Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 10 November 2016

Another Political Notion

I didn't want That Man Trump to adorn this blog again,
so, here's a picture of a white, middle-class, privileged
woman, who's starting to feel quite strongly about some stuff
I was chatting with a friend today about her plans to leave the country. She has a ten year plan to take up residence in Spain.

Well… Good for her.

I just wonder what her chances are of fulfilling that plan.

Of course, plans are made for changing, and they change all the time, but what if she doesn’t want this plan to change? Will she still have a say in where she lives in a decade’s time?

We voted for Brexit… At least, I didn’t, but enough people did to make our break with the EU and our European cousins a very real possibility; some would call it a foregone conclusion.

We’re right at the very beginning of the exiting process, and, so far, I’m tempted to think that we’re making a pig’s ear of it. I have a feeling that a great many Europeans feel that way too. Of course, many of them are seeking their own moves to the right of politics, and, perhaps, even their own ways of leaving the Union.

America has moved dramatically to the right of the political spectrum, too, with the election of That Man Trump.

So, could it be that globalisation is on the way out? And if that’s the case, what could it mean for all of us?

Will the Liberal Elite in the United States seek to abandon what they might consider to be the sinking ship of their homeland… And, if they don’t abandon it now, for just how long will they be prepared to grit their teeth and hang on for grim death? Will one Trump term be enough to motivate them to leave? Will two?

The thing is, if Trump goes through with his xenophobic plans and closes America’s borders, and if the EU breaks up and more stringent border controls are implemented, will anybody be able to move freely around the globe, or choose where in the World they live?

We saw this in the second half of the century with China and Russia. Movement in or out was difficult and often impossible for dissidents.

It’s a strong word, isn’t it? Dissident! But these are strange times, and our language is bound to react to the changes that are taking place in the World.

If movement is possible, if the Liberal Elite in America, who now have a colossal fight on their hands to live out their principles, decide to quit their country, where will they go?

Well, I guess they’ll come here. They’ll come to the UK and to Europe, and it will be the kind of Brain Drain that the UK talked about in the second half of the last century, when so many young, educated people emigrated to America, Canada and Australia for a better standard of living. We call it the Talent Drain, now, because some still believe the UK is losing too many of its best and brightest.

It used to be about money. Perhaps, in the not too distant future the Brain Drain will become about ideologies.

Here’s the thing, though, with Brexit and a move to the right, the UK is also talking about clamping down on immigration. Will we allow American migrants into the UK? Well, we just might, because it appears to me that the stance against immigration is actually a reaction against particular kinds of immigrants: those who fall into the categories of having a native foreign language or a different religion or complexion from the majority of Britons.

We seemed to have a great many more problems with immigrants from our Indian and West Indian commonwealth countries in the second half of the last century than we ever did with the Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans, who also chose to make the UK their home.

So, if we all become less tolerant of foreigners, it won’t only be the needy who miss the boat (as it were). My native English speaking friend might find that she’s not very welcome in Spain.

Conversely, a friend of mine in America, whose politics are Liberal and whose calling is academic, has children who can claim dual nationality. What will their situation be in a couple of decades time? That Man Trump is claiming America for the Americans right now. He plans to close America’s borders. He was cheered long and loudly for proposing That Wall. 

What concerns me is what happens after he closes America’s borders. If life doesn’t improve for white middle America, who will they turn on next? It won’t be undocumented aliens, because they will have been banished already. Will they turn on Hispanic Americans or the black population? And when they’ve done their worst with them, will it be the Jews? Will religious intolerance take over? And when that phase is complete, will America turn on its citizens of dual nationality.

OK… I’ve taken this thought a long way down a very rough path, but you get my drift.

Martin Niemoller made a good point well, and he made it more than sixty years ago. I think it might be time to take another look at what he said. And, not for nothing, this is quoted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Why Trump Won

So… This is what happens.
The Guardian Reports on Donald Trumps Election

When politicians lack humility, when their compassion doesn’t spread far and wide enough, and when they appeal to the nasty side of human nature… This is what happens.

There are a great many theories about why and how Donald Trump was able to get elected as President of the United States of America, but, in the end, I think it’s all rather simple.

I called this election on Monday, and I think that in some ways I was spot on.

The majority of Americans are white, the majority of them are blue-colour or labouring, many do not have college degrees. They have been the in the majority since North America was colonised, and they remain in the majority.

The biggest single problem is pride.

Everyone should be able to take some pride in some aspects of their lives, and in small ways, many of us can. The Liberal intellectual minority certainly can.

What does the average white man have to take pride in? They are not compensated adequately for their labours, and they feel that they are not respected, or even recognised by their political representatives, by the very Liberal elite that took such a trouncing in yesterday’s election.

The fact is, Donald Trump doesn’t see these people either, he simply had the wit to appeal to their sense of pride, and it paid off.

In middle America, in the first half of the last century, electricity came late, and much of the population lived without power and had to collect water, but they had their pride. 

Pride can be based on many things. Sadly, in middle American in the first half of the last century, that pride was based on a pecking order. A man might have to labour ten or twelve hours a day, he might have no power in his home or workplace, and he might have to collect the water he used, but he could still feel superior to more than half of the population. He could still feel superior to women, and he could still feel superior to the black population.

It’s not pretty, is it?

With the introduction of human rights, with the Liberal elite’s efforts to further the causes of women and ethnic minorities, the standing of white men fell. It has been falling ever since.

In a fair and just world, we should all be treated equally, and I’m a huge advocate for that, but when you’re in the majority and your standing in society appears to be falling all the time, eventually you will revolt.

Donald Trump gave white, middle American men someone to stand behind.

We talk about black lives mattering, and we talk about equal rights for women. The Liberal elite is on the side of the Hispanics and the Muslims, and rightly so, but each step towards equal rights for all, drives the average white man deeper into the mire. Their self-esteem is shattered.

Pride can be a destructive emotion, particularly on this scale. It can be frighteningly damaging, and, as the old saying goes, it often comes before a fall.

Will America fall? Can the clock be turned back?

The fact is that turning the clock back is what Trump is trying to do, but women and black America, and many other minorities have had to fight their corners, and fight hard. Progress is a wonderful thing, if only we could all see it. White middle America isn’t being talked about, and they resent it.

When minorities fight, progress is incredibly slow.

When the majority fights back, change can be ugly and it can happen very fast.

Trump took the pin out of the grenade.

Perhaps the Liberal elite should have taken notice sooner, rather than thinking that men who simply want to feel safer, richer and more important are stupid. They aren’t stupid, they’re angry… And that never ends well.

Monday 7 November 2016

Thoughts on the Presidential Election

The Candidates Debate, reported by the Guardian
So, tomorrow marks the end of the latest American Presidential campaign as the voters go to the polls… I can’t help saying Huzzah! that the campaign is over. But, what the hell is coming next? 

I’m interested in politics, so I tend to follow elections, and I’ve never seen one fought quite like this in America. The Republican candidate appears to be popular with the disaffected, and the Democratic candidate doesn’t appear to be popular with anyone, including a great many Democrat voters.

The campaign hasn’t been interesting in terms of policy debates, it’s been a kind of freak show, not because Hilary Clinton is a freak, but because it’s almost impossible to stand on a stage with Trump and actually manage to look good. It’s like wrestling a jellyfish.

This would all be pretty amusing if it wasn’t a terrible combination of tragic and dangerous.

I’m not sure American politics will ever be the same again.

I wrote a couple of blogs about the British referendum to leave the EU, earlier in the year. (you can read them here and here, here, here and here). It was all very uncomfortable, depressing and bizarre, and it seems like politics everywhere are looking more and more like this. 

I wondered whether the Americans would look at what we did, with regard to Brexit, and take it as a cautionary tale. On the liberal left, they appear to be saying, ‘What the hell did you do?’, but the liberal left is a pretty small minority in America, based around the most international cities of New York and LA. The rest of America seems to be saying, ‘Bravo for taking back your country!’

Hilary Clinton might be unpopular, and for several good reasons. She’s also a seasoned politician, she’s extraordinarily clever and driven, and she has an understanding of what the job she’s running for entails.

Donald Trump is all mouth and trousers. He doesn’t employ rhetoric, he scaremongers, and then he claims to be the only person who can fix the problems he’s generated or magnified.

And yet, the American people seem to have accepted him as a viable candidate for President of the USA.

I don’t know why we have reached this position, but it would seem that the First World’s peoples aren't very happy. They want to protest, and they want change. They protest and seek change in the strangest places, though.

The British haven’t been content with the government for a long time. David Cameron managed to blame everything on Clegg and the Liberal Democrats during the coalition. He put a Lib-Dem in front of every unpopular policy he rolled out. He sacrificed a party that might have moderated him for the sake of politics. The Liberal Democrats were seen as the fly in the ointment, and a second Conservative government ensued. When nothing got better, and a number of things appeared to get worse, the British public began to revolt.

David Cameron, one of the most hated politicians in the UK, was in favour of remaining in the EU, and if it wasn’t bad enough having to ally one's vote with the Prime Minister, no one wanted the status quo if it meant living with the mess we’ve been living with for the past two terms of government. Offer a disgruntled public change, and they’ll grab it with both hands. The change the British were offered might not have been understood by many, and it might not have been change in the best interests of the country, but since when did any of that matter when it came to protesting?

Despite President Obama’s rather good record as President, the Americans seem to be seeking change, too. They were offered change in the forms of Bernie Saunders and Donald Trump. The Democratic Party ran scared of electing someone who might be called a Socialist. The Republicans took the reactionary approach. They dug in their heels as all angry voters tend to do. They went to the right, because that’s where they feel safest, and Donald Trump has only reinforced this in his scare tactics.

It’s easy for the liberal intellectual elite to believe that those who disagree with them are stupid. They aren’t stupid. They know that they want to feel safer, richer and more important. People living from pay cheque to pay cheque don’t want to give anything away or have anything taken from them. The problem is, if you’ve never done it, it’s impossible to imagine the pressure that living on the breadline exerts on an individual or a family.

The Americans have a dream built into their very fabric: the American Dream. Donald Trump has persuaded many of them that if he’s in charge of law and order, if he closes America’s border, and if he negotiates trade agreements, all Americans will have the chance to live that dream. To many, Hillary Clinton is merely part of the establishment that Americans feel has let them down in the past. Of course, Donald Trump doesn’t mention how he’s going to achieve any of his goals, only that he is, but he says it clearly and fervently enough to be believed by many.

America is in a battle royal over its future, right now, and if enough people are scared enough, and if they dig their heels in, we could well see Donald Trump winning this election.

If Brexit taught us anything, it’s that the apparently impossible happens pretty easily.

Wednesday night is going to be a long one for me. I’ll be sitting up watching the results come in, hoping and praying that this dangerous man doesn’t take the top job. But, if he does, it will be the will of the people, and, in a democracy, there’s no sensible way to argue with that.