to put obstacles in the way of his campaign and he was more than convinced that they included the Vice –President at the time.

He on his part, had apparently contrived to hate them back in good or greater measure. He addressed the rally and resumed his seat without so much as acknowledging the presence of the Vice-President! That is not how to get the style of the Yankees when it comes to civility in politics and the pursuit of democracy.

The Vice-president and some party men rebuked the MP and he, in the process, managed to get into fisticuffs with an aide of the vice-president on the VIP dais. Is that the style of the Yankees we are quick to applaud and claim to copy?