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The importance of second chances

Updated on: 20 April,2024 06:58 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Lindsay Pereira |

America’s continued support for Donald Trump shows the rest of the world why forgiveness is so important

The importance of second chances

Former US President Donald Trump at the Manhattan criminal court in New York on April 15. Pic/AP

Lindsay PereiraIt’s not easy being the leader of a country. You’re supposed to represent the hopes and dreams of millions of people, so a lot of them tend to look up to you. They need to respect what they see, and believe that you know what you’re doing, which means you have to be a pretty good actor. They think of you as one of their more accomplished countrymen (because misogyny), as someone supposedly better educated, more intelligent, and possibly even kinder than everyone else. They want you to have integrity and good morals, to be empathetic and unbiased, to not embarrass them when you open your mouth in public. Naturally, very few politicians manage to rise to the occasion. Almost none of them tick all the necessary boxes.

This rule doesn’t apply to the whole world though. Take America, for example. The nice thing about America is how it somehow manages to drum up support even for those who don’t come close to meeting the required criteria for good governance. It’s why Donald Trump is lucky he’s an American.

For those who have been too stressed about life in India to look at what’s been happening on the other side of the world, here’s what I’m referring to: it’s been obvious for a while that Trump is the only forerunner opposing the current president of the US in this year’s upcoming election. The former host of the television series The Apprentice has been given another shot at returning to the White House, four years after he lost it. His humiliating single term is now a distant memory, as a lot of enthusiastic citizens prepare for the possibility of living through it all just one more time. Isn’t nostalgia wonderful?

I assumed a lot of people outside America must have written Trump off a while ago because, to be honest, it’s hard to think of a more embarrassing politician in our lifetime. And yet, some Americans begged to disagree, abandoning facts in favour of fiction instead. These kind folk now believe their 77-year-old former president—also the first in their country’s history to be criminally charged—deserves to be a presidential nominee once more. This, despite him facing 91 charges across four separate cases, along with a series of civil cases. Trump has also been found guilty of rape, in addition to allegations of sexual misconduct that have followed him for decades, but that hasn’t been enough to dissuade them either. It’s the kind of support that incompetent non-American criminals everywhere can only dream about.

The lesson we should all take from this is about forgiveness. We have to accept that politicians can be awful, inconsiderate, incompetent and corrupt, but we must remember that they are also human beings worthy of second chances. We must look at America and adopt some of the practices it takes for granted. I must admit we have begun taking a few right steps in this direction, which is why so many people accused of crime have managed to be rehabilitated in Parliament over the past decade or so, but there’s still a long way to go before we come close to replicating America’s largesse.

To give horrible politicians second and even third chances says a lot about a country. It tells the world that while a country may not have the most intelligent people, it has citizens who place delusion over reality and common sense. These are not virtues to be laughed at in our cynical times.

The way things stand in India today, it’s still hard to imagine this country behaving the way the Republicans of America have. It’s impossible to foresee a time when we will be compelled to elect a leader devoid of intelligence, compassion, integrity, education, kindness, morality or good taste; a clown obsessed with being photographed for endless and carefully orchestrated PR campaigns. If we were ever in this position, compelled to choose someone who embarrasses us in public by saying the most inane things possible, I’m sure we would laugh the candidate out of the room.

I look forward to a more forgiving India, a country that can find within itself the ability to support even a leader with a dubious past, one propped up by crony capitalism, or accused of selling public assets while pretending to be a man of the people. I wonder if we will ever be able to do it, which is why I believe we have so much to learn from America. 

Hope is everything.

When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira

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