Monday, 7 November, 2016 – 09:13
When I was young, and we had our first TV, I remember hiding behind the settee (I’m a Midlands lad, “sofas” were for pooftahs) when The Daleks appeared on Doctor Who. I remember my Aunt laughing as she came down from the “box room” where she was staying for a couple of days and banging the door into my feet which protruded. Now, rather older and, one hopes, rather wiser, I’m looking at my TV room and wondering if there’s space behind the sofa (see, I’m reconstructed) for me to hide while the results of the US presidential election are announced.
I have to admit that I don’t usually care one jot about the manufactured, even transposed, excitement of elections although I did watch the recounts in Florida when Baby Bush was being elected as US President but that was because it was funny. Usually, I only need to know who won and who will give direction to a country. I don’t need that information immediately and for sure I don’t need a running tally as news organisations spend a fortune on ever more flashy graphics devices when a white board and a marker pen or two would do the job just as well.
And, honestly, the “Swingometer” and its derivatives are boring, unless you are a 20 year old activist high on the feeling that you can change the world.
But for the first time in a long time, in a major election anywhere, I find myself feeling the need to watch. It’s like when you hear tyres squeal and you look to see, half hoping, half dreading seeing the resulting accident. Except that, in the US presidential election, there is no hope for anyone except the activists.
Whoever wins, there will be a period of some weeks while nothing much happens: Obama has, one assumes, already been packing his personal effects because he’s leaving no matter what happens.
Clinton and Trump will view catalogues and visit warehouses and decide what furniture and crockery will be used in The White House.
It is logical to guess that new beds are brought in and the Obama family’s quietly disposed of somewhere.
Obama will host his last Christmas and New Year parties and, if past presidents are anything to go by, pardon a handful of criminals for reasons that are unlikely to ever be made public but around which there will be much speculation.
Then on 20 January 2017, either Clinton or Trump will start a new presidency at Midday DC time.
And at that time, whichever of them it is, the world will become a much more dangerous place.
The American people have put themselves into a difficult position and put the rest of us at risk.
Americans say foreigners have no say in their political process (which is both right and true) but we do have an interest: the country that is the self-styled leader of the free world is, by its own definition, electing the World President.
So here’s a word from someone who will be deeply affected by the USA’s choice of President.
They are both a bad, bad, bad choice.
They are both liars. They are both aggressors in relation to foreign policy. They are both interventionist in the affairs of other states. What they get up to within the USA’s own borders is irrelevant to most of the world.
Trump is fomenting discontent vis-á-vis China and seems to be trying to set up some kind of friction between China and Russia: also, although he’s toned down his language, he has displayed anti-Muslim attitudes.
Clinton is, and has long been, rabidly anti-Palestinian and forcefully pro-Israel: indeed, one of her methods of defeating Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, was to berate him for, in effect, not being Jewish enough because he criticises Israel’s illegal actions in Palestine.
That’s only one small part of the dangers these two candidates present. They are both highly partisan, adopting a “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” approach to most countries.
They are both nationalistic, militaristic and narcissistic. And while Trump’s view is that the US should pull its front line troops from conflict zones, he and Clinton both say that they support rebel action in certain countries and will provide arms, etc. to help, as they say, “resolve” those conflicts.
We can hear the tyres squealing and we know there’s going to be a big crash.
The only question that remains to be answered is exactly what the results of that crash will be and how can other countries try to limit the damage from flying debris.