|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.