We Celebrate Change, and Then We Forget

The results are out, and the President-elect of the US, Mr. Joe Biden, is being hailed as ‘the agent of change’. It is being anticipated that the politics of prejudice that his predecessor practiced and propagated will now be replaced by inclusiveness and fairness. But is it not premature to think of such positive changes? True, Mr. Biden replaces a man who was not fit for the role but whether or not Mr. Biden is fit and competent can only be assessed during and after his stint as the US President, not today. The point is that Trump’s incompetence can be no validation of Biden’s competence.

The other protagonist of the story is the VP-elect, Ms. Kamala Harris. Her nomination as the party’s VP candidate and subsequent win can only be hailed as America’s success in being a land of opportunity for immigrants. That women are making a mark in US politics and a woman of colour can assume the VP office is also a conclusion that can be drawn. However, this does not and cannot allow analysts and commentators to prematurely and impulsively declare that the office of VP will now be run with utmost competence- it can be, but only time will tell.

It is not new that we celebrate change but then forget that we celebrated it as we believed it will make our lives better. The fall of dictators in some middle-east countries was initially hailed as a moment of change; however, what ensued were prolonged wars, bloodshed and political turmoil and instability. The so-called change only made matters worse for the very inhabitants who saw it as a positive event.

Many other countries also corroborate this point. Pakistan has been ruled by civilian governments as well as military ones, and every time there was a change, people anticipated good to happen to them. However, little progress could be made. Another instance is PM Modi’s emphatic win in 2014 general elections. Even his staunch critics would have, somewhere in their hearts, expected something good after the not-so-good UPA-2 stint. But what has followed is a theocratic style of governance that finds support in populist and majoritarian politics, thereby taking the limelight away from inclusive development and economic prosperity.

Now the same things are happening in the US. Undeniably, Biden’s campaign pitch was more inclusive and optimistic than Trump’s. Undeniably, Kamala Harris rise is extraordinary. But that does not automatically mean that the next 4 years of administration will be great and devoid of any policy failures. Indeed, Trump made mistakes, just like UPA-2 in India; however, the new administration in the US must be assessed on how they deliver on their promises. It is not only equality, but also foreign relations, economic growth and such other things on which the new administration must be assessed in future.

Only then we must celebrate the change. Otherwise, this premature hailing can lead to the new incumbents forget that more than the failures of past administration, it is their own new policies and approach that matters. And hence, let’s celebrate if you so want, but do not forget.

Hating Liberals

Answer this- why would any individual choose to defy popular sentiments and instead suggest something unpopular? Answer this as well- why would any leader appease the religious, caste, race or sect minority when s/he knows the numbers are stacked in the favour of majority?

Liberals, indeed, risk a lot. When they call for equal rights for all humans, they risk earning the wrath of the elite class. When they call for laws and policy actions that can protect the environment and wildlife from insatiable greed for resources, they risk antagonizing capitalists and other stakeholders. When they call for prioritizing socio-economic wellbeing of individuals over beliefs and customs, they risk upsetting the clergy and the conservative.

But liberals love taking risks. And it is for this love of theirs that they are usually hated. But consider the above statements and notice whether the liberal seeks mere personal gain or inclusive development? By rallying for equal rights to all women, liberals brought universal franchise to most parts of the world. By stressing on the most fundamental principle of justice – ‘rule of law’ – liberals gave the world first-generation politicians, activists and leaders. By seeking equal opportunities of growth for all individuals, liberals fueled the rise of first-generation corporate leaders and capitalists. By placing peace and equity over bullying, liberals gave the hitherto underdeveloped countries after WW2 a chance to thrive.

Hating liberals is, at the same time, an easy thing. This hatred stems from the conservative roots of human life where faith, caste, race and colour hold precedence over relatively more meaningful things. But it is this misplaced priority that can ultimately lead to troubles that adversely impact everything- economy, social harmony, innovation, justice.

We tend to forget, deliberately or accidentally, that all progresses of today, from tech revolution to a competitive market that has globalization at its core, have roots in liberalism.

Sadly however, from times infinite, it has always been easy to hate and propagate hatred against liberals. Conservatives, who tend to be more popular than liberals, have a history of inciting the public sentiment against the latter. But the same public needs to recall that had it not been the Renaissance period of the 15th and 16th centuries or the Reformation movement in the 16th century Europe, the West as we know it today- more socio-economically developed than the rest- would have been something else. And liberals, not conservatives or orthodox, were the primary driving force behind all these defining movements.

Hating liberals can be a convenient option but not the most constructive. Think, read past developments, think again, juxtapose them with the present settings and then arrive at a more rational conclusion. Falling for the popular narrative may be detrimental, re-consider your stance.