A minority believe the US will elect a formidable president, who will take their country forward. A majority know otherwise. As downright terrible as Donald Trump is, he remains in contention because Hillary Clinton is the lousiest Democratic nominee since Walter Mondale in 1984, and possibly worse than that. Democrats are right to call out Trump when he tries to intimidate judges by saying they are biased, and suggesting he would use the power of the Presidency to exercise legal retribution over a defeated rival. On the other hand, Clinton’s surrogates seem less interested in scrupulous objectivity when they vilify FBI Director James Comey for trying to deal with the unholy mess created by Clinton’s conniving to keep her emails secret, and the fractured marriage between her top aide and a perverted fallen Democrat hero. Nobody forced Trump to engage in ‘locker room talk’ or make himself ridiculous by promising to release his tax records and then failing to do so. And nobody forced Hillary Clinton to lie about hiding emails containing state secrets, conveniently have many of them deleted, get away with her crime, but also employ and share secret information with Huma Abedin, a woman whose taste in men is so flawed that her penis-waving jailbait-chasing husband Anthony Weiner somehow has Clinton’s emails still saved on the laptop he also uses to email pictures of his dick. Trump and Clinton are two depressing, preposterous, atrocious candidates. By selecting them as their nominees, the Republicans and Democrats have demonstrated that the USA can no longer act as leader of the free world. Their beleaguered country cannot even select a leader that Americans want to follow.
The failure of American leadership is nothing new. Obama only seems a halfway decent President because he followed the utterly inept George W. Bush. Expectations were so low that Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize just because he was not Bush. In hindsight, now that the Middle East has fallen into chaos, Russia increasingly bombs and invades its opponents, Islamic terrorism is at an all-time high, North Korea is perfecting its nuclear capability and the Iranians have only temporarily been bought off, there seems little evidence that Obama’s approach to diplomacy made the world a safer place. It is true that Osama Bin Laden was killed whilst Obama was in office, but that is like praising the world’s most powerful individual because a schoolgirl receives a perfect mark for her literature essay; only a small-minded partisan could believe Obama deserves most of the credit for work done by intelligence operatives and military personnel. The last respected American Presidents were Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, and both of them achieved economic ‘success’ by increasing or encouraging greater financial debt for one American or another. Obama did the same, but it would be churlish to criticize him for spending to avert a financial meltdown. So whilst people like to focus on the stellar Obama accomplishments of defining girls and boys in such a way that either can use any toilet, or in deciding he was in favour of gay marriage when the polls said most people were in favour of gay marriage (but not before), the best that can be said for Obama is that the US economy did not collapse whilst he was President. If he had done a worse job, it would have.
About 40 percent of Americans understand that the electoral process is so tawdry that they need not bother voting. It is little wonder that they stay at home, when the two-party system delivers candidates that treat them with such utter contempt. Donald Trump is a serial liar. He lies about things like the extent of his charitable donations. Hillary Clinton is a serial liar. She lies about things like being fired upon by snipers. In a sane world, such egregious falsehoods should automatically disqualify somebody from holding high office. Somehow neither party felt their preferred candidates were rendered unacceptable just because they engage in regular and repeated dishonesty. If anything, the two parties seem to have perfected a process designed to promote liars and fantasists. Their preferred candidate can adopt any position, no matter how unpopular or distasteful to millions of ordinary Americans, and then aspire to take the reigns of power so they can use them to whip the behinds of every recalcitrant in the country. In the near future either Clinton or Trump will make an acceptance speech where they will make token reference to healing the wounds and ending division in their country. But nobody but their most partisan dullard fanatical supporters will believe them. Clinton labelled millions as deplorable, lumping Islamophobics with sexists and pretending all the bad people must think the same way and vote the same way, even though the simplest analysis should conclude a modern liberal feminist has most reason to fear a rise in the popularity of Islam. In contrast, Trump decided to be an affront to everybody who refuses to praise him in the slavish fashion he demands. This might be a good strategy for a celebrity provocateur but a foolish one for somebody who chooses to enter a popularity contest.
In the 14th century, the great Arab historian Ibn Khaldun observed that societies reach a peak, and then they decay. Barbarians will conquer and supersede the civilization they both destroy and appropriate. English Historian Edward Gibbon reached the same conclusion in the 18th century, when discussing the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. I do not believe this was a coincidence. Both men saw the world as it is: strength grows from overcoming adversity, whilst wealth leads to indulgence, waste and decline. Systems can be rigged so the powerful hold on to their power; both Trump and Clinton know plenty about that. However, rigging a system encourages more of the inbreeding that fertilizes corruption. When advancement depends on political alliances rather than merit the result is putrefaction of the body politic. Favouritism favours those who cannot win a fair fight, whether the advantage is gained through trade barriers or corporate cronyism. Nepotism breeds the realization that the victory will go to the person anointed by the right friends and family connections, and that those with the tightest grip on the levers of power will only hand them over to somebody of like mind. This inevitably leads to stagnation. Advocates for Hillary Clinton will argue she had to overcome the adversity of being a woman. And yet, only a woman could have married Bill Clinton and so cemented such an advantageous political alliance. Supporters of Trump will argue that he is an outsider, though they usually refuse to give Obama the same credit. However, Obama was a genuine outsider, which is why he shocked the system by defeating Clinton in the 2008 nomination race. Obama’s mediocrity is not evidenced by his rise to power, which revealed a man of great political savvy, but by what little he did with that power, which revealed a man lacking any vision or motivation beyond aggrandizing his considerable ego.
It says a lot about how far the Democrats have declined that only Bernie Sanders provided effective opposition to Clinton’s 2016 procession, even though her flaws were perfectly illustrated during her 2008 defeat. And despite the absence of heftier challengers, the Democrats still felt it necessary to appoint not one, but two successive chairwomen who provided unfair assistance to Clinton’s campaign for the party nomination. At least Trump trumped an army of rival Republican candidates without any inside help, though many in that party must despair at the way the serious votes were divided amongst too many accomplished politicians, allowing a wave of low-interest and low-information voters to hijack the primaries and gift victory to a man best known as a television loudmouth. This intemperate diva and buffoonish hotelier overcame at least half a dozen much more skilled campaigners who could have assembled effective national teams for the Republicans, whilst also vexing Clinton far more during the debates. Clinton’s weakness is that she has adopted so many different contradictory positions she has usually adopted the unpopular one at some stage in her career. Only a bilious blowhard like Trump had the power to make her seem principled and consistent in her choice of policies.
Good people of America, a lot of you do not have a clue what the rest of the world thinks about you. Your television is too insular, and your politics more so. You only tend to hear the opinions of americaphiles, and they are not representative of the world, not least because many of them spend so much time watching inane CGI-laden Hollywood movies and frothing over gossipy US websites that they are barely conscious of the countries they actually inhabit. For your own sakes, I beg you to recognize that whether the next President is called Clinton or Trump, neither will be the leader of the free world. Neither is liked, neither is feared, neither is respected. Hillary Clinton may yet win the Nobel Prize that was so cruelly denied to her husband because of his unfortunate orgasm upon an intern’s dress. Trump would undoubtedly be a big hit on foreign TV shows, especially in countries that do not speak English. But they both represent the decline of a powerful country whose two-party system is utterly broken, and run by people with no solutions for the problems found in the real world.
Dear Americans, you will continue to have wealth, not least because of fracking, and you will continue to have more aircraft carriers than anyone else, though the Chinese will steadily close that gap. You will continue to have cultural influence, though more of your movies will feature actors that appeal to foreign markets, and you will continue to have many nukes, but so do the Russians, and their nation is an economic pipsqueak compared to yours. In many ways your decline will be gradual, and you will not notice it. The decay started years ago, and most of you have not taken it seriously, or else your parties would pick better candidates than a bombastic delusional idiot who cheats at golf and everything else, and an unlikeable legalistic manipulative scheming political hack whose idea of female empowerment is to sleep with yet another Democrat who cannot control his penis, just because he is more popular than her. And in case you forgot, these are the kind of despicable insincere two-faced elitists who get invited to, and choose to attend each other’s weddings. You may tell yourselves that your chosen leaders are also the leaders of the free world, but the rest of the world will not believe it. We know you only voted for the scumbag who was not as bad as the other scumbag, because both ran campaigns focused on just how scummy their rival is. After the election there will be an increasing number of reminders of the failure of American leadership, thanks to a growing army of antagonists like Putin and Duterte, who will gladly point out the gap between American self-belief and the country’s actual role in the world. Before long even the British will be routinely telling your leader to fuck off, just like they did when Obama instructed them to remain in the European Union. The United States of America is still powerful, and could still lead again. But first Americans must remember how to pick real leaders.