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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Carlos Alberto Montaner: United States - The Nation Against the Republic
Latin American genius Carlos Alberto Montaner on the ideals, myths and realities battling for the presidency of the United States.

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

The collision is inevitable in 2020.

The nation is woven with subjective perceptions and stereotypes; The republic, with laws that respond to social changes.

The nation gives us the platonic idea of “the Americans”: they are white, blond, independent and brave, presumably with clear eyes, idealistic, nationalistic, enterprising. They worship the Christians’ god, are heterosexuals and communicate in English. Naturally, not all are like that, but stereotypes are there for a reason. The hymn reflects that mythology. The flag flies over “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The republic, at least today, claims that “the Americans” are of different colors and mixtures, believers or non-believers in any god, and are subject to rules or social conventions that do not take sexuality or gender into account. Many have come fleeing from national disasters. They are united by the Constitution and the law, not by the supposed “national identity”. They embrace constitutional patriotism. In the mid-21st century, the number of blacks, Hispanics and Asians will exceed that of “white Americans.”

This dichotomy will reappear in the 2020 elections between Donald Trump, quintessence of the nation, and whoever is elected as Democratic candidate among the dozen who aspire to be the White House’s tenant.

There are, old, young and mature people; Christians, Jews, atheists (in pectore) and agnostics; whites, blacks, half-breeds and Hispanics; gays decorated for their repeated presence in wars, men and women who are “average” south of the waist; radicals and conservatives; socialists and social democrats; billionaires, millionaires and middle classes; extremely educated people and less studious beings.

The last one to enter the battle has been Mike Bloomberg, a 77-year-old Jewish New Yorker, a philanthropist with a three-term experience as New York City’s mayor. Bloomberg is the ninth richest man on the planet. But he did not inherit his fortune; he built it with sheer talent, luck and technology. The nation’s anti-Semitism, fortunately, is far from him. In the past, the voters, as part of the national identity, mostly white, were anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-feminist, as reflected in the raids of the KKK and the sorrows of the suffragists.

The regional round of primaries begins in Iowa. Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is likely to win. His strange last name comes from his father, a university professor from the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. He is young, energetic, moderate, well trained academically, graduated from Harvard and Oxford as a “Rhodes Scholar”, a white Maltese, which means a lot of mixtures. He served with distinction a couple of times in the Middle East wars and earned two meritorious medals.

He is openly gay. In 2018 he married Chasten Glezman, a teacher who adopted the politician’s last name. Interestingly, this personality trait of Pete may not harm him among the Democrats who vote according to the republic’s true values. If it is legal, and if he is the best candidate, who cares about what happens in the bedroom of two adults determined to love each other who did not choose their sexuality but assumed it?

This is a variant of the reasoning that made Barack Obama president. (Interestingly, in the United States blacks and Hispanics are the groups most loaded with sexual prejudice.) What did the color of Obama’s skin matter? Voting for Obama was to show that racial prejudices could be avoided. Voting for a gay means to eliminate prejudices about people’s intimate behavior.

After all, he would not be the first gay president of the United States, but he would certainly be the first to admit his homosexuality. The single James Buchanan, the 15th president, had that priority. His adversaries called him “Nancy.” Carl Sandburg also insinuated the same thing about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, in his famous biography, although with no other proof than the fact that for several years Lincoln shared his bed with another adult named Joshua Fry Speed. Naturally, winning in Iowa does not mean that Pete Buttigieg will be the Democratic candidate. It is only the first obstacle.

Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.


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