Friday, May 6, 2016

A rerun

The US election is shaping up to have a lot in common with the last Canadian federal election.  Despite the fact that neither nomination is officially settled, at this point it is clear that we have a Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump deathmatch on the way.  On one hand we have an awful conservative with all kinds of regressive values that I find abhorrent.  I sure wanted Harper to lose, and Trump is the same.  On the other hand we have someone who is part of a political dynasty and who has things about her I can't square.  Sure, it would be great if the US got a female president, but couldn't it be someone other than Clinton?  I wanted Trudeau to beat Harper for sure, but I also wanted a new last name in the highest office in the land.

It is tough for me when I look at these things.  One side of me is completely pragmatic, thinking that I might as well throw in my lot with the lesser of two evils.  After all, if my vote can get Trudeau into office instead of Harper, I would cast that vote in an instant.  (And I did.)

But I can't help that feel like the US is in a slightly different situation that doesn't quite justify that particular pragmatism.  Canada's political system is mired in tradition in ways I don't like, but at least we do have a bunch of different parties that get seats.  People had to pay attention to three parties at the very minimum and there are two more that got seats and at least threatened to be relevant.  If one party gets too corrupt and complacent there is always somebody nipping at their heels.

South of the border though... it isn't the same.  The two party system is so powerful, so entrenched, and so dysfunctional that blowing that apart might be worth voting for even if the vote is extremely unlikely to matter.  I can much more easily accept somebody in the US would be so angry at the current system that they would be willing to vote for revolution rather than accepting the status quo.

Which I suppose is a lot of Trump's appeal.  He is tearing down the walls of tradition, defying political orthodoxy, and making all the important people look ridiculous.  People are angry, and they love to watch him give the middle finger to the power brokers and get away with it.

All of that leads me to think that even though I voted for the lesser of two evils here (though mostly the Liberals and NDP were both pretty acceptable, though obviously flawed) I have a lot of sympathy for people who don't want to do that in the US.

Trump is an bigoted, entitled, awful asshole.  His plans ranged from flawed to idiotic.  But if someone really hates the system that much and they desperately want something else to rise from the ashes of political upheaval, I can understand thinking that voting for Trump is the way to get it.

If I were voting I would probably vote for Clinton, but if there was any kind of good third party option to vote for that would be super appealing.  If Trump does anything good it might be that - just his nomination is enough of a disruption that it might bring some change to the oligarchy that has effectively ruled the US for quite some time now.

1 comment:

  1. His nomination won't be disruptive enough if Clinton wins handily. Neoliberalism will reign supreme and most likely the Republicans will merely change their nomination process to guarantee they nominate a neoliberal of their own next time.

    Trump may cause WWIII, but he may also trigger substantial and needed change. (And Clinton is arguably more likely to cause WWIII than Trump would be, since Trump is less likely to pick a fight with Russia over Syria.)

    I don't even know what Trump would do as president. I don't think anybody does. Which is why so many established people are so scared of him.