Make no mistake about it. The real winners in this USA Presidential Election will be (at least) one of the candidates for Vice President. The real loser will be Hillary Clinton. And frankly Donald Trump never wanted to be President in the first place.
Typically…Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, G W Bush, Obama…Americans elect a President for eight years. Since 1968, only Carter, and G H Bush have been ousted after just one term.
The nominal winner tonight will be punished by the Electorate. There is no way that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will return to the Oval Office. The contract is for four years and Americans will insist on it…retribution for a campaign that has been nothing short of scandalous and waged by two politicians who are deeply unpopular.
The balance of probability remains that Clinton will win. Her “supporters” are effectively divided between working moms (ie women who work in Wall Street and Hollywood and have maids from El Salvador to do the heavy lifting)…and people who are either Democrats or simply people who hate Trump even more.
In 2008, I was more lukewarm than most about the election of President Obama. He may well have been popular in western Europe but was always going to be the case that he would (properly) act in the interests of the United States. Eight years after his election, USA is still an ally of both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Did any over-enthusiastic Europeans think it would be any different.
Yet there was History made in 2008.
To be fair, John McCain and George W Bush and the Media saw that.
I have been watching USA for over fifty years….via Sgt Bilko, Boots and Saddles, The Lone Ranger, via Bonanza, Rawhide and the High Chapparel, via Kojak, Cheers, Law and Order, via Modern Family….via the Beach Boys, Tamla Motown, Emmylou Harris and the Eagles, via the Assassination of John F Kennedy, George Wallace, Martin Luther King, Watts, Cuban Missisles, Watergate, Vietnam, Rodney King, O J Simpson, 9/11….Saddam, Ghadafi, Osama Bin Ladin.
There was certainly a feeling in 2008 that USA had finally come to terms with its HIstory.
One of the horrible realities of the past eight years has been how that has been reversed.
The Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln tried to build a coalition to reach beyond fiscal conservatism. It flirted with Tea Party, evangelicals, National Rifle Association and anti-government people and now find themselves as merely part of the coalition led by Donald Trump.
Hillary said that about half his supporters were “deplorable’ and its never a good idea to insult voters. As we know …in Norn Iron, not everyone voting Sinn Féin approved of IRA violence.
Besides there are good reasons, notably Obamacare, where Republicans can feel unashamed of their choice.
Are all Trump supporters racist? Clearly not.
Are all racists voting for Trump? Thats a different question.
There is of course an anti-intellectualism at work here. And it has echoes of the Brexit vote in England/Wales.
The same TV reporters who rushed from London to Sunderland and Middlesbrough to interview the working class who dared to vote to leave the EU in spite of all the evidence that EU was a good thing….these same reporters are now spent several weeks in Ohio and Pennsylvania, interviewing working class people who support Trump.
There is another parallel…Boris JOhnson who led the Brexit campaign never thought he could win. Likewise those who voted to leave.
And Trump does not think he can win. Nor do his supporters.
Simply put, the people who style themselves as marginalised and disenfranchised are addicted to their sense of grievance and failure. If in Sunderland rust belt, you actually succeed in leaving Europe, who exactly do you blame for your shortcomings.
If Donald Trump gets into the Oval Office, who will the people in the Ohio rust belt blame for their shortcomings.
But actually I blame the liberal elite more…I blame the arrogance of the intellectuals.
To be fair, comedian Bill Maher (I detest him) got it right with his apology to John McCain, Mitt Romney. They were decent men who had different views to Maher…and the vitriol had in fact led to the rise of Donald Trump.
There we have it.
The Republican Party AND the liberal elite are culpable for Donald Trump.
I am of course left of centre. You would expect me to be a Hillary supporter. I find her pretty awful. I dont see the point in me supporting a candidate for office in another country. It is risible that people here in Norn Iron cant accept we have no dog in this fight. It is perplexing that some see the American President as Leader of the Free World. It is bollox.
Nor do I think that my own social democrat kinda politics is really accepted or acceptable in USA?
Nor can I put my hand on my heart and say that I would be a Democrat or Republican….if I had been born and raised in USA.
Nature and Nurture.
If an ancestor had boarded a USA-bound ship in 1847…well the point is …that they didnt.
Therefore I am NOT Irish-American.
I am not a wee fat baldy man …dapper with a bow tie….who teaches History in a small college in New Hampshire. Nor am I retired steel worker in Pennsylvania.
I wont endorse anyone.
Nor will I condemn any of my friends who make a choice, one way or the other. We have too much history.
If I identify with anyone …it was Bernie Sanders. And I have total contmpt for the way that the Democratic Party was complicit in Hillary Clinton seeing off his challenge.
Frankly Hillary Clinton missed the boat in 2008. She felt a sense of entitlement and lost the nomination to Obama. True she has added to her CV since then but increasingly she looks like a candidate who is ten years past her sell-by date.
Later tonight, her supporters might claim that History has been made.
Obama made History as the first black President.
HIllary Clinton might do the same as the first woman President.
But Barack Obama is a much more substantial figure.
And there is nothing “outsider” about Clinton.
But this is really about Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.
This has been a campaign that has shamed USA. LOsing is its own punishment. Winning merely means that the new President starts off being hated. If Clinton wins, I think its inevitable that within two years, she announces retirement thru ill health.
Step forward Tim Kaine, a patently decent man but somehow lacking gravitas.
If Trump wins, I suspect he will be forced out, thru adverse publicity or he will just get bored.
STep forward Mike Pence, who has the gravitas.
And what about USA?
Well the balance of probability at 6pm Irish time is that Clinton will win.
The result will be accepted by nearly everyone.
But the pool of malcontents, marginalised and disenfranchised is now a lot bigger than it ever was.