In Poll We Trust

Posted by By at 7 April, at 00 : 00 AM Print

In Poll We Trust


(one of the first satires I penned for the defunct Accra-based New Horizon magazine)


The humbled, almost pathetic, picture cut by President Clinton, was unlike anything I’ve associated the President of the United States of America – the world’s most powerful figure. His hair was disheveled, his eyes bloated as though from lack of adequate sleep. His body was shaking palpably, like an escapee from the dungeon of a refugee camp. I even detected something like a three-day old shrub on the normally cherubic chin. What had happened to the holder of the most powerful office in the world?

I placed a call to the USIS office. The Information Officer was out of town. Luckily though, his deputy, MacBoeing Donald, was willing to help with my inquiries. I described my anxieties to him and was baffled when he answered with chuckles.

“What do you find so funny, you a Republican?”

“No, I am apolitical. But I assume that you’re not an American citizen. Your accent, I should add, is a dead give-away. If you don’t mind, I will place around that geographic hocus-pocus they call Nigeria, am I right?” He was still guffawing.

“I don’t see the funny side of the story, Mr. Boeing. What are you guys, a bunch of blood-thirsty maniacs? Why would Americans delight in seeing their president looking dejected?”

“It’s MacBoeing, or Mr. Donald if you wish. Americans love to see their president like a strong, almost god-like figure. They’ve got either the stomach nor sympathy for a whimpering, cringing bum – like the leader of some banana republic. Americans cannot stand wimps. That’s the beauty of the American System, and that’s why our system is so appealing to the rest of the world.”

“How could they expect him to appear god-like when they keep throwing distracting statistics at him?”

“You do not appear to see the logic, eh. eh!”

“I don’t see the logic in a system which democratically elected a man to office, yet within five years reduced him to shreds, by the constant bombardment of conflicting opinion polls, and still yet expect him to appear god-like.”

Mr. Donald released a series of laughter. “You’re missing the big picture. Mr. …( I can’t cut that name, pardon me.) The majestic of the American system is that those in government have to take into account the opinion of those who are governed. Now, you and I know that this opinion is best expressed in free polls.”

“But don’t you see that the guy has just been elected to a second time. Why don’t you, guys, give him a break – till, say, the end of his term. He has but a few more years to go into retirement. He cannot contest elections again. But now, polls are suggesting that over 72.012% American think that he’s doing a bad job. That is enough to drive any sane man crazy. The guy has been reduced to tatters.”

Mr. Donald finds this assertion funny. “See,” he bellowed with hilarity, “Americans have to constantly remind their leaders who sent them to office in the first place. Everyone has to be given a chance to have some input into the system. I guess that the cabal of klepto-feudal-military reprobate oligarchy mis-ruling your country do not care for such democratic niceties. But Americans, God bless them, would settle for nothing less. According to a study by the Kennedy School of Government conducted early this year, 97.986% of Americans agreed that they have the best political system in the world. That is with an error margin of plus or minus three percent. See what I mean?” Mr. Donald was beside himself with laughter.

“I see what you mean, but the same poll said that 98.345% thought that the American political system is corrupt beyond redemption. A MORI poll of the same week said that 95.234% of Americans said that the Presidency is unwieldy, while in a TIME-CNN poll, 96.567% thought Congress is crooked beyond reformation. A Gallup poll of the previous week found a staggering 99.8% of Americans opining that your judiciary is a huge, albeit expensive, joke that serves the interests of only the well-heeled. What do you say?”

“Now,” Mr. Donald laughed, “You’re getting the picture. No system is perfect, but every single member of a society should have a say in how it’s governed. Only in American is this done.”

“Actually, I call to express my concern for the health of the President of the United States. Is it too difficult for you Americans to see that your president is human, after all? There was a poll in the MILWAUKEE DESPATCH last week that says that 97.53% of members of the Milwaukee Farmers Association were against the sale of Fiber-Optic Technology to China. Now, now, how could the president of the world’s only superpower be expected to take such ponderous geo-political and geo-strategic decisions, hamstrung by members of a farmer’s union in a backwater state?”

“That’s not fair, Mr. … (I still cannot get the hang on that name of yours), you have taken that poll completely out of context. You seem to have, shall we say conveniently, forgotten that President Clinton was the first DEMOCRAT to come along in a very, very long time. Those farmers are solid, born-again Republicans. They changed their minds to give the DEMOCRAT a shot at the most important post in the world. President Clinton, any president, owe it to them to, at least, listen to what they have to say.”

“What do farmers know about fibre-optic technologies?”

“Enough to construct informed opinion. China is a backward, communist country rule by regenerate Bolsheviks. It is a country with more people than food to feed them. America is the leading, most technologically-advanced, most politically-sophisticated in the world. The farmers were asked if America should help China with FO technologies and, of course, like most true-blooded American patriot, they said NO.”

I was flabbergasted with the logic. “I am beginning to see the picture. But how do you explain the poll in the Minnesotan daily, TWIN-CITY ECHO, which suggested that 98.897% of the respondents to their poll think that president Clinton is doing a bad job in his handling of American-Vanuatu relationship. What’s this relationship? Where is Vanuatu?”

“Are you asking me? I am a diplomat, not a geographer. Actually, Mr. … (forget it!) I don’t understand your cynicism. We’ve got the best system in the wold, even our adversaries recognized this. Why do you think that the Soviet Union imploded?”

“I am very sorry you feel that way. I have nothing against your system. But I was just wondering why Americans cannot make life a little easier for your elected officials…”

Mr. Donald interrupted me, ” Yeah, how?” His voice registered great impatience.

“How about setting up a Presidential Poll Advisory Board to advise your president on opinion polls. The board would be responsible for distilling the mish-mash polls into something more coherent (and, hopefully, palatable) for the president. It will not, in my opinion, diminish your country’s democratic ideals, and your presidents will stop looking like the wrath of the gods. …”

Mr Donald interrupted again, “Hey, Mr. … Something just come up. I’ll be in touch.”


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

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Femi Akomolafe




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