US’s hate fest has no positive outcome

If there is one word to characterize the buildup to this US election it is “disrespect.” No low is too low. Their private lives are up for grabs, even those of their closest relatives.

Worse, great swathes of the population dislike and distrust Hilary Clinton while others fear Donald Trump as a danger to their country if and when he receives the nuclear codes.

Never before in living history have US frontrunners been this unpopular with the public at large. The situation mirrors Egypt’s presidential election run-off in 2012 when the majority of Egyptian voters found themselves being forced to choose between the Brotherhood man and someone they termed “a remnant” of the former regime—and look how that turned out!

This unprecedented situation has people all over the world perplexed on several counts. Firstly, how did someone like Trump with no experience in politics and little knowledge of world affairs become leader of the Republican pack?

Hardly a week passes when he doesn’t come out with outrageous statements that would kill off any other candidate’s chances, yet he maintains a loyal base. Imagine if Clinton had pleaded with Russia to spy on her competitor’s emails, as he has done, which is tantamount to treason, her political grave would be dug. Adding salt to the wound, Trump has expressed his admiration for Russia’s President Putin more than once, a sentiment that appears to be mutual.

He has also rattled America’s NATO partners by calling the alliance “obsolete” while suggesting that were he commander-in-chief, his country’s defense of NATO member states would no longer be automatic.

American political scientist Ian Bremmer analyzed Trump’s train of thought: “It’s America First” as in “blaming outsiders for America’s woes. Mexicans are coming to rape our women. Chinese and Japanese are robbing us blind. Muslim refugees want to come here and blow us up. And the Europeans are free-riding on American defense.”

Trump’s secret is he says what people, fed up with platitudes from the elites, want to hear. He doesn’t confuse them with details; he tugs at their emotions with positive sound bites and promises of great things to come. He talks to them in a language they can understand and they quickly forget that he’s a billionaire who wouldn’t recognize a food stamp if it were stuck to the end of his nose.

He tempers his speeches to suit his audiences. Raw, shooting-from-the-hip to communicate with sophisticated fellow New Yorkers; off to church to impress the religious right and it’s a baseball cap to show the blue collar bunch that he’s just one of the guys up for a pizza.

The “anything goes” mood extended to the recent Republican and Democratic conventions, that are normally dull, stodgy affairs. Ted Cruz was booed off the Republican Convention stage for refusing to endorse Trump and a plagiarism scandal overshadowed Melania Trump’s coming out speech. But she too was forgiven for parroting lines stolen from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech by a speechwriter, that she initially claimed she had written herself—and no one seems to mind that her degree from a Slovenian university, as mentioned in the convention program, is proven non-existent.

Hillary has her own crowd of cheerleaders but they are not glassy-eyed devotees like Trump’s.

There was a pall hanging over the Democratic convention due to a damning WikiLeaks expose adding grist to the mill of those who suspected the primary was weighted by the party in Clinton’s favor. Moreover, a moment of silence called to remember policemen who fell in the line of duty was marred by jeers from Black Lives Matter participants.

She will have to count on disappointed Bernie Sanders’ fans and the “anyone but Trump” crowd if she gets to move back into the White House next January. If they turn up on the day to tick their ballots, she probably has the edge, but will they? Half-hearted supporters might not bother, whereas Trump’s will be leaping out of bed at the crack of dawn anxious to cast their votes.

People everywhere are asking, is this the best you can come up with, America? Both carry less than pleasant baggage. Hilary has her vote for the Iraq War, mystery over Benghazi, and her illegal private email server on her shoulders. Trump’s 1970s discrimination lawsuit, casino episode, bankruptcies, “fraudulent” Trump University and serial trophy wives weigh him down with voters as yet undecided.

Whoever takes the prize, uniting the nation—in particular when racial tensions are heightened and terrorist attacks are on the increase—will have an uphill struggle, if not a Sisyphean task.

Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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