Tag Archives: democrat

What Brexit says about the choice the United States has…

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As a Brit with an interest in US politics that’s lasted pretty much my entire adult life, all I can say is that if Brexit has taught us anything, it’s that those promoting the politics of fear and division don’t care about you or I. Their ideological, selfish campaigning has nothing underneath it. The vote to Leave was a shock, but not unexpected. The Remain campaign simply thought they could scare voters into staying, while Leavers simply peddled negative, xenophobic, racist and outright made-up figures that played to that populist, “we don’t need anyone else to be Great Britain” rhetoric. It resonated with people that thought politics had failed them and saw solutions through demonizing others rather than the very people telling them to Leave. The very same people from the heart of the establishment who were claiming to be anything but. Sound familiar?

There are many things about Hilary Clinton that I have issue with, and while Bernie made inspiring and principled speeches and energised youth and disaffected voters, surely we all knew the reality was that the majority of his plans would have never been reality (Obama’s two terms fighting the House and his own party tells us that an overwhelmingly decent and principled man still struggles to push through even the most sensible policies). And we only have to look at the Labour party to see how a candidate that’s come to power on a wave of populism and left wing ideals has proven a less than competent and effective leader.

But Bernie has forced Hilary into adopting more of his language and policies. This can only be a good thing. Is she as inspiring? As emotive? As warm and engaging? No, she isn’t. And she’s up against a candidate that, however abhorrent, knows how to speak in a way that (unfortunately) connects with many people, playing to their fear and anger. She has to be positive, she has to be able to reach out to voters that want to be heard, that are being attacked by her opponent. That’s a potentially huge demographic. The more he alienates, the more voters are up for grabs for the democrats. Simply refuting his “policies” won’t work, because he makes them up as he goes along, which makes them hard to lay a punch on. And yet Hilary seems to be held up to a level of scrutiny that no man and certainly not a “personality” like Trump ever is.

But however depressing it is to see another dynasty crowned (between Bush and Clinton, that’s most of my life covered, more than half if Hilary gets in) and feel as if there’s such a narrow choice for leader, the alternative surely must galvanize democrats? So many here voted Conservative in 2015 thinking it was a safe bet for a coalition only for a majority to get in and set about further ruining the country, culminating in our decision to leave the EU. Many voted there as a protest, or because they bought lies on immigration, the economy, public services, and it’s going to affect the rest of our lives in the UK.

Trump would be the same. It would be an atom bomb in the US political landscape. Like Leavers, I’m not even sure he wants or expects to win. It’s just about his own ego and popularity. He’s willing to divide the country to feed his own myth and coffers. It’s a crazy situation, but Hilary hasn’t even made her convention speech and yet democrats are fighting each other: it’s just what he wants. I can’t see any reason not to vote against Trump, and to prevent him from being in office, Hilary is the only choice, surely? Anything else is just giving a vote to the devil….

The rich get richer, and the poor….

Obama announces debt deal

Well, when you’re a Tea Party-backed Republican and you’re crowing about your ‘victory‘ in the debt-ceiling deadlock, why should you care? After all, you stood in the landslide mid-terms on a ticket of no taxes and rolling back so-called ‘big government’, under a misguided sense of taking America back to Washington-era constitution, and after weeks of acrimonious argument and Capitol chicanery, you’ve succeeded in hijacking a process that’s hitherto been smooth and commonplace and turning it into a means to push America further to the right.

It’s astonishing that, for an administration that still holds a Senate majority, this government can be held hostage by a group of politicians that, for all the aghast cries from dissenting Democrats, didn’t even support such a painful bill because the cuts were not nearly tough enough, and the compromises too weak. The likes of Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann, who would sooner give up their right to bear arms than bring in tax increases for the rich, have come off best in a game of brinkmanship that played with the global economy as if it was a roulette table. While many thought that a deal would eventually be done, simply because it had to, it’s incredible to think that a President whose election ideals reached out to the poor and disenfranchised so much has now been forced to support a deal that must’ve felt like sucking vinegar, against everything he and many of his party stood for.

So why did it come to this? The debt ceiling had to to be raised, as it had painlessly by countless Democrat and Republican Presidents before, but this time the Democrats, shorn of their House majority, had to face the fact that this time the vote would be made, by those on the far right, to symbolise the deep divisions on Capitol Hill. The GOP, so riven itself in conflict that on Friday its House leader, John Boehner, humiliatingly lost proposed vote simply to approve his own party’s plan, has managed to play a game of chicken, safe in the knowledge that however opposed to their plans President Obama was, he would most likely compromise in the national interest, something they would refuse at all costs. And what costs? While many doom mongers had forseen another 2008, the reality was that a US that couldn’t service its own payrolls could’ve sent the markets into turmoil, and yet Tea Party-backed Republicans and many more moderate in their party saw it as a viable alternative to many of their bete noires, especially that spectre of all spectres, tax rises for the rich.

It’s a distasteful, unpalatable truth that many of these super-rich politicos see it as their divine right to save the majority of the wealth for the majority of the rich. Bush’s tax cuts, an abomination when they were brought in 2001, are staggeringly still here, making those with the most proportionally better off year on year. It was this unthinkable that saw the Right push back against a series of proposed Democrat plans that would’ve seen them take a hit along with many schemes designed to help the poorest – social security, education, Medicare, Medicaid – in favour of swingeing cuts that simply left them untouched. To a British citizen like myself, even with a Conservative-lead government, this seems an almost unbelievable truth. That a country as apparently welcoming and diverse as the United States, self-appointed global leader and trumpeter of its ideals, can allow this abomination to persist, in fact to be furthered is shameful beyond description. But this, to many on the Right, is the American Dream. You are responsible only for yourself, you reap what you sow, your success is yours alone to enjoy, and no-one, NO ONE, is going to deprive you of it. Perfect, if you’re a millionaire, but if you’re below the poverty line? Well, you just need to work harder. It comes as no surprise that the majority of these Tea Party-backed are white, middle and upper-class (yes, there are token minorities, there always are), and their supporters even more so, while all the poor are often black, many minorities. Well, they’re just poor because they’re lazy, or they don’t work hard enough, or they’ve not made their own opportunities. It’s one of the staggering conditions of the United States: try to redistribute wealth, to help using taxes those less well off than you? You’re a socialist.

In a Europe where Obama would be, and is, welcomed with open arms for his lofty ideals and balanced views, many in his own country happily equate him with Stalin. And as the Right pushes further from the centre, these viewpoints, festering in the fetid cauldron of the likes of Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, gain more and more mainstream credence, and soon, they are talked of as the ‘centre’ ground in a country whose politics are becoming ever more polarised. So, we’re left with a bill, that’s passed with disgust by the majority of Democrats, and amazingly rejected even more so by the Tea Party for its weakness, that ‘saves’ the States, for now. And you almost have to take your hat off for the way the Right fought the battle. They’ve weakened the President, undermined the economy, and a Senate majority, won a bill that’s abhorrent to Democrats, and for them this is just the beginning. And why? Because they’d rather see people on the street over medical bills, bankrupted by mortgage repayments, homeless and jobless, because they see it as their divine right to retain all the wealth they have, at the expense of those who have none. That is, in their eyes, the American way, the American ‘dream’.

It’s a disgrace, and no amount of argument, however eloquently expressed, will convince me that the Tea Party is anything other than the politics of the mean. The selfishness of the wealthy over the powerlessness of the poor. Helping those less well off than you isn’t socialism, it’s humanity, and these last few weeks have shown, as if it wasn’t already flashing like a million watt bulb, that these people have none.

Yes we can!

Victory for Obama

It’s happened, and it’s happened emphatically. Victory for Barack Obama, Joe Biden and the Democrats has been not just a landslide, but an avalanche. He needed 270 Electoral College votes, and he’s currently sitting at 349, with some results still left to come in. He took an unprecedented victory in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and Florida. It’s a huge overturning of the Republican majority that has decimated the United States in the last eight years. It’s been a victory for clean, forthright policies over a party willing to smear and be negative. It’s more than simply a victory though. America has elected its first African-American president, something I didn’t think I’d see in the first 50 years of my life.

So, what does it mean? Of course, the sometimes almost messianic feeling that followed the Illinois Senator around is overblown. It can’t be assumed that he will heal his country in four years. He’s inherited a seemingly endless conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a crippling economic crisis which will seriously stymie his ability to push through reforms in healthcare, education, and spend as he’d have wanted when he started the race twelve months ago. But we cannot underestimate the energising of the United States electorate that’s swept him to victory.

On the ground, he had huge financial resources, but also an unwavering support at grass roots level, whose unstinting work ensured a record turnout, and an unprecedented number of votes from young, black, immigrant, working class people that wanted change. And his unwavering belief that change could occur, that the USA could leave its hawkish, warmongering, isolationist agenda behind and reach out to the world in a new era for politics. This marks the end of the old conservative era, that began with Reagan’s terms in the 1980s and culminated in the Neocon-riddled administration of the ‘W’ era. There is fresh and real hope that this is a time for change and one that can be carried through.

Make no mistake, this will be a hugely tough term. And with the Senate looking like it’ll fall just short of the 60 super-majority that would’ve made his ability to change even more strong, Obama’s Democrats will find the road hard fought and trying, but the belief and willingness to change. And like other reformers before him, he’ll need to stamp his authority on the country in his first 100 days, looking to pass some of his most important bills when the momentum is still with him.

What will happen with Iraq? Will 16 months really be realistic to withdraw? I feel that some of his policies will need to be diluted, both to get them voted through, and also in light of the economic downturn that will blight his four years (and hopefully longer) in the Oval Office. And how will he turn round the economy? Will he be able to force more regulation on a Wall Street that has supported him in his presidential reign? If he can count on one thing though, it should be that he’ll have support from the public like no president has seen since the JFK years.

And what of the elephant in the room… will there be an attempt on his life? There are many in the USA that have expressed enough ire to suggest that it may happen. If we are to believe stories in recent weeks, some have already tried. We can only pray that he sees out his term, and will seek and succeed in a second in 2012.

But there is no escaping the resonance of Nov 4th 2008. The day that the USA voted its first black President into office, and the day that, for once, optimism, hope and change became something tangible and realistic in a decision that should change not just the States, but ripple to the rest of the world. We can be hope.

Yes we can.

The force of change….

Barack Obama

Sitting here in front of news channels and live updates on websites across the world at 1.30am in London, the US Elections are tipping already in the direction of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and the Democrats. A night that’s surely going to capture the imagination of the globe, it appears even at this early stage that history is beckoning. One of the hardest and longest fought battles in US Election history, one that’s seen one side beset with negativity, and the other striving to rise above it, it’s been the choice of old politics v new.

Of course, we can make sweeping statements, generalisations, and lush rhetoric, in tune with Obama’s message of change, but the reality is that he will, if elected, face many challenges, based largely around changing the political machine in the States, and working with a budget that’s been decimated by the wars in Iraq and conflict in Afghanistan, and the Economic slump. But work with it he will, and his election is still an inspiration, being the first African-American to be elected into the Oval Office, something I didn’t think I’d see until well into my second half-century.

I will be going to bed soon, and I will be waking up to a new political dawn, one that can give hope to the millions of disenfranchised Americans (blacks, immigrants, middle class, rich, poor, the list in endless) that have suffered at the hands of the Bush administration and its ultimately disastrous eight-year reign. This, if anything else, will be reason for people, not just in America, but abroad, where a recent poll shows that 87% of those involved would vote for the Illinois Senator, to have hope that America will once again engage as part of the global political system, and not stand above it.

Roll on Wednesday, shaping up to be one of the most important days in my generation’s history.