By Morak Babajide-Alabi
The world heaved a sigh of relief when the results of the United States of America, Alabama Senatorial elections, came in last week Tuesday. We had watched with bated breath as the weeks thinned down to days and finally to the election day. It was an election to test the moral value of the American people against the political loyalty syndrome.
To observers, the election was to be the answer to the frequently asked question about the direction of US politics. In recent times, especially after the shock election of President Donald Trump in 2016, there has been more than ordinary interests in what goes on in the country, and this is not only from Russia, or North Korea. We are now fixated on the affairs of the greatest country in the world. No thanks to the new President’s volatile style of administration.
For the Alabama voters, it was an opportunity to choose between morality and political popularity. To them, it was more than the seat at stake; it was a fight for the soul of America. It was more than a contest between the Republicans and the Democrats; it was a choice between what is morally right or wrong.
The Republican candidate Roy Moore had been immersed in controversies on his strong views on politics, religion and homosexuality, among others. These are, however, intangibles compared to the allegations of child sexual abuse. He has been accused of pursuing, molesting and assaulting teenagers as young as 14 years when he was in his thirties as a prosecutor. While he has repeatedly denied these allegations, his opponents made them subjects of political campaigns.
To say Moore or his supporters were perturbed by Democrat Doug Jones making an issue out of the allegations was wrong. Surprisingly, they were loyal to him to the end. They cared less about the morality or otherwise of his story. All they were concerned with was Moore winning the seat and increase the Republican tally in the Senate.
When the results came in, the world joined the winning party to sing and dance in celebration. The Democrats were no doubt overjoyed and took in all the praises, but deep inside them, they knew the victory was more than a party or an individual. Although they managed to make an unusual inroad into the deep “belly” of the Republican stronghold, they realised that it was a victory for a celebration of humanity.
The result emphasised the fact that no matter how much evil is celebrated or glamorised, good shall always prevail. The votes were close, but in democracy, there is no trophy for the candidate who comes second in any election. It was a sweet victory for Jones, the supporters and reasonable people all over the world, as a win for Moore would have been a dark commentary in US politics.
As at press time, Moore was yet to concede victory to Jones. Despite promptings from the White House, he has refused to back down. It might not be just the margin of defeat, but the shock of him losing his deposit in an election that would have been just for the pick.
MAY TOOK A TUMBLE
After Theresa May, the United Kingdom Prime Minister’s defeat at the House of Commons on Wednesday, she got a sympathetic support from the leaders of the European Union at the Summit in Brussels, the Belgian capital on Thursday. She was applauded for her assurance that despite the ignominious loss on the vote for amendment at the parliament, Britain was still on course for a good BREXIT deal.
She would definitely have been relieved to hear the remarks of the European Commission’s President, Jean-Claude Juncker say “she (May) is our colleague. Britain is a member state. We are not only trying to be, but we are polite and friendly people.”
The defeat on Wednesday was definitely a painful loss, but May had to maintain a stoic face in Brussels. She said: “I am disappointed with the amendment but actually the EU withdrawal bill is making good progress through the House of Commons.” She was not only disappointed in the amendment, but also with the rebels in her camp, who in collaboration with opposition lawmakers, ensured she did not have it her way.
May’s defeat was, unfortunately, sealed by these rebels. After securing a near decent deal for Britain last week in Brussels, one would have thought she would overwhelmingly win the votes of her party members. It was not up to a week when she took an early morning flight to Brussels to hammer a deal with the EU bureaucrats. But this was not enough for some of her friends, and foes, to place the future of Britain in her hands.
The rebels were not convinced that what she had proposed as control of the exit of Britain from the EU was democratic enough. Mrs May had wanted the Parliament to allow her the final say on BREXIT. The Parliament represents the people and should be allowed, on behalf of the voters, to decide on what the final deal should look like. The rebels tried to justify their actions by arguing that they acted in the best interest of the country and the people that matter most – their constituents.
It was not a convincing argument in the ears of May and supporters as they fought back immediately. They went after Stephen Hammond, one of the leading rebels, by sacking him as the Vice Chairman of the Conservatives. Hammond had told Sky News: “It’s disappointing, it gives me no pleasure to vote against the Government but I’ve made it very clear that for me, this was a point of principle and just occasionally in one’s life one has to put principle before party. I know that sounds pompous but I’ve never done it before.”
Hammond, alongside ten other Tories, some of whom were former ministers brought the defeat on May. The amendment, in the first place, was initiated by former attorney general Dominic Grieve. He seemed to have an idea of what the law should be and what should not be. By the amendment, the Parliament voted that the government should give them a legal (meaningful) vote on the final deal May strikes with the EU.
How did time fly? Well, no one can really explain how, but the survivors and families of the victims of the Grenfell Towers would have wished they could draw back the hands of the clock. It is already six months when the skyline of the capital city of London was lit up in flames claiming the lives of 53 adults and 18 children.
On Thursday last week, these survivors, joined by members of the public, royal family and Prime Minister Theresa May attended a memorial service. This service definitely brought back memories of the night for some of the victims. It was indeed an agonising and painful night that will take an eternity to forget.
Our hearts go to the victims and all the survivors, some of whom are yet to experience closure. For some families, they would do anything just to identify the body parts of their loved ones and give them the proper burial. After six months, this definitely is no longer a dream, it is the reality.
As published in the Sunday Vanguard of December 17, 2017.