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American Democracy has been Broken

By Ofwono Opondo

June, 6, 16

It is almost certain now that the previously, and still much despised Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for US president for the elections in November this year to face former First Lady Hilary Clinton the probable Democratic nominee. And if Americans through the now openly known and widely acknowledged rigged electoral system elect Trump, it will be because he is the person Americans deserve because their system has been broken for a long time even before he came from the woods.
Also, the rejection of Clinton, the first woman to try her luck this far, twice, will be a definitive confirmation that Americans although pride themselves so much, still believe in gender chauvinism that a woman cannot be a good leader except if under men, especially White men. Now, that should make me laugh throughout this year if again US Ambassador here Deborah R. Malac ever raises her voice to teach Ugandans either how to build or run a functioning, responsive and inclusive democracy.
So, when during the State of the Nation Address to parliament, President Yoweri Museveni told his audience who included diplomats that “democracy is one area Uganda doesn’t need aid,” or lectures, it sent me thinking. The figures he gave of women so far elected to Uganda’s parliament and Local Councils put the US and UK, the two countries that brag so much to shame in terms of political and electoral empowerment.
Although women suffrage was recognised in law in 1920, it wasn’t until 1962 that throughout the US they began to go to the booths, first in dwindles, and then picked up in 1980! And you see when some scholars keep quoting the American constitution having “stood the test of time,” without undergoing major overhaul, often, they don’t tell you it was meant to preserve the inequities and dominance of the White supremacists over all women and Blacks who until 1966 didn’t have the universal right to vote in either State or national elections.
Even now in the 21st Century, women and Blacks a far down the rungs in US electoral politics if you consider their numbers at State legislatures, as well as in the US House of Representatives and Senate, which together constitute the US Congress. In the current 114th Senate there are only twenty women, 14 Democrats, 06 Republicans. And so far only 54 women of color with 35 being African-Americans have served in the history of the House of Representatives. Overall, only 305 women have served in the history of the US Congress, 35 in the Senate, and 261 in the House of Representative. Of those, eleven have served in both the Senate and House of Representatives at different times. The representation of women has been marginal, a paltry 31 ever since the Senate was established 240 years ago...
Currently there are only 108 women in the US Congress, that is 88 in the House of Representatives and twenty in the Senate, and this has been written about within the US as “a record number.”
With these shy numbers of women and people of color joining the US Congress, Ambassador Malac would still want to boast how their democracy is inclusive, responsive and the best that there is to emulate. Oops! And you haven’t even evaluated how the US education, public health, immigration, economy, law enforcement and justice systems are so much weighed against Blacks and other minorities who have been deliberately and systematically kept down, excluded and hounded. And women, including White women still have to fight in tribunals and courts of law to seek equal pay with men for the same work in the same professions!
And only last year, Mathew Vadum, a Republican conservative columnist wrote that “registering the poor [mainly Blacks] is like “handing out burglary tools to criminals,” and he was cheered by many. Now when Trump derides Blacks, Muslims, other minorities, and women in general, no one should be surprised that he is the caliber civilized Americans deserve. Currently, there is on-going argument there that only people who pay taxes should be eligible to vote, and that the poor, again mainly Blacks and other minorities shouldn’t.
Many political analysts still ponder how Barak Obama, a black negro, or rather what has now been modified as Black Americans and African Americans, used interchangeably to mean the same thing, stole his way twice into the US presidency.
In the 114th Congress of October 31, 2015 there are 198 Republicans and 193 Democrats with 54 Republican, 44 Democratic, and two independent Senators who caucus with the Democrats. Of the one hundred Senators, only two are African-Americans! The House even has un-elected delegates and a resident commissioner! And with only those two African-Americans in the Senate and 46 in the House of Representatives it is considered “the most diverse ever.” And a State Governor can still appoint a replacement as it happened to Obama’s seat in 2008 upon his election as president. You can even directly buy yourself a seat. Here, if Museveni appointed an MP to replace a dead one, most like an US ambassador would be make noise how unfair this system is.