You Couldn’t Make It Up: A look at the 2016 US Presidential Election

Over the years, I’ve tried to avoid talking about politics. And it’s not due to lack of interest.

The thing is, this stuff is important. The way a government’s run is important. It affects every part of your life. The goods available at your local supermarket, the safety of those products, the maintenance of the streets you use to get there, the money you use to pay for it, the taxes you pay on the food, on your pay cheque, on your property; it’s all controlled, regulated, and determined by the government. If you don’t care about it, you don’t care about life. This is why I don’t understand people who don’t vote. You need to vote. If you don’t, you’re letting others determine how your life runs. You’re letting others build the world around you; and you’re just stubbornly refusing to speak up at the one time your voice actually matters, the one time your voice has a tangible effect. So please, you need to vote.

So with all that being said, why don’t I want to talk about politics? Well it’s simple. From what I’ve seen, most people are too stubborn to have their minds changed. It’s due to what I would call ‘political solipsism’. This mentality that one’s opinion is undeniably correct merely by virtue of it being in their head. So how can anyone disagree with them? Well those people must evil, stupid, racist, gullible, sexist, homophobic, corrupt, sinister, part of some global conspiracy, or simply out to destroy the world; and as a result of this mentality, they don’t listen to these people, since they are very obviously wrong; and because they never listen to dissenting opinions, they can never have their minds changed.

There’s also the fact that some people think having your mind changed somehow shows a failure of conviction or degree of gullibility. It’s why you’ll sometimes see politicians or political parties lambasted by the media for changing their policy and doing a ‘U-turn’ as if that was a bad thing. I could not disagree more. I think it’s an incredible virtue to allow your opinion to be swayed. It means your views are based not on opinion, or how you were raised, or just how you voted in the past, but reality and evidence (ideally). But many people refuse to admit they were ever wrong, no matter what the result was.

Let me put it this way: If you still think George W. Bush was a good President after lying about a war that the Chilcot report already bollocked his British counterpart about, and the economy collapsed so badly the resulting recession spread to every other country like a goddamn fungal infection; Or the British vote to leave the European Union was a good idea after the pound plummeted faster than the debris from the last SpaceX launch; Or that Justin Trudeau is still ‘not ready’ to lead Canada despite the fact that he’s already lead the entire planet in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis; I can’t help you.

And that last point, about Trudeau, is from personal experience. I thought he’d be shit, I mean he was just an infant in a suit; but it turns out Justin Trudeau is a pretty good Prime Minister. So don’t think I’m talking out of my ass on this.

Here’s an idea, pick an issue, any issue which you feel passionately about. Now, I’m not talking about moral issues like ‘murder is wrong.’ I think we can all agree on that. I’m thinking about stuff that’s a bit more contentious like capital punishment. Next, consider the facts you base your opinion of that issue on. For instance, on the capital punishment front, that it acts as a deterrent, and will prevent further murders. Now, think of a scenario which could prove you wrong. What would have to happen, or what evidence could be presented, that would convince you that you were incorrect, and that you should do a rapid 180? It may not be easy, or simple, or likely, but take your time. Can you think of anything? Because if not, you might be part of the problem.

And that’s why I don’t talk about politics. But recently, things have gotten too bad, too horrible for me to stay silent any more. Because Canada’s nearest neighbours are about to wade into the worst choice since Sophie.

Yes, it’s the 2016 US Presidential Election. Oi, where to begin?

For a start, let’s talk about when this election began, back in 2012. Yes talk about this election began in 2012, with people speculating about who would run four years later. And I’m going to explain how it works in Canada. The average election campaign in Canada lasts about a month or two, from dissolution of parliament to the election of the new one. Why don’t they campaign the rest of the time? Because they’re too busy running the country, that’s why! Oh sure, the parties always give a bit of subtle nudging through speeches and debates outside the official campaign, but you won’t see election ads or election debates a full year in advance, because… well the law won’t allow it, but also because there’s no need. I find this incredibly insane, because who can pay full attention from primary to general election, and not be exhausted by the end? And those who just casually watch will just forget all but the last month anyway.

So when the election began, they were immediately talking about Hillary Clinton being the next President of the United States. So is it any wonder she managed to make it this far? But why? Oh she was an excellent diplomat and politician, but so are a lot of people.

I can’t comment too heavily on her history because I haven’t played the closest amount of attention to her until recently, I’m not American. So what I’m about to say is from a very cynical, jaded, likely incorrect and undoubtedly unfair perspective. Because all I know for certain about Hillary Clinton is that her husband used to be President. That’s all. Also, she was a Senator, and Secretary of State. And I’m sure did a fine job in those roles; but it seems, from my limited perspective, that her main claim to fame is being First Lady for about eight years. Everything else just resulted from that. And placing her as President now just reminds me of Lurleen Wallace. She was the first female Governor of Alabama, who succeeded her husband, George Wallace. And really, her only role was to act as figurehead with her husband acting as the real governor, making all the necessary decisions for her, all to get around term limits. And I think I should point out, this was during the 60s in the deep south, where this wouldn’t yet be fucking horrible.

I’m not saying that Hillary’s going to be a puppet of her husband. Mainly because it’s the 21st century and she’s not the kind of shrieking violet who I think would take that kind of shit. But I do think she’s the kind of person who merely coasted on her spouses’ success; much like Pierre Curie, Marie Curie’s husband. Sure, he was a notable physicist in his own right, but he didn’t discover radium.

But is this fair? Probably not. I’m running on the most basic impressions here. And those impressions can be summarized as: Hillary Clinton has only been nominated because she’s a woman, and her husband was once president. Because America is the type of country who would elect a woman merely so they can say they elected a woman. They would elect her merely so they can say they’ve ticked that box. And she’s the one who’s the most visible and the one who actually seems to want the job. It’s for the same reason people got really excited for the election of Barack Obama. Because finally, they elected a black man! They ticked that box! Now forgive them for slavery!

But like I said, I haven’t been paying close attention. So there are probably other reasons. And even if there aren’t, that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be President. But given I know so little, you may be wondering why I decided to comment in the first place? Because the fact that I haven’t needed to pay close attention is precisely the point. Because the real trouble comes from her opponent; Her only opponent; because that’s how screwed American politics is.

Yes, there are two political parties in America: the Democrats and Republicans. Which makes sense, because they are a democratic republic. But I don’t think many Americans realize how messed this is. Because the United States is the only country (that I could find) in the world with only two active and legislating political parties that is not a horrifying dictatorship.

Actually, scratch that, North Korea has three. So at least they’re pretending to have a democracy. America can’t even do that.

This is a problem. Not to say there aren’t other political parties in America, but very few people vote for them because the rest feel their vote would be ‘wasted’ if they used it on a candidate that has no chance of winning. Is their nation that cynical? Or are they just manipulated by the parties themselves to just flip-flop between the same two groups, maintaining their collective power?

Now I’m sounding paranoid.

But the mentality appears to be: these are your only options. This is why the Tea Party, which started as a movement that claimed they were sick of both parties, and found that neither party represented their views, decided to just take over the Republican Party through the primary system. Rather than create their own political party, they decided to displace one of the two dynasties.

This has resulted in a system where people are forced to vote for one of two people when they might not agree with either. Some people blame the first-past-the-post voting system for this, but Canada uses the same system and we have five parties. Our overall government is structured differently, but regardless you’d assume it’d be the same two-horse race here, and it’s not.

But when there’s only two players, the real question at the ballot box is: Who is the least shit? And despite everything, it has to be Hillary Clinton, because her opponent is Donald Trump. The worst candidate for president since… I don’t know, did Satan ever run?

Donald Trump is legitimately the worst possible candidate for president you can imagine. He’s egotistical, arrogant, racist, sexist, irritating, brash, and has his head so far up his ass he can see what he had for breakfast that morning.

Now, you may be saying: Oh, you’re just saying that because you’re a left-wing loon or something. But allow me to put this in perspective. Way back in 2008, there was a Presidential election as well, which I actually did pay attention to, between Barack Obama and John McCain. And I remember thinking: “This is good. They got two great candidates. America’s in good shape. Nothing can go wrong.” And they were both great candidates. People gave McCain a hard time because it was the dawn of the financial crisis, and he didn’t know much about the economy. But he knew that, so he knew to ask advisors. And I genuinely think he would’ve won, if he chose anyone other than Sarah Palin as his running mate. I’m almost certain she cost him the election.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is basically Sarah Palin, but louder, more arrogant, and more misogynist.

And that was what I was getting at earlier, Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to be good, she just needs to be better than Trump, and that’s not difficult. In fact, it’s the easiest thing in the world. So there’s no need to analyse her policies, she’s obviously the better candidate. But why? What makes Trump so horrible.

Well, I could say it started with his declaration that Muslims should be banned from entering the US. But that’s just a stupid policy decision. I’m not going to talk about policy because we can debate about that all week. What I want to talk about is much broader than that.

No, the fact remains that it really started well before he even threw his hat in the ring. Donald Trump had a history of being one of the most thinned-skinned, self-centered individuals on the planet, and as the election picked up, he failed to know how to stop. He starts throwing insults over twitter of all things, sometimes with little or no provocation. Megyn Kelly of Fox News, who would normally be on his side, merely pointed out that he’s made some nasty comments to women in the past, this begins a feud that involves him calling her ‘sick,’ ‘dopey’ and ‘crazy.’ He’s insulted everyone across the political spectrum, and anyone who has even the slightest beef with him. He’s insulted whole countries. Recently, the New York Times released a list of all of his greatest twitter hits! But my personal favourite, which was outside twitter, was when London Mayor Sadiq Kahn threw a few criticisms at Donald Trump, he responded with the words ‘I will remember those statements.’ Who says that, other than the kind of hyper-sensitive idiot who can’t let shit go!? And it looks to me that he meant it as a threat. You really want this guy as president?

But surely he’s just expressing his freedom of speech. Sure, he is. He’s free to say what he wants, which means he can’t get arrested for it. We can still judge him harshly for it.

Oh, but surely he’s just responding to criticisms. No, responding to criticism is, ‘Well I respectfully disagree and here’s why…’ It is not, ‘You total low life…’ He’s trying to make this stuff personal, when it shouldn’t be.

And I’ll remind you, this is how he acts when he’s trying to convince America he should be president. Imagine how he acts when he no longer has to do that. He’ll go to the G20 conference. UK Prime Minister Theresa May will mention she doesn’t think his economic plan is sound. He goes on twitter and says, ‘Crazy May, with her failed #Brexit, doesn’t know what she’s talking about. This is the best economic plan in the history of economic plans.’ And I believe they would call that an ‘international incident.’ And in case you didn’t notice, he’s also not one to let things go easily. So eventually, it will end in nuclear war. No one wants this.

But on the subject of economic plans. This brings me to the next point. Donald Trump is a man who thinks he knows everything. Got news for him, he doesn’t. No one knows everything! And this is exemplified in once piece, where he claims he’s going to teach military experts a few things about military strategy. The man with no military experience, probably watched a few war films, claims he knows more than actual soldiers. This… is actually dangerous. This is how bad decisions are made, and in the case of war, this is how people die. It’s typically known as the Dunning-Kruger effect; Where people think they know more than they actually do, because they fail to be aware of what they don’t know. For instance, I used to think I knew quite a lot about computers. Then I studied them for three years, and realized I knew absolutely nothing. I know more now, but I also know what I don’t know, and that’s more important. The more you know on a subject, the less likely you’re going to act like an expert.

But overall, Trump’s biggest issue is that he’s a bastard. I’m sure you’ve seen the video where he says he can ‘grab [women] by the pussy’ because he’s a ‘star.’ Now, that’s pretty horrible. But I’ll let that go, because he responded by saying it was ‘locker room banter.’ Now, I don’t believe that. Mainly because it was on a bus, not a locker room; but also because I’ve never heard stuff like that in any locker room, and if I did, I’d leave. But if it is ‘locker room banter’ then that probably means he was just lying. Plus, it was 11 years ago, he’s probably changed a lot since then… No I don’t believe that either. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

But as long as no one comes out saying he actually did that… Yeah they did. You already know this, a lot of women came out against Donald Trump saying he sexually assaulted them. Now, there are a lot of things I could cover with this. I could talk about rape culture, why women rarely report sexual abuse, that kind of thing; because a lot of people have been accusing these women of lying. Which might be possible if we didn’t just see a clip of Donald Trump bragging about doing the very thing these women are accusing him of! What in his history would make you think he’s not capable of this? Is it possible they’re lying? Yes… but it’s not likely, especially given the horrific scrutiny these victims undergo. Also, harassment and death threats. Yeah, that’s the kind of attention these women want. And combine this with the video of him bragging about his crimes! How could anyone think he has any credibility!?

Maybe because his opponent is Hillary Clinton, who has very little public confidence at this stage.

The problem is, Hillary is part of the political élite that has dominated American politics for decades. At least, that’s the public’s interpretation. It also doesn’t help that she sympathized with the bankers who have been persona non grata since the economy collapsed.

Then you have the email scandal. People have been calling for her arrest because she placed emails on a private server.

Okay, regarding the emails… what’s the big deal? As far as I know, she didn’t do anything directly illegal, just stored emails on a private server while she was Secretary of State. At worst, that screams incompetence, because she failed to handle confidential emails properly. That’s the most damning thing I’ve heard. The FBI investigated her email server, found nothing incriminating. However there are stories that she deleted a lot of those emails before the FBI got their hands on them. Well, Trump did the same thing, so it seems a bit hypocritical for him to have a go at her. Besides, that’s not proof of wrong doing. That’s not proof of anything.

But when it comes down to it, a lot of people don’t trust Clinton. They think she’s corrupt or something. That she siphoned money from her foundation into her own pockets. Meanwhile we actually have proof Donald did exactly that.

I don’t see where they’re coming from. It seems to be based on the same conspiracy theory rhetoric that I’ve heard for years. And I’m sick of it.

This is how bizarre this election has been. And I’ve mentioned that I’ve barely paid attention, and it’s mainly because of Donald Trump, because it all loops back to Donald Trump. It’s the first time I’ve avoided the presidential debates since before 2008. Because every time I hear Donald Trump speak, a part of my soul dies. I can’t handle it anymore. But thankfully, it’s over, and today, all projections are showing Clinton as the next President of the United States. But to me, that’s not enough. Because Donald Trump is horrible, he’s toxic, he’s misogynist, racist, and just bloody evil.

I don’t want him to lose, I want him to lose badly. The polls never showed him pulling less than 40 per cent of the vote. How!? How is it that high!? Yes, there are plenty of hard-core republicans, but what would it take? At this stage, who could they possibly nominate that would get even the most hardcore republican to think, ‘no, that’s too far’? I don’t think there is one. I would’ve thought Trump would be it. Apparently I’m wrong.

But that’s how sad this is. This is an election with no hope.

We need hope. Both America, and the world. Because the best reason to vote for Hillary is she’s not Donald Trump. And the only reason to vote for Donald, is Hillary Clinton’s emails. There is little reason to vote for either of the candidates, rather than against the other. And that is depressing.

But maybe there is something. Because while writing this piece, I found this video from Hillary Clinton’s campaign:

Maybe it’s just political pandering, and political staging to make her seem human, but I can’t help but think she’s going to make a fine president. And even if she just spends the next four years continuing the Obama agenda, I don’t see a problem with that.

Pakistan might.

So please, if you haven’t yet, vote for Hillary Clinton. If for no other reason than this: A Trump Presidency, with me writing this, will probably get me on some banned list. And I’ll be damned if I’m gonna miss that solar eclipse next year.

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