Thursday, 1 September 2016

Late Night in America (and voters have a lousy choice)

Like most political geeks, I like a good election in a place where I've no skin in the game. People who know me well will have witnessed this obsession - with local election results in France and mayoral elections in Brazil among other excitements. The Big One, however, is the US Presidential Election - this is the daddy of votes, the grandest and most extravagent of all the world's elections.

And most years the US gets a pretty good choice. We don't have to think much of Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis, Bob Dole and John McCain to appreciate that all of these men would have made perfectly fine presidents for the USA. Not as good maybe as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama but perfectly OK. It has always been something of a reassurance that the convoluted, over-long and expensive system of primaries, caucuses and straw polls does result in a final contest between two folk who'd make a decent fist of leading the nation.

Until 2016 that is. This year the American voter is presented with a lousy choice. And that's being kind. I struggle to find anything good to say about Hillary Clinton except that she isn't Donald Trump. Hillary is the distillation of the worst sort of crony capitalist, faux-lefty, heart-on-sleeve, crocodile tear liberalism. Rising to the top without any opposition - Bernie Sanders was a joke candidate - Hillary is comfortably the weakest democratic choice for president since Mike Dukakis. Yet she is very likely to win.

Hillary Clinton will win because the Republicans - the Grand Old Party - have lost their collective marbles and selected perhaps the only sort of republican who can actually lose. Not that Donald Trump is, in any recognisable way, a conservative let alone a Republican. It really beggars belief that the Party of Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan has selected as its candidate a massive charlatan, a creature of the corrupt establishment who inherited billions and has contributed nothing except to appear in second-rate reality TV shows and build over-piced New York apartments for the super-rich.

What is worse is that Trump has got this position by appealling to the most venal, bigoted, nasty and selfish negativity in US life today. The Donald's platform is a muck up of racism, protectionism, the poisoned legacy of 20th century Progressives and 19th Century Know-Nothings. A ghastly brew of bigotry, lies and appeals to grievance without an offer of betterment beyond the banal slogan "Make America Great Again". This is the man whose recent political career started with him claiming Barak Obama wasn't an American (or at least not born there) - that most racist and least appealling of Alt-Right conspiracy theories.

It really is a terrible time for the USA. And it will be one of the most depressing elections in a long while. For what it's worth - and I'm no expert - I think Hillary Clinton will win at a canter. If Donald Trump wins more than a dozen states I'll be surprised. What is sad in all this, however, is that the bigoted, racist train crash of Trump's campaign will drag down good Republican congressmen perhaps handing the Democrats not just Clinton as President but control of the Senate as well.

This lousy choice might be an unfortunate lapse in the US system or could presage the country declining into bickering political clans more focused on undermining other people than living in the place Reagan's campaign described in 1984. It's no longer Morning in America, it's a late evening and we're presented with the spectacle of two drunks abusing each other, hurling spittle flecked insults about, shouting at all and sundry. It is a depressing and sad indictment of a great nation's corruption - not the corruption of the ordinary man and women but the corruption of the elite from which Clinton and Trump have slithered.

All we can hope is that this great and wonderful country, once a beacon of liberty, can find its way again, can live through whatever terror awaits over the coming four years under Clinton's corruption or Trump's bigotry.



James Higham said...

Like most political geeks, I like a good election in a place where I've no skin in the game.

My favourite was in Sicily, where I spoke at a local Autonomous Sud meeting. Just how dangerous that was I never found out.

Lord T said...

Trump is going to win and he will be a much better president than many of those you like.