Less than a week to go until an orange sociopath takes control of one of the most powerful countries on the planet. What could possibly go wrong? Some notes I made after mistakenly getting drawn into reading comment boxes on social media (note to self: never read comments where people are arguing politics, you will lose the will to live.) I won't join in as its the equivalent of reasoning with a brick wall, so for the interested I present my opinions below.
America is already great. It doesn't need to be 'made great' again. For all the undoubted problems to be addressed, America still fares pretty well compared to the rest of the world. Some perspective - eighty percent of our planet's population earn less than ten dollars a day, for three billion it's under two dollars. Thirty million people currently live in forced slavery and twenty two thousand children will die every day because of poverty. In Saudi Arabia women only gained the right to vote two years ago and are still forbidden to drive cars. There may be rampant inequality but globally America is still streets ahead in terms of prosperity and human rights. For now.
The majority of current western financial and employment problems stem from the greed and dishonesty of bankers who gamed the system until it broke. The unwillingness of our governments to take any real action compounded the issue. Bankers and politicians caused the recession, not immigrants.
Being able to criticise the government is a freedom many other countries don't allow their citizens under pain of imprisonment, torture or execution. It is therefore a patriotic duty to scrutinize the government and exercise your hard-won rights to avoid them being taken away from you. Nobody should be above criticism, ever. There's more to democracy than just ticking a box every few years., if you truly care about your country you don't shrug your shoulders and walk away after election day.
Politics and sports are two separate entities, please don't confuse the two. It may be noble to support your team for the rest of your life through thick and thin but that's a terrible approach to politics. All politicians should be regarded with suspicion and questioned whenever their actions seem dodgy, be they on the left or the right. As Lord Acton famously once put it "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
It is absolutely acceptable to criticize someone before they begin a job when they landed that job by blatantly lying, contradicting themselves and using inflammatory racist and sexist language to appeal to the lowest common denominator. This isn't a case of being a sore loser - Trump is at the very least a raging narcissist and demagogue which makes him extremely dangerous when let loose on the world stage. And that affects all of us, American or not.
Hillary lost, so bringing her name up every time Trump is criticised is irrelevant, it's a different game now. And the 'lesser of two evils' argument is weak because at the end of the day you're still left with evil. Big, orange, overly-hairsprayed evil. Had Hillary won she would have required the exact same amount of scrutiny as Trump and may well have proven to be equally as corrupt. But we're dealing with this problem now.
It seems probable to me that Trump will either be impeached or resign before the end of his term. Never has a president taken office with such a huge amount of suppressed scandal, be it his tax returns, past sexual abuse, misuse of funds or dodgy business dealings. I doubt all of it is true but if even one allegation is shown to be fact it's difficult to see how he could continue. What's frightening is that his replacement would be Mike Pence, a man with even more deeply repulsive ideas. Far from "draining the swamp" Trump has filled it to the brim with steaming faeces and nazi alligators.
The bitterness of the arguments aren't helping - we may disagree with our political opponents but we need them to sustain democracy (or a wonky plutocracy* at any rate.) To everyone gleefully rubbing their hands at the prospect of their opposition being wiped out forever - you're actually waving the flag for dictatorship. Criticism of Trump the man (or his uniquely insane wall-building propositions) is a separate issue from criticism of the GOP and many Republicans despise Trump. I may disagree with the right wing but I respect their right to hold their own opinions. Trump, however, deserves just as much respect as he has shown to others, ie zilch.
And while I'm about it - Britain is already great too. In fact, it's so great they put it in the title (other countries should have followed suit, I'd love to be able to visit Awesome France, Kickass Norway or Shithot Turkey.) What isn't great about Britain is the rising bigotry stoked by sensationalist newspapers. Brexit is the last whimpering cry of a fallen empire, an impotent longing for the times our forbears carved up the world with arrogant rapacious contempt. Both of our countries stole the wealth that created them, bear that in mind next time you're pointing the finger of hatred.
Still, look on the bright side, eh? Happy new year everyone! xx
* or should that be oligarplutocorporatocracy ?