Forgive me dear loyal readers, it has been 164 days since my last confession, er blog. It seems that the world has kept turning without much help from me. My silence is not the consequence of some writer’s block nor certainly because of a lack of things to talk about. Indeed, quite the contrary! My head feels like exploding.
An extended summer sojourn to France gave me some distance from the unrelenting, often inane, commentaries surrounding the presidential race in America. Believe it or not there were/are many other on-going stories of great importance such as the terrorist attacks in France, the Syrian refugee crisis, and Brexit to consider.
While I personally cannot vote in the upcoming election, I, like millions of others around the world, watch with significant discomfort at the open viciousness expressed by both parties toward each other and their supporters. The chants of “lock her up” directed toward Hillary Clinton from most Trump rallies are not even the most egregious comments flung at her. For her part, HRC has repeatedly sought to diminish her opponent with accusations of an unstable personality, being a failed businessman, racist, xenophobic, and definitely unsuitable for the job of President, all on which I am inclined to agree. At an LBGT for Hillary Gala in New York City in early September she said
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.
The surprising backlash to this comment was immediate, forcing her to make an apology [of sorts]. While it was clear to me she said “to be grossly generalistic,” claiming half of his supporters as “deplorables” was perhaps an exaggeration – and then again maybe not. In any event, her retraction demonstrated a clear difference from her opponent – being capable of acknowledging a mistake and making amends for it.
Both the party conventions came and went with the Republican one decidedly more raucous and ‘newsworthy’ [Ted Cruz’s speech for example] than the comparatively staid but united Democratic one, once Bernie had pledged his support to HRC. Vice Presidential picks to round out the respective tickets were made – Hillary making the unsurprising, yet equally uninspiring choice of Tim Kaine, a bland and oh so safe, Senator and former Governor from Virginia. Trump’s choice of Mike Pence elicited a quick national media round of “Who is Mike Pence?” only to reveal later from further ‘investigations’ that this guy is actually scarier than the Donald himself because as Governor of Indiana, he tried to put into practice some truly frightening pieces of legislation.¹ Pence has signalled his true colours by declaring proudly that “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”.
Then the supposedly more serious campaigning began – with trash talking and accusations, personal attacks, media ads and the like. Over-saturated by a never ending news cycle I, like many others I am sure, tried to decipher the bs from the substantive all the while wishing for the improbable – a serious engagement of their respective policies on all things that matter not just to American citizens, but to everyone in the world. Trump never failed during this time to confirm what a truly ignorant person he is about almost everything. His penchant for tweeting is boundless and just when you think he cannot possibly say something more absurd than his already noted racist, sexist, xenophobic, comments, he doubles down on his narcissistic delusional reality. You would think that his level of radioactive toxicity would not only justly demand his opponents ire and derision which it does, but that any self-respecting person would be outraged and quickly distance themselves from any support for him. And yet, despite all of this, Trump finds his support amongst his base remains strong and he is still within striking distance of HR Clinton in a recently released poll. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/washington-post-abc-news-poll-clinton-holds-four-point-lead-in-aftermath-of-trump-tape/2016/10/15/c31969a4-9231-11e6-9c52-0b10449e33c4_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1
Is the recent revelation of his deplorable attitude toward women his “bridge to far”? Will it persist in the news cycle long enough to demonstrably end his chances of winning on November 8th? The number of high profile Republicans and their financial backers who have recently announced their break with the Trump campaign, some even going so far as to state their intention to vote for HRC come November, dominated most of the news this past week or so. The potentially disastrous down-ballot effect of Trump on sitting Republican politicians has many performing all manner of contortions to both separate their own re-election campaigns from Trump’s bid for the Presidency while not completely abandoning their loyalty to the party they claim to belong. Paul Ryan is the highest ranking Republican in Congress and epitomizes this conundrum. As of today, FiveThirtyEight has HRC’s chances of winning the election by a staggering 85% to Trump’s 15%.²
Meanwhile, standing tall and proud of her own record and by association to President Obama, Hillary stumps tirelessly, hardly slowed even by bouts of pneumonia, moving seemingly inexorably toward her destiny as the first female President of the United States. 23 days from election day, this is hers to lose. She stands firmly on the familiar ground of the centre-right, establishment credentialed and approved, making gestures of inclusion to those groups of progressives and leftists marginalized and excluded by global corporate capitalism and its neoliberal ethos.³ The current Democratic dream team of the Obamas and Joe Biden add their significant oratory skills to promoting the many positives of HRC – her experience, competency, compassion, sanity while equally and remorselessly denouncing her opponent as unhinged, a liar, and unfit for the Presidency of the USA.
In the days that followed the release of the 2005 Trump video and the fireworks of the so-called second debate between the candidates, HRC has been effectively absent from the condemnation of her opponent’s sexual assault declaration. While many may be saddened by this strong feminist’s silence, the political drawbacks of her engagement with the topic far outweigh any positives that her statements might generate. The maelstrom of negativity that would befall her, haunted by the legacy of her husband’s infidelities, is not worth the effort. Let the Michelle Obama’s carry the loud load of criticism of Trump’s sexual assaults and thereby not have the media spotlight refocus on her husbands prior activities. Wisely HRC is staying out of this particular fray and concentrating on her preparations for the next debate. This will be her best last chance to rise above the personal and boldly and clearly state what her Presidency would look like for all Americans and by extension what the world could expect. She is on the brink of a historic victory shattering, at a most opportune time, the ultimate glass ceiling for women in America. This is her Yes I Can moment!
The third debate is scheduled for Wednesday night in Las Vegas. I for one can hardly wait!