Nervous Breakdown USA?

BY JAMIE FOSTER

Sitting in the South West of England, where the pilgrim fathers set off from in the hope of a new world and the freedom and opportunity it promised, I can only manage a wry smile when I think of where it led them.  This land of the free and home of the brave; this country that produced Lincoln, Washington and Reagan. Has it really come to this? An orange billionaire snake oil salesmen and a cut price Lady Macbeth fighting it out for the White House? What has happened America?

I believe that this election is the inevitable result of a number of factors that could only have led to this outcome. Firstly, the pretence that a Monarch can be routinely elected was bound to end in disaster. In this country our monarchy has divested itself of power and concentrated on duty. Our Queen embodies her subjects. She is a figure head and a source of inspiration. We do not ask her to make our decisions for us. In the US the power invested in the presidency was always likely to attract those to whom power should never be given.

Secondly, and growing out of the first wrong decision, is the hideous spectre of untrammelled power for sale. Presidencies cost; they are not the free will of the people expressed in the ballot box. They come at an enormous price. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign has so far raised $1.3Bn. Trump’s a mere $795M. At those heady prices meritocracy is unattainable. To anyone who asks how a country of nearly 320 million people produced these two extraordinarily awful final candidates the answer is simple. They were the ones with the cash.

The third factor is trickier, and it relates to the American dream. Clearly part of this is the promise that with hard work and genuine talent anyone can succeed. It is also the acceptance by those who don’t succeed despite their hard work and genuine talent that the game wasn’t fixed. America’s strength was in enabling the individual to attain the greatest heights. Such heights can only be reached by the acquiescence of one’s fellows allowing the star seeker to climb the pyramid they have built by standing on each other’s shoulders. Their reward for their stalwart stoicism was the promise that those they lifted up would bring back the stars and that everyone could have a piece. The industrial decline and rise in middle class poverty gave the lie to that promise.

So where are we now? Bernie Sanders and his offer of trying the same thing that repeatedly hadn’t worked since Karl Marx first suggested it attracted some support from the easily led. The real money, however, is on two people who both simultaneously personify and betray aspects of the American dream.

Hillary wore the mantle of the possibility that a woman could be President. She held the candle for the idea that the democrats held the moral high ground from the protectors of wealth and privilege in the Grand Old Party. She was the good mother the country needed. The dawning realisation that she is more likely to be a wicked stepmother is truly painful.

Trump, on the other hand, bizarrely rose up as the candidate for the Springsteen voter. The entitled son of a millionaire property developer became the voice of Jack and Dianne. It was a voice that he never sounded natural using, but a voice born of rage and alienation which was screaming so loudly it didn’t notice the oddly fragile creature it was emerging from.

This then is the choice on November the 8th.

Will America choose an elitist, cold pathological liar as its first woman president; or a germaphobe whose first car was a limousine to be the voice of the working man?

Makes me glad to live in Devon I can tell you.

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