Wednesday, November 9, 2016

That election result

It is fascinating living through an era of such stunning contrasts in humanity. It is amazing to witness the pace of change, much of it driven by technology, and it is dispiriting to realise that in a time where information has never been so freely accessible, so many have no comprehension that for every action there is a reaction.

Political scientists will have a field day with the outcome of the 2016 American election for years to come. The result does raise a multitude of questions, most of them for Americans to answer.

But from a distance, there are some that I cannot relate to the progress of the human condition - if I may call it that.

What on earth compelled those who claimed they were dissatisfied with  government in their country to hand power to those who were most responsible for that dissatisfaction?

Forgetting, for the moment, all about the qualities or lack thereof, of the Democratic candidate, what was the particular appeal of the representative of the Republican Party, whose belief in the divine right to rule is unbounded, when it was the Republican Party that was obstructionist in the extreme during two terms of the Democratic incumbent?

If there was a reason for a dislocation between the populace and the Government, it surely lay in those who showed no desire to advance the cause of the United States because to contribute to the country's advance would have given credit to a Democrat President.

Throughout his two terms that President has been a hamstrung by the bleeding of the nation's finances to a war that should never have been started in 2003 by his Republican predecessor and his advisers. Every time the Republican candidate, and now President-elect, blamed his Democratic opponent for allowing ISIS to begin he distorted the fact that none of the unrest in the Middle East would have started had it not been for that sideshow in Iraq perpetrated by George W. Bush.

Had Bush pre-occupied himself with sorting out his issues in Afghanistan the problems in that part of the world may have been sorted long ago.

But back on the home front, if the United States' infrastructure was in such bad shape as the Republican nominee claimed, why did the Republicans not work with the Democratic President to give many of those who felt disenfranchised jobs in the rebuilding of the infrastructure? Because the credit would go to a Democrat. It is a shame that being an American of whatever political background is not enough to contribute to the nation's advance.

It is also interesting to ask about the role of the news media in all of this. At Republican rallies, the depth of feeling against the media was stirred up by the candidate and his supporters vomited forth at every opportunity.

Yet, every significant newspaper in the United States came out and backed the Democratic candidate, some who had never done that before. That was their level of concern.

But as the political scientists do their analysis, those people left in the decision-making ranks of newspapers, and it should be acknowledged that much of the intellectual gravitas provided by journalists of experience has been weeded out of the occupation, need to answer the question of where they went so wrong? They need to identify why dealing up trivialities and social gossip as news, instead of informing their readers of the issues of the day, contributed to this outcome.

If the election of the Republican candidate is an indictment of the state of American politics, then the state of the American media is an even greater source of concern. It has been rendered redundant in the face of public opinion, along with all the polling companies who so often contribute to the outcome by further muddying the waters. If you were constantly hearing your candidate was an 84 percent chance to win, would you have the same motivation to get out and vote?

The United States is a fascinating country. Its geography is inspiring on the grand scale. Its people are generous to a fault and their ability to react to worldwide threats has been witnessed time and again for the greater good of the planet. Is there to be a four-year pause in that attitude? Will the country regain its perspective? Will the Republican Party, while having regained the power they coveted, actually look to remedy their approach that has been so divisive? Will the Democratic Party understand that it needs to have a much greater vision, that it needs to move out of the middle ground and to appeal to what should be a natural constituency?

Given the nature of the popular vote, the Republican President-elect cannot claim a large mandate. It would be no surprise if protest on a grand scale once again becomes part of the American political scene.

We can only wonder what the future beholds.