It’s Not So Bad, Chaps- Just Look at the Yanks: Ogden on Comparable Politics
08 November, 2016
Electoral fever is dying down in Georgia as it ramps up in the United States. With both countries exhibiting the most eccentric display of characters vying for political power, there are more similarities between the two than many Americans might care to admit; an eccentric billionaire (Trump/Bidzina), an old hanger-on whose personal integrity is frequently called into question (Clinton/Saakashvili) and someone who is basically competent with good ideas but never received the necessary support (Sanders/Usupashvili). Not exact parallels, perhaps, but close
enough in their essentials; the one glaring difference is the lack of international observation missions in the United States.

That Georgia is not perfect is well known; the fact that neither is anywhere else seems to be mostly ignored. As I recall writing on these pages not too long ago, Georgian politicians disgraced themselves on national television by engaging in shouting matches, pushing contests (‘fistfights’ would be an exaggeration) and hurling water at each other; their actions were especially disappointing since they suggested that the vaunted democratic progress Georgia had allegedly made might have been imaginary, and perhaps there had not been any significant change from the instability of years past when Georgian politicians brawled to settle disputes.

Yet whether their actions are any worse than Donald Trump’s offensive remarks about women or Hillary Clinton’s proven record of lying is entirely debatable.

Although the behavior of Georgian politicians can be more overtly unpleasant, it is still less sinister, and at least those who embarrassed themselves in recent months were not the heads of any party. Hillary Clinton (a woman who describing arriving in Bosnia under ‘sniper fire’ despite a video of the event showing her smiling and shaking hands with military dignitaries) or Donald Trump (a sexist celebrity businessman with the demeanor of a petulant child) will be the most powerful national leader on the planet.

It is understandable, then, why Georgians might become skeptical of the West’s ability to take the moral and professional high ground and judge their country and politicians. A Georgian would only have to look at the EU’s decision to let in an unprecedented number of refugees (which has resulted in a rise in terrorist incidents, sexual assaults and crime), the UK’s decision to leave the Union (which sent the British economy into turmoil) and the American presidential candidates themselves (a former First Lady whose lack of integrity Al Capone might even raise an eyebrow at, and a businessman with a mixed – at best – professional track record whose behavior towards women is in keeping with that of a potential rapist).

Georgia’s growing Western apathy does indeed stem from the false promises of the EU and NATO, but the poor example being set by those allegedly fit to judge them are hardly going to help; with soundbites like Boris Johnson claiming that Brexit will be a ‘Titanic success’ and that Donald Trump ‘has the best words’…the idiocy of Georgian politicians seems almost mild in comparison.

As a political experiment, I would very much like to see a group of Georgian observers sent to the United States to monitor the American political process. Providing they could voice their opinions without the risk of damaging a strategic partnership that the country depends on, their findings might make most Georgians feel rather better about their own politics.

Tim Ogden

Source: Georgia Today