I travel to the US at least once a year but my excitement of visiting this beautiful and diverse country died with the defeat of Hillary Clinton.
But with half of my heart living there in my children, going to the US is like going home. Except this time it was different.
The last time I was in the US was July last year when presidential campaigns were in top gear and I could have bet my last penny for a Hilary win. She didn’t. A man by the name Donald J. Trump won. Shocking as it was, this was democracy at work.
And so I went to the US under Trump with mixed feelings based on what I had seen and read in media since he took office.
This brash and unpredictable billionaire is a man from another world; that of business not of politics. I am keen not to observe how America has adopted from the cool, calm and calculated president Obama to this new president whose win will see many go to their graves with lots of regrets.
CNN is my news channel of choice when travelling. However, the American CNN is not the World CNN we are used to in Kenya.
I nonetheless keep to this channel hoping anything major happening back home would be captured. See, in Kenya, breaking news is real breaking news – an earthquake, a plane crash, a terrorist attack, an awaited presidential election…
So each time I see the breaking news sign come on TV, I focus keenly. And to my disappointment it is another Trump ‘something’. Welcome to the new America. The land of ‘breaking news’!
I bet not many Americans were ready for this. Not even those who voted for Trump. A president who wakes up in the middle of the night to tweet! Yes, you read right, tweet as in tweet!
And his tweets come fast and furious, passing all manner of messages to all and sundry, attacking his opponents and foreign leaders alike. Some tweets like the ‘covfefe’ one are incoherent, but give it to him, he is the elected president of that great country – the United States of America.
So Trump is not only president of America, he is also the all American news. The story of the comedy that has become America begins and ends with president Trump.
My month-long stay in the US was quite different from other visits. Order and predictability are what I have always known America to be. Not any more under Trump.
The US today is the land of “Breaking News.” There is literally breaking news every hour – not the breaking news from around the world we are used to, but news from and about Trump – tweets, Russia, investigations, son-in-law Jerry Kushner, former FBI director James Comey testifying to congress, immigration, Cuba, Obamacare… Trump and his theatrics dominate the news every minute in all media channels in the US.
Yes, boring, but this guy is a genius when it comes to drawing media attention to himself. He has literally vanquished the democrats in media coverage.
Since he entered the White House, the democrats seem to have disappeared in thin air. You hardly hear of any of them – perhaps they are still reeling from their humiliating defeat by the most unexpected person!
But Hillary seems to be slowly coming out of the woodworks – a powerful message delivered at the commencement ceremony of her alma mater – Wellesley College; before that an interview with CNN’s Christiane Anampour in New York City at a women’s event; and more recently on the cover of New York magazine where she candidly talked about her campaign, defeat, life thereafter and the book she is writing.
Great lesson to Uhuru and Raila – the one who loses should not disrupt the country by contesting the win but go back home and write a book.
These are not like any other times in the political history of the USA. Trump has disrupted the old order and it is taking everyone a while to get used to the new guy at the White House.
The rhetoric, the hate, the viciousness, the confusion, the uncertainty, the contradictions… I can’t believe it is really happening in the US.
A country that once policed the world – you remember “choices have consequences…” advice to Kenyans before last general elections by an American diplomat? This has come to haunt them!
Trump campaigned under the slogan ‘making America great again’, a promise he repeats in almost every speech he makes, but is he really making America great? The America I witnessed under Trump is so polarized and there is so much hatred.
That a deranged Republican hater can walk into a republican congressmen baseball practice and shoot deliberately to kill Republican lawmakers tells you what America has become.
I know in my own backyard we have our own disagreements and party loyalties but I would not wish the America of today on my beloved country.
As we prepare to vote in our leaders next month, let us learn a lesson or two from the US. Let us make wise choices and remember choices have consequences. We must reject leaders who divide us. We must reject leaders who preach hate.