Nearly every four years in America, it seems that a new crop of even more radically conservative presidential candidates throw their tri-cornered, bald eagle-feathered hats into the ring. Each time, and this year is no exception, there are progressive, liberal and even centrist Americans who threaten to leave the country “if that guy becomes president.”
I must admit, it’s been quite nice to avoid the wall-to-wall coverage of American politics, the microscopic analysis of every syllable of every word (or every long, awkward pause), and the hyperbolic rhetoric of candidates and talking heads. After all, there’s plenty o’ mess to monitor on this side.
However, I did catch an article on Politico.com the other day about how this year’s menagerie of Republican hopefuls seem hell-bent on both “protecting the Constitution” and completely changing it. Herman Cain wants to end birthright citizenship, but doesn’t “support tampering with the 14th Amendment,” which is where related issues lie. Rick Perry wants to end lifetime appointments for federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, even though the framers carefully crafted the language to avoid adverse political interference in appointments. Bachmann, Santorum and even Romney want Constitutional amendments to outlaw abortion and same-sex marriage.
These ideas raise the hackles of most Democrats – and, truly, of most middle-of-the-road Americans. Progressives, of course, are outraged. And ready for action.
As an American living temporarily in South Africa, this got me thinking. If I was in charge of the Department of Home Affairs here, I would seriously consider saying something to the effect of, “Hello, wealthy, disenchanted, but highly skilled, Americans! Welcome to South Africa! You’ll love the weather. Please, try the boerewors with a nice pinotage!”
To appeal to those Americans who really would choose flight over fight, South Africa should simply take a copy of its incredibly enlightened constitution down to Cape Point, face it in the direction of New York, some 12,500 km west, and let it serve as a beacon for adventurous, diverse and talented American progressives.
- The type of Americans likely to be attracted can help fill skills gaps in areas such as medicine, engineering, information technology, etc.
- They will almost certainly be do-gooders who invest time and resources into projects that can make a difference in local communities.
- They won’t be here forever…in four (hopefully not eight) years, the political situation in the US will have calmed and the Americans will go home, making room for more South Africans to step up and step in.
- Without promising a utopia, it’s probable that many skilled, native South Africans may also want to return from places like Australia and Canada to start businesses, etc.
- Welcoming a flock from the US could be politically shrewd, as well, as it creates a cadre of Americans who will become Mzansi fo’ sho’.
- There’s a chance it could stave off the kind of overreaching Chinese investment once welcomed but now somewhat lamented elsewhere on the continent.
- Sports like rugby and cricket (sorry, netball) will reach and win over an expanded audience. (Hey, it’s sorta worked with soccer…)
- South Africans love malls. Americans love malls. It’s a love connection sweeter than a Cinnabon.
Yes, the election in the US is still a year away – and South Africa will have one of its own in the interim, which will undoubtedly add some funk to this drama – but I say it’s never too early to develop your marketing strategy. To get things started, I’ve come up with a few potential slogans for a South Africa interested in wooing liberal Americans:
- South Africa: Even the lions in our streets are pro-choice
- South Africa: Because a young democracy still values its constitution*
- South Africa: Hey, we could use a few more folks who don’t secretly long for the old days
- South Africa: Yes, we are a country…no, not near Kilimanjaro…right, at the bottom…well, below what was called Rhodesia, it’s now Zimb…just come here and we’ll show you…
Anyway, that’s just something I was thinking about. Those of you who have been to counseling or are shrinks yourselves can probably see that this post was, what, my attempt to rationalize my own return to South Africa should the words “President Bachmann and Vice President Santorum” ever spew from Wolf Blitzer’s bearded lips? Yeah, that’s probably right…