During the early period of the Obama presidency, there was a prevalent word that went around news cycles and administration officials; the word "unprecedented". The same word cannot mean the same today as it did in 2008. We cannot define this new America as simply unprecedented. This is a dangerously unprecedented America.
From the outside, what we have seen is a country that has gotten reluctant to lead and is weary with the onslaught of obligations it has on its head. If America was a human being, it would probably be dead from the obligations placed on its head; not to mention the daunting task of leading the planet into the future. This is just too much for one nation that put a man on the moon, brought us Alexander Hamilton and Michael Jackson. Much of every success America has recorded has one way or another been through the help of immigrants. In fact much of what every western civilization has recorded has been through the help of immigrants. To be fair to History, 'help' may be too kind a word to use; a better explanation would be through the enslavement and forceful submission of immigrants. Today's message is somewhat different from 1776, today "Mr. Immigrant, you have served your purpose, we cannot accommodate you any longer but many thanks for helping in advancing science, thanks for fighting for our democracy and shaping our ideals, thanks for your wisdom". This very moment, Mr. Immigrant you have transformed into too much of a looming disaster and terror carrier. Our budget cannot support or accommodate you anymore.
The very reason why I did not bother applying to the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship was because I knew President Trump was going to win the election. The whole point of the fellowship is the exact opposite of the current administration's posture and I did not see a reason why I should be part of that dichotomy. You do not have to be a genius to understand that the current American climate will bend towards more anti-immigration rhetoric. This is dangerous because stoking fear as a means to winning an election causes far irreparable damage that seeps on through generations. You would see more arsons on Mosques, more emboldening of hate and racial discrimination. I learnt a popular phrase 'whenever you feel lost, just remember your values'. The values that has made America great up till this point need to be remembered to take America to the next level. I am not in any position to teach you how to run your country but one thing I do know is that it is better not to have been great in the first place than to experience the fall from greatness. I'm sorry Mr. America, but with this rhetoric, policies of alienation, protectionism, anti-globalization, anti-immigration and going it all alone, you will probably experience it.
This is new territory, no one has ever been here before. It has only been imagined in Nik Gowing's Thinking the unthinkable series.
Freedom is not one man, Freedom is a belief and that belief is what strengthens institutions and builds the force that 'bends that arc'. Once we start having different definitions of what freedom means, we have tampered with the very ideal that millions have fought and died for. Freedom is the very essence of diversity. Diversity is most pronounced through immigration.
Is America the country we look to as a pinnacle of freedom, morals and justice. The answer is still yes but what we are witnessing today is an affront on the American values most of us around the world have come to know America for. What the administration tells us now is "We are the land of the free and home of the brave so long as you are not an immigrant".
The fastest way to lose leadership is simply to watch things go by. It's the notion that silence will get us to the promise land and the simplistic deduction that everything must be about the bottom-line. Staying out of the global dialogues, defunding the United Nations, doubting the importance of treaties, inciting a global nuclear arms-race. There is so much wrong with the voices we are hearing from this vantage point.
I am a Nigerian and trust me, I have never been prouder of being a citizen of the greatest country on Earth - Nigeria. This is what I learnt during the 2016 US Election cycle. Every country has their own sets of 'crazy', stop looking up to another country for your solutions.
America is tired of leading the world and the body language of the new administration has downright told us that. As with every empire that loses the willingly gives out their number 1 position, there would always be a number 2 eagerly waiting to take the top spot. China is wide awake, Russia is wide awake and on the North American horizon, Canada is wide awake. Mr. America wants to be alone, let him be. When you turn your back on the foundations that brought you to your current position, there is really no other direction to go to but to decline.
The issue with Mexico and the wall is another affront on international law. I disagree with the diplomatic and brown-nosing answer Theresa May gave to John Roberts' question about Mexico and the USA in the first UK/US special farce news conference of the Trump Administration. The growth in tensions between USA and Mexico is not a regional tension issue, it has far reaching global effects about the new American discourse which has been ushered in with this administration. The discussion is simply "we would bully you until you submit". Mexico is being bullied on an international scale and the only thing left will be for America to invade Mexico as a result for being recalcitrant and choosing not to donate to the 'Great Wall Funds of the Southern USA'.
My advice to Mr. America is that you need to find your true North fast and vigorously defend it. Your global relevance and existence may well depend on it.