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The Amazing Race

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.

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