Friday, 30 September 2016

Broken US Politics

With the US Presidential election campaign still rumbling on (it begins to seem never-ending) ..... 8th November is voting day if you still want to know .... many of us non US citizens are surprised at how close it still apparently is. The polls after the first live TV 'debate' showed Clinton just 4% ahead of Trump.

Way Too Close For Hilary's Liking ....

Its actually hard for us to really understand how Mr Trump, who has been caught outright lying on 35% of his statements during the campaign (as opposed to the 12% of times Mrs Clinton has been caught doing so), could even still be a credible candidate ..... but then we miss the point of how thoroughly disliked Mrs Clinton is across vast swathes of North America.

Its my conviction that the US really has to consider finding another system of electing its head of state, especially when you consider that at least 18 months out of every 4 years is taken up by this long-winded political process. That is way too long and debilitating for the leader of the free world to be almost a question mark .... especially when your main rival China, has no such problems and is flexing its muscles both economically and geopolitically with ever increasing vigour.

Both of Them Lied But Trump Trumped Clinton On That Count ....

However until there is such a major shock to the US system, that its forced to look again at its constitution there isn't much chance of that happening soon. So the other question of interest thrown up by this interminable process has to be simply this.

Why or how has the US system, managed to sink to such a level as to throw up not one, but two candidates in the same year, who in almost any other presidential campaign cycle in US history would have either failed to get the party nomination, or now been an absolute certainty to lose the presidential race?

From across the pond, Mrs Clinton looks old and tired, and like a deep political establishment insider, who has cut too many deals, and bent too many rules, to really ever be entirely safe from an unexpected information mine blowing up from her past. She has been way too cute about deleting emails from her mail server before the FBI got to them, and as they say in her family, 'there's no cigar smoke without fire'.

As for her opponent .... well Donald Trump looks like what he is, a political chancer who probably isn't even a holder of the core 'Republican party' political values. He has ridden the donkey into town, posing as an outsider champion of those who have been ignored by 'the establishment'. Now nowhere but America can a billionaire property developer claim to not be part of the establishment, and his constant flip flopping on what he means when he opens his mouth on any policy position, probably explains why he's been caught lying so often.

In the 1960's through to the 1970's the party establishments of both Republicans and Democrats had a firm grip on who was likely to be nominated to stand, but after the Reagan era in the 1980's, the Republicans found themselves hijacked (much like the UK Labour Party is currently experiencing with the left wing 'momentum' grouping), by a movement who by themselves are unelectable, but who have changed the parties direction via insider cohesion.

This of course was the 'T Party', and ever since their emergence inside the Republican Party, the Republican Presidential candidates have had to move ever further to the right on social policy issues such as abortion, immigration and welfare, just to get the nomination. This has slanted the whole process to the point that the Republicans were left with a choice between Donald Trump (the outsider), and Ted Cruz (the arch conservative) .... both almost entirely unelectable against any other candidate except Hilary Clinton.

The Democratic party meanwhile should have been enjoying the good times - it not only had an opposition that was being eaten alive from the inside by its far right wing, but the US demographics of relative white population decline, in favour of Hispanics and Afro-Americans, should have ensured victories for decades to come .... however after the success of electing the first 'black' (well half white) US President, they fell back into a strange scrabble for the party nomination, between their own 'outsider' Bernie Sanders (the self styled 'socialist'), and a deeply damaged Hilary Clinton (the 'insider'). In their case, they decided that their equivalent to Jeremy Corbyn, was just too unelectable in a deeply anti socialist USA, and ended up with Clinton.

The democrats at least have the consolation that they are likely to win the election (although its not a certainty), but for the Republicans, where do they turn next after this election?

No matter how you look at it .... any political system that ends up throwing out two such candidates at the same time, is in malaise and needs fixing. How they do that is obviously another question. But until they realise that they have a deep seated problem that needs addressing they can't even begin to address the issue of repairing the body politic.


  1. Good summary.

    I don't know about Hilary's politics but just electing a female president would be a step forward. Trump is a joke and his election would prove that the system is well and truly broken.

    1. Sorry, I don't agree with your assertion that just electing someone because they are female (or because of their skin colour for that matter), is automatically a step forward. Ability to do the job is the only good criteria for any role. Both these candidates would have likely failed that criteria in a different electoral cycle.

      Clinton is disliked by around half the US public (apparently more by women than by men). She also exaggerates her previous political experience, and has several scandals hanging over her ....

      Trump is boastful, not good at taking advice and has been caught lying. His financial affairs are likely to show that he has (legally) avoided paying much tax and possibly that his wealth is exaggerated.

      They are equally as poor or as good as each other, but for different reasons ... Clinton's sex is not a mitigation for any personal failings.

      But one of them has to be elected, and the article was to point out that its the fact that the system has thrown up such a poor choice for the US electorate that is the concern, not the fact that someone prefers either candidate in a bad two horse race.

      Apologies if the post didn't make that point clear.

    2. As you say, it doesn't matter whether the elected is male, female or black, but it does say something about the country that citizens are prepared to elect such candidate. If Mrs Clinton is elected it won't be because she is female but in spite of it which would be a step forward, just as it was when Obama was elected.

    3. You are misunderstanding the USA my friend. We are not bothered that she is a woman that's what she beat men for the DP nomination. We are bothered about her personality not her sex.

      She will likely squeeze home only because the other candidate is Trump.

    4. Whether Hillary is elected or not it will impossible to say that it was because she's a woman, however if she were to be elected, one could say for certain that she wasn't NOT elected because she's a woman. That is the step forward that I was referring to.

  2. I could point out that your UK system has led to you being led by someone who didn't stand as leader of their party in a full election. In fact has this not happened twice inside the last decade?

    So maybe you should be in no hurry to criticise our system!

    1. Hi Phil.

      Good point, but of course we elect the political parties into power, not the Prime Minister, who is only the leader of the party in power. This means the leader can be deposed or resign without the party losing power or having to run fresh elections.

      Morally you might be right, in that maybe they should run elections after a change of leadership, especially as many people base their general election choice on who they want to Prime Minister rather than the parties.

  3. Its now being said, and not denied by his aides, that Donald Trump has legally not paid any business or income tax for 18 years. He is such an egoist that he thinks that this is not only morally good, but a sign of what a tax genius he is! Yet, he is still only 5 points behind in the polls.

    1. Its difficult to see how he's still in the race but perhaps the fact that he is just shows us over here how unpopular Clinton is. Thanks for the comment.

    2. Now that Trump has won it suggests that both parties have problems to fix. The Republicans in that Trump was a Democrat until only 5 yrs ago so sure isn't a Republican now. He effectively hijacked their party to get the Presidency. But only managged this because the T Party had made him the space to move in.

      After he is gone they may be tarred by his presidency for decades.

      The Democrats because they knew Clinton was flawed and deeply unpopular, but couldn't find any candidate to oppose her.

      It's not the system that's flawed it's the two party machines that need to be cleaned up.

    3. Your right ... whether they can make the necessary rule changes Phil will be unlikely but we will see. Thanks for the comment.


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