Monday, 10 October 2016

Can the US Electoral System Survive Trump?

Donald Trump is toxic - cartoon by Wendy Cockcroft
The world's news media and global social media is all a-froth about the latest Trump video leak. Apparently he's a mega perve with a foul mouth. Needless to say, many upstanding gentlemen on the right and right-on chaps on the progressive side are falling over themselves to distance themselves from Trump and his comments. That is not the fascinating part.

The anti-Trump Bandwagon

It seems that certain media outlets are sitting on some controversial items — audio-visual gotchas that apparently include Trump saying the N-word. The N-word, I tell you! Erm, everyone already knows he's a racist, people. That the outlets that have the material are sitting on this stuff, waiting like hungry vultures for the right moment to drop their dirt-bombs on the Trump campaign is one thing; that they actually got hold of it makes me wonder if one or more of the security agencies is involved. It is possible; don't forget that in 2013 disseminating propaganda to US citizens via the State Department became legal. Now consider the fact that US national newspapers don't tend to hold the powers that be to account. Not so far-fetched, is it? Or maybe someone has a grudge against Trump and wants to embarrass him and derail his campaign to exact revenge. That's possible, too. Given that Trump might get his pudgy little fingers on the nuclear button, I can't say I blame whoever it is that's doing this but it seems a little underhand and smacks of desperation.

His own party can't stand him

Let's make this absolutely clear: the only reason Trump ended up on the Republican ticket in the first place is because he is popular. The party establishment doesn't like him but they've hitched themselves to his wagon in the hope of  being taken along for the ride. This is why they're publicly condemning his remarks while standing by him.

Could Trump win?

The desperation of the Stop Trump campaign implies that he might have a decent chance of ending up in the Oval Office. This is how desperate they are: there's talk of using the Electoral College to override the popular vote to keep Trump out of the White House. Roll that around your head for a moment: American democracy is so utterly broken that a) desperate people are willing to vote Trump in to force change, and b) desperate Establishmentarians are willing to steamroll over the will of the people to maintain the status quo. Can you imagine the turmoil if Trump loses because the Electoral College is having none of it?

Creative Destruction

This is the best part of the whole story: the idea that a Trump win or loss could possibly result in the reset of the GOP (grand old party, another term for the Republican party). I never dared to dream, though, that the Trump/Clinton face-off might result in resetting the electoral system itself. Whoever wins, the social and political divisions created and maintained by both of the main parties to ensure voter lock-in will result in some ugly situations as tensions boil over in the aftermath.

What about third parties?

Meanwhile, people are looking for alternatives, and to be honest there ain't much out there since all the talent tends to plump for one of the Big Two parties in the hope of attaining office. You should also bear in mind that it's insanely expensive to run a campaign, particularly when you're up against a sophisticated opponent with the might of the party machine behind him (or her). As a result, the third parties that exist tend to be small, unrealistically idealistic, and generally ignored by the main news media. The ones who do rise to any kind of prominence tend to get a drubbing when they do. If, by some miracle, they find a way around all that and gain a bit of traction, they find themselves up against the stolen vote trope in which a vote for Johnson or Stein is a vote stolen from Clinton or Trump which could swing the election to Clinton or Trump. It's the fear of handing the election to the wrong candidate that generally stops Americans from voting third party. That said, third parties are rising in popularity as people seek alternatives to Bad and Worse. The choices are now Oh Dear; Erm, No; No Way, and OMG, You're Kidding, Right?

The GOP ship is sinking

To my vast amusement the GOP is beginning to realise the magnitude of their error in selecting Trump and are currently hedging their bets by working out how to dump Trump and replace him with someone less odious. That'll be fun — his supporters will go nuts. This is, of course, the GOP's own fault. By pandering to the lunatic fringe they've convinced these people that their views are normal. Result: they believe that anyone who disagrees with them must be a liberal socialist, per the propaganda they've been fed. Trump is the logical endgame of such a strategy and until they can bring themselves to admit it things can only get worse. As it is the NY Times has thundered an anti-Trump editorial and even their conservative bloggers are asking people to think again.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt

Meanwhile the die-hard partisans are digging their heels in harder, insisting that anyone who disagrees with them is shilling for the opposition. When former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came out against Trump today he got an almighty bashing from the pro-Trump faction that is utterly hilarious to read. That Trump's misogynist comments aren't making a dent in his popularity should surprise no one. It's not because his supporters don't believe their Donny-wonny wouldn't do tha-a-at, it's because he may be a chump — but he's their chump and they will stick with him no matter what. However, as I've pointed out many times before, Trump's popularity has got sod all to do with people thinking he's perfect (that's a partisan mistake. Stop it!), it's about the change he promised them. It's not Trump's supporters, then, who are in a mad state of denial, it's the progressives who won't accept that we need change and we need it now.

What next for America?

A Donald Trump victory would emphatically not make America great again. A Donald Trump loss would not guarantee a more progressive future. One way or another a massive upheaval is about to happen and we're all going to be here to see it. I really am hoping the GOP will reset, this time with the moderates in charge. If the electoral system is reformed as well, great. America's democratic deficit needs to be addressed. One thing is certain: the Establishment has had the wakeup call it so desperately needs. The question is, how long will it take them to get out of bed and start sorting things out?

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