“I am, of course, not a lover of upheavals. I merely want to make sure people do not forget that there are upheavals.”
-General Aritomo Yamagata, Imperial Japanese Army, 1881
I have been asked, over the last few months, why I am so invested in the 2016 American Presidential Election. I am a British citizen. I’m certainly not eligible to vote in an American election. And I reply that the American President is, de facto if not de jure, the most important person in the world. The person sitting in the Oval Office is the Head of State and Head of Government of the United States, the one who will set the tone for the next four – perhaps eight – years. It is no exaggeration to say that the lives of vast numbers of people will be changed, perhaps drastically, by POTUS. The selection of the right POTUS is thus a matter of global importance.
This has been, in many ways, a truly dishonest election. Donald Trump, undisputed winner of the Republican Nomination, has been attacked savagely by his own party leaders. Hillary Clinton has been exposed as a cheat, rigging the nomination process to ensure she – instead of Bernie Sanders – was nominated. The FBI covered for Hillary Clinton, proving that the Clintons are above the law; the media has cheerfully done everything in its power, up to and including the deliberate falsification of both news and poll results, to blacken Trump’s name and standing. Indeed, it has even been suggested that Putin has been exposing Hillary’s crimes … and that, somehow, this excuses them.
Depending on which news sites you read, you could be forgiven for thinking that Trump is the Antichrist and Hillary the Messiah … or vice versa. That’s how bad it has become.
What is truly unbelievable about the whole affair is this. The US population is, according to the internet, somewhere around 324,227,000. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that 24,227,000 are ineligible for the nomination. That leaves 300,000,000. There’s a standard rule of thumb that one third of the US is solidly Republican, one third Democratic and one third undecided. That gives each party a solid pool of 100,000,000 potential candidates. And yet, they have managed to lumber themselves with two badly flawed candidates!
The only good thing that can be said about this is that it should serve as a wake-up call for both parties. Political elites have proven devastating to their electoral chances. But realistically, I don’t think they’ll listen.
This is, I think, the last post I’ll write on the election. And I suspect some people will probably consider that a relief.
There is a witty observation from Japan that notes that the first generation is often very capable, the second merely competent; the third outright incompetent. Japanese history bears that out. So does the history of aristocracies and elites in Europe. Those who had to struggle for their positions were often more capable, more understanding of the true nature of power, than those who merely inherited them. Thus – in England – we have Henry Plantagenet (Henry II) followed by red-blooded Richard, treacherous John and the child-king Henry III. Edward I was followed by Edward II, a weakling king; Edward III, forced to fight for his throne, proved far more capable and competent than his father.
By this standard, Hillary Clinton is not likely to prove a good President.
As I noted earlier, Hillary Clinton has very little experience of working her way up into a position of power. Many of her positions came through marriage or were practically handed to her by her connections. She ran for a very safe Senate seat, Obama appointed her Secretary of State. Indeed, the only genuine contest Hillary can be said to have won is the 2016 battle for the Democratic Nomination – and we now know she cheated. She had to cheat to beat an old and probably unelectable man.
Her scandals just keep coming. Her private email server was utterly against the law, yet the FBI rolled over and allowed her to get away with it. (Why – apparently, Obama knew full well it existed.) And now it has been reopened. The Clinton Foundation is apparently nothing more than a giant money laundering machine. She takes donations from Wall Street – her speeches, which she tried to hide, make it clear she promised to defend them – and foreign regimes that are effectively enemy states. Her foreign policy is based on – at best – wishful thinking; at worst, she strives to please the states that fund her. She is surrounded by people who are at best dubious and at worst potential traitors.
And her history of trying to rig the nomination raises questions about her potential victory, if indeed she wins the election. There is good reason to be concerned about the validity of the outcome.
Hillary Clinton has simply never been in a position where she might have to answer for her failures. A common or garden citizen of America would be in jail by now. She is not the person who will suffer for her diplomatic failures in Ukraine, nor is she the person who will die when rogue regimes – which she has encouraged – go to war.
Domestically, Hillary wants to expand the federal government – a dangerous thing, when the federal government is already far too large for its own good. There will be far more intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens, higher taxes and entitlements … none of which will make life easier in the long run. And there will be more unvetted immigrants allowed to enter the US.
Internationally, Hillary has no credibility at all. None of her allies trust her, while her enemies hold her in contempt. At best, she will be seen as Obama Mk. 2; at middle, she will be seen as a weakling sitting in the White House, a woman who can be blackmailed into doing nothing as the world continues its descent into chaos.
And at worst, she will do something stupid.
It is often claimed – unfairly, particularly in Thatcher’s case – that female political leaders are weak, that they change their minds often. And this often casts a baleful shadow over their careers. Thatcher refused to back down on the Poll Tax, even though it destroyed her career; Merkel is still refusing to rethink immigration into Germany, even though its destroying her country and her people’s faith in government. Hillary may well feel that she has to stand up to Russia and Putin, even though the US is in no position to reverse Putin’s gains without a major war. And if Hillary miscalculates, there will be a major war.
There is no reason to welcome President Hillary. She is flat-out untrustworthy – and dangerous. It’s as simple as that.
Donald Trump is not, in my opinion, that much of an improvement. But then, the bar isn’t set very high.
That said, Trump has shown a number of extremely good traits over the last year. He’s proved himself to be adaptive, to understand where he’s going wrong and how to fix it, to refuse to give up at the slightest hurdle, to refuse to allow the media to dominate (and crush) his campaign … most of all, he has shown a talent for pointing to real problems and promising to fix them, all the while avoiding the curse of political correctness. Trump may be a rump – a rhyme I am particularly fond of – but he has a point. Trump has known success and he has known failure – and he has not allowed the latter to get him down.
And let’s face it. His success in overcoming fourteen of the most powerful Republicans in America and winning the nomination is a remarkable achievement, while Clinton had to cheat to beat an unelectable socialist.
His weaknesses, through, are dangerous (and blown out of all proportion by the media). He has a particularly filthy mouth, which could easily get him into trouble. (And it has.) And he will probably be hampered by ‘Cuckservative’ republicans more intent on trying to reassert their dominance than putting their country first. Fixing the problems facing America – and the West – will require more than fine words. Trump seems to understand that, but can he deliver?
Truthfully, I think that Trump will win – and that he will be a disappointment. The blunt truth is that no one, no matter how knowledgeable, cannot fix the federal government. It requires a devolution of power back to the people, the scrapping of regulations written by unelected and ignorant bureaucrats, the election of men and women who aren’t part of the political class … in short, it requires constant engagement from the public, not from those who can shout the loudest or come up with endless streams of buzzwords to justify themselves.
And, in a world where the political and media elites will do everything in their power to stop or co-opt an upstart, it will not be easy.
The one good thing about this election, as insane as it has been, is that it has exposed a number of uncomfortable truths.
First, the existence and power of political elites. For the Democrats, Hillary’s nomination was ensured through cheating, by the DNC arranging matters so Hillary’s nomination would be largely unchallenged. (Which it singularly failed to do in 2008, when Obama won partly because he was not Hillary Clinton.) The rank and file Democrats now know that their candidate is grossly unlikable – and that she cheated. One doesn’t have to detest Clinton or support Bernie Sanders to realise that this is impossible to defend. Whoever wins the coming election, the Democrats are in for a major shake-up.
For the Republicans, the rank and file of the party has been made aware of the existence of ‘Cuckservatives.’ The political elite – Jeb Bush and his ilk – are (were) comfortable where they are, making them unwilling to take risks. The elites already had it all – they didn’t want or need to rock the boat. It was easier for them to do nothing, to refuse to take a stand. On one hand, they were fearful of being accused of Bad Think – racism, for example; on the other, the last thing they wanted was someone proving that they weren’t needed. Their attacks on Trump were fuelled by an awareness that Trump’s success undermines their position, even if Trump loses. Trump has already shattered their grip on power. And don’t they know it.
Again, whoever wins the coming election, the Republicans are in for a major shake-up.
Second, the media has been proven to be nothing more than paid shrills for Hillary Clinton (and the Democrats in general). Their lies, quickly exposed on social media, have undermined whatever trust Americans were prepared to rest in them). It is no longer possible to trust the media – and, indeed, companies like Facebook and Google have been exposed cooperating with Hillary Clinton. The long-term effects of this, I suspect, are likely to be catastrophic. A free press is one of the cornerstones of democracy, but a press that blatantly supports one side and slams the other at every opportunity is a national menace.
Third, and finally, the election has exposed deep divisions within America.
Obama has been disastrous for the social cohesion of the United States. Race relations are at their worst for decades. Everyone is a victim now as the narrative of social justice continues to wipe away individuality and replace it with mob mentalities, with a hierarchy of victimhood and political correctness that is truly pathetic. Truth takes a backseat to whining and wishful thinking; facts take a backseat to opinion and feelings; free speech is shoved aside and truth hidden because someone – somewhere – might find it offensive.
This isn’t all Obama’s fault. Many of the social trends now coming into the open have been brewing for decades. But they have been made worse in the last eight years – and that I blame on Obama. Like Tony Blair before him, Obama concentrates more on appearance than reality. It is better to look good than be good. But imagine a cancer patient who was deluded into believing that some make-up and nice accessories would make her feel better. That’s the problem facing the United States. Anyone with half a brain would know that make-up and nice accessories would not take away the cancer.
But politicians have tried to deny this truth.
People are not always selfish. Truly selfish people are relatively rare. But people are self-interested. They ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ And a person in one position will do something that seems to make no sense, to an outside observer, because it makes sense to them, from where they’re standing. This is true of people living in flyover country – and it is true of politicians in Washington DC. Their decisions may seem poor, from our point of view, but they feel they’re the right decision.
This election has exposed, all too clearly, just how wide the gulf is between politicians and the average American voter. Obama hasn’t had a life outside politics – and he’s spent the last eight years in one of the most luxurious buildings in the world. Hillary Clinton hasn’t been an ordinary civilian since she married Bill Clinton. Her understanding of the realities of civilian life is apparently non-existent. Jeb Bush never grasped just how unpopular he was amongst the rank-and-file. Sanders and Trump did so well purely because they came from outside the political world. They weren’t tainted with a history in politics.
I am not sanguine about the future. Whoever wins the election, the United States – and the world – are in for some tough times.