The recklessness and insane level of corruption among Nigerian politicians once led to the call by Nigerians that potential public office holders must go through and pass mental health and sanity tests before being allowed to run for office. Many Nigerian politicians and public office holders are candidates for such tests. One of these is Ayo Fayose, the Governor of Ekiti State. Fayose once looked straight into the eyes of candidate – now president – Muhammadu Buhari and made him a death wish! My last check has not revealed a change in the need for mental and sanity tests for many Nigerian politicians and public office holders.
Across the ocean there is little difference in the behaviour of some public office seekers. During their Cleveland, Ohio convention in July, members of the Republican Party, under Donald Trump’s promptings, also made a death wish for Hillary Clinton, who is now the Democratic Party candidate in the 2016 American presidential election.
When simple reasoning and logic are subverted by politicians, we are left with the simple desire that the sanity and mental state of some politicians and public office seekers be checked to ascertain whether they are still normal and mentally fit to hold public office.
This conversation is not limited to Nigeria because in an American election year, the call for the sanity and mental health check of Donald Trump, the candidate of the Republican Party, has gained traction. This is due to his erratic and childish behaviour, leading to widespread calls for his stepping down from the race in the interest of the honour and image of the United States of America.
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has been less concerned about how to seriously solve major problems challenging the American people and the world, but has been peddling his primary message of hate, hostility and engaging in the verbal abuse of anyone who criticises him. He regularly releases these hate messages through his countless unintelligent tweets.
But Donald Trump may not be the problem. The problem is the base of the Republican Party, which elected him – an un-apologetic bigot, sexist, racist, baby hater, a ridiculer of Gold Star Parent (parents of American Fallen Heroes) – as its leader.
Life and death are humbling and defining moments for us as human beings, hence to mock and vilify birth, life and to ridicule the fallen and heroic dead are sufficient justification for a call for a mental and sanity test of whoever engages in such violation of our common humanity. As such, this is a defence of the innocent baby Donald Trump ordered out of his so-called rally recently in Virginia State, and a defence of the fallen American hero Captain S.M. Humayun Khan whose parents Donald Trump ridiculed.
Three moments of violation and vilification of life and death, which speak to our humanity, have given a categorical stamp on the calls for Donald Trump to go for a mental health and sanity test.
First, is Donald Trump’s mockery of American honour in public service. This is odd because the American military and American fallen heroes in battles are at the heart of this honour. Senator McCain’s service and military sacrifice to the nation once became a subject of ridicule and trivialisation for Donald Trump. When challenged, he refused to apologise for this violation of those who served the nation, and gave their lives in a number of instances.
Second, is Trump’s going all out to disparage of an American Gold Star Mother. On this Donald Trump crossed the line.
In American honour roll, Gold Star parents are parents of American soldiers who died in battle in the call of duty and sacrifice to the nation. Gold Star parents and families are icons that are justifiably treated with respect because of the life giving sacrifice of their sons and daughters. This is legitimate and beyond question because the sacrifice of women and men of the military speaks to life itself, independent of our political partisan lines.
On the sacrifices of the women and men of the military who must constitutionally respond to the call and order of the president of the nation and the Commander In Chief (regardless of the party she/he belongs), we are all united and that unity is separable from partisan politics. To sacrifice one’s life for one’s country is the unquestionable and ultimate sacrifice. You do not begin to compare anything in the world to this kind of sacrifice. But the demagogue with an undeveloped mind called Donald Trump did!
For example, when Mr. and Mrs. Khizr and Ghazala Khan (the parents of the fallen hero Captain S.M. Humayun Khan) challenged Donald Trump (who often makes sundry negative and vile comments about people who do not superficially look like him) to show his sacrifice to the nation, he gleefully cited his profit making businesses and actually compared these business ventures (characterised by serial declaration of bankruptcies) to the giving of one’s life to one’s country by American soldiers!
Likening one’s private profit making business to the sacrifices that soldiers make with their lives is odd and insane. It is either Donald Trump is bereft of any sense of history, or has challenges with reasoning or he simply lacks a moral compass and the capacity for empathy, and is therefore unfit to lead any country.
Also, Donald Trump revealed his very strange state of mind when at his rally in Virginia, he ordered a crying baby out by asking the baby’s mother to leave the venue! On the podium, using his hands to mock how mothers lovingly clutch their babies to themselves when these babies seek love, help, comfort and care, Donald Trump, the Republican Party candidate asked the mother to leave. Nothing can be bigger than the baby Donald Trump ordered out of his “big” rally due to the its cry and call for attention. To despise babies is to sink to the lowest denominator. It is beneath contempt. To hate babies is to hate life. Therefore, a hater of our common humanity cannot be a mentally stable and healthy person.
At a different level of a poisoned dart against our common humanity, another action that justifies the calling for a questioning of Donald Trump’s mental state was in full display when he sub-consciously betrayed his sexism and contempt for women in a media chat with a female journalist, Megyn Kelly of the Republican Party leaning news medium – Fox News. Ordinarily Kelly and Donald Trump belong to the same political and ideological camp, as represented by the Republican Party. However, she had rightly challenged Trump in a question-and-answer media chat. But rather than take her on intellectually, Trump could not for his lack of intellectual depth; he looked Megyn Kelly straight in the face and said cowardly that blood was coming from her eyes and from “wherever” – a sexist, graceless, dubious and shameless allusion to the female physiology.
Based on his mentally unstable actions, this is how many Americans, including his fellow Republican Party members, have described Donald Trump. He is said to be a “defective nominee” who is “deranged” and whose “psyche is sick.” Some allude to how in history fascists have often led their countries to perdition, and that to elect Trump is to “embark on a path that has doomed other governments and nations throughout history.”
But some defenders of Donald Trump have also described his actions, which call his sanity into question, a display of “strength”, “strong leadership”, “greatness”, “power”. They strangely call these a sort of macho strength which is a rejection of “weakness”! They point to his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” to justify this strange account of “strong leadership” and strange behaviour!
Unknown to these defenders, hating babies, mocking the physically challenged, mocking the physiology of women, being contemptuous of American heroes and mocking the military are not indices of strength but deeply disturbing abnormal behaviour.
By their questionable defence, these Trump supporters are inevitably saying that the slogan “Make America Great Again” is defined by a mockery of our common humanity as human beings, which is a kind of dubious and morally questionable strength. If this sort of behaviour is considered as “strength” and “strong” “leadership” to the base and leadership of the rightwing American Republican Party, then humanity is not only in deep trouble, but the world must indeed re-think the meaning of genuine and sane global and local leadership and strength.
Adeolu Ademoyo, email@example.com, Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.