Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The End of the Road

It's election day in America. Finally, the citizens can go to the poll, cast their votes, and thereby put an end to the longest, most bitter, divisive and contemptuous campaign in American history. Xenophobia, racism, bigotry, misogyny and hatred have been the pervasive narrative of this campaign, at least on the Republican side. I hope that once the votes are counted, Clinton will win and she will bring the country together again. 

As a political scientist, I have a keen interest in American politics and I freely admit I am rooting for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not only is she the most experienced person ever to run for office, she will make history as the first woman to be elected to the highest office in the land. 

Trump is an embarrassment - to the Republican party and to America. How he managed to become the Republican candidate leaves many shaking their heads, and the party itself will need a serious postmortem. Of course... frighteningly, he still could win.

The latest Quarterly Essay (QE63) is Enemy Within - American Politics in the Time of Trump by Don Watson. In this Essay, Watson heads to middle America - to Wisconsin - in an attempt to understand the Trump phenomena and the disenfranchisement of many voters. Here the gap between rich and poor is most pronounced with high levels of child poverty, lack of affordable health care, and incarceration. This lack of equity is of great interest to me (see The Spirit Level) and something that desperately needs addressing by the American government. 
Watson explores how the two parties are deeply divided. Republicans have the alt-right and a more centrist view. Likewise the Democrats have Clinton liberals and Sanders left wing social democrats. Neither party is united and the two party system is deeply flawed.

I always enjoy Watson's writing style, and the travel memoir passages are enjoyable. But, I felt like there was nothing new here in terms of political commentary, although perhaps I am over-read on this subject and others would not feel the same. 

So America, Vote Wisely!