Oct 14th, 2016, 05:05 PM

Is No President Better Than A Bad President?

By Julien El-Hajj
Image Credit: Nicoleta Ionescu, Shutterstock
How the Lebanese community has reacted to the U.S. Presidential election

“Dear America,

Sometimes no president is better than a bad or crazy president.


This how many Lebanese have reacted to the last two presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Keep in mind the presidential seat in Lebanon has been vacant since 24 May 2014. Yes, more than two years! That's 29 months, 875 days, 21 000 hours (as I write this). The Lebanese parliament has failed more than 45 times to have a fruitful session regarding the nation's next president. The political vacuum has become the butt of jokes among throughout the country, but many feel it is for the best. So now, many Lebanese people are giving the same advice to U.S citizens based on their own experiences.

I won’t go into great depths to explain the political situation in Lebanon because that is not the purpose of this piece. To make it short, there are continues disputes between opposing political forces over potential presidential candidates. The presidency is considered the property of all factions of Lebanese society. The president is considered the property of the Lebanese people. Ha! That is what they say, but that is not reality. Lebanese citizens have nothing to do with presidential elections. The citizens elect the parliament and the parliament elects the president. But, the parliament has extended its term twice, “to preserve the national security.” The speaker of the parliament Nabih Berri has held his position since 1992. That's 24 years. His term of office is 6 years. Still, Lebanon is considered the only democracy of the middle east. The irony! Again, the population has no power to fight this either. So they decided to laugh about it instead.

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has stayed in office 18 years longer than his term of six years allows him to. Photo Credit: Ramzi Haidar/Getty Images

Anyway, to go back to the fun part, a lot of jokes were made regarding this vacuum, specially when a Lebanese president was elected in Brazil. Under Brazil's constitution, Michel Temer became acting President after the Senate voted in favour of launching an impeachment trial against the Ex-President Dilma Rousseff, suspending her. Although Temer was born in Brazil, his parents emigrated from the village of Btaaboura in Lebanon. The Lebanese bloggers, and even some politicians, did not fail to create a slew of jokes and memes about the matter.

But it seems that Lebanese have the same characteristics all over the world, because Temer has been part of several corruption investigations. He has been accused of more corruption than Dilma Rousseff. Funny, no? He’s so Lebanese, he is the incarnation of Lebanese politicians in Brazilian form.

Photo Credit: Twitter @LebaneseProblem

On social media, a notable Twitter account has emerged after President Obama started his account @POTUS. This one is called @POTLR, President of the Lebanese Republic, the president that does not even exist. Its target was to criticize the political vacuum. Its first tweet was: “Hello Twitter, 23 Parliament sessions and yet no elections! I thought I'd better start acting by myself.” The account celebrated the anniversary of the vacuum twice, with cakes and confetti.

Another time a tweet was posted saying: “I contacted Guinness World Records to apply for setting a record in the number of parliamentary sessions to elect a President.“ It was the empty chair talking most of the time.


Photo Credit: Twitter @POTLR

Lebanese people know how to make fun of every situation. The garbage crisis, the vacuum, the economic situation, anything. I admit, they are really creative. In the streets you may also hear some people saying: “Yes we do not have a president, but it’s fine! We are still living, partying and having fun.” Crazy no?

I miss your craziness Beirut, and think twice my American friends, sometimes no president is better than having a bad or crazy one.