Watching video of last week’s Iowa Caucuses on the Uptake, it left me severely disturbed to watch as people stand in a room and yell at each other about which candidate is best. They scream and shout and hardly anyone listens and they spout rhetoric that anyone could have heard from the candidate themselves over the past year. They use adjectives to praise a candidate who they think they know, “honest”, “determined”, “strong”, “experienced”… naturally it is the same list people have been using since the feudal days when the king and queen were the most suited to lead us thanks to their nobility and wisdom.
Meanwhile I gather what information I can on the situation in Kenya, where people are also dedicated to their candidate. Questionable election results, a familiar theme throughout the planet, lead to supporters of the opposition taking to the streets. Police are dispatched with little concern for the safety or rights of citizens , demonstrators are shot and killed. Elsewhere one group that supports one candidate targets the other group that supports the other candidate, they attack with weapons and whatever they can get their hands on. They’re convinced that their guy should have won; they believe so strongly in a person they think they know, they’re willing to kill or be killed for him.
Famous and Infamous people have said, throughout history, that nationalism is one of the most dangerous forces on earth. With the power to make people hate each other, convinced that their cause, their flag, their candidate.. is the answer. And when he or she occasionally gets power and then does nothing, they find another to support, re-directing their blind loyalty.. or maybe they stick with their incompetent leader no matter how bad it gets… as if they are required to by some natural law.
Whether they are yelling at each other in a room in Iowa, torturing people in Guantanamo, beating and burning each other alive in Kenya, or rigging election results in Georgia to help a western-friendly oil man stay president, it is all a very cruel and dangerous game. Cruel because those in power use people… they use people’s lives.. people are expendable to them. Dangerous because beyond the yelling comes hatred. After the hatred can come violence. And from violence comes more violence that can and will tear countries, regions, and the world apart. All in the name of what people like to call democracy…. all in the name of some candidate who swears he or she can fix all that is wrong with the society we live in, and the lives so many people feel trapped in.