Monday, June 27, 2016

Clinton vs Trump: It's a madder, madder, madder, madder world!!!

In this post I'll attempt to show patterns and draw parallels between several major events of the past 100 years on either side of the Atlantic. I hope to provoke thoughts about lessons that the world should have learned by now. I'll also make some political predictions – things that I hope for as well as unfavorable things that I foresee happening:

It's a madder, madder, madder, madder world. That truth is especially evident when one looks at the last 100 years – from World War I right up to Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign season. The logic of the world's most learned political elites has been turned on its head time and time again – leaving any reasonable person to wonder if there's any hope of us voting for and/or appointing a set of leaders who can display a sufficient level of geopolitical sanity and if it's possible for those who don't come from privileged backgrounds to do any better. After all, numerous entertainers have brought their gift for making people laugh into the three-ring circus of government in the U.S. and in South America.

In 1916 we were in the middle of World War I (which was known as “The World War” until 1939). The political establishment of 1918 figured that, after the World War, we would never have a conflict of that magnitude again. Everyone had learned some hard lessons and no one would allow their political disagreements to get that out of hand again. Woodrow Wilson said that World War I was the "war to end all wars". Then World War II happened and his logic was turned on its head. He erroneously assumed that long memories and a desire for peace would prevail. Then, in 1939, with Wilson having died 15 years earlier, the world learned that he was actually wrong.

During and after World War II various nations came together to form the United Nations – a body that would ensure a lasting peace. We see where that got us. Though the lesson here is not as clear, I'll venture a guess and say that I believe that it was a desire to avoid the establishment of a geo-totalitarian regime like the one that might have arisen had our German general and American forces not defeated the German forces on Normandy Beach. That, in turn, led to the architects of the United Nations writing impotence into the rules. We've become so afraid of autocracy that we sometimes don't give those charged with keeping the peace enough authority to get their jobs done. At least, that's my personal summation of the matter.

Sadly, the populace that abhors any form of autocracy also abhors the deep thought that it is necessary for us to exhibit if we are not to have a dictator or any type of centralized power.

Let's not forget that, between the world wars, the Great Depression began and that German Chancellor Adolf Hitler was seen as a hero after expelling the Belgian forces from Germany – Belgium having occupied Germany in order to exact payment of war debt from them. (Their famous waffles weren't enough to convince Hitler to let them stay.)

With war spurring the creation of jobs both during and after the conflict, the conclusion of World War II led to there being an economic boom the world over. This period of prosperity ended abruptly with the Oil Crisis of 1973. The European Union was conceived by Winston Churchill (1874 to 1965) and the concept described by him in a 1946 speech. The concept was developed piecemeal over the next 47 years into what we now know as the European Union, having established its headquarters in Brussels Belgium in 1958. It has since grown to include 28-member nations – a number that could shrink considerably in coming years as a result of the fallout from Brexit – even if the vote is reversed by another referendum (which I guess they'll call “re-Brentrance”). I don't know if the Europeans were eyeing the impotence of the United Nations and therefore attempting to form a more authoritative and effective body; but, the crafters of the European Union ensured that it was able to increase its power and influence – metamorphosing from a mere economic institution into a political one. Now many Europeans are concerned that the E.U. has become a succubus that is constantly usurping the federal authority and national identity of its member nations.

It would seem that the world is objectively longing for something between the impotence of the U.N. and the attempted totalitarianism of the E.U. In any instance, seemingly opposite political arrangements have proven to be inadequate – the impotent one sitting relatively unchallenged in New York City while the more assertive one is railed against vehemently on the other side of the pond. Maybe this is why the American government doesn't give its citizens the right to hold national referendums. Were Americans to elect to end our United Nations membership, it stands to reason that the U.N. would not be able to pay all of its bills. That's not to speak of the fact that the acronym would contain innuendo: “Usexit” (You sex it).

Let's also tease out the fickle aspect within the thinking of the British voters who changed their minds within hours of casting their votes. Howbeit, Americans are no better than those in Mother England insomuch as we complain about the officials that we elected and then, out of spite, vote for the other party – the one we were dissatisfied with four to eight years earlier, even though that party hasn't changed its ways. Let's also factor in how the political and economic pundits were telling investors not to panic or sell off all of their stock – not to let emotion rule the day. (Yep, they told people not to get emotional. Imagine that.) Even so, the NYSE graph resembled a roller coaster on the Friday after the Brexit vote – one whose steep decline would be more fun if it really were a ride at an amusement park than it probably was for Wall Street corporations that day. All of this emotion and indecision among citizens gives politicians occasion to claim that they are “saving us from ourselves” when they decide FOR us rather than initiating national referendums. It also begs the question: “Who's crazier, the politicians or the populace???”.

DONALD TRUMP, though he's not a full-fledged politician yet (and hopefully NEVER WILL BE), can help us answer that question. Millions of Americans have voted for him in the primaries, though he probably won't survive the general election (or the month of August, if God answers my prayer). But the fact remains that many people have thrown their support behind the presumptive GOP nominee, though they are retracting that support in lieu of the reality of a Clinton (maybe even a Clinton/Sanders) presidency. It stands to reason that many voters went temporarily insane and voted with their emotions. Then Trump became the Captain Planet of insanity by becoming “their insanity combined”. Now the voters are thinking more clearly and Trump is noticeably crazier. Question answered.

There's a good chance that more voters will come to their senses; that Trump will continue to get crazier (taking their madness unto himself and relieving them of it); that Clinton's lead over Trump in the polls will persist and even increase and that she'll pick Bernie Sanders as her veep. All of this would slow the pace at which insanity tightens its grip on the political structure of the most powerful nation on Earth. Let's face it: An insane government with big guns is a scarier thought than ISIS. Once Trump is effectively eliminated, we'll be left to wonder exactly how Clinton will lead – whether by emotion like what manifested on Wall Street after the Brexit vote or by rationale which I hope more closely resembles that of President Obama than it does that of Bush 43 or the Tea Party (that ultra-hyperbolic group whose e-mails I read when I need a good laugh).

I'm guessing that, no matter how Hillary Clinton leads the country and the free world, she'll be screwed (even if the excitement of becoming the nation's first “First Man” proves to be too much for Bill's heart and he transitions to the Great White House in the Sky during her transition to the presidency). If calm rationale prevails, then women will complain that she became our first female president only to forsake her femininity and govern like a man – in much the same way that they complained about her not pulling the “woman card” during her 2008 campaign. If Hillary Clinton puts her emotion front and center, then large numbers of men will blame any misstep of hers on emotion and use her presidency to build their case against feminine/emotional leadership in high places (the U.S. presidency being different than any other leadership post in the world). The battle of the sexes could be taken to new heights and the gender equality which I support and promote could be pushed back to pre-Eleanor Roosevelt times. Nonetheless, Ms. Clinton won't be able to claim that she was judged unfairly, being as our first Afro-American president continues to receive favorable ratings more than seven years into his administration. That lends itself to the notions that our “Affirmative-Action presidencies” (Black, female etc) are not examined under a different light than other presidencies and that pollsters DO, in fact, take nto consideration any extenuating circumstances that a commander(ette)-in-chief is faced with. (Many people – myself included – were concerned in 2009 that Obama would be judged unfairly by polls and historians for failing to do the impossible after being dealt a bad hand by his predecessor.)

Even as president Clinton's inauguration in and of itself will do more to affect the political direction of the world than all of her policy decisions combined, so also her choice of a vice president will do more to change the political landscape of the country than all of his initiatives combined. I hope and suspect that Ms. Clinton will settle on Bernie Sanders as her running mate. Furthermore, having an openly-Socialist veep who she charges with developing Wall Street regulations and social service reforms might just be her saving grace in light of how I expect other men to judge her. Add to this the fact that some American women don't support us having a female president – not because they think that she couldn't do the job; but rather, because they don't think she'd be respected by other players on the international stage. Tapping Sanders for the VP post would qualify as a rational decision with infinite return and guarantee that she'd go down in history as one of the better presidents of our time – even if she governs by emotion.

In all honesty, I expect a number of social ills and other societal issues to come to a head in 2017. Clinton's inauguration will cause the battle of the sexes to grow to pandemic proportions and force all of us to more deliberately define and discuss the gender differences that overshadow many of our interactions. Those who supported Trump will likely show themselves to be sore losers and a more imminent threat than the Tea Party or ISIS. Millions of poor people will be emboldened by our Socialist “President of the Senate” to demand change – making him very popular and relevant domestically while his boss gets pummeled on the world stage by a geopolitical establishment which placed the impenetrable, reinforced glass ceiling right above the heads of Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel. The Senate elections of 2016 and 2018 as well as the House elections of 2018 will likely result in the Democrats occupying at least 60% of both houses – making it relatively easy for current DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to continue the social service reforms of the late Bernie Sanders beginning in early 2019 (though she'll do poorly on Wall Street regulations and give up almost immediately).

At the risk of seeming as crazy as Trump and his supporters, I'll go so far as to guess that, while it will be Bowser's successor at the Wilson Building who restarts the conversation around the fate of the city's CCNV shelter some time in 2020, the issue will haunt her in 2023 as the city tries to move forward on its planned closure and the locals who were emboldened by the Sanders vice presidency begin to inundate President Bowser with their demands that the completed Capitol Crossing development across the road not be allowed to push the poor to the fringes. I have faith that Muriel Bowser will make the right choice as she finishes out the last two years (minus a day) of Clinton's second term and goes on to do two more full terms – becoming the longest-serving president since term limits were instituted in 1951.

At any rate, I expect that the world will see the emergence of full-on geopolitical madness clearly by 2020 and that three years thereafter our first Afro-American female president will long for the mess that Obama inherited over the one that the late Clinton left her with. However, it's been said that “Every dark cloud has a silver lining” and the silver lining here seems to be that the 25% of Americans who are having some discernible struggle with sanity will be further emboldened – going from discussing their mental conditions on social media to coming out of the closet via talk shows and public events on the county fairgrounds. They'll be able to point to the late (and thankfully, silent) Donald Trump as an accomplished person from their group. Who wouldn't come out of the closet with such an iconic figure to uphold as one of their own??? There'd be no reason to be ashamed. After all, it's a madder, madder, madder, madder world.

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