Trump versus Clinton: either way we lose

Trump phenomenon reveals something rotten in US politics

hillary-clinton-donald-trumpDonald Trump and Hillary Clinton. There, the first time I have put these names to print.

Billions of words have been written on the US Presidential Election but I really didn’t quite know what to say. So I will say it anyway.

For all sorts of reasons I do not like either candidate.

Yes, I’ve  seen all the stuff about Trump,  and he does seem a piece of work.

But the Trump phenomenon also points to something rotten in the state of US politics.

Much has been written about the irony of a billionaire braggart being a repository for the anger and disillusionment of so many millions of disaffected voters in the US. Many of them white, male and not rich enough for their liking, or safe enough from Mexican wetbacks and Arab terrorists. So angry about economic instability, and so disillusioned with mainstream politics that they would vote for this narcissistic, orange-skinned reality TV star as President of the United States. President Trump.

We hear so much about the land of the free, and their great store in democracy, but really how democratic is the whole presidential office, and the very election process itself? To run for elected office in the first place is so prohibitively expensive, enormous funds have to be raised. And many of the people who supply these funds aren’t all apple pie democrats doing it for the good of the country.

That’s just one of the things about Hillary Clinton, this sense that she has sold herself to the money people, and her liberal values are as much about  voter demographics as anything else. You don’t like her principles? Don’t worry, she has plenty of other ones. She’s a little bit liberal, appealing to enough women, Hispanics, Blacks, gays etc,  but a little bit hawkish too, attracting enough of them good ol’ boys down south. But mostly she just seems a whole lot pragmatic.

This perception of Hillary Clinton as strategising her way to the top, selling another little piece of her soul every day to do so, has alienated nearly as many potential voters as it has attracted. It makes politics, and her,  look grubby. To many, including myself, she seems to have discarded whatever real beliefs she ever had for those that would get her ahead in politics. So many of those who will vote for her tomorrow will do so only because they dislike her less than they dislike Donald Trump.

The biggest casualty in all this would appear to be belief in the democratic election process itself. If the best it can produce is Hillary Clinton’s uninspiring candidacy,  then who are those who can’t hack her to vote for?

It’s not as if Donald Trump is attracting only those who are  badly-educated, ill-informed, with racist, sexist, and xenophobic leanings, but that he is attracting these and so many others to his brash but vaguely articulated cause. Many of them are all these things, but it has to be more than that if his numbers are adding up to a very real possibility that he will win the election. He seems to have captured some  weird, worrying zeitgeist.

Donald Trump isn’t afraid to say the things many Americans are saying, even if those things are deemed racist, sexist, xenophobic or politically incorrect.

There is the appeal to those who see easy solutions to complicated issues: get tough with the terrorists; block out the Mexicans, sort out the national debt, make America great again.

Maybe the worst thing of all when it comes to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is that she has opened the door wide for a demagogue, one seen as operating outside the cosy cartel of corruption and chicanery that is mainstream politics, and who promises to sweep this good damn town clean.

The way has been left open for someone — anyone — to take on Hillary Clinton and her Ivy-towered ilk, so removed as they are from ordinary people and their concerns. Tell it like it is. This someone appeals to those  voters who  like their politics black and white — preferably white and male —  and Trump will do just fine as a vehicle for their frustrations and anger. It’s how Hitler did it, remember?

And  by the by, what about that whole Hill and Bill couple thing? Anyone who enjoyed House of Cards and the delicious intrigue of the Frank and Claire Underwood partnership will hardly buy the romance of this equally ambitious pair. Yes it would be something to have a husband and wife having both served as the First Citizen in America. But at what price?

One can only think that the best thing Hillary Clinton will have going for here on polling day is Donald Trump, and the best thing he has going for him is  the woman who used to be Hillary Diane Rodham. Some choice!

— Enda Sheppard

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