America’s democratic gamble is terrifying – we must do all we can to oppose it

No one who believes in democracy can vote for Trump

Image: George Skidmore

So, Trump threatens to put on trial and to imprison his opponent, if he wins. And if he loses, he threatens to call foul, claiming that the election is rigged against him.

This is behaviour typical of the worst kind of ‘banana republic’. No self-respecting believer in democracy could vote for such a person.

Moreover, the Kremlin is seeking to influence the election to get Clinton to lose and Trump to win. How did we reach a situation where the Republican Presidential candidate is preferred by the Russian premier, who commits espionage to try to help him win?

And yet even this hasn’t finished Trump off. On the contrary, there is still a very realistic chance that Trump will win. This is not like the situation in France in 2002, when Chirac destroyed Le Pen in the head-to-head run-off, and Le Pen never really stood a chance. Trump could still win.

This shows that American democracy is doubly in peril. Because a leading Presidential contender can say these things – and yet he still remains in contention.

How is this possible?

One key reason is the weakness of his opponents. The Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who could have stolen a real march on Trump at this election by being the far-more-of-our-time smart right-wing alternative remains doggedly and stupidly out of touch with young people (and in fact all rational people) on great issues of our time such as climate change.

The Green candidate Jill Stein is, naturally, great on a raft of key issues but has blotted her copy book very, very badly through not only being a Putin-apologist but, because of this, going so far as to claim that Clinton is worse than Trump, and supporting Assad’s/Putin’s war criminal attacks on the Syrian people.

As for Clinton herself: she is an excellent debater who took Trump apart over the three Presidential debates (and yet he remains in contention!). She is highly-experienced, and a safe pair of hands on a number of important issues (such as: not banning abortion).

She has improved her policy-platform considerably on several key issues since Bernie Sanders’s endorsement negotiations with her; Clinton has also improved her position vis-a-vis neoliberal free trade deals and campaign-finance-reform, over the past year, under pressure from Sanders’s rivalry — this is about the only good news about the current presidential election cycle).

However, she remains a weak candidate; partly because of an irrational hatred of powerful women etc., but also, and crucially, because she remains to an terrifying degree in the pocket of high finance and more generally of those who are committing our planet to a corporate-dominated, neoliberal future. I.

One reason why Trump remains in contention, then, is because many who might have been persuaded by Sanders, whose tremendous opposition to neoliberal trade-deals etc. played such a key role in almost enabling him to pull off the impossible and beat Clinton in the primaries, are won over by Trump’s opposition to NAFTA and to similarly-disastrous examples of ‘peak-globalisation’.

In other words: even if Trump is seen off, American democracy is in dire peril. For it remains to be seen whether a President Clinton would be able to do or even try to do all the good things she promises. And, even if she does, America will remain a plutocracy more than a democracy. One country, under big money.

That’s one key reason why Trump is still in the race.

But, to return to where I started: the bottom-line is that no-one could believe in actually-existing ‘democracy’ or in a possible future democracy, and still vote for Trump, after his latest incredible remarks, remarks so dangerous they may well lead to violence if he loses. Which is why it is incredible, and profoundly-disturbing, that he is still in contention at all.

I think therefore all of us owe it to our American friends, and to the future of the world, to do whatever we can in the remaining days and weeks to influence the result. Not, of course, through espionage or the like!

But through letting Americans know that we cannot understand how a democracy which has given much hope to the world can so casually gamble with no longer being a democracy at all.

Rupert Read is a former Norwich Green Party Councillor, and stood for the Green Party in Cambridge in 2015. He chairs Green House. Follow him on Twitter.

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4 Responses to “America’s democratic gamble is terrifying – we must do all we can to oppose it”

  1. Pete Linsley

    I, like most of us here in the UK, view US politics from a distance, but it’s clear to see that the system isn’t working. As I understand it the Republican party have spent most of Obama’s two terms as president throwing sand in the works and ensuring that many attempts at serious policy making grind to a halt. That hardly serves the people, does it?

    As for the Trump situation, much of the chaos he creates is no surprise really – it’s Trump being Trump. What I find troubling is that fact and truth are seemingly irrelevant in the game show that is the presidential race; the way that Trump is allowed to simply bat away analysis of his previous quotes by stating “I never said that” just shouldn’t be acceptable.

    The very fact that we are expected to analyse him as a credible candidate belittles us all.

  2. Mick

    Greens have no room to pontificate on anything, at any time:

    And in Germany, for example, Greens blame the West for the Cold War by boxing in poor little Communist Russia with our counter nuclear arsenal!

    As for Trump and his own nastiness? He DIDN’T say Clinton will go to jail, merely that there will be a proper investigation into her corruption – the FBI boss who ‘cleared’ her has his own secrets regarding the issue.

    And had PC psychopaths ruining the USA not done such a deep job, there would be NO great backswing in support of Trump.

  3. Ned Harrison

    It seems that part of the failure of debate on this is that America has 2 candidates who are better at motivating their opponents than their supporters. Each represents something that a large number of Americans perceive as a the major problem with their country – whether that’s bigoted white men or the Washington machine. Both objections have an element of truth. Starting from one point, Trump is unelectable, therefore you have to vote Clinton. Starting from the other point means Clinton is unelectable, hence Trump. It’s hard to see support for either candidate as a positive issue, which means even if Clinton wins it’s unlikely to be the end of their problems. Shame Sanders wasn’t the Democrat pick.

    On a side note, to what extent is the internet and social media to blame for the post-truth nature of Trump’s campaign? When traditional news media were the main forum for covering campaigns, most people encountered candidates’ statements in some sort of context. The internet allows everyone to get most of their news through an echo chamber of those who agree with them.

    And talking of the decline of traditional media, I haven’t read the Telegraph in ages, but it used to be a good paper. Is that link posted by Mick really representative of what it’s become? A factless diatribe held together by a heroic ability to draw connections between inferences.

  4. Mick

    ‘ As I understand it the Republican party have spent most of Obama’s two terms as president throwing sand in the works and ensuring that many attempts at serious policy making grind to a halt. That hardly serves the people, does it?’

    Well on that token, I’m glad this means you damn Labour for being any kind of effective opposition to the Conservatives!

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