AH! SO THE GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF GHANA DOES HAVE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS OVER HIGH INTEREST RATES?
By CAMERON DUODU
It isn’t often that I smile when I read about what’s happening to my dear country. It is grimace after grimace that afflicts me.
Grimaces of both the physical and intellectual type. For all I see is to be evidence upon evidence that those who hold the country’s purse strings are unable to steer the economy in the direction of viability, to say nothing of actual growth.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to read that the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr . Abdul-Nashiru Issahaku, had admitted to the Association of Ghana Industries at an awards ceremony recently that “the high cost of credit in Ghana is a major problem confronting the banking industry” and that he’s been having “sleepless nights over the situation.”
QUOTE: “He noted that the challenges that confront the Ghanaian industry are well known and the necessary steps are being taken to address them. Some of these challenges include currency instability, access to, and high credit. “I have sleepless nights over the high cost of credit and I can assure you that I am working very hard to ensure that the cost of credit comes down.”
“According to Dr. Issahaku, the Central Bank has the primary mandate of [ensuring] price stability, and it can only fulfill this mandate ‘through a healthy and resilient banking sector. If banks are strong and stable, they can transmit our policy decisions to you all.’ [he sad].
[He added:] “The essence of our work is not really the price stability, but to ensure that industries thrive,[that] businesses thrive, for the welfare of all Ghanaians to be improved.”
Industries have called on government to review the current interest rate, which hovers around 35 to 40 percent. UNQUOTE
So, if the Governor of the Bank of Ghana has been having “sleepless nights” over the high interest rates being charged by the banks in Ghana, what does he think industrialists and investors who are at the “coal-face” of the economy experience when they retire to bed at night?
Suppose one is operating a business and there is a shortfall in revenue which is affecting the purchase of badly-needed raw materials. Or one has realised that certain skills are lacking in the factory or other operation and that in order to be able to hire the skilled personnel required, an expensive exercise in head-hunting must occur. And yet there is no money in the kitty. What does the business do? Go and borrow at an interest rate of 30-40%?
How would one expect to be able to recoup the money, even if one were able to service the debt?
It is a mad situation, is it not? Such a high cost of borrowing also affects the cost of living in many dangerous ways. Who are going to be able to borrow enough money to build houses in the numbers required keep rents low so that workers don’t have to pay through the nose just to have a roof over their heads?
Who are going to be able to keep trucks and other vehicles on the roads to cart food and carry workers to enable industry to run smoothly?
Who bears the brunt of the very high inflation rate that such a situation inevitably engenders?
Above all, who are going to be bold enough to “start up” new ventures to encourage growth in the economy? After all even if one had the initial capital; even if one had done enough “due diligence” and come to the conclusion that the opportunity existed for a decent profit to be turned in the chosen field; how would one assure oneself that if a financial crisis arose, one would be able to salvage the situation by doing what businesses elsewhere do – that is seek temporary support from one’s bankers?
30-40 percent!The mere thought of it makes one feel sick! You pay such a huge borrowing cost, and what sort of profit margin do you expect to generate from the business?
Unless you are making between 100 and 200% profit (gross), you might not even be able to meet the ordinary charges that you must defray to stay in business.
Utility bills. Petrol. Value added tax. Import and excise duties. And so on and so forth!
I think we owe many of our businessmen a great deal of respect – for just being able to stay on their feet at all. As for those who are able to turn in a decent enough profit to expand and employ more people, we must bless them all.
What I find rather galling is that the Governor of the Bank of Ghana knows these things and yet all he could tell the industrialists was that he was working hard to resolve the difficulty with regard to high interest rates. When can we see the results of his hard work?
I am sure he goes to IMF and World Bank conferences where he is able to rub shoulders with Governors of Central Banks from all over the world.
He has probably met the Governor of the Bank of England and is aware that that Governor, who is not a Briton but a Canadian, would be put on his ear faster than the air can blow if he did anything that would give the impression to the British that he wanted a recession to buffet British industry in any shape or form.
At its meeting on 3 November 2016, “The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to hold the Bank Rate at a record low of0.25 percent … in order to meet the 2 percent inflation target, in a way that helps to sustain growth and employment.”
Yes! And guess what the Bank of Ghana’s interest rate is? 26%!
On a table that gives the interest rates of all nations of the world, Ghana came in as the country with the third highest interest rate in the world — 26%! Only Malawi and Argentina have a higher interest rate than Ghana. Yes!Here is part of the table showing the company that Ghana keeps in the international interest rate league:
Ghana’s 26% benchmark interest rate is, of course, the rate which the country’s commercial banks are supposed to pay when they borrow from the Bank of Ghana to lend to their customers with a large profit added to it. (assuming that the Bank of Ghana has any money to lend to them!)
By the way, that’s not a frivolous remark, for the Bank of Ghana has been borrowing ferociously, by way of Eurobonds, at ridiculously high interest rates. One of the latest borrowings, made in September 2016, fetched $750 million at 9.25 %.
That’s considered by some commentators as a ridiculously high figure, given the fact that generally, the countries from which the borrowings were made currently maintain relatively low interest rate regimes.
I’m sure that the Governor of the Bank of England would love to be the head of the Bank of Ghana! Certainly, his job would be at risk in London were he to even contemplate pursuing the type of policies that the Bank of Ghana shoves down our throats. For he would be pressurised — if not crudely forced– to change the policies for the better, not to have “sleepless nights” over them.
SO ONLY 2.3 MI LLI ON GHANAIANS ARE ‘BONKERS’? SORRY I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU!
By CAMERON DUODU
K1: KOO, I swear that when I observe many of the
goings-on in our country today, I begin to suffer from acute mental torture!
K2: Ho, you’re not the only one! I read an alarming report the other day claiming that 2.3 million Ghanaians have “psychological problems!”
Ho, I don’t mean thattype of psychological problem. Hey – wait a minute – how did they come by that rounded figure in the first place?
I suppose they counted the number of people who have made their permanent abode in markets and near gutters at the roadside all over Ghana?
Wait! Let’s Google what the man actually said… Ah here goes: ….
QUOTE: ” Dr. Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority has revealed that more that 2.3 million of Ghana’s population [are] suffering from various mental challenges….” He said the number of people “suffering from various psychological disorders constitutes approximately 10% of the country’s population…” UNQUOTE
One out of ten? I don’t believe it! I grew up in a town of about 10,000 people and can only remember two people
who behaved strangely sometimes – not all the time, mind you!
The Mental Health Association has obviously got some figures from a sample survey and is extrapolating those figures onto a country-wide template.
Do you think they could have interviewed people like my favourite example of the not-so-psychologically-challenged-but-not-too-free- from-self-imposed-grandeur either?
Who could that be?
He used to hang around the Danquah Circle in Accra! He was the prize exhibit of posh expatriate ladies who were showing their visitors around Accra.
You don’t mean the “DanquahDangler” ?
Yes! you know about him?
Yes! He used to expose his not inconsiderable manhood all day to the rich ladies trooping to shop for nice goodies at the posh supermarket on what’s now Oxford Street.
One cannot forget how he caused some men to suffer from inferiority complex! Especially when they drove past him with a lady sitting by them in the car!
Hahahahaha! The ladies, of course, pretended not to be looking but you knew all the time that they were stealing glances at him – and mentally making not-so-favourable comparisons!
Ever wondered what happened to him?
Don’t know! But since his “station” was on the route to the Castle, he must have been bundled away through the intervention of some envious and outraged Governmental grandee?
Possible! Men who drove past with their women must have prayed that the women wouldn’t be fantasising about the Dangler at their most delicate and intimate moments!
Speak for yourself ! Man must not live by length alone!
Nor breadth either — for that matter! There are techniques that can reduce the relevance of size…
Ho? Go’way! Any man who is honest with himself would admit a certain amount of envy if he saw the Danquah Dangler in full “costume”….Penis envy afflicts even women. How much more males?
But really can you imagine going the length and breadth of this country (pun intended) enumerating the Danquah Danglers of this world for research purposes?
Well can you accept that there are a whole 2.3 million of them?
Actually it doesn’t sound too far-fetched when you consider the current economic climate.
That’s precisely why it’s unbelievable. Where would Dr Osei’s Mental Health Association –which apparently receives very little funding from the Government – get the money to buy the vehicles – and petrol – needed, and also pay researchers to go round counting 2.3 million people? And not just count them, but be able, initially, to diagnose them as suffering from mental illness? I mean even people actually taken to mental hospitals are often difficult to diagnose! How do you differentiate, for instance, between people who are just a bit “soft” in the head and the proper “Messianic” types?
Yes you do have a point. Where for instance do you place the “retarded” and the “autistic”? With expert help for such people with mere learningdifficulties, they can be taught how to live ordinary lives or even rich ones.
Yes – I once saw a TV programme about a young man who could look at whole city streets and reproduce them in their entirety, on paper, as fantastic works of art. Yet if he were born in these parts, he would probably have been written of from day one as an “obsessive” and/or ”disruptive” character, to be dumped on the heap of the 2.3 million “mad” people our country harbours.
Meanwhile, Dr Osei’s outfit is conspicuously failing to call attention to the huge sections of the population that are equally sick in the head but are not classified as such because their “mental illness” is of what might be called “a posh type.”
Whom do you mean?
I mean the thousands who live by the word of evangelists and prophets who by their words and deeds are quite clearly deranged and whose followers must therefore, of necessity, be also deranged. Can you imagine sane people flocking to police stations to demand the release of prophets whom the police have arrested because on good evidence they have committed offences?
Come to that, can you imagine a prophet forecasting the outcome of an election that has not yet been held – and accusing a fellow priest of coming to Ghana to rig the said election? Or a sane prophet prophesying the murder of a presidential candidate?
And can you imagine so-called journalists finding the stupid sayings of these priests to be “newsworthy” enough to be published as headline news? And even though they are fully aware that nothing the prophets say ever comes true?
The journalists trouble me greatly, I must confess! They must know that they are giving the “oxygenofpublicity” to these quacks, who depend on publicity to collect huge sums, in the form of tithes, from their credulous congregations? A man says things that can easily be found to be blasphemous from a cursory glance at the Bible, let alone a short discussion with a properly-trained theologian, and yet he’s given headlines because the journalists are too lazy to examine what’s said properly before publishing it!
A “prophet” physically assaults a pregnant woman by stamping his foot hard on her belly,to rid the foetus of witchcraft and yet the media fail to notice that – although a video of the incident goes viral?
I think some of your fellow-journalists are themselves “mentally-challenged” for falling to spot and expose so many of these false prophets.
Well, as you have recognized, the prophets are funded heavily with tithes by their congregations, and you know that where there is treasure, many a man’s heart will be!
Ah? So you too can preach? You say then that treasure has made the country go bonkers?
Yep. Not only the 2.3 million that the Mental Health Association has identified.
Yeah. I mean how else could one explain the people’s tolerance of galamsey, an enterprise that is killing the water-bodies that our own progeny are supposed to drink from in future?
Li Wen Qieng, 28 (left) and Mo Sin Shan, 35, after their arrest for their involvement in galamsey operations on Cocoa Board land at Wassa Akropong. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
Two Chinese nationals are in the grip of the National Security for allegedly destroying land belonging to the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
Li Wen Qieng, 28, and Mo Sin Shan, 35, were arrested in Wassa Saman in the Wassa Mampong District in the Western Region on Saturday, October 22, 2016.
Briefing the media, the Deputy Intelligence Manager of COCOBOD, Mr Wisdom Delali Amehame, said a security guard of the Seed Production Department of the COCOBOD spotted the two who had erected canopies and were using two bulldozers to clear the land for mining.
He, therefore, alerted the Intelligence Department of COCOBOD and with the assistance of the police, the two were arrested.
However, the two were released on bail because the Wassa Akropong Police could not get anyone to translate from Chinese to English for the suspects to be interrogated.
Mr Amehame said the two then went back to the parcel of land and continued with the clearing of about 4.5 acres that night.
The attention of officials of COCOBOD was once again drawn to the activities of the two and they once again caused the arrest of the suspects.
Mr Amehame said with the help of an interpreter, they were able to find out that the two had come into the country by the invitation of a Ghanaian, popularly known as “Wonder” of Wonder Mining Company Limited.
“Wonder” led the two to the land of the COCOBOD for them to start their illegal activity in their bid to mine for gold.
“Wonder” also stood bail for the two when they were first arrested.
Mr Amehame explained that upon the rearrest and interrogation of the two, “Wonder” got the hint that he had been found out and therefore absconded.
The Public Affairs Manager of COCOBOD, Mr Noah Amenyah, said illegal mining was taking a toll on the cocoa sector in the country.
Farmers had had to part with their farms because of the activities of illegal miners, he added.
Mr Amenyah tasked the National Security to take action.
“If no action is taken there will be no cocoa industry in some years to come,” he said.
A WOEFUL ‘WONDER’ AT WASSA
By CAMERON DUODU
On 25 October 2016 the Daily Graphic reported that two Chinese nationals Li Wen Qieng, 28 and Mo Sin Shan, 35, were arrested on 22 October 2016 “”for allegedly destroying land belonging to the Ghana Cocoa Board” at Wassa Saman in the Wassa Mampong District of the Western Region.
According to the report, the Deputy Intelligence Manager of COCOBOD, Mr Wisdom Amehame, said a security guard of the Seed Production Department of the COCOBOD spotted the two, “who had erected canopies and were using two bulldozers to clear the land for mining.”
He alerted the Intelligence Department of COCOBOD and with the assistance of the police, the two were arrested. However, the two were released on bail because the Wassa Akropong Police could not get anyone to translate from Chinese to English for the suspects to be interrogated.
The report went on: “Mr Amehame said the two [Chinese nationals] then went back to the parcel of land and continued with the clearing of about 4.5 acres that night.
The attention of officials of COCOBOD was once again drawn to the activities of the two and they once again caused the arrest of the suspects. [This time] with the help of an interpreter, they were able to find out that the two had come into the country by the invitation of a Ghanaian, popularly known as “Wonder” of Wonder Mining Company Limited.” “Wonder” was the person who “led the two to the land of the COCOBOD, for them to start their illegal activity – mining for gold. “Wonder” was also the person who stood bail for the two [Chinese nationals] when they were first arrested. But upon the re-arrest and interrogation of the two,“Wonder” got the hint that he had been “found out, and therefore absconded.”
This story illustrates the sheer incompetence and unconcern with which the galamsey calamity that is destroying our water-bodies and farms are viewed by some of the state institutions of Ghana that should be protecting our natural heritage from being wantonly despoiled by foreigners with the active connivance of unpatriotic Ghanaian
THE UNSEEN DANGER THAT WE CURRENTLY FACE IN GHANA
By CAMERON DUODU
Danger comes to a country in many shapes and forms.
Economic danger is perhaps the most common. The country’s exports cannot pay for its imports; so it borrows money to buy imports; interest is charged on the money it borrows; (the worse its economic position, the higher the interest rate); and if things continue like that over a long period, the country cannot borrow any more money from overseas lenders.
What happens when a country becomes “bankrupt” in this way? You see queues everywhere. Queues for petrol; queues for milk and sugar, and soap and toothpaste and toilet rolls. Worse, the hospitals run short of drugs and spare parts for their equipment.
Such shortages make life totally unbearable. And the talented people who cannot bear the daily depredations, and are able to do so, leave the country. Those who stay behind find themselves drained of every ounce of the self-confidence necessary to rebuild the country. So the country begins to chase its own tail.
Believe me: I am not telling you a “toli”! Those old enough have seen such things actually happen in this blessed land of Ghana. Those too young can ask – and they will be told about it.
Truly the reality of that bizarre period is etched for ever in the minds of those unfortunate enough to have experienced it. None but the most heartless would ever wish their children and their children’s offspring to ever experience such soul-destroying situations again.
I recall these things because someone – too young to have felt the full force of our “kalabule” era but old enough to have caught a wee sniff of it – has written to me expressing sentiments that alert me to the fact that some of our young people have begun to feel the same sense of frustration and helplessness that afflicted our souls all those years ago. The circumstances are – fortunately – quite different. But sadly, not so the effects.
After reading a piece of mine about a recent incident in which two Chinese nationals were caught vandalising a Cocobod farm with a bulldozer and an excavator, in a galamsey operation, this young man wrote:
QUOTE: “Great article. Really. The irony is that when you drive up and down this country, you come across countless police check-points where they harass the driver of a respectable motor-car to produce his first aid kit and fire extinguisher. And triangle. And spare tyre. But a whole bulldozer being driven driven past them cannot be interrogated!
“I also feel we need to be honest with ourselves about a deep malaise in our culture that allowed us to sell our own people as slaves, and now is making us destroy our own land for pennies. There is a huge amount of work to do on ourselves if we have it within us to self- destruct so spectacularly for minimal gain.
“What is to be done? How on earth do I spend the second half of my life in order to change this?” UNQUOTE
I must admit that the young man’s letter has completely shattered me. How am I to answer him in practical terms? The issue of selling our own brothers and sisters is too complex to be adequately discussed in for this piece but we shall return to it at a later date. But about the issue he raises — police corruption and incompetence — does one tell hm to “join the police and uproot corruption and inefficiency from within!”?
What guarantee does one have that even if he were minded to apply to join the force, he would be welcome in it? And even if they accepted him, of what use would the presence of a single individual be to a police force whose strength stands at the tens of thousands? Besides, he has seen with his own eyes how they operate. He must have the greatest contempt for the way they constantly extort money from hapless motorists. Would he not feel suicidal were he to be exposed to a first-hand view of the corruption of his “comrades” on a daily basis? And yet if reform doesn’t come from within the police force itself, when will the corruption ever stop?
Joining the police force is not an option then? What about reforming the force through political action?
But resorting to political action means joining a political party does it not? Suppose he’s not attracted to any of the political parties vying for power in Ghana today? Do you actually think he can find a party whose ideals would coincide with those of his young mind? Even if the party seduces him by saying on paper that it would do such-and-such when it comes to power, what guarantee is there that it would carry out its promises, instead of doing the convenient thing and bowing to the imperatives of the moment – such as pretending that police corruption — or galamsey for that matter — does not exist?
You know this may be regarded by him as very lame but you might say to the young man: “Listen, it’s only when you are inside a political party that you can use it to achieve the objectives you advocate. You’ve got to go in there, make a very strong case to win as many party members as possible, and then try to implement your ideas – with their support.”
The young man would laugh at that if he knew his Ghana well enough. For he would retort: “Look, people don’t join parties in Ghana to achieve social reforms! They do so mainly to obtain the power to ameliorate their economic and social conditions at public expense.. Few are interested in ideas. Their main driving force is to harvest lucrative jobs – as Minsters, or Deputy Minsters , or heads of corporations and public bodies. They want a driver, a cook, a steward boy, a garden boy and a night-watchman. All paid for with public funds.!
“And they also want to obtain commissions from public contracts. They don’t care that such commissions end up forcing contractors to delay projects or deliver very shoddy work. Go to the houses of the big men and women and see. Aspirants to such selfish advantage are all you will ever meet there. Policy? What is policy to them? So everyone watches what their leader wants and supports that – so that the leader can observe how loyal they are to him – not to the country or the party – and reward them with such lucrative jobs. That’s the be-all and end-all of much of what’s taken for politics in Ghana. How can anyone with any ideals participate in such a charade?”
My God if this is how the young see the observable reality of the day, then what future does our country have?
And yet what alternative is there for them to see?
Let’s go back to the incident that caused the young man to write to me. The two Chinese who drove the bulldozer and the excavator to the Cocobod site were allowed to be bailed by a Ghanaian whose true identity was not disclosed to the media by the police. Will the police officers who granted the Chinese bail be queried by their superiors? We don’t know! Will any top government officials see in the seeming protection by the police of the Ghanaian mastermind of the galamsey venture, the “self-destruct” button which the young man clearly saw and pointed at in his letter to me? We don’t know!
All we can surmise is that the young people of this country are seeing things which their elders are too obtuse to register and that this is destroying the spirit of many of them. The danger is that as their counterparts did nearly 40 years ago, they too may take to the streets and yell slogans, without the experience to realise that mere slogans didn’t solve the social and economic problems of the past and won’t do so now, either.
Greater fools are we (who should know better) if we are so negligent and stupid that we push them to regard that facile – and often tragic – option, as the only one open to them.
IN July 2016 a scientist of the University of Cape Coast tole me that Ghana’s main water-bodies will almost all have been destroyed in the next five years, if things go on the way they are going.
“What? Five years?” I asked sceptically.
“Yes!” he confirmed. “Five years. Our water situation will be dire! ”
I was completely dumbfounded. Scientific information of such a definitive nature was available in Ghana and yet galamsey – the cause of the destruction of our water-bodies – was still going on?
I probed: “Is the Government of Ghana aware of this situation?”
“Yes,” answered the scientist. “If you go to the Institute of Aquatic Biology, you will find that they’ve got reports saying precisely what I am saying. They are a body whose research is paid for by the people of Ghana and so they are required routinely to send copies of their reports to the Ministries and departments responsible for the environment, lands and natural resources, and – water. ”
The scientist could have added that even if the institute had failed to carry out research into the effects of galamsey on our water-bodies off its own bat, the Government of Ghana could have commissioned it to produce such a report.
Indeed it’s not information about the deadly effects of galamsey on our rivers and water-bodies that’s lacking. No – it’s rather the will to do anything effective about the information available that’s causing the problem to be perpetuated. To prove my point let’s play a small game. If you are on the Internet please go to the following website:
Please watch the film. Then please come back to continue reading the rest of this article. Would you then please answer this question: “Do you realise that this film was commissioned by the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources?”
Yes! But how come you have probably never seen it until today? How many Ghanaians have seen it? When the Mobile Cinema Unit of the Ministry of information still existed, this would have been the sort of film that would be shown in every village and hamlet in the country. That was what was done when a very efficient campaign was launched to educate the whole country about the swollen shoot disease that was destroying our cocoa industry in the 1950s.
When a universal adult franchise was introduced for the first time in Ghana to enable every qualified adult to vote in the general election of February1951, again the Mobile Cinema was the instrument through which potential voters were taught what to do on election day.
Today, the Ministry of Lands and General Resources produces such a powerful film and unless someone tells you where to find it you won’t even know that such a film exists. That’s not an accident. The galamsey issue has become – in the words of a friend with whom the issue was discussed recently – a “political football”.
How come? The chiefs who are immediately concerned because it’s their people’s rivers, streams and farmlands that are being devastated by galamsey, are generally afraid to touch the subject because they know the unemployed youths in their towns and villages who constitute the bulk of the work-force of the galamsey operators, will rise against any chief who tries to “obstruct” the youths as they pursue the only means they claim they know of “earning a living” in today’s Ghana with its many economic “challenges”.
Okay so if the chefs have a good reason to be afraid of the youths what about the political parties? Shouldn’t they come out firmly against galamsey and thus set the tone for the rest of the country to follow? After all they are all offering leadership to the country in return for its votes?
Well, the political parties are also petrified with fear that if they come out too strongly against galamsey, they will lose the youth vote in the rural areas. So, as they go about enthusing crowds with promises of manna from heaven, they observe a strict silence about the fact that the people who throng their rallies and sing enthusiastically about how life will be transformed if the party they fancy comes to power, will lose the water they drink in five years time if galamsey is not stopped.
Neither the NDC nor the NPP has a word to say about galamsey in its manifesto. So far, the only party that has made any pronouncement on galamsey is the PPP (People’s Popular Party) – and yet it’s one of the parties affected by EC disqualification!
is only half the job to be done. It also has to think of how to get THE GHANAIAN galamsey operators to stop ruining their own water-bodies.
This may mean finding the alternative employment for the youths, whilst using military force to drive them away from the land. It’s not an easy proposition, but if the PPP is able to campaign along these lines, and to name and shame the big parties that have folded up in front of the galamsey challenge, Ghanaians will have reason to be grateful to it.
The best thing, of course, would be to launch a NATIONAL, political-party-free campaign to stop galamsey forthwith and look for ways of rehabilitating the rivers and streams as well as the farmlands – where possible, For if we don’t end galamsey with immediate effect, we are up for the long jump – as a nation and as a people.
But when all’s said and done, isn’t politics full of irony? Democracy means working for the people, according to their own expressed preferences.
Yet how can there be democracy, if you dare not even give the people a choice to decide on something that’s good for them — for fear that they will turn on you and deny you votes for proposing to save them from their own folly?
This post has no tag
Comments Off on THE IRONY UNDERLYING DEMOCRATIC POLITICS IN GHANA
Donald trump poses a real problem for the United States.
For hardly ever has there been a candidate nominated for the presidency by one of America’s major parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – who states openly that the election in which he’s running will be “rigged” and that he will only “accept” the result if he wins.
In actual fact, such a declaration ought to be treasonable, for American democracy depends on the candidates agreeing to accept election results. Germane to the “result”, of course, is the court process, which allows candidates to challenge in court, aspects of the election that, according to them, breached the electoral laws.
To mount a legal challenge in court implies that one has accepted the “partial result” but is pursuing the normal course over which an election is run, namely, that the voting takes place; the votes are counted; a result is declared; and the candidate who loses but thinks he only lost because irregularities occurred during the voting/counting processes, wants the courts to affirm that his complaints are genuine. When the courts agree with him that there have been fraudulent practices, then he is declared the winner.
Is this the process which Trump has in mind when he says he may not accept the result? That does not seem to be the case because he has now amplified his statement to the effect that he will accept the result “if I win.” That “if I win” goes against the grain of a democratic election, and Trump has been severely criticised for bringing such an exotic element into the election campaign.
The American political system does not appear, however, to have any mechanism for dealing with such an appalling attitude on the part of a candidate for the presidency. As far as I know, there is no formal pledge required of a candidate – with penalties to be exacted in case the pledge is broken – that forms part of the electoral law.
Which raises the question: if Trump does lose, and by an agreed non-verbal signal, the followers who have been applauding him throughout his campaign – the racists, the gun-lovers, the misogynists and the large body of malcontents who may be described, collectively, as the “loony right” — begin to take up arms to try and seize the White House, what will happen? Should the Republic wait until he actually moves armed forces before clamping him in irons?
These are not idle questions. A man called Hitler poured scorn on the political system of Germany in the 1930s in precisely the same manner as Trump is doing in the US today. Hitler said the German Reich was in hock to international Zionism through the control of the German banks by Jews both within Germany and abroad. Hitler didn’t trust the German army, and created the Nazi Party’s own armed forces, known eventually as the “storm-troopers” which replaced the regular armed forces. Before anyone knew it, Hitler had infiltrated Nazis into every part of the machinery of state and used them to seize state power. Then, he eliminated not only the Jews but all those opposed to him, including constitutionally-elected legislators.
I daresay there were people in Germany who thought that Hitler was merely fond of hyperbole and had no intention of changing the German political system completely and installing himself as dictator. For though there was ample evidence that the Reichstag Fire, which Hitler used as an excuse to wipe out the Communist Party and similar parties was deliberately staged by the Nazis. But the German media looked on largely unconcerned. They were absorbed in fascination as Hitler organised mammoth public demonstrations, which some too as a sign that Hitler truly represented the popular will in Germany.
The American media are caught in a similar trap right now. The public doesn’t seem to get enough of Trump. The TV and radio stations, in particular, are earning huge sums of money from Trump supporters. And where the money is, coverage follows. When the more serious media, such as the NewYorkTimes and the WashingtonPost, expose Trump’s lies by “fact-checking” his statements, they are dismissed as instruments that are part of the “election-rigging” process. Trump never ceases to whine against them.
A writer in The Washington Post has described in the following terms, the dilemma in which the American media has found itself, vis-a-vis the threat posed by Trump: “The media’s responsibility for Donald Trump’s political success will be debated for a good long while.” As network boss Les Moonves said of Trump’s candidacy, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS”.
The writer noted that almost from the moment Trump entered the 2016 presidential race, he had been “a justifiably huge story.” A lead in the polls became a lead in the delegate count and then, “the nomination of the Republican Party.”
Was he ridiculous? Beyond measure. As long as the reporting about him was sceptical, there was more reason to train the spotlight on him than to pull it away.
But (the writer went on) that’s about to change.
QUOTE: [Trump] is bound to lose the election, and we in the media will lose the rationale that his every utterance warrants notice as a glimpse into the character of a person in contention for the most consequential job in the world. But he will remain the same attention-whoring, head-turning carnival act that he is today. And we will face a moment of truth: Do we care chiefly about promoting constructive discussion and protecting this blessed, beleaguered democracy of ours? Or are we more interested in grovelling for eyeballs and clicks? Just as Trump is a candidate like no other, he may be a test like none before him.
“Mitt Romney didn’t cause any ruckus after his defeat four years ago, and even if he had, he was … a decent man and an able public servant but hardly box-office gold. He moved on. So did we. The situation was much the same with John McCain in 2008, John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000. Once they had definitively lost their bids for the presidency, they no longer asserted any claim to center stage.
“Trump has been a singular boon and singularly potent drug [for the media]. “We need rules for quitting him, guidelines for the circumstances in which coverage of him is legitimate and those in which it isn’t. That distinction is all the more crucial because he seems poised to undermine important institutions and the democratic process itself….Trump isn’t harmless fodder, not if his words and actions after the campaign match those during it. He has the potential to do great damage and is currently threatening as much. UNQUOTE (– Frank Bruni in the WashingtonPost)
What sort of “great damage” could Trump cause to the American body-politic? We should never forget that the US has once fought a civil war; that there are many elements in the society that are seriously vulnerable to the constant calls by the right-wing media for anti-minority measures rooted in xenophobia and racism. If Trump led the way – and especially if he could continue to get enough support from the media to convey to them the message that he was done out of the presidential race unjustly because he shares the beliefs they too hold dear, he could make life very awkward for Americans.
And the world, of course. For let us not forget that he could just possibly be the person who had a finger on America’s nuclear button!
That’s an enormously frightening thought indeed. Trump won’t, of course, be the first American politician to send nuclear shivers down the spines of the world. Senator Barry Goldwater once cut almost the same figure as Trump does today in American politics, but good old LBJ (Lyndon Johnson) cut him down to size in the 1964 election. The world must pray that Hillary Clinton – faults and all – will similarly crush Trump, in the coming election and that when she does so, the FBI will keep a close eye on Trump and force him to accept the election result – even though he “hadn’t won”.