America’s political circus
Sir:There are now only about 75 days left before America’s presidential election.
The Republican candidate, Donald Trump, a narcissistic billionaire real estate magnate and reality TV star with no political experience, has defied all predictions to become his party’s nominee amid continuing dissent within its leadership. He has spewed more vituperative bigotry and misogyny than any candidate in living memory. Trump called for Muslims to be banned from the United States (U.S.); promised to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants; backed torture for terrorist suspects and punishment for their families; termed Mexican immigrants “criminals”; described women as “fat pigs” and “dogs”; and advocated the building of a giant wall on the Mexican border. Unsurprisingly 87 per cent of Latinos, 86 per cent of blacks and 70 per cent of women disapprove of him.
Trump’s campaign has been a divisively populist one, enthusiastically championed by non-college-educated white males in an era of stagnating wages and changing demographics in which non-whites will become a majority by 2050. On the hustings, he has been devoid of substance and full of pithy phrases about “making America great again” by using his business skills to negotiate better trade deals.
Led by President Barack Obama, the Democrats have insisted on America’s continuing greatness and portrayed Trump as a dangerous, divisive demagogue and proto-fascist, unfit to have his finger on the nuclear button. But even the Democrats have not been able to respond effectively to America’s growing racial divisions in which white police officers fatally use innocent black civilians for target practice; often go unpunished by largely white juries, even as a complacent white middle class condones this grisly horror by supporting draconian crime-fighting measures.
Hillary Clinton – a notoriously wooden campaigner – has struggled to shake off the perception of being an establishment figure with a sense of entitlement, having served as a Senator and Obama’s Secretary of State. Her close ties to Wall Street donors continue to raise eyebrows. She has already made history by becoming the first woman to win a presidential nomination.
This election is a grand political circus complete with a populist clown and a political contortionist. True to character, Trump has already called Hillary Clinton “the devil” and accused her husband of rape. This will be an ugly slugfest between two power-hungry egomaniacs. It will be a blood-sport, an extravagant, profligate political show that only America – the home of Hollywood – is capable of staging. May the best woman win.
Adekeye Adebajo is executive director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, South Africa.