I’ve had enough.
I’ve sat idle witnessing Donald Trump become the Republican nominee for president, despite his lack of qualifications and general decency as a human being. He did that, while violating everything this country stands for.
Recently he added the straw that broke the camel’s back. (Which hit close to home in my case).
“Elections are rigged,” Trump has repeated.
Mr. Trump, allow me to tell you about rigged elections.
Growing up in Damascus – Syria, my dad never allowed us to go vote. “It’s not safe,” he would say. I used to watch the ‘Elections’ on television. Hafez Al-Assad had been president for years and won every time by an overwhelming majority. One year without him knowing, I went with a friend to satisfy that itch for lofty principles we experience as teenagers – ready to conquer the world.
We entered the library and had to show our ID’s and sign a sheet that said: I will vote for President Hafez Al-Assad. Going into the small booth, I passed two men with machine guns standing outside. I searched for another candidate on the ballot, but there was none. When I contemplated not voting, my friend said there would be ‘dire consequences’. So I filled out the small circle with a number two pencil and granted the dictator four more years.
At the door, an official examined the ballot and told the guards to give us our ID’s back.
Hafez Al-Assad was president for 29 years, and now his son Bashar has filled the same role since 2000.
That my friend, is the epitome of rigged elections.
How dare you?
How dare you, Donald Trump, cast a shadow of fraud on my America? I know about disfranchisement in our voting system, and I familiar with the Electoral College, where not all voters are created equal. All that said, there are no guards with machine guns outside the booth.
Despite the challenges we have, America offers a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In most countries, you would not even be allowed to complain about elections being rigged.
Wait, I forgot . . . we have free speech in my America.
You want to know about My America Donald?
My America allowed me at the age of 18 to reap the benefits of a good education, a free economy, and a just social system.
My America gave me the chance to raise my three children where they don’t have to dodge bullets and bombs, or spend night after night in a bomb shelter. They live where they may touch a star one day. They are free to participate in a democratic society with rewards based on effort, and not on who you know. One of them could actually become President one day. (I can provide their birth certificate).
My America permitted me to vote, in a free and accountable system where my vote counts, and where all nominees are listed on the ballot. This fact still astounds me after living here for 31 years. My vote counts. I, Karim Shamsi-Basha, an American citizen from a Syrian descent, can vote and be heard.
My America provided me with a congressman who wrote letters on my behalf to the American Embassy in Lebanon to grant my sister a visa. My country of origin has been ravaged by civil war for the past five years. I met with Congressman Spencer Bachus, and he promised to do everything in his power to get her out of Syria. Did you hear me Donald? I met with my congressman. I was heard by my government representative. You want to ban all Muslims, Mexicans, foreigners, and people that are not ‘Us’ from coming into this vast and gracious land. (Why am I thinking of Hitler?)
My America granted me the privilege of working as a journalist for 30 years. I documented events that others take for granted as merely the ‘news’. Fifteen years ago, I covered a protest on the steps of the Jefferson County Court House in Birmingham, except the protesters wore white robes with hoods and shouted racial obscenities. They were the KKK. I watched in disbelief and wondered if this form of ‘Freedom’ was a bit much. To let a despicable group speak their mind in public? (I know about the constitution and Freedom of Speech, but c’mon, really?) Then I saw something that replaced the shivers of infuriation with tears of overwhelming gratification. I saw African-American and white policemen hold hands and form a human fence to push the rowdy crowd back. They protected the racial bigots. As ugly and appalling the KKK was, as beautiful and virtuous the hovering freedom was.
My America showed me slices of life that are simple, pure, and telling. I saw children puff their cheeks and blow dandelions in the spring, and old men rake their front yards. I saw business men and women be productive citizens, and neighbors bake cookies for each other over the holidays. I saw smiles of hope, grins on tiny lips, and hugs at airports. I saw flags from all countries and all colors on Southern porches, where iced tea is the drink of choice for people from all over this beautiful and inclusive world, despite your efforts to deny that virtuous fact.
My America may not be the most perfect country in the world, but It remains the best place to live on this tiny planet. (In my humble, and yes . . . foreign opinion.)
What I do every morning
Do me a small favor Mr. Trump: Get down on the ground right now and kiss it.
You may taste justice, you may taste liberty, you may taste beauty, you may taste integrity, and you may taste honesty. Don’t be scared. Those are good things most people try to live by.
For more, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/