US Elections 2016
Anybody who does not live in a cave and has contact with any media at all cannot avoid being exposed to the circus of the US election campaign 2016. However this year’s spectacle is unlike any other we have witnessed in living memory. The rule book has been tossed out the window. There is only one certainty, which is that there is no more certainty. The situation America finds itself in today nobody predicted only twelve months ago.
Especially the political elite did not see it coming.
The Republican Party (GOP) has been hijacked by a crass narcissistic buffoon easily demolishing a bunch of dismal and/or even scarier contenders.
The Democrats had to resort to cheating and electoral fraud which kept the heads of the highest officials’ rolling just to keep out an ‘independent’ and self-declared “democratic socialist” senator from the tiny state of Vermont from stealing the nomination from the anointed one. The candidate backed by Wall Street and the party elite. She who happens to have lived in the White House already for two terms.
Which as an aside brings me back to comedian Raybon Kan‘s observation and questions:
“It doesn’t surprise me that the first woman to run for US President is a former First Lady.
This is American feminism.
Would it have been possible for another woman to become the candidate ? Would it have been possible for a woman who hasn’t already lived in the White House for eight years ? Would it have been possible for a woman who had to climb the political ladder herself, without having a two-term President-husband as a sherpa ?”
The party conventions
Everything seemed to be wrong with the party conventions this year. It was the reverse from what we would usually expect from the two parties and their traditional bases.
The GOP (Grand Old Party) conference is supposed to showcase it’s glorious history and represent the rich and famous Americans, the decedents of the plantation (and slave) owners, Wall Street banksters, old money industrialists and old boys from the ivy league universities like Harvard, Princeton and Yale. After all the GOP is the conservative right wing Tory party of privilege and power in American politics.
What we saw instead was a mostly older blue collar, downtrodden and deprived, frustrated and angry mob. Their only privilege left after suffering 35 years of Neo-liberalism other than being mostly male was the colour of their skin, white and too often red-neck.
The Democrats on the other hand are supposed to be the “left wing” party of the working people, trade unions and lesser educated and privileged. What we saw instead were the young college kids from the Sanders camp and the glorious multi millionaire stars from Hollywood and the music industry. It was their convention, which had class and style.
However both conventions created their own if totally different excitement and probably high ratings for the commercial TV channels.
The GOP met first in Cleveland to formally seal the nomination of non-politician Donald Trump. And this is the most benign and still accurate attribute I can find for him.
This convention was extraordinary by the almost total absence of GOP political bigwigs like the prominent leading national politicians or former presidents. The list of speakers and appearances from the entertainment industry was distinctly second rate. Instead we saw and heard a lot from the Trump family.
A political junkie friend of mine who has fast internet and was watching proceeding live ringing me three time a day got all exited about what he described as the Trump Barbie Dolls on stage. He is however convinced that the American electorate would not buy it/them.
And then there was the speech of the candidate’s present model wife and First Lady hopeful Slovenian born Melania. They let her blatantly plagiarise passages from a 2008 speech by the present First Lady. And to make matters worse they let her be recorded claiming that she had written the speech all by herself. How cruel was that ?
The whole thing was a gloomy apocalyptic affair. Scare the bejesus out of America to make them vote for the only candidate to save them and “Make America Great Again“.
The Democrats had the advantage of going second, which they almost blew with an e-mail scandal, which on the eve of the convention claimed the scalp of party chair Wassermann Schultz .
However they recovered from initial dissent by emotional aggrieved Sanders supporters. Bernie himself came to the rescue with his speech. For me the best speech of the whole convention happened already on then opening day by the real First Lady Michelle Obama.
One could only feel sorry for the rest of the party grandees who had to follow her. Unlike the week before at the GOP the Democrats were all there and held rousing speeches that sounded even more positive in contrast with what had gone the week before.
One other most powerful moment of the convention attracted much coverage mainly because trump in response again put his foot in big time by attacking a gold star family, which used to be sacrosanct. A Pakistani immigrant lawyer who had lost his US army captain son in Iraq gave Trump in the words of John Oliver the middle finger with a pocket edition of the American constitution.
It only got worse for Trump claiming in a TV interview with George Stephanopoulos that he also made sacrifices by working very very hard being a “successful” businessman.
Under normal circumstances this should all add up to a slam-dunk victory for Hillary in November.
On reflection I’m still scared about the possibility of president Trump in the White House.
The warning from Noam Chomsky rings in my mind.
“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.
He remembers the mood in 1930s, where after harsh reparations and the great depression the people in Germany turned to Hitler as their saviour. Chomsky says that he has never seen the level of anger and fear in his lifetime after the country suffered 35 years of Neo-liberalism. This left people with two alternatives either to turn to some radical progressive solutions on the left or turn to demagogues and fascism on the right.
The pass to radical progressive change as represented by Bernie Sanders has been blocked by the machinations of the Democratic Party establishment. Now the turn to the right and strong man authoritarianism/fascism might be the even more tempting option. Will we see history repeat itself ?
Then I listened to Chris Trotter in a left – right discussion on the radio waxing lyrically about Bill Clinton’s excellent “I met a girl ” convention speech, which reminded him of the great US novel “To kill a Mockingbird”. His right wing neo-liberal opponent mocked him and implicitly Clinton by expressing his disdain for having had to study that novel at school. If government ministers hold such a dismissive attitude towards intellectual mastery and appreciation of culture and history what will ordinary voters be capable of doing ?
Whatever happens in November the fact that Donald Trump in the latest polls is scoring in the 40s % is scary in itself. The highest vote Hitler ever got in democratic elections was in July 1932 with 37.27 %.
But my concern lies on a more basic or profane level. May be the American people actually go for the Trump Barbie Dolls. After all the makers of the iconic toy have spend millions in developing that product exactly tailored to the American taste.
Barbie & Ken – America’s Choice 2016