Tag Archives: US Election

That was the week that was

It’s been a bit of a week. Seven days’ ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton looked likely to become the first woman President of the United States of America at the end of an election campaign that had focused almost exclusively on the personalities, and had featured virtually no analysis of their policies or proposals for government. Donald Trump’s achievement in securing a majority of the electoral college votes with fewer popular votes than his Democratic Party rival may yet lead to a review of that system ahead of the next election in 2020. Before then, the transition of Trump the anti-establishment ‘outsider’, through Trump the President Elect, to Trump the “Leader of the Free World” will be fascinating to watch. The early indications are that he is already backing away from some of the more controversial pledges of his campaign. Obamacare may not be swept away quite as comprehensively as his supporters may have expected, and he has put some distance between his promise to “lock her up” and any commitment to launching a formal investigation into Clinton’s unorthodox use of e-mail servers as Secretary of State.

Global markets – initially jittery in the wake of Trump’s victory – appear to have taken things in their stride since, perhaps providing further evidence that in 2016, governments (even those in the largest territorial economy in the world) are of only passing interest to and influence on world trade and capital.

The mysogyny, racism and demonisation of minorities that characterised so much of the Trump campaign has already shown itself to be a major challenge to politicians from other countries. Diplomacy has been strained to its farthest limits as statements seek to congratulate Trump’s success whilst stopping short of endorsement of the means by which it was achieved. This was perhaps best illustrated by Angela Merkel, who stated that: “Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. I offer the next President of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values.”

The claim of Trump supporters that those who continue to call out the discriminatory nature of many of his pre-election statements are simply sore losers, mimics the labelling of those in the UK who continue to campaign against Brexit as “Remoaners”. It is unlikely that the deep divisions that have been riven on the basis of gender, race, sexuality and religion during the Presidential campaign can be healed simply on the assertion that the vote has happened and everybody should now just accept it.

What has been interesting in the last couple of days, as the initial surprise and novelty of the election outcome has given way to more sober reflection, has been the emergence of a narrative that seeks to connect Trump’s victory with Brexit in the UK, and Putin’s rise in Russia. This (from historian Tobias Stone) is one of the more academic analyses and is quite depressing for those of us who value liberalism, equality, and openness.

So what can we do to prevent the creeping intolerance and ‘fear of the other’ that seems so endemic in the arguments that underpinned the Trump campaign, the Brexit campsign before it, and so much of what we see emerging from Putin’s Russia? Ultimately, we have to take our lead from people like David Remnick, writing in the New Yorker magazine earlier this week :

remnick-quote

Remnick’s ideals are not exclusively American of course. They are the same things that Angela Merkel highlighted. Now, of all times, we have to believe that they will prevail.

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My reflections on the rise of the Donald

I’ve tried to write today’s blog post many times in the hours since it first became clear that Mr Trump would become the 45th President of the United States of America. Each time I have come up against some words of advice that have guided me from a very young age :

“If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”.

 

 

 

 

I’ll be back tomorrow!

It’s that time of the year again!

November 1st. All Saints Day. Fifty-five days until Christmas. And the first day of NaBloPoMo 2016. In case you’re not aware, NaBloPoMo is the insider’s short-hand for National Blog Post Month – the annual challenge that encourages bloggers to post something (anything!) every day for the month of November. That’s thirty consecutive days of blogging. If this fills you, dear reader, with dread, then please accept my apologies in advance.

In truth, I’m really looking forward to the challenge this year. The last 12 months has been one of enormous change for me at a personal and professional level, and I will be reflecting on that in the coming weeks. I’m also looking forward to the discipline that NaBloPoMo imposes to get some writing done. Things have been so busy in recent months that finding the time to properly maintain this blog has been next to impossible. I’ve missed it.

These are ‘interesting times’ in so many ways. The fallout from the UK’s referendum on EU membership continues to divide opinion and fuel uncertainty. The US Presidential election in seven days’ time will be a watershed moment whatever the outcome. It’s hard to imagine that the outcome (whichever way it goes) will lead to a healing of the bitter divisions that have been laid bare through the campaign. That will be damaging for the US but will also have knock-on effects throughout the world. Uniting both the UK referendum and the US presidential campaign has been the emergence of what is now being referred to as ‘post fact’ or ‘post truth’ politics – typified by a deep cynicism towards a perceived ruling elite, and a contempt for expert and rational analysis. Prejudice, feelings, paranoia, conspiracy theories – all have somehow become as important as fact, thought, experience in the political discourse. The implications of this for the future of politics and political processes are only now starting to be fully considered. This is something that I may return to after the election on 8th November.

It won’t be all politics and heavy stuff though. There’ll be football to write about after the mighty Wales take on Serbia on 12th November; and there’s all that change stuff to bring you up to speed on as things fall into place during the first half of the month.

I hope that you’ll enjoy this NaBloPoMo as much as I intend to!