7 wonders of the US election (it's coming soon)
1. Trump might win. Yes he’s vastly ignorant, driven by impulse not thought, devoid of principle – in fact, he’s the ultimate self-serving and self-centred spoilt bratwurst – so he surrounds himself with polyignorant sycophants, psychopathetic bullies, male-worshipping SturmTrumppen, and a good portion of what’s left of the American white working-class and middle-class too. His appeal is concentrated among men over-50, but enough of the rest might put his appalling ass/arse (and hair) in the White House.
2. Hillary Clinton is not much liked. 24 years ago, when Bill Clinton came out of nowhere (Arkansas governor actually), Hillary tried to present herself as the good wife, but her law degree, and the fact that she’d already spent years keeping wild dog Bill on the porch, showed through the good ol’ gal act. Now she’s admired, particularly by women, for having stuck it out in the Congress, the White House, the mass media circus, and the man’s world in general – but she’s not trusted. Her stamina as a fighter is understood, but fighter for what? She has focused on social programs for the majority of Americans who are shoved around by the corporate elite, but she also hangs out with the elites – on the board of the gigantic retail chain Walmart, high-fiving America’s most bellicose generals and admirals, cosying up to bankers and financial card-sharks like Goldman-Sachs. To people-first people, she’s a corporate shill and a warmonger. To rugged individualist me-firsters, she IS the nanny in the nanny state.
3. The US voting system is crazy (ours is too, in very different ways). American presidents are not chosen by the people’s votes. Votes are counted in each state and the winner in that state gets a number of votes determined by how many representatives the state has in the national Congress. It’s a winner-take-all system so if Clinton gets 41% of votes in, say, Florida, Trump 42%, Gary Johnson 9% and Jill Stein 3% -- Trump gets all 29 of Florida’s votes. To become president, you need 270 votes in this “electoral college” out of a total of 538.
4. Almost half adult Americans don’t vote. Even in an election with a somewhat inspiring choice like Obama versus McCain in 2008, only 57% of voting age Americans voted. Millions are disqualified from voting because they aren’t citizens yet, or because they have a criminal record. Many rules and regulations for voting are controlled by state authorities, and Republican states particularly make it hard for poor people to vote. And then there’s the problem of awful candidates. As my old buddy Jim Hightower says, if the gods had meant us to vote they would’ve given us candidates.
5. There are two other choices on the presidential ballot: the Libertarian and Green parties, whose candidates are Gary Johnson and Jill Stein respectively. This year they’ll get more votes than ever before because Trump and Clinton are so unpopular. Given the arithmetic of the electoral college (above), it’s possible there will be a tie between Clinton and Trump (269 each), and a remote possibility Johnson will win his home state of New Mexico and collect 5 electoral college votes, giving him the balance of power. In either case, the election would be decided by the House of Reps, with each state having one vote, so 26 out of 50 would be needed to win. Since the House will be elected on the same day as the President – 47 days from now – it’s impossible to predict who they’d choose. If they also tie their votes between Clinton and Trump, the US Senate will choose a president from the two vice presidential candidates – Democrat Tim Kaine or Republican Mike Pence (yikes!). Or, the House members could figure that Libertarian Gary Johnson is saner than Trump and not Hillary, and give him the Presidency, because the rules say they can choose from the three top vote-winners in the electoral college. Johnson is a former Republican who has libertarian social policies like legalizing marijuana, but also favours social safety-net programs that Democrats like. He’s also kind of a dickhead, but what’s new?
6. The role of “political correctness”. Trump, and many other Republicans and libertarians, are campaigning against political correctness that they say is making everyone lazy and miserable. One Nation dimwits like Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts say similar things, especially that people who are hostile to “our” values -- meaning Mexicans (Trump), Asians (Hanson) and Muslims (both) – are being foisted on “us” by political correctness, in this case, the notion that “everyone is equal”. In the US, the issue of gender-neutral toilets is also seen as PC. And a speaker at Melbourne and Brisbane writers festivals, American novelist Lionel Shriver, has been in the headlines worldwide for blaming PC for trying to stop people like her from writing from the point of view of people who aren’t like her. The fundamental fact about “political correctness” is that most of it is correct – eg people shouldn’t tell other people who to love or how, companies that pump poison into the oceans or skies should stop and also clean up their shit, people who get rich by trashing communities that got in their way shouldn’t get to keep all the loot by making fake apologies.
7. In November the US will elect thousands of people, and huge amounts will be spent on races for seats in Congress, state governorships, state legislatures, and local dog catchers. Led by multi-billionaire business bullies David and Charles Koch, this is a move to take control of every political office outside of the White House, because these mega-rich moguls can’t stand Trump or Hillary. So even if Clinton wins and appoints Elizabeth Warren as Treasury Secretary and Bernie Sanders as Peoples Secretary – neither of which she’d ever do – she would be blocked by every other government in the country, and Rupert Murdoch.
Meanwhile, it’s springtime here in blissful Byron Shire, and we have an 8 to 1 greenie council, so let’s save some of the world before Trump makes America gross again.