King Uzziah (783-742 BC) reigned in the ancient kingdom of Judah, which had splintered from the kingdom of Israel. Unfortunately, his contempt for the settled norms and traditions of governance got the better of him, leading him to usurp the established authority of the priesthood, whose sole prerogative it was to burn incense to God in the temple.
Uzziah took it upon himself to sabotage this sacred, inalienable duty by entering into the temple and burning incense to God himself. His brazen, unorthodox conduct was egregious on its face, as he upended official structures and institutions, thereby threatening the balance of power within the Kingdom. Obviously, the God of Israel was not amused by this foolhardy antic nor was he willing to give him a pass, and so He struck Uzziah with leprosy. In effect, the popular king was from henceforth consigned to a life of national shame, and relegated to the status of permanent outcast, becoming at once a pariah and byword.
The questions could be asked why a benevolent God would visit such a horrid, abominable fate on a king who by all accounts was a successful ruler? Why couldn’t a forgiving God overlook his shenanigans? Finally, what lessons are applicable today from this human tragedy?
Uzziah’s rogue actions not only corrupted and challenged the legitimate role of the priesthood, whose pivotal functions impacted and shaped existential issues of personal and national life; in misbehaving he made public mockery of, and denigrated, both priestly and kingly institutions. Consequently, he laid the groundwork for chaos and anarchy to ensue. He also set a very dangerous precedent by obliterating the hitherto, unshifting lines of kingly and priestly demarcations.
Uzziah’s reckless, self-serving conduct could have precipitated a descent into widespread societal upheaval and mayhem, buoyed and underpinned by trickle-down gross lawlessness. In essence, rebelliousness was being promoted by the highest office in the land. At the same time, Uzziah could have provoked an open general revolt of the populace who were fully cognizant of his betrayal and villainy.
Indeed, the people would have felt disrespected and hard done by, as Uzziah was not authorised, or qualified, to serve as a mediator on their behalf in matters pertaining to the Divine. Left unchecked, the nation could have plunged into a burning conflagration that might have resulted in self-annihilation. Uzziah overturned the established, time-honoured balance of the nation’s power structure. One can only surmise that he was driven by a sense of entitlement, deep-seated hubris and megalomania.
Anyone blessed with a discerning mind and an alert, attentive spirit cannot fail to draw striking parallels between King Uzziah and Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America, and then de facto leader of the free world. Trump is still engaged in his highly toxic ‘quick-slow-quick’ ugly, macabre dance away from settled, core democratic principles, institutions and values. Despite his humiliating, emphatic loss for reelection, he continues to trample on democracy and soil hard-won gains, of the near-universal form of governance.
Trumpism run-amok can potentially deprive countless hundreds of millions around the world of the irreplaceable, invaluable benefits that accrue from a functioning democracy. The effects of Trump’s nihilism continues to be dissected and catalogued, earning him endless anti-democratic epithets, which capture his destructive ‘tour de force’ instincts and predilections. The sacred, unique, global role of the US as a beacon and champion of democracy cannot be gainsaid. Indeed, as the planets orbit the sun as a life source, so do nations of the free world look to the US, as the representation of the centrifugal force of global democracy.
The issue is that if hard-won democratic gains soaked in the blood and sacrifice of world heroes, and multitudes of unheralded champions of democracy, fall to anti-democratic forces in the U.S., how fast will the deadly infection spread, and how devastating will the fall-out be from the global contagion.
Trump’s campaign for the Republican Party Presidential nomination in the 2016 election gave rise to the ‘Never Trump’ movement, which called for him to be shunned. Never Trumpers included party chieftains and stalwarts, who are now infused with megadoses of ‘Trumpism’ and have coalesced into a colony of feckless enablers. Their primary mission seems to be to aid and abet with fevered industry, Trump’s onslaught against the ramparts of democracy, as they lower the drawbridge with heedless disdain. As a means of satiating their unquenchable thirst for corrupt political power, they have made a Faustian pact to embrace Trump’s criminality and contempt for the rule of law. Each and every egregious transgression of their standard-bearer is acquiesced to and greeted with the sentiment – hail fellow well met!
With the run-up to the crucial US mid-term elections in full swing, the topmost concern of the majority of the American electorate, is the rapid erosion of democracy within the oldest democracy on the planet. The growing anxiety and turmoil is such that democracy supersedes the state of the economy and burdensome inflation woes, as a dominating ballot issue.
Since the Republican Party, the other half of America’s political duopoly, have pitched their tent on the side of tyrannical Authoritarianism as their preferred choice/form of government, global democracy could not be in greater peril.
I believe that as Trump, America’s dictator-in-waiting, stares besottedly at his reflection in the mirror, he is totally convinced that he is a paragon of perfection on every level; envisioning himself as a close second to Narcissus of Greek mythology fame, renowned for his striking beauty and morbid self-obsession. Unfortunately, for peace-loving, law-abiding, upholders of global democracy, Trump fails to see his true nature, which is that of a grotesque caricature after the Order of King Uzziah.
Fowler is Nigerian International Lawyer (Ll.M Harvard), Human Rights Advocate, Opinion Writer And Poet Based in Lagos, Nigeria.