Two Countries, Divided Dreams

Scottish Government
Holyrood Parliament
United States
Capitol Building

by Professor Joe Goldblatt

Four years ago, upon the morning immediately following the United States Presidential election, I was both greatly surprised and deeply depressed. However, I mustered enough courage to carry on and attended a board meeting with about ten of my Scottish business associates.

When I walked into the large board room, I was surprised to see the surprise and depression of my Scottish colleagues was equal and perhaps even greater than my own. They were visibly upset and looked at me with sadness and remorse and some even shook their heads from side to side. It was as if they were asking, at the end of a long and very loving relationship “How did this happen to us?”

The majority of American citizens (at least according to the popular vote) felt the same way. However, Americans, for better or worse are reknowned for their sense of optimism despite experiencing the most difficult of circumstances. Therefore, many of us recognised that something had indeed changed, both within our borders as well as around the world as s result of the outcome of this election. I was witnessing this change in Scotland that very day as my colleagues quietly turned to me at the tea break and asked “How are YOU feeling?”

My feelings both then and now are similar to the phases identified by Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross regarding the emotions of death and dying. They have run the gamut from shock, denial, anger, bargaining and finally acceptance.

In the first year of this tumultuous time I was able to calm my inner psyche through the natural defense mechanism of shock and denial. However, by the second year, BREXIT had visited these shores and the Scottish people had resoundedly voted to remain in the United Kingdom. At that time I became angry as I began to realise that former UK Prime Minister Harold MacMillan (1894 – 1996) was correct when he was asked what was most likely to cause governments to veer off course? He replied with the much quoted statement “Events, dear boy, events.”

The event of the surprise US presidential election outcome and the passage of BREXIT were two seismic shifts or major events that made me and millions of others very angry in both Scotland and America. They also left some citizens, at least for a short time, feeling helpless and hopeless. However, these feelings rapidly transformed into an opportunity to conduct an internal and very personal bargaining process that would lead to the acceptance of the fact that we must now and in the future work toward regaining a new and better world order.

The existing world order seemed to be divided between those on the far left and the far right. For those of us who find ourselves slightly left or right of centre, these opposing forces may be confusing, draining and oftentimes debilitating. This is why I decided that with the approach of the 2020 Presidential election I would become more involved than ever before in my home country’s internal electoral process. This was the time I realised after voting in USA Presidential elections for over 50 years that what happens in the good ole USA eventually and sometimes immediately impacts the rest of the world either positively or negatively. Therefore, instead of wringing my hands in constant despair, I decided to roll up my sleeves and campaign for a change in the leadership of my home country where nearly 25 million people proudly have and celebrate their Scottish ancestry.

When the US Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 by 56 members of the contental congress, 13 of these patriots were direct descendants of Scottish ancestors. The Declaration itself is believed to be based upon Scotland’s historic Declration of Arbroath that was written 800 years ago. With these strong historic ties and bound together by shared blood, it is no wonder that I felt that both as an old American and a new Scot it was my duty to insure that the next Presidential election produced a better result.

During the past few months I have donated funds from my modest pension pot to my candidate for the US Presidency and I have used social media and articles such as this one to encourage my fellow Americans and others to join me in restoring the respect, honour, esteem and friendship that the American people have spent nearly 300 years cultivating around the world.

On the morning of 4 November 2020, following the US Presidential election, when I awaken and meet my Scottish friends in the street or through the intimacy of a zoom meeting, I hope that their reaction shall be markedly different than it was four years ago. It is my fondest wish that all our efforts for a kinder, gentler and fairer world will have been achieved and that together we may begin the process of rebuilding and repairing the special friendship the founding fathers of the United States envisioned when they turned to the Declaration of Arbroath and their Scottish ancestry for wisdom.

The Declaration’s opening lines commence with “When in the course of human events…” If indeed MacMillan was correct in identifying events as the cause that creates the effect of governments and societies becoming dysfunctional and veering off course, may the new event of 3 November newly restore our course for ourselves and many generations in the future.

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