6 Nov 2016

As America votes: Clinton or Trump?

The United States may be on the cusp of electing, for the first time ever, a Woman President.

This time eight years ago, in Washington and across the country, I remember an intoxicating excitement in the air – the very possibility that America might elect a black President. Sadly, the fact that Hillary Clinton might become the first woman to shatter this glass ceiling has become submerged in a campaign of unprecedented abuse and mutual accusations.

In part Mrs Clinton can blame herself that this historic moment is being so under played. The fact that humanity could be about to secure the eighth woman leader in the world, joining those leading countries from Namibia and Burma, to Britain and Germany is drowned beneath the reality that Mrs Clinton’s character is a very much bigger issue than that of her gender.

Mostly this is because she has been the victim of endless attacks by Republican rivals over decades, and by endless hours of Fox News and conservative radio shows’ discussion of every aspect of her life. All of this has formed the foundation of Donald Trump’s campaign which is almost entirely built on hatred of her. However, her questionable activity around corporate donors to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State is a justifiable area of concern. Her charges for public speaking after stepping down as Secretary likewise. Her email server too has its own strange contribution in questioning her integrity in power. It doesn’t justify the hatred and the looseness with the truth, but it does little to stop it. Yet in many senses, there is little doubt that at least Hillary Clinton will know how the Presidency works, she understands politics, and she has proved she can function in high office.

Mr Trump’s triumph, if it comes, will be to have defied conventional politics and prevailed as the first candidate to have become President without ever having contested any political election before. However, he has consistently told ‘terminological inexactitudes’ in the course of the campaign; he has also helped establish a term for a new era in public life; ‘post truth’. I can remember no Presidential candidate in the past 40 years who has deployed a sentence that has included the words ‘tell him to go f*** himself’; or ‘knock the crap out of him’. Trump is hourly abusive not only of his opponent an her team –‘crooked Hillary ‘, or ‘Criminal Hillary’. He is as abusive of the media – ‘they lie; they are bad people; some of the most dishonest people in America’; and more. He dismisses recordings of his boasts of possible sexual assault as ‘locker room talk.’ He has made the most important election campaign in the world x-rated, to be shielded from children by anxious parents. Nor have any of us heard a candidate for the Presidency say that he will not accept the outcome if he losers, because it will have been ‘rigged’. Trump has also used disgraceful advertising. Most recently within a campaign ad he throws up a row of three well known people in finance. Janet Yellen, Chair of the Fed, Lloyd Blankfein, head of Goldman Sachs, and the Billionaire George Soros. It hasn’t escaped peoples notice that all three are Jewish – a whiff of antisemitism? Senator Al Franken, has asked if that is that why Donald Trump selected these particular three people for an ad in which he talks of what’s wrong with America.

Finally whoever become President becomes Commander-in-Chief. Mr Trump has spoken of the entire US Military leadership of the US presence in the fight for Mosul today, as losers.

It’s not a happy moment for America; it is demeaned by this contest and people here are desperate for it to end. However, it makes them think the more of the person who will leave the White House to make way for whoever is elected on Tuesday.

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