by Nizar Visram
CONTRARY to what some might think, US citizens do not elect their president through popular ballot. Instead voters select presidential electors, who in turn vote for the new president through what they call the Electoral College, with 538 members.
Initially there is a series of presidential primary elections and caucuses in the 50 states, the District of Columbia (DC) and U.S. territories. This is where voters cast ballots for delegates to a political party’s nominating convention, which in turn elects their party’s presidential nominee.
This is how Donald Trump was elected the Republicans’ nominee, while Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party’s nominee
Trump’s catchphrase is “making America great again,” appealing to the fears of ordinary Americans by saying jobs are fleeing to Mexico and China which now draw American investors and market. “They thus use our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China,” Trump remonstrates.
He talks of thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio and the devastation of regions such as New England. Across these areas manufacturing is down by 30 to 50 percent. Trump promises to reverse the trend by dropping corporate taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent.
The Republican candidate has been drawing broad support on the basis of his appeal to the anger and frustration of broad layers of workers and middle class whites whose living standards have been declining.
The renowned American scholar Noam Chomsky says that the rise of Trump in American politics is, in part, fuelled by deeply-rooted fear and hopelessness among poorly educated whites.
In other words, the support of this pompous business mogul comes from economically disadvantaged people seeking to fulfill the so-called American dream. He is also capitalizing on their fears about the perceived decline of white dominance.
“He’s evidently appealing to their deep feelings of anger, fear, frustration and hopelessness. It evokes the memories of the rise of European fascism. Signs are familiar,” adds Chomsky.
Trump started his career back in 1973 when he was sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination, because he would not rent apartments in one of his real estate enterprises to African Americans. He actually was sued twice.
As for his patriotic posture, the truth is that Trump has off-shored most of his jobs. The products that he manufactures and markets are produced offshore. He has been closing factories, moving them across the border or down south, and then moving them back to Michigan so that workers’ wages could be lowered. He epitomizes the very “problem” that he is raving about.
On the other hand Hillary Clinton is promising to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That means higher incomes with new jobs coming mainly from small business.
She pledged to make the economy fairer by promising a higher minimum wage and equal pay for women. She says she wants to see more companies creating more profit and sharing it not just among the executives at the top.
Under her leadership we are told there will be paid family leave, earned sick days, affordable child care and debt-free college. She says she is going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share and closing the corporate loopholes. However, nothing like this was done under the presidency of her husband, whose politics she shares. Instead there was a substantial set of attacks on the poor.
Hillary Clinton’s image has taken a number of dents by the e-mail allegations that she used a private server for “classified” e-mails that she deleted. There are six laws that she might have violated, by her privatization and destruction of State Department records,
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has now reopened its investigation into Clinton’s email server. The FBI Director said the agency has uncovered new emails related to a comprehensive probe into whether Clinton had mishandled classified information.
Clinton has also been accused of being very much in with corporate world. Thus she was reportedly paid $675,000 for three speeches to Goldman Sachs in which she explained why the rich should rule.
In fact Hillary and Bill Clinton have accumulated a total of $153 million in speaking fees since they left the White House. These were payment for services rendered to the American corporates.
Trump himself is struggling to handle the fallout from the release of a 2005 tape showing him bragging about groping women. Since the video’s release, about a dozen women have accused him of groping them or kissing them without their consent.
The US presidential battle has hardly dealt with imperative foreign policy issues, most of the time and space being sidetracked towards contestants’ sexual antics or their e-mails.
Yet Trump is on record to have declared that he sees no point in the US entering into conflict with Russia now that the Soviet camp has collapsed. He considers NATO to be outmoded, so there is no need for the US to play global sheriff, financing the defense of her allies.
One has to compare this with Clinton’s provocative talk about Russian President Putin, calling him “the new Hitler”. She has also been accusing the Russians of colluding with Trump in hacking her emails and releasing them to WikiLeaks.
In a speech to Goldman Sachs she also warned Beijing that the “US would ring China with missile defenses and put more of its fleet in the area.” Clinton also told China that the US has as much claim to the Pacific as China, given that US forces had ‘liberated’ it in the second world war.
Regarding the ongoing carnage in Syria, there is more or less agreement between Trump and Clinton. She is in favour of US military intervention with no-fly zone in Syria while Trump’s running mate said America needs to “exercise strong leadership by establishing safe zones with Arab partners.”
None of them refers to the recent comments by General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told a congressional hearing that establishing the so-called safe or no-fly zones would mean a US war with both Syria and Russia. None of them talks of the full consequences of the actions they are both advocating.
American people are hardly told that such invasions have cost them 5 to 6 trillion dollars since 9/11, which comes to about $50,000 per American household. Tens of thousands of US soldiers are dead or maimed, while over a million civilians have been killed in Iraq alone. In addition, we see massive refugee migration, which is tearing apart the Middle East and Europe, with worst terrorist threats.
Clinton was the driving force behind the military intervention in Libya and Syria, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have died and seven million have been internally displaced. Hillary Clinton was also involved in toppling a democratically-elected government in Honduras.
While the chances of Trump in the Oval Office may be scary, it would be naive to think that the world would be a safer place with Clinton in the White House.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that many Americans feel the choice they have is between an evil and a lesser evil. It is between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
This is to be expected in a country that is controlled by latter-day aristocrats – the one percent wealthiest. Even former US president Jimmy Carter last year said America is now “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”.
Nizar Visram is a Tanzanian free-lance writer and occasional contributor to this blog; he can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org