The ingredient missing in America: Decency

For a long time, America enjoyed the reputation of a good and decent country, especially among Europeans who saw Americans as trusted friends, profoundly beholden to the principles of representative democracy. And teachers of democracy to them as well. Now, as friends, they watch with dismay the mudslinging that marks the eve of the American presidential election. American friends and allies do not know what to make of the future of their relationship with the United States. They know that America is dramatically polarized and that its current president firmly believes in the birthright of America for straight, white, Christian men. They know that making America Great Again is the negation of the rights of minorities, immigrants, black voters and women. Foreign audiences looking at the U.S. are intelligent and sophisticated enough to realize that they should keep their mouths shut about the cyclopic confrontation between Trump’s vision of what a great America should look like and the Democrats’ struggle to narrow the racial and economic disparities that challenge the image of a decent society.
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The Democratic convention brought to the national platform Joseph Biden, who has amply proven himself to be a decent man, able to show the empathy that the current president is uncapable of transmitting even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. His words were touching as he spoke of “that deep black hole that opens up in the middle of your chest and you feel like you are being sucked into it.” Life can indeed be “mean, cruel and unfair.” Joe Biden showed that he understands. The sincerity of such feelings was promptly denigrated by the Republican president as a pitiful show of Joe Biden’s failing cognitive abilities under the odious tag of “slow Joe”. While Biden tried to speak to those “who have lost the most”, Donald Trump lionized himself as the only man capable of saving America from the radical chaos that a Democratic president would bring about.

What foreign observers cannot fail to note is that in the United States sits a president who has absolutely no desire to deal with political conciliation, a democratic tradition that Europeans value and practice. Elections are supposed to offer affirmative alternatives to the people of a democratic nation. Unfortunately, as Biden intimated, Americans have become angrier, less hopeful and more divided. A decent man cannot but exalt a path to unity and a will to heal. And another thing that people around the world have noticed: the United States does not have a national health system, its medicine is hamstrung by profit, and too many people give scientific opinions when they know very little about science. In the Republican universe, there is little interest in health care and even the Democrats pay lip service to it. Worse still, President Trump has no interest in promoting real science. He is interested in alternative facts: the “huge” crowds at his inauguration, his “great success” in containing the coronavirus, his “love” letters with the North Korean leader, his disdain for the protection offered by masks, his disagreement with scientists of the caliber of Dr. Fauci and, incredibly, the inability to disavow the conspiracy theory of QAnon as it relates to the “satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals”. “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?” was his only response. There is enough that is deplorable for people around the world, especially friends, to remain speechless. All considered, it is the decent thing to do.

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