Not so long ago, I decided never to talk politics again on the internet, because its roughly as productive as spending an hour applying a cheese grater to your own face, and the results can be just as painful. But I’ve spent the last few months becoming increasingly obsessed, terrified, disheartened, and just plain slow-down-to-watch-the-car-crash curious as everyone else, so I thought, what the hey, let’s put that politics degree of yours to some use, and talk some politics.
If following the news has become a bit like sport in these modern times, then the American election is the World Cup final and the Superbowl all rolled into one. In this year-to-end-all-years of apocalyptic headlines, the apocalyptic rhetoric on display in the Clinton-Trump ‘battle to the death of society’ has been predictably awful. As someone whose obsession with US politics borders on the insane, I’ve been glued to the whole thing, unable to tear my gaze away from the barn fire on display.
I really don’t get the anti-Hilary sentiment. From the moment she became the frontrunner for the nomination, almost everyone has talked about her unlikeability, her corruption, what a bad candidate she is. ‘I don’t like her’ has been something I’ve heard from people even with only a passing interest. But she is the most qualified candidate for President there has been in living memory, possibly ever. She has a thirty-year record of progressive policies, with a keen track record on helping the disadvantaged, working to improve healthcare, and working on education. She had one of the most impressive legislative records in the senate during her time there, and has her name on over 300 bills. A hell of a lot of the anti-Hillary sentiment smacks of sexual politics that most women will identify with. Loud women are ‘shrill’, loud men are ‘powerful’. Argumentative women are ‘bossy’, argumentative men are ‘outspoken’. Most of the things you see Clinton accused of are things we take for granted in male politicians. She’s self-important. Haughty. Aloof.
On the other hand, you have a lunatic whose record, quite aside from all the sexual assaults, the terrible policies, the dog-whistle rhetoric, and the other billion reasons not to vote for him, is that of a mediocre businessman, slum landlord, television personality and mass exporter of his own workforce to China and elsewhere. I’ve been checking the fivethirtyeight polling tracker on a pretty much hourly basis, and I’m very happy that it appears Clinton is (please God, please Vishnu, please whatever) going to win, but how the hell did it even end up here in the first place?
The tenor of politics both home and abroad seems to be reaching a fever pitch, a dog-whistle crescendo that I worry about a hell of a lot. Last night Ann Coulter, the dog-faced darling of the far-right, told the BBC that ‘if the only people who voted were those who had four American grandparents, Trump would win in a landslide,’ seemingly oblivious she was invoking the Nazi party’s rule that only those with four German grandparents could be thought of as ‘full blooded’ Germans. (Quite aside from the fact this would also preclude Trump from voting for himself.) This came a week after a leading British shit-smear of a ‘newspaper’ invoked the Third Reich in calling three judges who had gone against the party line as ‘enemies of the people.’
Most people I know are looking around them, wondering what we can do about all this. As King Theoden would say, ‘What can men do against such reckless hate?’ Well, the first bridge to cross is to make sure Clinton wins tonight, which is something I myself have no say in, but which I feel inordinately invested in. Then, well, shit, I guess we take it from there.
As is tradition in my house, I’ve taken the day off tomorrow, so that I can stay up all night and watch the results, however they turn out. After a year of Brexit, anti-immigration fervour, celebrity deaths, and everything else, let’s hope we can finally get some good news. After all, as much as I love apocalyptic tales, I don’t much fancy living through one.
As the wonderful crime writer, Jay Stringer, put it on Facebook this morning: ‘Go kick his ass, America.’