2 December, 2020

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What Sri Lanka Can Take Away From The US Elections

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

At this moment of writing (5pm on Wednesday 4 Nov in Colombo) the presidency is poised on a razor thin edge. The outcome will be decided by the last ballots to be counted in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania which Democrats had expected to flip comfortably but now biting their nails and some still to be counted postal ballots. I find it abhorrent but it is possible that Trump will be declared the winner later tonight. In respect of the popular vote Trump and Biden are neck and neck. If this is what happens in the great American democracy why complain about the aberration of democracy in Sri Lanka?

In India Modi is running a government that has locked down Kashmir because it is a Muslim state, cut off its physical and Internet access with the outside world and arrested the Sate’s Muslim political leaders. The Arab countries have turned their back on the people of Palestine, across the -stans and Eastern Europe fascist parties are making advances and, in some cases, have formed governments. It is of intense chagrin, but in this context it should come as no surprise to those on the left and to liberals, that a sworn autocrat Gota and a rightist party have won the confidence of the Sinhala Buddhist masses by large margins.

An interesting aspect of the US elections is that the traditional or blue-collar working class voted for Trump, may not be by large margins but it did; vide important industrial states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. The free market championing liberal mouthpiece The Economist moaned that “Mr Trump has repeatedly desecrated the values, principles and practices that made America haven for its own people and a beacon for the whole world”. It accused him of “Partisanship and lying undermine of norms and institutions” (Sic! What happened to the magazine’s much vaunted style guide?). However, the working class in America’s manufacturing heartland was not interested in liberal values and preferred to keep faith with a crude, uncouth slimeball. This reminds me of trade union organisers who complained bitterly during the civil war in Sri Lanka that the working class was a rabidly racist lost cause. It is a shocker that the working class whether in America or the developing world has lost its broad perspectives and turned into a reactionary and racist mass.

At this moment of writing it seems that Trump has the edge but whoever wins it will make little difference to our predicament in Sri Lanka. We are on the horns of a dilemma; one horn is China the other a bifurcated India-America contraption. The American cold-war on China will not be different whether the Democrats or the GOP wins the presidency, the Senate and the House. Both sides are terrified of the rise of China, both fear the flip from a one superpower world to a two-superpower world. And the direction is clear, the rising power will eventually displace the old power at the top. The so-called Thucydides Trap. Therefore, Sri Lanka will continue to be taunted and haunted by the security interests of the two sides. Furthermore, bankrupt as we are, we have no choice but to knell before Xi Ping two days ago, Modi yesterday and Pompeo today. Corona virus began to ravage us anew just we started lifting our heads after the first wave of the pandemic and the curse is now visiting us again.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Dinuk, you should be happy your QAnon (conspiracy party) leader got elected with Trump’s backing. Other than Lanka it is only US, where such people get elected.

    • 1
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      First, srilankens should learn to respect basic ethics and morals. Facism and Supremacism would not work on long term. This is even worst in Srilanka because the MEDIA mafia would paint the picture only in favour of extremists… that is how multi criminals Rajapakshes returned to power an year ago. TOday, most of the people are thrown to stalemate situation regarding health, economy and any other issues. If anyone would expect it better, …. Gotabay would be able to deliver anything, becuase he is a born fool… Pig might fly if the uneducated man could do wonders regarding anything in my home country.
      .
      it is no right to compare srilankens (majority of them are born fools and easy prey for predatory politicians), with most powerful nations in the world. It is believed that americans are even more after superstition based theories in terms of making any decisions about their life. Howeve,r their beliefs kept on myths are totally different that of most of our people living in the island, that would not be away from JATHAKA KATHA BASED myths. Latter always paves the way predatory politicians to grab the votes which is the only assets most of poor people own, and become political crooks.

  • 0
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    SJ, I repeat, with what ever limited knowledge in English, I still have managed fairly well in life to reach where I am. Spare me, I am not here to learn a language from you which is foreign to both of us.

    • 1
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      C
      Calm down.
      I know several who did exceedingly well in life with minimal knowledge of any language.
      *
      I am just amused by remarks like the one (in the context of Kumar David) about understanding democratic elections, and a sentence about jumping into the river.
      I know that I cannot even take the horse to the water, let alone make him drink.
      *
      You make utterances, which one could contrive as designed to provoke. I am long used to stupid remarks on these pages. Am I paranoid to scream that someone is persistently hounding me. No– after all, laughter is, as you may have heard before, the best medicine.
      Now that is enough about me.
      *
      This is a forum for ideas, but in a language that is foreign. So one has to be careful about its use.
      We learn through mistakes. Some appreciate when corrected, others frown.
      Such is life is a bitch. (Not strictly grammatical with its two verbs in series for one subject, but still makes sense. Ignore this bit if you think that it is a lesson.)
      *
      So, calm down.

  • 1
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    SM true. It is scary to think ” what if there was no Covid and Trump got re- elected”. Some how, knowing the history and having lived there for years, I always have HOPE . That was the case after Nixon, Bush Jr., great economic depression, world wars, 9/11 and now pandemic.Also the country is blessed with many good leaders who genuinely care for the country and its people. . Sadly it is not the case in our own Lanka. Not just me, but my 92 year old mom is sad and disappointed to see the outcome, post independence.

    • 1
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      So Biden-Harris won.
      Where is SBarrKum who projected Trump would win again?

      • 1
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        Agnos
        Did SB-K say would or could?
        *
        The margin was pretty narrow in critical states, and with a little more effort on the part of the PMG and other loyalists, DT could have been returned.
        It is relief, but not much room to relax or rejoice as the forces that sustained Trump are still strong.

        • 2
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          SJ,

          My disagreement with Sbarrkum is about his method. This is a large and complex country, but he was trying to predict results by talking to a few people on his network and deducing from their anecdotes. The only scientific way to do is to get some polls and then allow for modeling and sampling errors.

          I know Trump’s rural voters don’t participate in polls and even his urban supporters are ‘shy,’ meaning they know their neighbors detest him and so don’t announce their support to anyone, even to pollsters. Also, as more people spend time with digital devices, they don’t respond to phone calls. All this distorts polls.

          Based on the 2016 election and the FL governor election, I knew the polls could be off by anywhere in the 3–7% range, so I always had an adequate buffer in mind when reading the polls. The results are consistent if we apply that margin of error.

      • 0
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        I didn’t read SBarrKum’s article, but I agree with SJ’s defence.
        .
        I really miss Mano Ratwatte’s articles on the USA. He didn’t like the Donald at all, but was always warning us that Trump had more support than was apparent to us.
        .
        That is worrying, although Kamala Devi addressed that not with soothing words, but with the reminder that we have achieved this hard won victory, and that we will always have to be vigilant, and always have to find the resources within us to keep fighting for Justice.

  • 0
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    Tamils like to express our wishes for President elect Biden and VP Harris. This election has already set up many records like Biden getting the highest votes & Kamala Harris becoming the first woman candidate achieving this status in US History. President elect has been elected at very crucial time of the history. Covid 19 has devastated US as well as almost all democratic countries and the world as a whole, like never any disease before. There is nothing wrong if it is called as democratic world’s disease though it originated from China. President elect has already expressed his priority accordingly. The long growth of economy, which started in Obama-Biden administration, has now reversed after Covid-19. There are many international problems waiting to see what kind of new resolution the new administration is having for those. But China’s attempt to create the new world order has denied Tamils their judgement promised by Obama-Biden administration in 2015. Lankawe has one sided-ly abrogated the UNHRC’s resolution 30/1. China, in the recent meeting with Lankawe government, said they will help the Rajapaksa family to evade taking responsibility for what happened in 2009. The Mothers of missing person are waiting for American government to propose a solution to that. America has amazing other proposals for Ceylon. There are challenges also in the path. Managing them with robust solutions will write the history for new administration.

  • 2
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    SM: “Had there been no COVID, Trump would really have got a landslide – Electoral College and Popular Vote. The implications – mind boggling.”

    It is hard to say so be sure. There were many Republicans who aligned with Biden from the beginning.
    I haven’t checked the stats in detail as they are still processing it. But some have claimed as much as 8% of Republicans supported Biden. They didn’t do so because of Covid but out of disgust with who Trump is.

    Well into Covid, there were shootings by Police of black people and the counter protests turned into violence that Trump exploited. Given all the sordid conspiracies that Trump and his enablers engaged in, I even wondered if the police, who are generally pro-Trump, wanted to instigate violence by killing black people, and then blame the on the the Democrats. Whether that is true or not, the pandemic affected many other things.

    [contd.]

    • 2
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      It opened up voting by email to everyone, thus enabling higher voter turnout than before. And when I took a look at the right wing publications and twitter a couple of weeks before the election, they were all about a Hunter (Joe Biden’s son) Biden scandal ( his foreign business dealings trying to exploit his father’s name, his drug and sex addiction), some of it probably true but a lot of it was probably made up.

      Even though it didn’t have any traction with the mainstream media, and the elder Biden dismissed it as Russian propaganda–though it wasn’t really–, many people took the scandal seriously and for some people that made Trump’s scandals look not that bad. It contributed to shrinking support for Biden over the last two weeks before the election, just as it did for Hillary after an FBI announcement on her emails.

      Thankfully, such shrinking didn’t go all the way to a loss. But your assertion that if not for the pandemic Trump would have won in a landslide is hard to sustain.

      • 2
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        Agnos
        Voting by mail, I agree, is a great boon to democratic election. One has to be alert to abuse though.
        *
        In Iran one could vote where one is. That works well with a well networked electorate.

        • 0
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          The mail voting was not all about Covid but many people who do not bother to turn up at the polling station because of the KKK thugs harass them/mark them socially the blacks.

          This was in addition to many other systamatic suppression that has made the blacks not want to participate…..however now the pandemic meant the US officials have to make a concerted effort to invite the public to take advantage of the mail voting otherwise the already dwindling low voting in a democracy historically will look really bad in the international arena….for the “free world” upholders.

          Therefore the blacks who were terrorised and disenfranchised for a long time also benefitted from this mail vote is why Trump was well in earnest set out to play this game of mis information discrediting the same that voted him the first palace.

          Not different from what happened in Jaffna since Independence until now?? voting at gun point/thuggery/intimidation….the world did not bother to take note but Trump did.

          The year 2000 voting in Florida had the same issues where eligible voters not even given the chance to register let alone enter a polling station.

          • 0
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            In addition the votes came from the folks who choose not to vote (protest) for Hilary a very undemocratic elect of a democratic party against the most popular Berni in 2016 casted their vote this time.

        • 0
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          Here is some stats:

          https://twitter.com/ryanburge/status/1325575078097121282/photo/1

          For Trump (2016 vs 2020) – white only:
          Evangelical: 77% -> 75%
          Mainline: 55% -> 51%
          Catholic: 57% -> 57%
          Jews: 29% ->26%
          Atheist: 15% -> 10%
          Agnostic: 25% -> 18%
          Nothing in particular: 46% ->39%

          Among whites, it was the agnostics and none’s who had the most impact and potentially saved the country from sliding further into fascism and white nationalism.

          • 0
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            Agnos
            Thsmks.
            I assume that they mean voting intentions.

  • 1
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    Kamala Harris has made history!
    She will become the first Black American (Jamaican) and South Asian (Tamil) and Female Vice President of the United States. Regarding her South Asian maternal ancestry:
    Kamala Harris is not an Indian. Her grandfather Mr P. V Gopalan is from Manipay, Jaffna and Gopalan’s wife Mrs. Rajam Gopalan is from Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. In the late 19th century, educated Ceylon Tamils from the Jaffna peninsula migrated to the British colonies of Malaya (Malaysia and Singapore) and India to assist the colonial bureaucracy. Mr. P.V Gopalan was a civil servant under the British govt. He moved to South India and her daughter Shymala Gopalan was born in South India. Thereafter they moved to New Delhi and thence to California, where Shyamala married Donalad Harris-a Jamaican. Their daughter is Kamala Devi Harris. She was born in Oakland California. Her father was an economics professor at the prestigious Stanford University in California, where he taught and carried out research. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Her mother was a breast cancer researcher. Both are highly educated and hold PhDs. Kamala was brought up in the Hindu tradition. She married a Jewish man, now she is a “nominal Christian”.
    ===========
    Kamala Harris Family Tree

    • 2
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      “Her grandfather Mr P. V Gopalan is from Manipay, Jaffna and Gopalan’s wife Mrs. Rajam Gopalan is from Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. “
      *
      I vaguely remember that this was challenged and disproved shortly after her nomination.
      Kindly check it out.

      • 3
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        SJ
        You are right!
        Her maternal grandparents come from a long line of Iyer Brahmins from Thulasendrapuram in Tiruvarur, Tamil Nadu.

    • 0
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      Dear LC

      Let us assume is true….do you think she will conduct the outstanding investigation of the “Ratha Pottu Mafia killing fields in Jaffna a Tamil vs Tamil killing by FP/TULF/TNA/India” ?

      or she will continue the Obama tradition and be the Drawn Woman killings around the world a extrajudicial killing act? I can only compare to the KKK lunch mob killings of the blacks??

      she could visit Tamil Nadu just as Mrs Clinton did skipping the capital of India?? and visit the new Amma’s in India?

      Sri Lanka will get compensation and India will be under sanctions for the foreign sponsored terrorism?? we be compensated for this and the loss of fisheries too?

      • 0
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        All our GOSL soldiers family be able to seek compensation for their loss too??

        or explain to all the Sri Lankans the insurgency vs terrorism definitions??

        meet the JVP and FP/TULF/TNA & Muslim resistence to explain what they set out to do in our Nation killing fellow man and woman????

        Just tells us all to fight for various causes and create “law of the jungle” because I like it so?? sells more arms……the 5 security council nations the biggest arms exporters of the world???? is like the drug barons running rehab centre you may agree??

      • 0
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        TV,
        “do you think she will”
        Well, I don’t think she will…
        I am only talking about her maternal ancestry, I cannot think ‘what she will’ and ‘what she will not’.

        I have a feeling that you are carrying a big chip on your shoulder or rather a very heavy brick.
        Ratha Pottu Mafia???
        FP/TULF/TNA/India???
        I am actually confused here, I saw some others calling you and your family as Tamil Traitors.

        • 0
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          Dear LC

          Please expand what you saying please and kindly share your resources for the said accusations etc?

          Let us have a consructive discussion and establish facts….no need to be confused in our world as we can have a joint journey to get to the facts together no worries. So I can learn something from you and your references too. Please help.

          • 0
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            TV
            expand what???
            accusations??? resources???
            I responded to your comment addressed to me regarding KH.
            Someone in this forum accused you and I’m sure you know who.
            I do not know your background to discuss the facts.

        • 2
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          LC
          I do not agree with TV on many matters, but this traitor bit about his father is a part of our sickness.
          Amitrhalingam was killed supposedly because he was a ‘traitor’ and every victim of militant violence was a ‘traitor’ and any victim of state violence was a ‘terrorist’.
          Thiagarajah, former MP Vaddukkodai, was always opposed to the FP’s parochial politics. When he was nominated for Vaddukkodai seat by the ACTC in 1970, the ACTC was bitterly critical of the FP.
          In 1972 those who had control of the ACTC at the time chose to join the FP in the TNA,
          It was then that Thiagarajah decided to quit ACTC and join the SLFP.
          So, if there was a turncoat one should search the leading group of ACTC leaders. The TNA became TULF and called for Tamil Eelam. It won the election, Amitrhalingam bcame Leader of Opposition and that was the end of TULF’s call for Tamil Eelam. Are the TULF leaders not turncoats?
          Thiagarajah was consistent in his political views from long before becoming an MP. He was honest in money matters and was a good MP. This I say based on what people of the electorate say, despite wild allegations to the contrary by one or two on these pages who could not give credible evidence for any of their charges when challenged.

          • 0
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            SJ,
            Thanks for the info, in fact I do not know much about Thiagarajah. Someone in CT accused Venugopal and his father as traitors.

  • 0
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    Dear Lanka Canuck,
    .
    The developments in the USA are wonderful, but wemust allow the Biden-Kamala duo to conduct themselves as American politicians. Unless they put America’s interests first, and the US becomes a comfortable place for its citizens to live in, there will be no success for them at the 2024 election.
    .
    There will always be an element of competition among nations, but let’s hope that the emphasis is on co-operation. I’m so happy that you were honest and retracted that claim of Sri Lankan ancestry for Kamala. I spotted it almost immediately it appeared, and am happy that it got retracted without “a Sinhalese” butting in.
    .
    We should be happy that when the US looks at us in the Indian Sub-continent they will do so with a clear understanding of the issues. Let’s face it: the very poor sometimes look at others with envy and bitterness. Kamala’s relatives in India are very educated people. That’s good. Let’s all of us also be balanced.
    .
    Ignorance will result in some Sinhalese being alarmed at Tamil roots. We’e got to chip away at Mahayana Myths.

  • 0
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    Agnos, I guess SBarrKum (who some people thought is from Venezuela) is on his way to the U.S. Take a look at our so called Communist and Socialist. Either they are now with Rajapaksas or left country to their most hated Capitalistic world. Some even live there and continue writing on “age old hypothesis”. Recently I read an interview with newly elected Cuban origin Republican. He says he was a communist during his college days and upon realizing, it as a failed system, he left and was in search for years, until finding Trump,s politics as the best suitable choice. How do anyone explain this ?????

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