I good friend of mine, from my years living in the United States, sent me an email yesterday. This is what it said.

Will you do a special NZ edition on American politics?  Please???

Here in the land of the free and home of the brave, we used to have a magnificent document called the “Constitution.”  Sadly, like the Pirates of the Caribbean, the American Tsars-in-Charge treat this sacred text more like “guidelines” than actual laws.  Power at any cost and an agenda with no regard, with an overwhelming prevalence of racism, anti-science, misogyny, antisemitism and extreme nationalism.  Sound familiar?  What’s next, Kristallnacht?

For those in New Zealand who do not appreciate the full meaning of Kristallnacht, it is the name given to an assault against Jews carried out by the Nazis in Germany on 9–10 November 1938. The name Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night”) comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed. The Times of London observed on 11 November 1938: “No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenceless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday.”

My friend is right. In fact, I might even argue with his timing. He says, “What’s next.” I suspect Trump’s American might have surpassed already the events of Kristallnacht. Certainly the America Trump has created would merit a Times report that says, “No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening the United States before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenceless and innocent people, which has disgraced that country.”

The real problem in understanding the USA is that it has real gems like the lady who left the Supreme Court last week and scum like the guy who wants to replace her. If you look at one you say what a great place. Look at the other and you say what a shit hole.

The list of Trump-created atrocities is endless. Gradually, step by step, he has disgraced his once proud nation. I do not have sufficient memory to remember every abuse initiated by this vile person. But in three years truth and decency have been devalued, his country is a vile bully in the international playground. In the late 1970s Alison set the New Zealand 1000m record in West Berlin. The next day we drove to Cologne in West Germany where she was scheduled to run an 800m race. Getting to Cologne involved a several hundred-mile drive through East Germany. During the trip our western car was identified by the East German police. We were stopped and a fee of 100 Deutschmarks was demanded by two heavily armed policemen. I paid but admit I was shaken by the experience.

A few hours later we reached the East Germany/West Germany border. There to greet us were three flags, West Germany, the United Kingdom and the Stars and Strips of the United States. I have never been as relieved to see the American flag as I was that day. It genuinely represented freedom. I was no longer going to spend years in a communist jail; imprisoned without trial. I had escaped to the land of the free and the brave.

I do not have those thoughts today. It is not Colin Kaepernick or LeBron James who have undermined the American flag’s integrity, its value, and its meaning. Donald Trump has done that all on his own.    

Consider this list of abuse that I can remember.

He lied about the inauguration crowd size. That was as childish as any, “my ones bigger than yours” argument.

He questioned Secretary of State, Tillerson’s IQ, and fired him by tweet.

He withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement.

He withdrew from the Iran Agreement.

He withdrew from the WHO.

He helped Saudi Arabia cover up the murder of a journalist.

He called American Nazis fine people.

He openly mocked a disabled journalist.

He called Mexicans rapists.

He used the Presidency for personal financial gain.

He has dishonoured American troops.

The United Nations laughed at him and his country.

He called half the world shit hole countries.

He threatens to destroy millions of general election ballots.

He calls a porn-star he slept with “horseface”.

He separated children from their parents at the Mexican border.

I have no doubt the list is much longer than that. These 16 examples are only those that quickly spring to my mind. No matter how often CNN and MSNBC tell me that before Trump, America was the world’s greatest democracy, it is simply not true. When someone can lose an election by three million votes and still win, you do not have the best democracy. Before Trump, America’s democracy was well and truly flawed. The United Nations ranked America 25th most democratic. And I think that was being generous.  

The difference Trump has made is that now America does not have a democracy at all. The country has shifted from flawed democracy to dictatorship lite; something the United Nations calls “authoritarian”. My guess is the country in which I lived for many years has one chance to pull back from the edge. There is a lot at stake this November. For the love of all that is decent and right, in your own best interest, vote for Biden.   

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