Voting…Reflecting on Haiti and US.

PRE-NOTE: My 10/28 post about Robert Gates and Colin Powell relates to this post.  Two related, important, long, articles came via two readers on Wednesday: here and here.  Another came in Friday, October 29 mail, here, “An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy”, published simultaneously in two magazines long identified as Liberal and Conservative, the Bulwark and New Republic.

Next week, Tuesday, Nov. 2, is an off-year election for local issues in many places.  Few people vote; the issues are always important.  If there’s an election in your town, Know the candidates and issues and vote, well-informed.

*

Tuesday on the morning news a reporter was interviewing a citizen for a soundbite (I’m not being cynical – that’s the only reason for interviewing a person-in-the-street, in my opinion).  With so many people around, soundbites are easy to come by, and to find one that supports the reporters need.

This particular dear-in-the-headlights had voted for Biden a year ago.  She was a first time voter, though not young, and only voted for President, apparently.  She said she was never going to vote again.  Biden hadn’t fulfilled her personal issue demand – what caused her to vote in the first place.  Her sun had set on politics.

She looked…and sounded…pretty “American”.

One wonders if it ever occurs to her that her opinion is not the only version of truth; that someone like Biden has to deal with all sorts of impossible and competing priorities and opinions.  Somewhere, maybe next door, someone wants something a bit different than her.  Maybe a society has to be a team sport….

Not voting at all will solve nothing for her.  Unfortunately, she is not alone.  Lots of people share her fantasy…on all sides.

*

The same morning, on my computer screen, came a message from someone posting from Haiti.

When Haiti is in the headline it usually isn’t good news.  Here was the message from the American in Haiti:

“Day 9 

When I awoke this morning I thought that I would be with daughter and son in law and my lovely grandkids tonight. That will not happen.  

We headed to airport early and made it through 19 barricades [emphasis added]. They varied in style and size. We made it about half way to our destination before [the] blockades started to appear. Burn[ing] tires, burning piles of trash, metal rods, abandoned car wrecks, broken glass, trees, etc. But the first 19 allowed us through with a simple beep of the car horn. But then [our driver looked] over about 100 yards from another burned out car in the road. There was a gap on the right that would allow us to pass, but he was aware of things I did not see. [Another passenger in our car, Haitian] also saw from the back seat. Down the window went and they asked a man of the street about the blockade and they [were] informed that this barricade was put up by a radical group and [they] would not negotiate our passage. 

So around we turned and back through the 19 barricades back to [our safe house] and another night in the safety of this compound. 

When I asked how he knew to stop at that particular blockade [our driver] said he saw the men on the other side of the barrier holding rocks and bottles to attack offending vehicles. Not worth the risk, especially with me in the car. 

On the return trip I asked how close we were to airport and he shook his head and said one minute away. So close and yet so far. So today is another day of waiting and praying for the people of Haiti. 

Please join me in that prayer.”

*

Haiti is seen as a tragic place.  I’ve been to Haiti – twice.  In some senses, today’s United States is an even more tragic place, with people like the lady on the evening news, noted above, who squander the bounty all of us have inherited as American citizens.  So selfish that they will not bother to participate unless they get their way, exactly as they define it.

January 6, 2021,  is to me proof enough of how close we came to disaster in our own country; and many of us keep marching along to ruin.  Forever, Jan. 6 is symbolic of our own “barricades”.  Many of us apparently still believe that revolution is the only answer; winning the only option.  Too many Americans seem to buy the fraud that we need to be governed by some strong men; that this is a struggle between strong and weak.  I tried to write about this in The Teeter-Totter a few days ago.

The hoodlums in Haiti are no different than our own, and their odds of long term success are as slim, but on they march with their own particular narrative.

*

But even in the dismal message from Port au Prince, I see a bit of silver lining.

On Day 9 somewhere in Port au Prince, Haiti, 19 barricades would let travelers through; one would not.

I keep thinking of the “tourists” in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021, and the faux armies in the American woods drilling for their own invasions being planned sometime, somewhere; the government “leaders’ and police and others who incongruously support them – all of them less civilized than those manning those 19 barriers the correspondent recounted on Day 9.

POSTNOTES:  1) I plan to send on some thoughts next Tuesday on the one year anniversary of the 2020 election and its aftermath.  How about your addition to this post?  Just e-mail me before November 2.

2) I live in the United States, of course, but I’ve paid close attention to Haiti for the past 19 years (see link below).

There were two inspiring trips, in 2003 and 2006, both study trips.  2003 immediately preceded the American-Canadian-French backed coup d’etat, overthrowing a democratically elected government.  The second was in a time of political tension, almost certainly supported from outside.  First trip, I met people who were later imprisoned, some later killed, assassinated by gun and poison, exiled, too.  Someone didn’t like their existence, apparently.

All in all, I found Haitians, from the most impoverished, to be great people doing their damndest to make a life against all odds – imposed barriers, often built from outside – threats to life and property, impediments to actually voting, disinformation, etc.  Theoretically, in Haiti this was easier to do.  The average citizen is deeply impoverished and more often illiterate, unable to read and write the official French language.

The Haiti I saw was working within Democracy.  People, largely illiterate, had risked everything to just stand in line and cast their vote.  They walked to the polls – no cars.  Their experiment worked against all odds for some hopeful years.  For sure, it wasn’t perfect, hardly.  What else do you expect when your friends are really your enemies.  Best that your leader be a dictator whose loyalty is to himself and to his patrons, the rich in other places.

Haitians did and likely still do great things against overwhelming odds.  I’ll take any one of them over any home grown American insurrectionists or sympathizers any time.

Haitians know the struggle from having lived it for their entire history.

VOTE.  Well informed.  For all the candidates most moderate and understanding that we are a country of all, not just some.

As for “praying for the people of Haiti”. pray for US, that this nation “of, by and for the people” all of us, “shall not perish from the earth”.

*

I was introduced to Haiti in early 2002.

In between and after I’ve paid attention to Haiti in various ways to the present.

Since 2003 I’ve maintained an internet presence about Haiti.  If you’re interested, here.

COMMENTS (more at end of post):

from Jeff: not voting is part of the plan of the extreme right Koch/Tea Party wing of the GOP….voting rates in many states have declined alot, they did go up in 2020 because of the polarized election but from the 1960s till today many states are down particularly red states ….the minority can control if less turnout.

response from Dick: I agree with this analysis.  It doesn’t change my opinion that this emphasis on winning in the short term is disastrous for everyone, including the supposed “winners”, in the long term.  We all lose.  The solution has to be every one of us.  And it has to be a long term commitment.

3 replies
  1. Sonya Albertson
    Sonya Albertson says:

    Thank you again for providing an interesting morning read. I agree that society (and government) must be a team sport to be successful. Any sports team that doesn’t work together can’t win.
    I’m 66 years old. Even with all its faults and missteps, I never feared for the future of our country until the election of 2016. 2016 shook me to the core. So did January 6, 2021.

    Reply
  2. Mary kb
    Mary kb says:

    It takes years and focused attention, funding and commitment to build social care programs, perceived as beneficial by regular Americans. It takes a moment to destroy them. It is not just money. I vote for expertise…some newer candidates are single issue trumpeters who, when they find out about the job of governing, don’t really want it…The slogan based marketing CRAFTED by Republicans has spread with unfortunate speed…

    Reply
    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      I agree. In the long term we will pay a very high price for our shortsighted and, yes, slogan based politics. Far, far too many folks don’t get this. I am reading a really excellent book I just started, “The Premonition” by Michael Lewis. It was initially recommended to me by Malcolm, who you know, and I saw the author interviewed about it a few days ago. Check it out. It’s focus is on the pandemic, and it has some unlikely heroes.

      Reply

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