The Amazing Race

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The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race

Xia (夏), Shang (商), Zhou (周), Qin (秦), Han (漢), Jin (晉),Sui (隋), Tang (唐, Song (宋),Liao (遼), Yuan (元), Ming (明), Qing (清)。I am not swearing at you in Chinese — these are dynasties. Squeezed in between, a few weird names like the Three Kingdoms (三国), Spring and Autumn period (春秋时代), or the Warring Kingdom (战国). Chinese usually see their history as cyclical: raise of a dynasty, golden age, decay, fall of the dynasty, civil war and emergence of a new dynasty. The pattern repeated itself with constancy throughout the history.

First, the power is seized by a leader (a warlord, an aristocrat or just some lucky barbarian). A new dynasty is founded. Its leader (in other words, Heaven Son, 天子), who was called at the head of the country, had a great responsibility: he had the Heavenly Mandate (天命) and therefor the right to rule China, the Heavenly Empire.

Empowered by Heaven, the founding father now emperor would begin his work: a population census, new taxes, new roads or mean of communication… Most important, the country would be peaceful for a while: barbarians would stay out of the country — blurred — borders and the country would be somewhat united. Golden age.

But with the death of the founder and mostly with time, the state would invariably decay. A couple of centuries later (yeah, this is China…), there wouldn’t be much left of the golden state: taxes would skyrocket and stopped being collected in some rebel provinces, droughts would leave people starving and angry, floods would wash dams away, leaders would be eaten away by corruption. This had nothing to do with back luck or economics, but rather was a sign that the descendants of the hero-founder of the dynasty were losing the virtue and wisdom that gave them to right to rule the empire. This right was by no mean perpetual… and Heaven would change the Mandate (革命) and give it to a new leader, who would himself start a new dynasty empowered with the Heavenly Mandate. A period of civil war would follow… from which would emerge a leader, starting his own dynasty and a new cycle would start.

A few thousand miles away and a few centuries later, Heaven (named Florida election recount in this part of the world) gave its mandate to a leader, Incurious Georges. His platform what somewhat unclear but included the “No Child Left Behind Act” (“Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?“, he wondered), no nation building (“I don’t think our troops should be used for what’s called nation building” as said in 2000), making rich people richer (“This is an impressive crowd. The haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base“, he declared) and having fun (“I don’t give a goddamn, I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way. Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!“, said the decider-in-chief“),

Other than that, lucky Georgie was pretty quiet during his first months on the job until the event that would define his main mandate: 9/11. Suddenly, there were a nation under attack, enemies to fight: “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we“, as Georgie said.

Remember what I said (or rather, what Mencius said) about the Heaven Mandate and the forewarning of its rescission? Do the worse security failure in the US history, the worse natural disaster (Katrina), the biggest annual deficit, the biggest drop in the history of stock market, the biggest energy crises, the biggest corporate stick market fraud ring a bell? Wasn’t it the time to say George goodbye and to start a new dynasty presidency?

Alright, don’t apologize, there is no shortage of elected idiots in this world and after all, you always get a second third chance. We “misunderestimated” this one though.

So, here we are. Eight years and two wars, limited civil liberties, domestic bankruptcy, divided country… later, the USA are given the chance to elect someone not obsess with invading other countries. The race is on, right now.

Please Southern neighbors, vote responsibly.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Quoting roughly Pierre Desproges, a French humorist, unfortunately dead now:
    “Children are so stupid, they believe in Father Christmas. We, adults, aren’t that stupid: we vote!”

  2. Great post! I have to say I just watched the Democrats debate in South Carolina, and of course none are what I’m looking for in a candidate. Hillary seems like such a dirty politician, it kind of makes me sad (I know Canadians love her, but I don’t think they see the full picture). John Edwards doesn’t have a chance and was kind of annoying in his responses. Barack Obama wasn’t great, but seems like the best and most electable of the three. Of course, I’ve got to say I’d be happy with any of them. Fortunately, I’ll get a vote in November. How would you vote? Or are you more focused on November’s election.

  3. George Bush, after all he’s already foisted on the world, now presides over the worst economic situation the US has been in for decades. Georgy- yer doin’ a heckuva job!

    I hate that man SO MUCH I sometimes can’t sleep at night. GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

  4. SilverNeurotic on

    You don’t have to worry about me making a silly mistake at the voting polls. I will be armed and ready to cast my vote intelligently.

    I think the ONLY thing I will miss about Bush is his great comedy routines. I like it when people are funny…and they’re not even trying to be.

  5. Nice one, Zhu.

    I LOVE Chinese History, especially the Three Kingdoms period/fall of the Han Dynasty. So fascinating that my favorite video game franchise is based on it (Dynasty Warriors).

    I am seriously just a hairsbreadth from really looking into moving out of the USA. If we elect another Republican this year, I’m pretty sure I’ll be living in Canada by 2012. I am so ready for a black or a woman president (but then again, I’d elect a Black Lesbian Jew just on principle).

  6. However the elections go, I hope the ultimate winner will have learned something from the current president and set out to reapir some of the damage he’s done.

  7. Sorry, but I feel I have to chime in once more. This time I’m a little calmer. I was inconsolable when that idiot won re-election. Just absolutely devastated. I don’t want to get into the litany of ways he has damaged my country but I will say this- right now I call myself an expatriate but the longer that stupid, sanctimonious, arrogant, smirking SOB stays in office the closer I feel myself getting to calling myself an ex-patriot.

    I’m proud of my country but ashamed of those running it.


  8. I just about tore my hair out the last two elections…but I hope this time things will be different. I’ll be voting, as I did the last two times, and maybe this time we’ll end up with someone decent…and if we don’t, at least I live overseas. 😉

  9. It looks like your Chinese Modern and Contemporary History schooling background is used in this post. Interesting point of view. Informative for non-history duff like me.

  10. Froggiewoogie: I love Desproges! We need some more witty men like him… unfortunately, right now we only have some Italian top-model.

    Keshi: agreed!

    Silverneurotic: Bush was (is?) a great comedian. Too bad he also happens to control the army…

    Sir Jorge: whoever you want to vote for… but please, do vote. 😉

    Johnada: I think I like Obama best. I don’t think badly of Clinton, but since he has already been in power… I’m not a huge fan of “dynasties”. I feel Democrats should win, but I’m partial of course.

    Gary: trust me, I understand and I feel for you. I know most (well, a good 50%) of Americans don’t support Bush and must have felt cheated on with the results.

    Todd: I love the way you put it! 😆 Of course I don’t have any problem with seeing a woman or an African-American guy in the Office. It’s about time your President reflects your country… well, I would have loved someone a bit different for France as well, but instead we got Napoleon II. Just our luck. Anytime to talk about Chinese history! 😉

    Art: and I hope some Americans have learned as well… Bush had some supports, that was sad too. How can people be so blind??

    Theresa: I hope so too. Well, half of the world does as well…

    Rudy: not a big history fan? 😉 I love Chinese history!

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