I’m asked why I have not commented on the US presidential election result. The answer is shock, followed by disbelief, followed by a struggle to articulate my thoughts let alone write anything. Like the result of the EU referendum, the presidential vote is, I suspect, the consequence of a massive revolt among ‘ordinary’ people, fed up with the so-called political class taking no notice of them. I suspect also, that many voters in both elections cast their ballots as a protest, never expecting to be on the winning side... Then there was the truly astonishing revelation by the FBI, just two weeks before the election, that Hillary Clinton was once more under investigation. Truly, historians will look back at these times in wonder.
There is little point repeating what has already been said at length by the liberal press. Clearly the result is unprecedented, and the president-elect is a joke (albeit in extremely poor taste). But there is, on reflection, the faintest glimmer of optimism which can be derived from a consideration of recent US history.
I recall a similar feeling of astonishment and unease when Ronald Reagan was elected to the White House. He was a ‘B’ movie actor, very right wing, who came to power at a time when the Cold War was in full swing. Yet ironically, he presided over the end of that war. It is said that he and Gorbachev got on well together, and for some years following, the world breathed easier. Then the Soviet Union disintegrated, and I think the new Russian aggression in the world is the eventual consequence of that.
But, in the same way that Reagan was a ‘child’ of the cinema, and of his time, Trump cut his teeth in reality TV, and surely TV and the Internet have replaced the cinema of 35 years ago as the primary source of entertainment for many people. It is just possible then, that Trump may be a successful leader of ‘the masses’ for the reality TV, Facebook and Twitter generation. The lowest common denominator rules supreme. One hopes though that his abrasive businessman style, particularly in matters of diplomacy, will be moderated by the Washington bureaucracy; he should not be able to get away with too much use of that time-honoured management tool JFDI (just f***ing do it...)
Of course common sense and decent debate have been flushed down the lavatory, but the root cause of the mass disaffection of voters in the USA and Britain is the fault of the political classes in both countries. They only have themselves to blame; if they have been handed a megacan of worms to sort out, they damn well deserve it. To paraphrase Mercutio, a plague on all of their houses.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs