Alienation and Disillusionment

Ah politics today. This morning the top stories in the news have included Tony Blair blasting Jeremy Corbyn once again, for standing silently by as people are bombed in Syria, presumably hoping this will encourage Corbyn to act like a real Labour Party leader and start his own bombing campaign as soon as possible. In the States, Hillary Clinton has essentially clinched the Democratic nomination after significant victories in California and  New Jersey, among others (yes significant things do still happen in New Jersey apparently). No doubt this is an appointment Blair would be highly pleased with, bombings all round! Clinton’s foreign policy record is detestable and the amount of obvious, shameless and disgraceful attempts at pandering (hot sauce!) have been made all the more infuriating by the fact that they appear to have worked. We are now set to have an American election between the two least-liked candidates in decades, if not ever.

                Over the past few months I’ve been observing numerous discussions on different social media platforms between Bernie and Hillary fans, and between GOP voters. Recently, we’ve seen Paul Ryan show that he really doesn’t know what he wants anymore. A man who clearly knows how poisonous Trump is likely to be to the Republicans, has largely been forced to move with the tide if he is to protect “party unity”. A unified party is such a nice idea, isn’t it? This is likely to be impossible in any of the two major parties on either side of the pond. with Boris and Cameron going head to head over the EU here; and the Blairites, including the big man himself, trying as hard as they can to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. His Labour movement has attracted thousands of voters to join the party, particularly amongst the young. One only has to watch some of Bernie’s campaign rallies to see a similar effect, an energy and optimism towards change and ideals that is invisible within Hillary’s campaign.

                Yet for months it has been clear to me that, if I were an American voter, it would always be Hillary over Trump. Or over Cruz. Or Kasich, or any one of those regressive, horrendous excuses for human beings that champion rampant anti-immigration, sexist, anti-choice, pro-gun politics that now seem to be commonplace in political arguments in the U.S. But here is where I’ve been aghast at the sheer ridiculousness of people, in that amongst Bernie supporters, my sentiment is not reflected. This may only be a vocal online minority, but it is one that is troubling nonetheless. I do not like Clinton. I am, however, extremely aware of the alternative. I am aware that although her positions (although fewer and fewer, coincidentally) deviate from those of Sen. Sanders, they are nevertheless far closer to his than to any to be found in the GOP. People link Bernie and Trump due to them both being ‘anti-establishment’. Firstly, Trump is a billionaire demagogue. Yes, Hillary is part of the political elite, and Trump is fairly new to that arena, but if anyone sees that as subsequently being not part of any elite, as ‘anti-establishment’, they are simply deluded. The man is a personification of the worst aspects of capitalist elitism. Praise him for his ability to “make deals”, who’s interest do you think those deals are serving? His rhetoric goes against everything Bernie stands for. The Bernie supporters who have so ardently attacked Hillary and her fans, and have suggested voting for Trump in November, are not Bernie supporters. I can understand the economic concerns and their belief that Trump will do more to protect American worker’s interests (though his past business ventures suggest the opposite). But a President is not only a businessman. A President sets the tone for a generation, they are an exemplification of contemporary society. Seeing Bernie supporters jump on the Trump bandwagon fills me with dread and disappointment.

When Trump was first taking off last year, Britons smugly looked on and thought, “well, that could never happen here”. And yet we’re given Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage as leaders of a campaign to break away from what is likely to be one of the most important political and economic institutions in the shaping of the modern world. Although Farage is more of a populist than Johnson, and thus more comparable to Trump, it is the blatant pragmatism and selfish motivations that bind Boris and Trump so much closer. Farage at least believes the tripe he’s peddling, more akin to Enoch Powell than anyone else.  Yet with both Farage, Johnson, and indeed Zach Goldsmith’s horrendous Mayoral campaign, we are seeing a re-emergence of the politics of difference and of fear in this country. And it disgusts me, and I am left wondering what will come of hope.

If Hillary wins in the U.S., which it’s fairly reasonable to assume that she will, then over there it’ll be politics as ever before. Similarly, if Britain chooses to Remain, not much will have changed. Both nevertheless will have exposed a dark, hideous side of both of our ‘democracies’, that will not disappear with defeat. Whatever happens, rest assured the future is likely to be shit.

header picture from The Simpsons S03E01

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