We are two days removed from the US Presidential elections and I can’t help but feel cold from the result. I’m not an American. I’m English but the feeling I get is one strangely reminiscent of the feeling I had the day after the EU Referendum we had in the United Kingdom back in June.
Both instances share a lot in common. At the heart of both were people. People who wanted change. People who were tired of the way things were and they wanted change. These people also wanted someone to blame. In the UK’s case, many people wanted to blame immigrants. And in the US, too, that did play on the minds of some. Both sets of people also felt disenfranchised from their own government. They felt that the current powers that be, whether they are the democratic government or the European Union did not hear them or did not represent them and this was their chance to make a stand. In America’s case, they wanted to make America great again. While the British wanted to take back control. In both cases, I very much doubt that the outcomes of these votes will benefit the populace and only time will tell if I’m right. I do hope I’m wrong though.
For the sake of those reading, I will stop with the comparisons of both countries and now focus on one, the United States. This isn’t because I don’t care about my own country but because it is easier to use one example.
So, America wanted change. I can understand that. While the global recession is over, times are tough. Immigration is something that affects us all. Wars throughout the world and economic instability in other countries leaves a lot of displaced or unhappy people who are looking for greener pastures. And those pastures are the western world. You can’t blame them. If your country is going through civil war or you are reduced to eating scraps to live, you want a better life. This means moving and sometimes it’s not by legal means. But I defy anyone to say that they wouldn’t do the same in their position. There is also civic unrest. In many parts of the country, the people do not trust the government or the government services. When police are seen to be unfairly singling out people of creed or colour, you get mad. And the people that you are meant to see as your protectors all of a sudden become just another threat. Many people also live in substandard environments. They can’t afford decent healthcare or do not have acceptable levels of educational services available to them to develop. And then there is unemployment. With developing countries offering cheap labor and manufacturing costs, big business often chooses to outsource to save money costing jobs. This happens in all kinds of job from car manufacturing and engineering to the pharmaceutical industry. Companies will choose to trade with countries like China. Loss of jobs is doubly bad too for people in the US as with jobs comes company suplied health insurance. No jobs or zero hour contracted jobs means limited healthcare. People struggle to make ends meet. Unemployement can also lead to increased crime; people are desperate and desperation makes people do, well desperate things.
The interesting thing is that a lot of people see what the Obama regime offered and they want change. They want prosperity and Hilary Clinton, to them, offered more of the same. After all, she was a Democrat supported by other Democrats including the current President and they didn’t want that. Trump on the other hand was promising greatness. He said he’d make America great again and that he would look out for the forgotten people. He also was a successful business man who did not represent the normal politician. It also didn’t help that, despite Hillary’s promises, that people didn’t trust her. Whether that was fair or not is up for debate. But if you distrust someone, then it is hard to support them.
The problem is this. Despite whatever promises Donald Trump has made, you should not forget that he is a Republican. And the thing about politics is, regardless of the candidate, the core beliefs behind the main parties very rarely changes. What I mean is while party leaders are the faces of the groups, no matter how enticing they look, what they offer rarely changes greatly. People chose Trump because they think he is different and he is in some ways. He’s not experienced in government policy. He’s not a career politician. He’s a show man. But he’s still a Republican. And as a Republican, he still stands for things such as small government, low corporate taxes, less workers rights, less public services such as healthcare and public schools in favour of the private sector and less government spending.
You’ll say things like: “well he’s going to be tougher on immigration” and “he’s going to put taxes on imports and protect local businesses”. The truth is is that big business wants to produce their goods at the cheapest possible costs. And for industries like the motor industries or the technological industries, trying to get them to build in the US over places like India or China is going to mean that prices for goods are going to go up or that employees are going to have to get reduced worker rights and reduced pay. Trump is a business man and he will do what is best for business. Supporting businesses and maintaining health profit margins usually comes at the expense of the employees or the consumers. So, what I’m saying is that, if you want your shiny new Apple IPad to be made in the US rather than China or your fancy new card to be made in the US rather than Mexico, jobs may be available but expect low salaries with low benefits or expect the items to rocket in price. As for those items that are still imported, expect import taxes to go up. And by the way, Mr Consumer, you’ll be the one paying for that. Not the government.
Blaming immigrants is also an easy cop out. We did it in the UK. But you know, immigrants are often what makes our countries great. It provides diversity. And I’m not saying that we should all adopt Sharia law or anything like that. We should never lose sight of who we are but hell, the US, as were many other countries, was founded on immigrants, immigrants who often work tirelessly for little pay or who add bodies in healthcare. They add to our society. Obviously you don’t want criminals coming into your country and that is why diplomacy is needed. Countries need to work together to identify problem people and prevent them from causing trouble. Cooperation is needed. Not just building a wall or deporting everyone.
But you know, I don’t think you are going to see the radical changes you are expecting. Despite his promises, and in most cases, promises that just don’t make sense, you aren’t going to get the changes you think. At best, you are going to get an angry man who is trying to implement outrageous things and who faces strong resistance at every turn. What you are going to get is everything a Republican stands for for four years. If it’s a Republican government that you want, a government that is less tolerant and more corporate protective, then that’s what you will get. But like it or not, the Democrats do try to do more for the people. I’m not saying they always get it right but at least they try. It’s for that reason that I think Hillary would have made a better President.
But look, if you want change, then you need to make change beyond the heads of state. The Republicans haven’t changed. The Democrats haven’t changed. And you will continue to get the same from them again and again. If you want change, you need someone who has complete support from his party. If you want change, you need someone who truly is offering something different and who is not going to be influenced by the old ways. You need something truly different. Perhaps true change means moving beyond the two party system. It happened in the U.K. Who is to say it can’t happen in the US. You also need someone who has an actual plan and not one of just open promises and a team who vehemently supports that plan. You also need a politician who goes beyond name calling and posturing like a proud peacock. And while I don’t proclaim to have the answers for everything, I do think that a fresh pair of eyes are required and someone who potentially is going to build up a party based on a set of firm ideals and not just some minor tweaking ala the Republicans or Democrats if change is what you really want. But something has to change. Because basically this last election, just like the referendum in the U.K., just highlighted everything that is wrong with the political systems.
Finally, America, never forget this. Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again. But America is a fantastic place. Sure you have your issues and quirks. Hell, I still don’t understand the need for the second amendment or the reluctance for better gun control. You are a shining beacon. A country built on ideals and one that took together people from all over and globe and United them under one flag. You’re a country that is diverse. Don’t forget that. Don’t succumb to the hate or the fear mongering. You are above that. Sure, some tweaks are needed. Racial and gender equality needs to be addressed. We are all people and we need to stop being segregationist. But it is a mighty fine place to start. More importantly, Trump’s solution sounds like going backwards. But we should never move backwards. We should honour the past and learn from our mistakes but we should always be moving forward. We as a human race can do better. Believe that positive change can happen and that people can empathise with other people. End the hate. And let’s be prosperous.