I am seated here in Sydney, Australia distracted by the US election results. Markets have crashed, Trump has won. Why should I care about the election when I don’t live in the USA?
The best candidate for the US presidency is one who will change the country so that people abroad look at future elections almost like that of any other democratic nation and don’t have fear that it will start another war (direct or indirect), stop immigration or damage the global economy. Neither Trump nor Clinton were such candidates.
What are my criticisms of Trump? His blanket discrimination in conversation by sex, religion and disability come to mind. But he translates this into practice: he boasts employing women in his business based solely on their appearance (of course one of his former businesses, the Miss Universe pageant, is basically just that), he promoted a policy to ban all Muslims from the country and to construct a wall at the US-Mexican border. In Trump’s previous campaign he attacked Obama due to the possibility that he was born in Kenya, a xenophobic personal act that reflects his policies. He wishes to abolish existing trade agreements in order to make them ‘favourable’ to the US only (favourable only to few in actuality). Above all the selfish route by which he has established his businesses, easily seen in his naming of everything he owns as ‘Trump’, if implemented in politics is equivalent to establishing a dictatorship and only those with connections to him would benefit.
Though Clinton does not have the policies above she is certainly a driver of the political machine that the US needs to destroy and replace with a better democracy. Both Bernie Sanders and Trump said correctly that she has been significantly funded by global corporations and private donors, so it is likely that her policies reflect their private interests. To say it clearly, her campaign was already corrupt, though that is a normal part of US politics. WikiLeaks has released an email that shows she believed that governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are funding ISIL; these countries funded her campaign as well (of course that doesn’t mean she supports ISIL but it means she cannot act in the best way). Clinton’s admission as president, given that her husband Bill Clinton was also president and removed disgracefully, would mirror the nepotism of the Bush family. Above all, unlike Obama she was in favour of intervening in Syria by arming rebels to overthrow Assad and to enforce a no-fly zone, a carry-on of the failed US hegemonic policies that the rest of the world looks on with despair.
The mainstream media e.g.. CNN, New York Times and even Fox News have been mostly against Trump. Almost all headlines criticised Trump’s sexist comments in the leaked audiotape and till the end predicted a victory for Clinton. Various outlets even officially endorsed Clinton. Trump seized on this as favouritism, but this was hypocritical since Trump has surely used his media connections in his favour when doing business and to suppress allegations against him. Clinton also used the media to her advantage in the contest with Sanders, so the media bias is not merely inter-party.
Neither Clinton nor Trump committed to strong action on climate change (though Trump is worse being a vocal “climate skeptic”), and given the key role of the US in global trade and greenhouse gas emissions this has negative consequences for the rest of the world.
How has Trump reached victory? By being a lone candidate funded mostly by himself he has appeared as one who is uncorrupted by other politicians, corporations or businessmen. He speaks what he thinks (but what he thinks fluctuates) and has demonstrated strength in achieving his goals in business. He proposes straightforward, instinctive and quick policies rather than diplomatic negotiations. These appealed to a crowd wanting political revolution.
Yet the pre-polls have been in favour of Clinton for a long time. She reached her polling peak after the Trump’s leaked audiotape but reports of FBI investigation and leaked emails diminished her polling lead just before the election. Nevertheless she had a lead, how did her defeat eventuate? Apart from imperfection or error in statistical analysis the mainstream media’s hostility to Trump indicates that they may have deliberately avoided stories that showed Trump was obtaining a lead, or at least that the Electoral College swung in his favour. The Electoral College vote, which is supposed to parallel the popular vote, apparently significantly favoured Trump as the picture above shows (276-218 at the time it was taken). Voter turnout is critical and reflects the passion for a cause, certainly Trump appeared more passionate and could have brought a larger turnout (the Democrats with the most passion initially favoured Sanders; it’s also a question how many such Democrats voted against Clinton). But the outright ease with which Trump breaks ethical standards shows that he may also have rigged votes or restricted opportunities to vote.
If the citizens of the USA want true democracy they will have to wake up and realise that they are in this mess due to their acceptance of success being associated with inequality. Success is given this meaning: to acquire resources, even if it be through exploiting labour. Trump’s victory is the natural culmination of the capitalist process: he was already accepted as the leader in his vast business activities and so it was just a further swim in the corporate-government soup to get to become the elected “people’s leader”.
But there are some clear routes forward. If Trump wants a wall across a border then no workers should offer to build it. And taking a lesson from Australia: public polls, without a public election, replaced several leaders in recent years (Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Turnbull). In a similar way Trump could be replaced to avoid short-term damage . Whatever means of replacement it must be not only of person but principle. This principle must remove the privatised clandestine artificial politics that currently dominates the major parties to a democracy that begins at its grassroots.
We in other countries must seriously seek change so that our vision of democracy doesn’t degenerate into this dismal state (if it hasn’t already).