Picture the following scene. Thousands of people are crowded around a podium. On this podium stands a divisive politician wearing a smart black suit and terrible hair. The subject of his speech is an upcoming election; the message is much to do with those pesky foreigners that are destroying the country. The audience is ecstatic, some are chanting his name, others are shouting abuse at an ethnic minority woman wearing a yellow star with her religious affiliation. Now just to be clear, the scene I’m describing is not 1936 Nuremberg but rather 2016 Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The upcoming US presidential election is a bit like a giant, hulking tsunami. You can see it in the distance, it’s still quite a fair stretch away, however when it does finally arrive two things are almost certain. One, it will be pretty darn hard to avoid and two, the aftermath is unlikely to be pleasant. Now do forgive me for being such a horrible kill-joy, however it is rather difficult to be even moderately optimistic about an election in which the two front runners amount to a bigoted business magnate (Donald Trump) and a hypocritical corporate sellout with about the same level of integrity as a whore in post-war Berlin (Hilary Clinton).
Now before someone gets in my face and tells me to #FeelTheBern, I would just like to make it clear that I want Sanders to win as well. I really, really do. However the chances of that happening are about the same as America electing a gay atheist from Kandahar. Needles to say, it’s probably not going to happen. Not because he’s doing something wrong, but because a huge amount of Americans are still stuck in a Cold War mentality whereby anything with the word “socialist” is basically the spawn of Satan. A 2015 Gallup Survey found that only 47% of Americans would vote for a candidate who happened to be a socialist. That’s compared with 92% who would vote for a woman and 74% who would vote for a homosexual. Even in arguably the most Bible-thumping country in the western world, 58% would be fine with voting for an atheist and 60% for a Muslim. In fact, being a self proclaimed “socialist” is the only thing in that survey which automatically disqualifies you from The White House; as sad as that might be.
That’s a terrible shame, but unfortunately it’s also the reality in which we now find ourselves. Unfortunately when it comes to 53% of Americans, when they think of socialism they think of the USSR and North Korea as opposed to Norway and Denmark, and I highly doubt that either me or Bernie Sanders or anyone else will be able to change their minds.
So who else is there? Well, on the Republican side, the range of candidates remains fairly extensive. Seriously, there’s twelve of the poor bastards. From religious firebrand and general crazy person Ben Carson, to Libertarian Rand Paul to Jim “what the hell am I even doing here” Gilmore, there are plenty of both new and old faces for the American right to choose from. Thing is, nearly half of them would rather vote for Trump and everyone else has so far failed to unite behind a single alternative candidate.
Donald Trump has completely dominated the Republican race up until this point. The media can’t stop talking about him, there’s barely a demographic his comments won’t offend and his poll results are still disproving every single pundit under the sun. Now while I certainly can’t say that I like the guy, I do find him and his campaign utterly fascinating. Through a series of controversial statements and demographic pandering, he has managed to defy all expectations while exploiting a growing public resentment toward political correctness (a resentment which I personally share, although it seems that Trump often forgets the difference between political correctness and basic human decency).
What is equally fascinating about Donald Trump are some of his previous political leanings, and while I’m personally not a fan of conspiracy theories, if Trump really was a Democratic spy as some have suggested, would he really be doing anything different? Just take a moment to look through his history. As the BBCs Anthony Zurcher writes, “He was a Republican, then he was a pro-choice Democrat, and now he’s a fire-breathing, anti-immigration populist conservative”. Like it or not but it’s true; Trumps political transformation into a “populist conservative” is precisely the sort of pandering and U-turning that brings Hillary Clinton so much criticism. In fact it seems to me that when Trump descended down that elevator and announced his bid for President, he essentially donned a fresh persona and became the lead character in a Sacha Baron Cohen movie.
While back in 2008 he supported his bid for President, the Trump of 2016 thinks that the Obama administration was a complete and utter disaster. While him and Bill Clinton used to be personal friends, now there is no shortage of one attacking the other. While the Trump of a few years ago used to give the Clinton’s campaign money, the Trump of today gives them only criticism and abuse. Trump 2016 is a devoted Christian, even though he can’t recite a single Biblical verse. Trump 2016 supports traditional marriage… So much so that he’s had three of them. One thing is for certain though; Donald Trump is a dream come true for The Democratic Party. Whether or not the more playful theories turn out to hold any water, Trumps inability to expand his support into the mainstream means one thing; Donald Trump is Hillary Clinton’s ticket to The White House.
So what about Hillary Clinton? Well, frankly she embodies everything that I hate about politicians; especially in her inconsistency and willingness to pander towards whatever is the most popular current opinion. Gay rights would be a pretty good example. As things currently stand, Hillary Clinton is very much in favor of the whole concept. In fact she is so pro-gay rights that she changed her campaign logo to a rainbow-colored ‘H’. Seriously Dear Reader, there is no way in hell you could be more pro-gay rights than Hillary Rodham Clinton. Problem is, she’s only been this way since 2013, and has previously openly stated her belief in marriage being “a holy bond between a man and a woman”.
She was in favor of the Iraq War, now she says it was a bad idea. She was in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, now she is opposed. Same goes for the TPP. Same goes for Obama’s immigration policy. Honestly, Hillary Clinton is a shape-shifting lizard who stands for nothing. Unfortunately, and please do forgive the pun, she has a powerful trump card; not only in her most prominent Republican opponent but also in the symbolic fact that she’s a woman (although I’m totally opposed to electing politicians based on their genitals). Regardless, I hope to God I’m wrong, but you better get used to calling her Mrs President.