Hauwa Gambo: All I want to say is, thank you, America (YNaija Frontpage)

Whether the rest of the world hates America’s guts or not, they have to admit ­those guys know how to run a democracy!

On Wednesday, the Olympics of politics finally drew to an end as Barack Obama, candidate of the Democratic Party for the United States Presidential election retained his place as his country’s 44th president, beating the Republican Mitt Romney broadly, if not overwhelmingly.

Much has been said about both candidates ­ Obama as a man who took over an economy that had slowed, promised to bring unemployment down from 8% to 5% and close Guantanamo Bay and has done neither; and Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts moderate who found himself so far to the right that he was unable, till the end, to clarify what exactly he would do better than Obama.

What has not been said is how lucky America has been to even have these two men as candidates. Romney is a hugely accomplished American who built Bain Capital, saved the Salt Lake Olympics, transformed Massachusetts and has an incredible history both of personal and public service; while Obama is a genuinely transformational figure, whose reasoned stimulus saved America from economic disaster and whose calm foreign policy has demonstrably made it safer.

Together, these two men have captivated the world for more than one year, debating ideas, issues and intentions that concern all segments of the American society.

Americans, those perpetual whiners, on cable television and newspaper op-eds have lamented the smallness of the race. They lament because they have not seen leaders who have no cause to worry about the small people. They complained about an endless campaign, but they complain only because they have not witnessed an endless dictatorship.

From student loans to Medicare, the role of government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Unit to the right of a woman to have an abortion, it has become a cliché but no less true ­ the issues that mattered to the American anywhere (including, as you might note, undocumented immigrants) were important to the men who wanted to lead them; in that same way a continuous debate to save the soul of their country was evident ­ should they go right, supporting entrepreneurs and stimulating enterprise so that wealth can grow, or do they go left; get the government involved with more regulation and more fairness?

Or perhaps as Bill Clinton, the last great American president, eloquently put: should a philosophy of ‘we’re in this together’ be taken above one that ‘you’re on your own’?

Say what you will about Romney’s alleged dishonesty or Obama’s legendary arrogance, this spectacle was relentlessly inspiring. It is not for nothing that America’s leaders must be seen lifting bottles of water to help hurricane victims, or serving food like an ordinary waiter ­ it is be cause the people matter; and if the process does not focus on those people, then that process is undesirable and must be corrected.

This is of course where I should fall to the temptation of drawing a contrast with Nigeria, and its abominable political process, but there is no utility to be found in comparing the effectiveness of a Lamborghini to that of a banned ‘okada’.

The kind of insanity we have found in Lagos, where a democratically elected leader can ask his own people to “go back to their villages” if they cannot abide by a badly-thought-out, irresponsibly-implemented law would not even see the light of day in a society where the people are robustly as importantly as the politicians in the governance process.

For showing us this sheer, imperfect, lugubrious, but ultimately affecting and unpretentious spectacle every four years ­ and ending it with the gracious display of unity from the defeated candidate, after a transparently free and fair process – America reminds freedom lovers across the world of the possibilities of a free market place of ideas, and opportunities.

Today, as I celebrate for once again showing the world how its done, I celebrate that other beautiful thing – democracy; rule of law, the will of the people. The idea, brought to glorious life, that governments should be afraid of their people, and not the other way round.

Whether the rest of the world hates America’s guts or not, they have to admit ­ those guys know how to run a democracy!



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

One comment

  1. Brilliant piece! The US will always be applauded for the sophistication they bring to every human endeavour.

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