2020 US Elections: Ode to Wishful Thinking

By FEMI AKINTUNDE-JOHNSON :fajalive1@gmail.com 08182223348 - (SMS Only)


For any keen observer of the national politics of the United States of America since the first half of 2020, your fixation with what has, in this election cycle, turned into a massive cliff-hanger of nail-chomping proportion, is both forgivable and introspective. Contrary to the bullish abrasiveness of President Donald Trump who began claiming that the battleground states had fallen unto his path to 270 electoral college votes just 24 hours after the Tuesday, November 3 election day, the race to the White House has been pretty close. It has switched from red to blue columns as counting (collation here) moved from in-person votes, to absentee ballots and pre-election day votes, which witnessed turn outs in extraordinary numbers – to the grim-faced chagrin of Trump.

The POTUS had shouted himself hoarse demonising mail-in votes which Democrats had canvassed massively amongst its adherents in keeping with its protocols to stem the sporadic spread of Coronavirus ravaging all of America. By the way, no one, for those four days of election virus, was apparently worried about Coronavirus, its devastating death and infection rates, as a clearly divided nation battled to appoint or disappoint its executive and legislative pilots.

So, what is the gnawing attraction for any full-blooded, green-passport wielding Nigerian in the bruising internal affairs of the Americans as they battle with their towering challenges of disputed mishandling of coronavirus pandemic, systemic racial inequality, hamstrung public health programme, economic contraction, and sundry other issues? For me especially, and, I suspect, some other Nigerians, watching the antics, dynamics and effulgence of the American two-way presidential campaigns – from the primaries, the multiple debates, the tarnishing spectre of political mudslinging, surrogate bashing of programmes and policies, intractable legislators, colourfully biased and divisive media, and so on…the wonder and glamour of American national politics always stir in every discerning African observer the forlorn hope that such spectacle and reverence for the pursuit of order and tested procedures in public engagement and administration of the electoral process, could be replicated in our continent.

As the colour, tension, punditry, polls of polls, etc, of the election and post-election activities wafted across the world via television networks and international newspapers on the internet, the searing pains of our home-groomed decrepit electoral laws, the rugged, corrupt showcase of our political class in crude deathly intra-party combats… become sharply outlined in sickeningly bold relief.

‘What ifs’, ‘had it beens’, ‘can it evers’ are triggers of anecdotes that naturally flow from the core of our unfortunate circumstances. We watch in admiration as election officials, state secretaries, state attorney-generals, state supreme court justices, federal appellate judges, well-groomed reporters and correspondents, and so many individuals tied to the successful and transparent execution of the historic, constitutional and fundamental duty of the simple, yet critical, act of freely electing people who have voluntarily submitted themselves to the whim and will of the populace.

The vastness, orderliness, digital application, emotional investment, party loyalty, trust in the multiple process (never mind the oddity of a wimping president crying over unsubstantiated voter fraud claim), and sundry complimentary ingredients of American democracy make you wish that many of these concepts, precepts and mindsets can be harnessed, modified and domesticated in ways and forms that sit well with our culture, resources, innovation, beliefs and imaginations.

Despite the wild declamations and litigious threats of Donald Trump, who ever wins the White House knows he has passed through a high-strung crucible erected by the people…and the loser knows, deep in the bowels of his common-sense and legacies, that he has been properly whipped – rightly or wrongly.
The lingering question is this: when do we achieve even a mere semblance of such organisational, administrative and political maturity, structure and execution? In 200 years?

What Makes A Man Out Of You – 3
As much as possible, I made sure I attended, with my wife, the ante-natal sessions at Finnih Medical Centre, tucked inside GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. On many occasions, the doctors would tease me, wondering if I was one of those husbands who faint at the sight of gushing blood. I reasoned that it should take more than the gore of childbirth to make me faint. I have never fainted in all my life, but I had also not at that point witnessed childbirth…in living crude colour.
But I was determined to be a full-fledged parent alongside my wife; I wanted to be able to tell my children that I have been there for them right from their conception, to their delivery…that I have always been there…that is what I imagine God will tell the adversary….He is always there for us, in bad and good times.

Remember that at this point in my life, I was not exactly a fantastic husband or father-to-be… too many distractions and responsibilities that had conspired to rob my wife of my quality attention and presence. But when it came to activities surrounding my first child, every other thing took the back burner. I really cannot explain my insatiable love and attraction for little children…perhaps their apparent helplessness and disarming innocence… I really cannot put a finger to it…but I just love to carry a baby, cuddle and cradle a cute one to sleep, or coax a smile or laughter out of a grumpy adorable tot.

But, when the day came, I was completely unprepared. We had gone clubbing, and returned fairly early Sunday morning, after she complained of some discomfort…. I was busy sleeping the “wear and tear” of clubbing off when my wife drove out with her oldest brother on some errand. Apparently, few hours after, on their way back, she started sensing the premature pangs of imminent contractions, and these things women feel when the baby is knocking at the door.

Back at home, she dragged me out of my stupor, announcing gravely that she felt the ‘water’ had ‘broken’…it could be the time we had been waiting for…the sleep vanished. On getting to the hospital, I reaffirmed my crusading agitation to stand beside my wife all the way, until the actual delivery… Much earlier, Dr. Finnih had wisely counseled me about the implications and all-what-nots of observing a child delivery. When he was sufficiently persuaded that my mind was made up, he sanctioned my ‘observer status’.
When the ‘doctor on duty’ inspected her, he announced easily that we could not return home that night; the progress of the baby had gone farther than we imagined. Unfazed, we took two beds; one for the expectant mother, and the second for the expectant father. All we could do at that point was to sit and watch. My ‘watch’ was jarred intermittently by the unending moaning and hisses of other women (next door) under the jubilant discomfort of waiting out the pangs of childbirth.

Ire and I chatted the night away, dreaming all sorts of scenarios… making all sorts of projections and vows…reiterating promises to clean up our acts, and give life a new kick, sfor the sake of the on-coming baby…until we dozed off. Very early the next morning, we were informed that it was time! The doctor shocked us with the news that the head of the baby was already peeping! What! And we were busy sleeping? Within twenty minutes, we were rolling her into the labour room.

As they rigged my wife up in the ‘serious-looking’ labour room, I observed the calmness of the doctor, and the all-too familiar prancing about of the nurses. I looked careful into their eyes…I did not see anything to make me anxious. My mind settled. “These people knew the routine…they are on top of the situation…no cause for alarm,” I told myself repeatedly.
With that confident self-invigilation, I chose to focus on the positive, and concentrate on the novelty that was opening up ‘before my very eyes’.
(To continue).