The American Political Quagmire

As the American election season stumbles towards its inevitable November conclusion, things are going from bad to worse in the Presidential campaign which is rapidly approaching the realm of farce. There seems to be no bottom to the hole that Donald Trump seems intent on digging himself into. Despite the best efforts of the Republican Party to try and paint at least a thin veneer of respectability on this political “sow’s ear”, the real Donald keeps re-emerging in all his sexist, misogynistic, greedy, racist and egotistical lowliness. He seems to be devoid of any sense of propriety or common sense. Even the most die-hard Republicans are abandoning ship and distancing themselves from their out-of-control anti-Presidential candidate.

And yet, as incomprehensible as it may seem to those of us that see past Trump’s irrational and populist venom, there is a significant proportion of the American population that would still like to see him as President. They are willing to overlook the obvious character flaws because they have bought into his oft repeated message that only he can save them from the “rigged” political system that has dominated the American government for decades. Many Americans have lost their faith in both the Democratic and Republican establishments and see them as part of the problem and not the solution. This has catapulted “outsiders” such as Trump and Bernie Sanders to the forefront of contemporary American presidential politics.

This gut populist reaction is partially right in that both parties have been complicit in the erosion of the economic well-being of the vast majority of Americans in recent times. What is patently obvious to even the political illiterates, is that for quite some time now, the rich have been getting much richer, while the poor and the middle class have been continuously losing ground. This is the inevitable result of the fact that the current political system, the complex set of laws and the vast government bureaucracy, all have been constructed over the past century with the primary aim, not of improving the opportunities and quality of life of the average citizen, but to make it easy for the corporations and the elites to make as much in profits as possible while minimizing any requirement from them to invest through the taxation system in the well-being of the society within which they operate. The two major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, have been largely funded by the direct and indirect contributions of the wealthy, and have largely succumbed to doing what benefits them, rather than the citizenry that elected them. It is no wonder that most Americans are realizing that the system is “rigged” and are beginning to vent their displeasure.

Trump has instinctively sensed this vast current of frustration and displeasure and has been able to manipulate it to his political advantage. What most Americans don’t appreciate is, that rather than providing a solution, his Presidency would make the situation immeasurably worse. As most Ukrainians would tell you from their own experience, Trump is an oligarch in both practice and temperament. What his election would set in motion, is what tragically happened in Ukraine – a rapid descent into an oligarchic kleptocracy, where robber barons such as himself would have the unfettered freedom to steal the country blind. As Trump has demonstrated all his life, he cares not one whit for the honest working classes. They are there to be used and abused while he goes about amassing by fair means or foul, as much wealth as he can. He has a limitless sense of entitlement as did President Yanukovich in Ukraine, and a similar disdain for ethics and morality. Inevitably, the country would deteriorate into either chaos or a fascist dictatorship.

As much as Trump likes to trumpet simplistic solutions, there are no easy and quick fixes to what is ailing America. What is required is a better balance of power between corporate America and its lower and middle classes, a balance that would focus more on the social needs of the American people and less on enabling unfettered and unregulated free enterprise. This would require a restructured government and political system that is less beholden to the ultra-rich and more dedicated to ensuring a better quality of life for all Americans.

The Tea Partiers and Libertarians will no doubt gnash their teeth and decry this as rampant anti-American socialism, but social and political progress has always been denounced when first proposed. From universal suffrage, to the introduction of unemployment insurance, the provision of welfare to the needy, elimination of child labour, the right to organize unions, abolition of slavery, introduction of minimum wages, and a host of other social initiatives, the reactionary but wealthy and powerful elites have always strongly resisted attempts to introduce fairness and responsibility into how our societies operate. They are continuing to do so now, and are continuing to fund massive propaganda campaigns that seek to distract and confuse the electorate into voting against their best interests.

One can only hope that the electorate’s increasing impatience with the status quo will be focused into constructive channels rather than succumb to the populist manipulation that is in danger of electing an incompetent buffoon for President.