It is unusual for American voters to get a real choice in a presidential election but this is a genuine fork in the road for America—and the world. It’s one direction or another from here. – Pat Condell, America’s Moment Of Truth, October 25, 2016
The upcoming US presidential election has been a topic I have tried to refrain from writing about. Indeed, I wished to avoid expressing any opinion of the depressing debacle of the US elections, consoling myself with the thought that, in comparison, Israeli politics look like a dignified exercise of the democratic process.
Condell on Clinton
Arguably, there has never been an election in which American voters have been asked to choose between two candidates , who—for very different reasons—are clearly so hopelessly unqualified and undeserving of their nation’s highest office.
Appalled at the choice with which the world’s most powerful democracy has presented its electorate, I was loathe to take a position for, or against, either of these deeply flawed candidates—neither of whom I, as a non-US citizen, can vote for anyway.
What changed my mind, and convinced me to take up the challenge of writing something I felt I could take a clear stance on, without compromising my journalistic integrity, was a withering anti-Clinton video put out by another non-US citizen – the ever-incisive British political satirist, Pat Condell.
Actually, this was not one of Condell’s best videos. Moreover, I did not agree with everything he said in it. However, it did crystallize for me that what was really at stake on November 8, was something that went far beyond a choice between two rather unappealing (to gravely understate the case) individuals.
It is, in effect, a choice between two incompatibly divergent socio-political paradigms, with historic and probably irrevocable significance—for both the US and the global community.
Two divergent socio-political paradigms
Condell characterized the sharply contrasting alternatives confronting voters as follows: “In broad terms you could describe it a choice between the American way and European way…”
Although I understand why he chose to frame the issue in this manner, I am not sure that I entirely agree. Indeed, I believe that the choice is even starker than he suggests. In essence, it is a choice between a chance to preserve a society based on traditional Western values and Judeo-Christian foundations to which they are tethered; or irreversibly abandoning that prospect.
I realize of course that some might find it a little “over-the-top” to attribute such epic dimensions to a clash between two such eminently unimposing and decidedly “unepic” protagonists, but—perhaps perversely—that is precisely how the matter stands.
For these elections are less about the candidates themselves, and more—much more—about the realities they herald…and those they don’t.
Please, don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting for a minute that Clinton or Trump is genuinely committed to the policies they espouse. It doesn’t matter that neither of them really embody the views that they profess to ascribe to, or even really believe in them.
For whatever their real personal political proclivities may (or may not) be,
* the adversarial socio-political milieu that envelops their perceived political “identity”;
* the rivalrous political allegiances they have formed to sustain their political careers,
* the opposing political machinery which drives their political activities; and
* the political constituencies on which they draw for political support;
will, after the elections almost deterministically, sweep them each along their divergent paradigmatic paths.
Condell elaborated on his “American vs European” dichotomy: “For the past eight years President Obama has tried to make America more European because he is a European social democrat at heart…” He added acerbically: “He belongs over here in Europe with the rest of the open borders “nothing to do with Islam” crowd making life more dangerous for ordinary people for virtuous reasons. It’s what he tried to do in America with his so European reluctance to even name, let alone confront, Islamic terrorism.” Regarding Clinton, he warned: “And his chosen successor, Hilary Clinton, if elected intends to up the ante on that score when she brings in all those third world Muslim migrants who are waiting in the wings…”
The perception of Clinton as an extension of the Obama incumbency is crucial for grasping the stakes in the coming election. In many ways, his 2008 victory was a point of inflexion in American history.
With the opportunity to undo it lost in 2012, its detrimental impact began to solidify. A Clinton victory will all but make that impact indelibly irremovable. After all, Clinton has not only by and large endorsed all of Obama’s past policies—regardless of their calamitous consequences—she was in fact a co-author of a considerable portion of them.
A deeper dichotomy
But as I mentioned previously, by presenting the divide between Trump and a post-Obama surrogate, Clinton, as an “America vs Europe” one, Condell understates the true nature of the dichotomy. Indeed, it is a dichotomy that goes far beyond a difference of perspectives within prevailing Western civilization. It is a dichotomy between what have been traditionally deemed “Western values” and values which are “non-Western”. Indeed, the less charitable might say, “anti-Western”.
Accordingly, as I wrote just prior to the 2012 presidential elections, this latter set of values display “the same strains of resentment and envy, suspicion of others’ achievement, the belief that the success of some was necessarily the product of exploitation pervades much of the anti-colonial, anti-American – and yes, anti-Zionist – philosophy of many members of the Non-Aligned Movement.”
As a result, I cautioned: “[Obama’s] interpretation of the international role the US should play, the nature of the country’s interests, and the manner in which they should be pursued; his perception of friend and foe and the attitudes that should be adopted towards them, all seem to entail dramatic and disconcerting departure from that of most of his predecessors” adding that: “In this regard, he is the first US president who is explicitly … unmoored, both cognitively and emotionally, from the bollards of America’s founding Judeo-Christian heritage….”
Deeper dichotomy (cont.)
In a piece entitled “Will the West withstand the Obama presidency?” published just after the ill-conceived Iran nuclear deal, I warned: “For anyone who understands that the US Constitution is not a Sharia-compliant document … it should be alarmingly apparent that the Obama-incumbency is a dramatic and disturbing point of inflection in the history of America and its ‘Western’ allies”, clarifying that: “By ‘Western’ I mean countries whose political practices and societal norms are rooted in Judeo-Christian foundations in a cultural rather than in any religious sense.”
Indeed, almost 18 months earlier I asserted: “In many ways, the election of Obama in 2008 was a watershed… not so much because for the first time a man of color was elected to the US’s highest office…[but] because for the first time, the person elected was someone whose political credo coalesced in an environment where many of its formative influences (both personalities and ideologies)… differed sharply (arguably antithetically) … from those that historically made America, America.”
As Obama’s perceived successor, Clinton will be bound to preserve and promote—whether of her own volition or not—these political perspectives, simply because of the political milieu in which she will be compelled to operate, the political interests she will be compelled to serve and the political allegiances she will be compelled to maintain.
Deceptive first appearances
Of course, at first glance, one could make a plausible claim that Clinton is eminently qualified to serve as president—certainly far more so than the current incumbent was prior to his election. After all, she was First Lady for eight years (1993-2001), served as a US senator (2001-9) and as Secretary of State (2009-13).
This makes an impressive résumé indeed—until one begins to delve into the details. Putting aside for the moment all the earlier scandals that have plagued her and her spouse, in the last eight years, either as Secretary of State, as contender of the Democratic Party nomination and as a candidate for the US presidency, she has either been actively involved in formulating policy for the Obama administration, or endorsing its policies. She certainly has not distanced herself publically in any way from them—and hence must be inextricably tied—either directly or by association—to the succession of failures and fiascos of his administration—both domestically and abroad.
On the home front, this includes soaring levels of debt, plunging levels of workforce participation, yawning budget deficits and a failing health care reform, Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative, which earlier this month none other than Bill Clinton dismissed as “the craziest thing in the world”.
On the international front, things are, if anything, far worse, with debacle being followed by yet more debacles, and US influence and stature plummeting across the globe.
Failures and Fiascos
Thus, whether in Egypt or Libya, in Syria or in failed endeavors to “reset” relations with Russia, US policy and reputation are in tatters worldwide: The appalling Iran deal, allowing the tyrants of Tehran to acquire mountains of cash to finance global terror and weaponized nuclear capability, in exchange for a promised deferral , the estrangement from Saudi Arabia, the heightening tensions with the Kremlin. These are all disasters that Clinton is tainted with—whether they occurred “on her watch” as Secretary of State, or as Obama’s designated replacement.
But gross policy failures are not the only disqualifying stain on Clinton’s candidacy.
Arguably, even more damaging is the perception of corruption/corrosion of the organs of governance that are associated with her. This was perhaps best highlighted by the embarrassing House hearing with FBI director James Comey, when he inexplicably recommended Clinton not be indicted, while actually citing a litany of reasons why she should be! Indeed, the absurdity of the situation prompted Congressmen Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to exclaim disapprovingly: “…my real fear is…this double track justice system that is… perceived in this country…if you are a private in the Army and email yourself classified information you will be kicked out. But if you are Hillary Clinton, and you seek a promotion to Commander in Chief, you will not be….
In an acerbic analysis of the Clinton candidacy, Indian-born commentator Atul Singh writes: “Hillary Clinton is a deeply damaged candidate with far too many skeletons in her cupboard.” And skeletons galore there are: The Email scandal, the Benghazi tragedy, and “pay-to-play” allegations surrounding massive donations to the Clinton Foundation from Mid-East tyrannies ,whose societies reflect the very antithesis of the values Clinton professes to stand for.
Singh makes the withering observation: “She has been in power far too long and, as someone wise once said, power corrupts… Earlier this year, she ironically delivered a speech on income inequality in a $12,495 Giorgio Armani jacket. It evoked Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal comment about the starving sans culottes: “If they have no bread, let them eat cake.” Actually, the irony is worse because the Clintons claim to represent les sans culottes while gorging on foie gras…”
Of course none of this should be construed as a portrayal of Donald Trump as a paragon of virtue. Quite the opposite. Singh again: “While Trump might be a lying braggart and an obnoxious bully, Clinton [is] a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would persist with a status quo that is untenable.”
Indeed, much opprobrium can he heaped on Trump. He is vulgar, petty, easily distracted and I am far less convinced than Condell, who extolls Trump’s sincerity and commitment, as to the depth of his conviction in his own political pronouncements. But what would you rather have—Trump’s glaring character defects, or Hilary’s declared intention to flood the country with un-vetted and unregulated immigrants from the Mid-East and South America?
Trump: Cut from the same cloth as “Brexit”
In many ways, Trump is the creation of Obama and Clinton – a reaction of millions of Americans to the unwanted metamorphosis of their nation. Indeed, he is cut from the same cloth as Brexit. He is a response—undeniably an inelegant one—to what is perceived as an attempt to decouple America from its roots and its heritage.
However, as such, it is a response that is relatively benign. If it is rebuffed—brace yourselves for far more drastic ones in the future. For as Condell points out, Trump is a “necessary antidote to the poison of political correctness … destroying Western society’s immune system”. If this antidote fails to be administered, its successors are guaranteed to be far more virulent.
Dr. Martin Sherman