There we go again! In the United States, which considers itself to be the model of democracy and good governance, the Supreme Court has once again made a decision (upholding president Trump’s travel ban) based on party affiliation – five Republican judges vs four Democrats.
Should judgments not be given according to law rather than politics, race, religion or beliefs? Not in the great U.S.A. where we have pro-life, pro-choice and anti-immigration judges among others.
In Barbados, which I consider a good example of a democracy despite our shortcomings, we do not know the opinions of judges on any major issue facing the society; we trust them to interpret the law and to dispense justice accordingly.
But the justice system in our powerful northern neighbour is not the only significant challenge. The last presidential election highlighted the farcical nature of the process. In which other democratic country in the world, could the person with the lesser number of national votes win the presidency? As a student of American history, I know that the electoral college was designed to limit the will of the masses who were not trusted to make wise decisions; the college of elites knows best.
Also coming to world attention via CNN, MSNBC and other news networks is the amount of gerrymandering done in states to favour particular candidates. Were such skulduggery to be present in a so-called Third World country, the condemnation by the great guardian of democracy would be deafening.
And then, most importantly, there is the blatant discrimination against minority races, especially Blacks. Were it not for social media, we would not know about the unwarranted killing of Black youths by police. It is clear that the benefits of democracy are not extended to persons of colour. Also, native Americans are still treated like fifth class citizens begging for a lodging on reservations.
Nor can we forget the unjust invasion of Iraq to find non-existent weapons of mass destruction and its support, through unqualified backing of Israel, for injustice meted out to the Palestinian people.
I am not suggesting that there is nothing good about America, for I am pleased that it has afforded the opportunity for many of my Caribbean brothers and sisters to better earn a living. What I am saying is that it is not in a position to lecture to other countries about democracy. It first needs to deal with its unjust structures – take the beam out of its eyes, so to speak. God bless the United States of America, but it must clean up its act.
(John Goddard is a retired senior teacher at Harrison College and teacher at St George Secondary School.)