USA 2016 Elections

Breakdown. Loves. Hates. Prediction.

It feels like an eternity since the nominees started campaigning. Over time, the media has become very confused by the congestion of candidates and having taken their foot off the clutch they have found themselves piled up, like the aftermath of the Blues Brother’s car crash, behind the big fat oil-tanker of Donald Trump. To use the words of the great man himself: ”We have to figure out what’s going on.”

“What the hell is going on?”

“What’s going on here…”

“There’s something going on.”

“We have to find out…”

“What’s going on?”

My dearest trumpett. I’ll try and explain.

The Democrats

The Democrats are having a two-horse race, and the old stallion called Bernie Sanders is currently huffing at the tail of the sleek mare called Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders is an impressive man. In the 1960’s he was an active campaigner for civil rights and since then he has gone on to prove himself across different public positions, from the Mayor of Burlington to a Senator of Congress. While in Congress he has passed more amendments then any other politician. This legislative accomplishment is of great import, for such a record would usually involve a sacrifice of principals. Bernie has remained steadfast in his views throughout his time in Washington. He currently runs his state as an independent (although he caucuses with the democrats) and he refuses to affiliate with organised religion (despite the obvious benefits that doing so would bring). He calls himself a democratic socialist, and he probably is one in the truest sense of the phrase.

Bernie has promising everything. He has promised free education and he has promised free medicare, he has promised to tackle both climate change and reverse America’s democratic deficit; income inequality will be lowered through a living wage, there will be sick leave for all, the rural economy will be reformed and Wall Street will be put on a leash. There is no end to the things that Bernie wishes to change but all of these things will come at a cost. On Bernie’s website is the helpful section called: “How Bernie pays for his proposals?” – a refreshing change from the politicians who would duck the question. Bernie is frank and open about how he will fund his changes. Taxation. Lots of it. God help him if he wins.

Alongside these accountancy proposals is the promise of justice. Bernie will have justice. Racial justice, transgender justice, women’s justice, worker’s justice, justice, justice, justice. All very noble, all very necessary.

I hope Bernie Sander’s recognises that there is no justice without freedom. If the day comes when Bernie endorses safe spaces or entertains no-platform policies then he has forfeited freedom, and he has lost a hefty wedge of my approval. Bernie Sanders will obviously stand up for the minority, but will he recognise the minorities within the minority? With the influx of refugees this issue will only become more important for America, although it may never reach the level of concentration occurring in the European theatre. Justice is always secondary to freedom because justice only works at the level of the individual, and it is never just for an individual not be free. It would be the end of America as we know it, in the best sense of America, if as president he did not hold freedom in high regard.

Bernie is the far more educated version of his lesser leftist equivalent that the UK has been laden with. When it comes to America operating overseas, and despite Bernie’s pacifist credentials, I get the sense that he will not be as narrow-minded as Jeremy Corbyn. His website says that he believes ISIS must be tackled by an international coalition. That’s okay – I can accept him not acting as the world’s policeman on the beat, as long as he keeps the bludgeon in his pocket. He doesn’t have the answers to the fireball spreading across the Middle East, but at least he hasn’t been taking to the neck of his own water-hose with a knife.

The tone of Bernie’s campaign reminds me of Barrack Obama’s first campaign. Remember when Barrack told us that this would be the moment when the “seas would stop rising”. Obama only started to make marginal gains in the last couple of years of his presidency. Will Bernie Sanders be able to do better? Perhaps. Fortunately, and like Obama, I don’t think he is a utopian. This is to his credit, for although he must portray himself as one to succeed against Hillary and to tap into the optimism of the American psyche, if he is clever, if he is not a panglossian, then he will quickly downsize his American Dream upon moments of victory. The other striking aspect of his campaign is its gentleness. It is a tribute to the man’s character that he chooses not to severely expose the vast failings of Hillary Clinton, but, and like his lack of church, these choices may yet hinder his campaign.

Bernie won’t lay into Clinton, and so it falls to people of less civility to attach a mirror to our inquisitorial shield and approach Medusa with the cynicism and the irreverence deserved by the disgraced.

If it were to be said that Hillary Clinton is an impressive woman, then we should wonder what we really mean by the word ‘impressive’. She’s certainly a woman, but while she might also be an impressive public speaker, or an impressive political businesswoman, or even an impressive strategist; she is not morally impressive in the slightest. If the word ‘impressive’ is meant to carry with it any measure of character at all then the description cannot apply to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Hillary is an establishment pick. Amongst the names that contribute to her campaign are: Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs, DLA Piper, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Co. But let it not be said that she limits herself to domestic buyers. Since 2013 The Clinton Foundation has been receiving donations from such noteworthy countries as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Is there anyone she’s not indebted too? Yes – the American people funnily enough. However, if she does become president then she will owe them their votes, and votes are the cheapest of all debts to backpay. When Hillary Clinton is not selling her country to the highest bidder she spends her free time renting herself out by using her position as future president incumbent to earn herself millions of dollars, giving paid speeches to banks and cooperations. This is the company of our political businesswoman.

Hillary Clinton is obsessed with the oval office and will do whatever it takes to sit in it. This is the basis of my allegation when I claim that she lacks weight of character, cannot ground herself, and is therefore not impressive. This has been noticeable on too many occasions. It was only in 2013 that she gave gay marriage her secretarial tick of approval. Remember that as late as 2004 she had been dismissing gay marriage and talking about “sacred bonds” of matrimony. She probably didn’t mean it back then, but whose to say that she means it now? She probably doesn’t care either way. Could this reversal not be interpreted as a good sign – a sign of someone who can change with the times? It could be, but it isn’t. Not when Hillary changes her mind on everything. She frequently changed her opinion on Iraq depending on her current political ambitions. She now publicly concedes the surge worked, yet previously she was opposed to it, and before that she voted for the Iraq war. As defence secretary Bob Gates, in his memoir of the Obama administration, recalled: “Hillary told the president that her opposition to the (2007) surge in Iraq had been political.” She is protean by nature; she flickers indecisively until she realises where the political gain lies – such as in 1992 when her healthcare bill suddenly became more important then Bosnian lives.

What would American under President Clinton II look like? She will suck up to the gun lobbies while talking about cracking down on them. She will go on sponsored tours of the world that yield little apart from the lining of her own pockets. She will cosy up to Iran while talking up Israel – or vise versa. Currently she is under investigation from the FBI over the murky Benghazi affair and also has to cope with her stupid email debacle. She will pop a vain in order to recover and maintain her public image, and thus the tenure of President Clinton II will be lumpen – at least four years of directionless stagnation.

Hillary recently called her other half her “secret weapon”, and sent her husband to key states in Iowa and New Hampshire to canvas support. One has to wonder why she thinks Bill is either secret or a useful weapon, considering she used this tactic last time to harm her own campaign. Perhaps it is only incidental that since Bill Clinton’s visit to Iowa the polls have tightened deliciously and even the lead in New Hampshire has been reduced. The family is a farce. As Trump tweeted (in what was perhaps his only genuinely humorous tweet): “If Hillary can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America.”

Even if Bernie wins the majority of primaries, Hillary will still be elected – the general consensus seems to be that it’s her turn. Even after her 2008 defeat at the hands of a junior senator from Iloninois, her enamoured fundraisers are right to remain sanguine, for she does know what she’s doing, right up to the very moment when she wins.

The Republicans

This is no two-horse race. We’re at the greyhound track, and we’re watching a load of salivating hounds tearing after the same hare.

These people are all unbearable and mostly unmemorable, and so, unlike Fox News, I see little point in giving all eight of them equal stage time. Who are the candidates again? There’s the crazed neurosurgeon, the fat one, the one with the curly hair, the one with Trump’s hair, the only woman, the allegedly Canadian man, the allegedly Mexican man, and George Bush’s brother. Truly, there never has been a more ha8table eight ensemble cast. Quinten Tarantino has the actors right here if he ever does decide to take his movie to the stage.

I’ll deal with the more memorable of the group.

Fortunately, support for Ben Carlson seems to have broken (quite unlike his voice) and I think that the self-declared stabber’s time on center-stage has finally come and gone. Likewise, Jeb Bush now appears to have little chance of being successful, with the tone of the debates clarifying for all who were uncertain that indeed he does not possess even a slither of charisma. His unfortunate family also means that he is dwarfed on almost every account. Ted Cruz is the most recent usurper, and he might have a chance as the man who ticks all of the FoxNews boxes: from pro-life to pro-death penalty, from anti-global warming to anti-gay marriage.

But there is only one who has firmly established himself outside of the herd. Out of all of them, there is only one who needs no introduction.

Donald Trump. There is nothing original to say about him any more. Everything’s already been said, and most of it by the man himself. The mud sticks to him all too easily, and by now his virtual face is so caked with mud that it’s hard to believe the man exists beyond our computer screens. There are too many of his moments to pick from, but I would like to direct your attention to one of his most recent stunts – a team-up with American darling Sara Palin. An absurd and yet oddly satisfying coupling, make sure you watch their rally in Iowa. Watch as her surreal pair of lips, after asking for a private sector ‘halleluiah’ from the crowd (which got a halleluiah) proceeds to say that the private sector is: “Where you have to prioritise to keep the main thing the main thing.” What does that even mean? I’m not even sure that counts as a tautology? I mean, she’s not even pretending to take her sentences anywhere. It would appear that the truculent and uncultured hockey-mom just wont quit.

But what can you expect from the Republicans? That’s what your thinking isn’t it? Well, please rethink. One doesn’t need to go too far back to realise that they weren’t always Mormons and Millionaire madmen.

McCain could have made a very good President. Tough – yes – but an educated veteran with plenty of political experience. Only a little further back, and we come across the presidency of George Bush Senior. Laugh all you want at the name, he was the president who acted decisively in 1991 to protect Kuwait’s independence and stopped his troops at the Iraqi boarder – hardly the irrational stereotype so flippantly attributed to all Republicans. Read Frank Garner’s interview with Khaled Al-Sabah, and see what Bush’s intervention means for the people of Kuwait. Without wanting to turn this into a history lecture, we should also remember that Republican Theodore Roosevelt and Republican Abraham Lincoln.

America owes itself to the Republicans! What we have here are the historical grounds to expect far better from our current second-rate batch of ignominious saps. We need a strong Republican party not only because effective opposition is essential in a democracy but because they represent a hefty chunk of America. Unfortunately, the party is in an ideological unraveling.

I have a case study in mind. In the recent incident between the US and Iran, fourteen soldiers where captured and then immediately released following diplomatic efforts on the part of the USA. But this foreign policy rescue, from a situation in which America was at fault, was not good enough for Ted Cruz. His talk of bombastic bombing suggests his response would have been quite different. Alongside this was the usual accusation that Obama had acted weakly. Obama has proven himself to be a decisive commander-in-chief throughout his presidency, from the rescue of Captain Phillips in 2009 through to the execution of Bin Laden in 2014. The failure to admit the most obvious and undeniable of successes is worrying and shows that the Republican Party is directionless, with nothing on the agenda apart from to oppose whatever it is that the incumbent Democrat is doing. There is no logic, there is no constructive opposition, and at the moment there is no pragmatic leader who can save the Republican Party from itself.


Have we found out what’s going on?

Not really – the opinion polls are shot and nobody really knows what spin is going to catch on next. We will have our first real indicator tonight, on the 1st of February, when the Iowa caucus results come in.

But one thing is for certain: this bunch of Republicans cannot be allowed to win, and not only that, they must to be obliterated for their own sake and the future of democracy. They need to be dealt a blow of deliverance and the only person with the fists hard enough for the job is Hillary Clinton.

On any other day, I would back Bernie over the status-quo quagmire that her highness is going to leave us in. But over on the other side of the Mississippi river is what Jon Stewart used to call ‘Bullshit Mountain’. In other words, it turns out that the elephant in the room really is the elephant in the room, and this enormous elephant cannot be allowed to trample on the democratic donkey. Bernie is too much of a risk in this context, as the man more likely to lose the presidential election. If the democrats do decide to plump for him, they better make damn sure that he goes all the way. Bernie will save America from the 1%, but Hillary will save America from Donald Trump. And hey, if there’s one positive thing I can say in her favour, it’s that America will have its first female president.


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