Over the last few months it has slowly dawned on me that this is the year of the impossible becoming possible. Forgive me for a second if I use a few sporting analogies to illustrate, but look at Leicester City football club, they started out the season at 5000 to 1 to win the league and incredibly did exactly that 9 months later. Connaught Rugby won the pro 12 title, very much a surprise to even seasoned Connaught fans. Iceland became the toast of Europe when against all the odds they reached the quarter finals of the European Championships, despite only having a population of 300,000 people. Everyone, not least David Cameron was convinced Britain would stay in the EU. A sizeable portion of the British electorate had a different idea, cue all sorts of soul searching, finger pointing, political scalping and an ignominious exit for both Britain, from the EU and David Cameron from Downing St.
So with all the aforementioned in mind I’m making a not so brave prediction that we will see another impossible outcome become a reality when the American electorate go to the polls in November. As Dylan said, ‘Times, they are a changing’, and that is certainly true stateside, precipitated by a fatigue with all this Democrat and all things Obama.
I remember the Obama euphoria in the run up to his accession to power in ’08. Obama represented everything GW Bush wasn’t. He was young, photogenic, well educated, charismatic, articulate, politically astute and more significant than all that, he was a young African American who had only gone and out JFK’d JFK, who himself was the descendent of a minority immigrant. In 2009 America was on the verge of something truly historic, the ‘Yes we can’ seemed inevitable. Sadly, no they didn’t. Political posturing and power plays between the Democrats and Republicans put paid to Obama’s efficacy as an agent for change. For me to this very day, his greatest and only substantial achievement is simply his status as the first black president of the United States. The irony of ironies is that during his time in the Oval office America has remained a deeply divided and racist country. I don’t believe his 8 years in power have been in vain in a race relations context but recent deaths of unarmed young black men at the hands of law enforcement prove America still has a long way to go.
Race relations are one of America’s huge problems but so too are guns and their tales are intertwined on a daily basis. The overarching theme feeding into every single headline grabbing story involving young black males, guns and politics is fear. The documentary maker Michael Moore succinctly illustrated this all pervasive fear in his terrific documentary Bowling for Columbine a few years ago. He edited together a series of clips from American news programmes and intercut them with corresponding Canadian news clips from just across the border and the difference was shocking. American news media thrive off fear and by extension so do its viewers and legislators. The Canadians on the other hand have a mature and responsible attitude to guns, fear and news reporting, very simply, its the opposite of hysterical.
Sadly this hysteria is all pervading especially when you look at any of Donald Trump’s speeches. Trump thrives off whipping up fear and saying what people say behind closed doors and he’s winning admirers every day because of it. Like alot of people I’m blue in the face of listening to politicians BS through interviews where its obvious they have mastered the ability of being able to talk without actually saying anything. Empty rhetoric is like being patted on the head and being told everything is going to be OK. Obama embodied this empty rhetoric, Trump doesn’t, but I’m afraid that’s not a good thing either. Trump is as crude a politician as he is a public speaker. The fact that Trump and Putin are mutual admirers should worry us all. I welcome the end of empty rhetoric but only if its replaced by rational thought, measured response and responsible leadership, I don’t believe Trump is capable of any of these.
A couple of years ago when Trump first expressed serious interest in running for the Whitehouse people laughed, but people also laughed at Leicester City. It is a time of change, the impossible becoming possible and when terrorism is a seeming threat to us all fear is a real currency. Trumps trump card is playing on this fear and sadly I think he’ll do a Leicester City.