So it’s come to this

Well, it looks like the US presidential primaries have yielded Donald Trump as the Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. I have to say, I’m not entirely surprised. Ever since April or May I had the impression that this outcome was all but inevitable, and whatever miracle that could possibly have saved Bernie Sanders simply did not materialize. And to be honest, even Sanders did get a miracle, it might not have helped considering that as of this weekend Wikileaks revealed that the Democratic National Convention basically rigged the competition in favor of Hillary Clinton, or were very inappropriately agenda-driven for an organization that was supposed to be neutral towards the Democratic candidates.

That said, I’m now going to give what are probably my two cents on the two people that most Americans will probably vote for.

Donald Trump

Over the course of his campaign Trump has become the great bogeymen of American politics, in fact he is widely perceived as villain du jour. And do not be fooled into thinking he is the apex of the Republican Party or American conservatism: even other Republicans and conservatives such as Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, Ben Shapiro and even Glenn Beck are against Trump. I think that might be because he advocated for a higher minimum wage, has flip-flopped on the gun issue and apparently is willing to support more protectionism than would be favorable to Republicans (at least that’s what they think Trump “fixing” trade is going amount to). So it’s not just progressives and liberals who are against him. Personally, I am still concerned about what might happen if Trump got elected, and he is not my candidate of choice. But I have gone from practically fearing the prospect of a Trump presidency to the point that I declared that I would not want to emigrate to Trump’s America, to being ultimately rather skeptical of the idea that he’ll destroy the country. Put simply I was being hyperbolic. Granted, he still has quite a lot of bad characteristics: he is a buffoon, he is not very intelligent and there are worries from scholars that he may threaten the rule of law and go against the US Constitution. Not to mention, I have not heard anything about Trump changing his mind about forcing the military to kill the families of terrorists. But even with that, I think he may not be as villainous as he’s painted out to be. He has had a history of being very unpredictable, and his lack of intelligence may yet be a sign that he may be too inept to do much. What he has going for him is his ability to appeal to the portions of the working class that are disaffected or disillusioned by the Obama presidency and loathe the political establishment for what they perceive to be its ineptitude. And the problem is that they might have reality on their side, as was revealed by Brexit, the migrant crisis and the increasing number of terror attacks plaguing Europe – all of these events have exposed the political establishment’s true colors, mostly their indifference to the concerns of ordinary people and their detachment from ground-level reality. Recent events in America, such as the Orlando massacre, recent shootings carried out by police officers and the slaying of police officers by a Black Lives Matter supporter (not to mention the violent rhetoric from many Black Lives Matter supporters) may be convincing Americans that they’re country is suffering an epidemic of violence and that there is a need for a strong “law and order” president, despite the fact that that crime rates overall are still lower than they’ve been in the past. At any rate, I think he is certainly not comparable to Hitler. In the post I linked, I implied that Trump’s campaign may have, as others have suggested, been similar to that of Adolf Hitler, but I have learned that this was mostly hyperbolic. At any rate, there is no evidence that Hitler ran on a slogan of “make Germany great again”. In the end, despite everything about Trump as a person, I find his treatment to be a joke – ironic, considering that when he started his campaign Trump himself was seen as a joke. Hell, Trump even got compared to jihadists recently by Barack Obama on the grounds that “they always fail” – the day I see Donald Trump strapping a suicide bomb to himself or shooting cartoonists to death whilst shouting “Allahu Akbar” is the only time I’ll be more inclined to believe him and others like him. It is a rare person in America’s political climate to understand why Trump has managed to be successful, and most simply resort to “MUH XENOPHOBIA” or “white people are evil” (the latter especially egregious considering that there are African-Americans and Indian-Americans who are willing to support Trump and I don’t see them thinking so heavily about race; mind you they probably get referred to as Uncle Toms or something like that due to the tradition of demographic propriety). To the people voting for him, he is an outsider who dares to say things that the establishment doesn’t want to be said, even if they are rash and unintelligent. Until Trump’s opposition can deal with the same issues that he is addressing in a reasonable and intellectually honest manner, and through doing so convince Trump’s supporters that he is the wrong person for the White House, then I think that Trump’s opposition will fail to defeat him. And since I’m still not entirely enthusiastic about a Trump presidency, it might be better that Trump’s opposition succeed in meaningfully deconstructing his campaign.

Hillary Clinton

As I already pointed out already in a previous post, Hillary is a different creature entirely. She is not interested in serving anything besides her own interests, which at the very least is highly inappropriate given not only the fact she is seeking to run for an office where she will be expected to lead the nation but also that, in her capacity as a government official, so is supposedly expected to serve the American people. And I haven’t got a doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton has wanted the top job for a long time. One of my main problems with Hillary Clinton is her odious appeal to identity politics over the course of her campaign. When she last ran for the Democratic nomination in 2008, she wasn’t running as a woman. In 2016 she is, and that’s being treated as proud and historic. She can even get articles written about her defending the idea of voting for her based solely on her gender. She is also of the opinion that white people need to “change” in order to reduce the number of African-Americans killed by cops. She doesn’t think all Americans should change, just white people. And people say Trump is the racist! Never mind that that the statistics on police homicide suggest that the majority of people killed by the police are actually white. In 2015 she spoke to Black Lives Matter and she told them “you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate”, which to me only says that she encourages whatever Black Lives Matter does to that end. Like Donald Trump, she is willing to play the fear card when it comes to violence in America. Only for her it is specifically gun-related violence that is the subject of sentimental manipulation. Then there’s the fact that Hillary Clinton is known for her dishonesty and duplicity. She famously claimed that she landed under sniper fire in Bosnia with no greeting ceremony, but of course there exists footage of her landing in Bosnia to a greeting ceremony and no sniper fire. She also claimed to be an instrumental part of Northern Ireland’s peace process. Not to mention, there is a lot going around about the email scandal surrounding her in March, which to me is enough to suggest there was a lot that she didn’t intend the average public to know about, like her history of interventionism (which to me suggests that she will probably make the situation in the Middle East much worse than it is now). It also bothers me that, at one point, she refused to say whether or not the right to bear arms was protected by the Constitution. Then you have the fact that she is backed by several large private corporate interests, including billionaire hedge-funds, as well as the revelation that the Democratic National Convention, both of which I mentioned in my previous post. There’s also the matter of the Clinton Foundation, which apparently only gives a small portion of its money to jobs and charitable causes while the rest goes to the Clintons and their friends. Finally, I remain unconvinced that she will be on the side of civil liberty, given her history of promoting censorship and government surveillance. At any rate, I am not convinced she has changed her mind on whether or not national security is more important than human rights. Needless to say, I am very much dead set in my refusal to support Hillary Clinton regardless of Donald Trump being the Republican nominee. Negative partisanship just isn’t for me, at least in principle anyway.

I’m also not impressed by either of their vice presidential picks. Donald Trump’s pick – Mike Pence – strikes me as just another neocon, while all I know about Hillary’s pick – Tim Kaine – is that he is apparently a favorite of Wall Street. Neither of those things are very encouraging to me.

If these are the two candidates that most Americans will be faced with choosing, I can’t blame the American public for being so sharply divided. These are of course two extremely polarizing candidates, albeit in a country with an already frequently polarized political environment often divided among rather tribal and fiercely dogmatic lines. At the same time though, I think there might be another option. I am of course talking about the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Say what you will about the Libertarian Party, but I find that he is certainly more appealing a candidate than Trump or Clinton. For GOP voters now stuck with Trump but still despise him and would never vote Clinton, he is surely the sane option. For Democrat voters who supported Bernie Sanders but got Clinton and would never support Trump or Clinton, he offers hope as another outsider, at least to the two-party dynamic that dominates American politics. If I lived in America, I would probably spend some time campaigning for Gary Johnson and trying to convince people that he is the better alternative to either. As a moderate libertarian, albeit with some liberal leanings, he is certainly the candidate that more closely represents my own views or values. But according to Johnson himself, his best chance is if he gets into the national debates, and that requires him to poll at least at 15% in five mainstream news polls. I would very much like to see Johnson have the opportunity to debate Clinton and Trump publicly, so that the American public can see what kind of politician he is compared to both of them. It may be unlikely to happen, but Johnson is the only candidate I can support wholeheartedly. That said, however, there is a part of me that would like to see how everyone reacts to a Trump victory. Will I laugh? Will I cry? Will I convulse with anger or horror? Or will I be fairly indifferent? There is only one way to find out…

I sincerely hope this is the last post I write about American politics for now, aside from maybe the odd mention – at least until November or until Gary Johnson actually succeeds in getting into the national debates. Until then, Good luck Gary.

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