Commentaries | May 04,2019
Nov 14 , 2020
By Christian Tesfaye
Little encapsulates the spirit of what we have come to feel toward our political opponents than a monologue Dave Chappelle gave in the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live, an American satirical variety comedy show, that aired last weekend.
After a rather hilarious take on the very serious issue of racialised politics of the United States, he finally addressed the elephant in the room: the 2020 US election. Four years ago, he had been the host of an episode on the show just after the 2016 US election, when Donald Trump won the presidency. The showrunners booked him for a second time on the episode that followed this year’s election in a bold move to tempt fate.
Fortunately, Trump lost this year. It spoke to the president's unpopularity that even allied countries, such as France and the UK, who would normally stay as far away from the United States' domestic politics (a privilege rarely extended to developing countries) celebrate conspicuously.
“It's time to get back to building bridges, not walls,” said Sadiq Khan, mayor of London.
The celebration was loud and long in US cities, but Chappelle's monologue hinted that this did not have to do as much with Trump’s unpopularity. Over 70 million Americans had voted for him, in fact. Instead, what the celebrations made clear was the deep social cleavage that stares back like an abyss. Biden’s win, at best, was a higher score for one team in a soccer match that is still in its half time.
Chappelle noted this and articulated how miserable the other side must feel at the moment. There is a mountain of hate yet to be addressed, and it is felt on both sides.
“[But] here's the difference between me and you … you guys hate each other. I don't hate anybody. I just hate that feeling. That's what I fight through, that's what I suggest you [do],” Chappelle told half of the nation that must have been slighted at Trump’s loss. “You've got to find a way to live your life. You've got to find a way to forgive each other. You've got to find a way to find joy in your existence in spite of that feeling.”
It is not just Chappelle that sees that little has actually been achieved by Biden’s victory. The Guardianrecently ran a piece headlined, “Forget unity – now elections deliver revenge as much as representation,” by William Davies, a political economist.
“Elections under these conditions can still produce landslides, such as [Boris] Johnson’s last year, but they don’t produce mandates,” he writes. “Democracy becomes mesmerising, but inconclusive.”
This is a terrifying prospect. On the one side, it is a positive that people participate in politics more; they are engaging in political discourse, and democracy works better with enhanced participation. In the same token, no one wants to lose anymore, not even for a brief period, not even when there is an election every four years.
We do not have elections in Ethiopia. Here, we settle our political disagreements in our own unsettling ways. It is part and parcel of our political tradition and history. It is not likely to change anytime soon.
As in the US, our brand of political engagement also produces winners and losers. It is inevitable. But, strangely, neither the winners nor the losers feel content. The latter have lost, thus they are angry. The former have won, but what may happen and historical memory weighs heavily upon their minds.
Worse yet, we recognise the cycle. We are all smart enough to realise that no one wins for any extended period. There is going to be a loss and then victory. On and on it will continue. We believe this because we have long given up that the “other” side could be redeemed; we no longer anticipate the “other” to understand and sympathise with us. It is going to be a constant struggle, unending and, in the end, also pointless.
What are we going to do with this knowledge though?
The answer does not sound academic or remotely original. In fact, it is rappers that have been hammering on this point more than any political theorist: we need to overcome the hate we feel for one another.
The alternative is to completely get rid of the other side. But we cannot, and neither should we attempt anything of this nature except try and change their minds. There will always be racists, sexists, nationalists or just people that disagree with our politics. They will constantly annoy and offend us, and we will probably never be on the same age.
But we need to co-exist despite the anger and hate we may feel for each other. Generations of political theorists and scholars - for all of their reading, analysis and provocative ideas - have not come to a conclusion more profound.
PUBLISHED ON Nov 14,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1072]
Commentaries | May 04,2019
View From Arada | Apr 10,2021
Editorial | Apr 13,2019
Life Matters | Apr 13,2019
Films Review | Jul 27,2019
Viewpoints | Apr 11,2020
Agenda | Dec 05,2018
Agenda | Apr 30,2021
Editorial | Nov 16,2019
Films Review | Dec 05,2018
Photo Gallery | 83226 Views | May 06,2019
Photo Gallery | 75388 Views | Apr 26,2019
Fineline | 58818 Views | Oct 03,2020
Fortune News | 58564 Views | Jul 18,2020
Commentaries | Dec 09,2023
Life Matters | Dec 09,2023
My Opinion | Dec 09,2023
Sunday with Eden | Dec 02,2023
Agenda | Dec 09,2023
Editorial | Dec 09,2023
Dec 24 , 2022
Biniam Mikru heads the department of cabinet affairs under Mayor Adanech Abiebie. But...
Jul 2 , 2022 . By RUTH TAYE
On a rainy afternoon last week, a coffee processing facility in the capital's Akaki-Qality District was abuzz with activ...
Nov 27 , 2021
Against my will, I have witnessed the most terrible defeat of reason and the most sa...
Nov 13 , 2021
Plans and reality do not always gel. They rarely do in a fast-moving world. Every act...
Leaders of the National Election Board are in a charm offensive mood, of a sort. Last week, they organised a rare tour for members of the me...
When the country's most senior diplomats and envoys return back to their posts after two-week debriefings, they leave behind a point or two...
Dec 9 , 2023
Making a paradigm shift seems elusive for those in the driving seat of Ethiopia's mon...
Dec 2 , 2023
The symphony of traffic noise in Addis Abeba is not just a sign of life, but a siren...
Nov 25 , 2023
Ethiopia's quest to develop a functioning capital market is a demanding yet not unach...
Nov 18 , 2023
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has made a fervent call for landlocked Ethiopia to ga...
I have a love-hate relationship with my phone. It is my go to source for information. I enjoy interacting with text messages and browsing t...
While doing laundry over the weekend, I began video chatting with a friend from overseas. Amid our lively conversation, I told him to give m...
Dec 9 , 2023 . By BERSABEH GEBRE
Amhara Bank finds itself embroiled in a detrimental controversy after its Board Chair...
Dec 9 , 2023 . By AKSAH ITALO
Moha Softdrink Industries S.C., Ethiopia's leading beverage bottler, is in a precarious situation after seeing its founding General Manager...
Dec 9 , 2023 . By BERSABEH GEBRE
The Addis Abeba City Administration officials have sanctioned plot allotments for various developers, com...
Dec 9 , 2023 . By MUNIR SHEMSU
Ethiopia's manufacturing sector remains in a tangled web of macroeconomic pressures, security challenges...
Or see contact page