Are Republicans Under a Spell?

Published on 14th December 2015

America votes for a new president in 2016. If the last British election is of any lesson, it is the vicissitudes of vaticinating an outcome—premised on polls and punditry predictions. However, all things considered, it appears that political prediction and projection come 2016 may not be exactly be on its way out. But why should we bother about the outcome of an American election? Well, apart from the fact that when America sneezes, there are far reaching reverberations and implications to the rest of the world and all that; it appears that the GOP has unwittingly conceded the battle for the president to Hillary Rodham Clinton, even before the first salvo. This is particularly disheartening and unhealthy for democracy, and for the GOP support base after being in the opposition for more than seven years. Further, until the recent line up of its presidential candidates, 2016 was theirs to lose.

How did the GOP get themselves in this quandary? —when everything seems to be looking up for them.

Yes, everything seems to be looking up their way: First, the democrats have a very average president in the oval office—who overpromised and hopelessly under-delivered, both domestically and internationally.

That ISIS, the hydra headed monster, has become the scourge of the modern man, did not come without a warning sign. It was only in early June last year—while most mainstream media where preoccupied with other non-existential events—that Aljazeera was warning the whole world about the newly reconstituted and emboldened Islamist group called ISIL and their steady advance towards Baghdad, where they met with little or no resistance from the ever corrupt and fleeing Iraqi army who abandoned post at the earliest mention of the group. Obama the ditherer-in-chief must have been alerted by his intelligence services chiefs to this new monster on the block—that was threatening the fledgling regime of the then sectarian and corrupt Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki—prior to Aljazeera’s sensitisation of the attention of the world to this new marauding monster.  Before Obama could even acknowledge that the group posed a threat to humanity since the end of the cold war, ISIL has undergone double metamorphosis—first as ISIL then—IS. And in the process, kindled and capitalised on a new narrative or rather created a quasi-miniaturised new world order.

Come to think of it, it’s a new world order constructed and created by the supposedly conquered and vanquished, if were are to pay any attention to George W. Bush and now his most infamous and ill-informed fatuous ‘Mission Accomplished’. The newly reconstituted ISIS now consists of not just a group of disenfranchised Baathist; and some long suffering Sunnis—who twice have been disappointed by the American led coalition in the last Iraq war, and the corrupt sectarian Shiite government foisted on them by the coalition—and mostly a second generation young Muslims in Western Europe whose psychological makeup and outfit is comprised of contrived reality and narrative of marginalisation, oversensitivity and a lack of a healthy identity in a secularised Europe.

IS now has Obama and his other political brethren in the back foot, insofar as they determine the international discourse while the leaders are forever reacting to the agenda set by the group.

Second, the rebooted and airbrushed Hillary Clinton remains a Clinton. Only less than a generation ago, it appeared that the political class in America swore that the country cannot afford anyone by that accursed name to come anywhere near the White House let alone capture the Oval office; not after Bill desacralised the presidency. Not only because he brought the office to disrepute, given that his moral apparatus withered before there were any discernible embryonic development. But shortly after leaving the Oval office, it became apparent that their proclivity for money-grubbing took an entirely different life of its own.

Fast forward 2016, it appears the Clintons are not a spent force, neither are they about to be pensioned off to sunny Florida--as most seniors in America do--or, better still make arrangements to line up to enter into God’s waiting room with a penitent heart and a repentant spirit. Instead they appear to be making a comeback, thanks to the opposition party. How did it come to this for the party of Karl Roves and Dick Cheney—whose command and control of the party were legendary? What went wrong for the GOP? And how did America get itself into this pickle? Shouldn’t the only hegemon deserve better?

Well, it’s all in a name. 

When Donald Trump made his presidential intention known, most unsuspecting public thought that this was another stunt by the loud mouthed billionaire, who is forever only a story short of a controversy. After all it was only last summer that the vociferous Trump trumped his previous performance in insensitivity by leading a charge to prevent a fellow American, an aid worker Dr Kant Brantly from being repatriated back to the United States of America to Emory for treatment. On his Tweeter feed, he wrote: “Ebola patient will be brought to the US in a few days — now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent.

KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE.” Not done with his unsolicited advice, the next day, he tweeted: “Stop the EBOLA patients from entering the US. Treat them, at the highest level, over there. THE UNITED STATES HAS ENOUGH PROBLEMS!” A Washington Post commenter in response to Trump’s evocative tweet, rhetorically asked: “‘Treat them at the highest level.’ Mr Weird Hair thinks they should be hoisted into a tree? Or what?” But now, we all now know who the real Ebola is.

It is surprising that a year later after championing a call to prevent a fellow American citizen from being allowed to come home to access a much needed treatment, Trump has an unassailable lead in a crowded republican race. Since joining the race, Trump has gone out of his way to court controversy, incurring the ire of the Mexicans, black Americans, the Jewish community, those with disability and most recently Muslims. Trump, in one fell swoop turned the perception of majority of American electorates against the opposition party; and the GOP is poorer for it. In Trump, the party has a political Ebola that keeps it in the 24-hour news cycle and nothing else; and in the process decimates it would be voters. Those not decimated by this political Ebola are completely alienated. This is really what happens when a party is plagued by an Ebola—the unravelling of the rational fabric of its psychological outfit and the unmasking of its most important façade, leaving it prostrate, raw and jaded.

By Dr Anayo Unachukwu

The author is a psychiatrist and researcher at Guy’s campus, King’s College London.

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