Stuck in the middle

As an Australian, it is not my place to urge that Americans vote one way or another. I honestly don’t follow American party politics. Hell, we’ve got an election going on right now in Australia and I genuinely don’t care which of the two major party candidates gets in. They are about as exciting and competent as each other. That is, not much.

Interfering in the elections of another nation is wrong. That’s a subversion of democracy, which is meant to be the expression of free will of the people. Not the parties, not the government, not some third party, and definitely not the government of another nation. Democracy is the voice of the people.

So the news that Russia interfered in the American 2016 elections wasn’t something I could be happy about. I have far too much respect for my many American friends to cheer on Vladimir Putin undermining their free expression of sovereignty. If “we the people” means anything, it means American people, not Russian oligarchs.

Whether or not Don Trump conspired with Vladimir Putin is beside the point. I think both men made it very plain that they were happy for Putin to put his weight behind Trump.

From Trump’s point of view, he got an extra boost, which he badly needed. He lost the popular vote badly, and in the end his election depended on 78 000 votes in three counties. Whether the polling data Trump was passing to the Russians, combined with their own sources through Facebook and elsewhere was that specific is not a question I can answer.

From Putin’s point of view, he got a president who wasn’t actively opposed to Russian expansion as Hillary Clinton clearly was. More to the point, he got a president with no previous experience in public service, who actively supported division and chaos and made it clear – when he derided the conclusion of America’s own intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the election – that he considered his own uninformed opinions better than the vast resources available to the government.

I think the chaos and scandal of Trump’s administration speaks for itself. Trump has been instrumental in weakening the traditional alliances of the West; his continued attacks on NATO in particular must appall any student of modern history. His foreign policy seems to be based on seeking the approval of the world’s most brutal dictators.

His insistence on pushing nonsensical policy positions – spending billions of dollars on a border policy even the Republicans in Congress cannot support is a prime example – is further evidence of the ineptness of Trump’s government. It is an administration without clear guidance, run by incompetents, and deviating wildly from any prudent or secure precedents. He makes even George W Bush’s administration and its disastrous Iraq war look like a picture of probity and efficiency.

Whether Trump and Putin worked together is immaterial. The American people got a government incapable of the wise and effective national direction a nuclear superpower deserves.

And the world’s peace and prosperity is put at risk. As a species, we face grave dangers. Having America run by someone who acts like a clown and ignores his own experts on crucial matters gives me no confidence.

Then again, I guess there were a lot of Germans who thought Hitler was a great guy. Half of America backed Jefferson Davis. The history of the world is full of incompetents and dictators making life hard for everyone else. Why should my years on this planet be any different?

And if America is happy with a President who swore on a Bible to uphold the Constitution, when he has not read either document, then as an Australian, all I can say is hey, do better next time.


Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

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