I am not and never have been a supporter of former president Donald J. Trump but I’ve defended him against the myriad false and misleading accusations to which he’s been subjected. I also recognize the current witch hunt against denominated “Election Deniers” for what it is. That’s because as a dual United States Colombian citizen, I have the benefit of a somewhat broader historical perspective.
For example, the events surrounding the 2020 federal elections that crystalized in the protests turned violent on January 6, 2020, as well as the ensuing government reaction have an analog in recent Colombian history. Current Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, was, in his youth, part of an insurgency (unfortunately armed) against the theft of the 1972 presidential election in Colombia by a coalition of the two traditional parties, an insurgency known as the M-19, a movement that was not a communist conspiracy, as described by its detractors, but one whose goal was to protect both democracy and liberty. The insurgency soon lost its focus and egregious acts against the innocent public resulted but eventually, a positive although very slow healing process ensued, culminating first in a new constitution, and eventually, in Colombia’s recent presidential elections where for the first time in its history, a progressive movement emerged victorious.
The United States is currently experiencing a similar crisis. While it is probably impossible to determine that electoral fraud in 2020 was enough to impact the electoral results, there is little doubt that, as in every federal election in United States history, some fraud occurred, and that the electoral mechanisms introduced in 2020 purportedly due to necessities imposed by the apparent Covid 19 crisis (a crisis now deemed by many as artificial at best), mechanisms such as mass mailing of electoral ballots and acceptance of completed ballots through intermediaries, facilitated the process for vote harvesting and the buying and selling of electoral ballots. At least some credible allegations of electoral fraud were raised but as in the case in Colombia in 1972, they were neither seriously investigated by responsible government agencies nor prosecuted, leading a large segment of the electorate to question the election’s legitimacy. The refusal to investigate the allegations and instead, to investigate and in too many cases, to prosecute those who made them (either in judicial proceedings or through Congressional hearings designed to impact future elections) have led to the complete polarization of the United States electorate at levels threatening domestic tranquility.
Insurgencies are usually the result of justice blatantly denied leading to a loss of faith in all governing institutions deemed responsible for the repression of democracy and liberty (two very different things). That sometimes, although fairly rarely, leads to popular reaction, something detractors refer to as “populism”. Populism is neither a right wing nor a left wing phenomenon and examples in recent United States history include the ill-led Sanders revolution (which flopped) and the Tea Party revolution (which succeeded until it was stamped out). It is thus a phenomenon which occurs when a significant segment in any given society rejects constitutional institutions designed to hamstring democracy and decide to really “throw the rascals out”, although all too frequently without having reflected on with whom or what they’ll be replaced.
It may be that populism is the only thing that can save the world in which we find ourselves, today although hopefully (as is the current case in Colombia), with a well thought out and planned alternative ready for implementation. The traditional parties in the United States are leading the world deeper and deeper into a dystopic disaster and need to be replaced. Not all options are viable and many are worse than the “disease” they need to eradicate (kind of like the Covid 19 vaccines seem to be), but some options are indeed viable and additional options can be crafted by men and women of good will who want to maximize debate while minimizing polarization, and to find common ground for solutions while acknowledging that, where consensus cannot be attained, in a democracy, there are things which are beyond the legitimate control of government. That minds and hearts are not changed by ridicule, censorship and false narratives (at least not in the long term), but that long term solutions are desperately needed if our species is to survive.
While it is losing respect and influence everywhere, the United States is still powerful enough militarily and through control of mechanisms of international finance (with ill conceived, unfair and illegal economic sanctions) to create havoc almost everywhere. Thus United States politics impacts people everywhere and its elections are of universal import. Indeed, it would seem normal and justifiable for people all over the world to seek to impact the elections in a would-be hegemon (what after the 2016 elections was hypocritically referred to as foreign meddling), given that the results of such lections are likely to impact their own future, and even, their survival. Once again, as seems to happen at least every other year, existential United States elections are again at play. Once again, we are again about to go to the polls without viable options, but at least some fundamental things are clear:
- One political party and the traditionalist remnants of the other are totally controlled by the state within the state many of us refer to as the Deep State (unelected bureaucrats, corporate news media, intelligence agencies, billionaire technocrats, etc.) and are dedicated to perpetual war in quest of worldwide political and economic dominance for the benefit of a tiny few, albeit claiming to merely be seeking racial and gender justice and recognition of human rights, purported rights they themselves violate constantly.
- The other is comprised of confused and angry populists who know in their hearts that the “system” is not their friend and who seek solutions mainly in what they mistakenly recall as a better past.
Not great options, but the reality is that one party is willing to risk the survival of humanity, and the other is not. A crude choice, … at least for now. A third alternative is one being crafted by an interesting albeit imperfect stateswoman, a former United States Congresswoman who concurrently served as a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaiian National Guard but who abhors war. However, she has neither a political party’s backing nor an organized political movement fielding candidates in the next election, although there are a few candidates she is supporting, without regard to their current political affiliations. Her name is Tulsi Gabbard and she recently resigned as a member of the Democratic Party, recognizing it for what it was become. It may be that her recommendations and endorsements are worth considering.
Most of us want very similar things. A world without war. Economic and personal security. The ability to successfully raise and protect our families. Access to real justice with respect to resolution of interpersonal and international conflicts. Freedom to think and to express ourselves however we want free of censorship of any kind and free from those who insist that we think and believe as they do, even if we are wrong (it may well be that only by being free to make mistakes will we ever be able to be experienced enough to find correct solutions). A world free of international organizations like NATO whose goal is to dominate others through military force, and to force conflict on societies whose people derive no benefits from the ensuing mayhem (e.g., the Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Palestine, etc.). A country that spends its citizens’ hard earned money for education, healthcare, infrastructure and a social safety net rather than on foreign military bases and a bloated defense industry. What seems clear is that the political party than now controls all political branches of government at the federal level and which has turned the federal bureaucracy into an Americanized version of the Gestapo is an unmitigated disaster in every respect and should be consigned to the dust heaps of history, and that were it possible, its leaders and elected officials should somehow be barred from ever again participating in political leadership, or indeed, leadership of any kind.
This is not an endorsement of the GOP but rather a rejection of the Democratic Party and a plea for consideration of new alternative political options. Your survival depends on the evolution of new viable alternatives and unfortunately we are no longer dealing with a long term solution but rather, with one which requires immediate action.
Please consider the foregoing when you go to the polls in a few weeks. Please also consider sharing the foregoing observations.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.