Two or three months ago I wrote in this column that I felt Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee for the United States presidency, had put himself in a position where the Democrats could make a caricature of him which would frighten the American people into voting for the Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
I mentioned that the Democratic campaign of the incumbent President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, had succeeded in doing such a caricature job on Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate in November of 1964, who was beaten badly by Mr. Johnson. The so-called Cold War between the United States and Russia had been perhaps the biggest issue in 1964, because it carried with it the threat of nuclear war and the annihilation of planet earth. The Democrats had made Goldwater look like an extremist hawk who would be quick to use America’s nuclear arsenal.
Well, in the last two weeks of this 2016 presidential campaign, the Democrats actually brought their 1964 anti-Goldwater “Daisy” ads out of their archives in seeking to paint Trump as someone with a hair trigger temper who could not be trusted to keep his cool if he was in charge of the United States’ nuclear weapons. Clinton had opened a fairly big lead, and claims of incidents in which Mr. Trump had been abusive towards women were influencing the polls even more in her favor.
In late October, however, James Comey, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), dramatically announced that his FBI was re-opening an investigation they had previously closed into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server for her e-mails while she was Secretary of State during the Barack Obama presidency. Comey’s was a bombshell announcement which immediately began tightening the polls, and as we head into Tuesday’s election, it is Comey’s move which is having the greatest effect on the presidential race in its final days.
I am no kind of expert on American electoral politics, but there are two points I would like to make here.
One is that there is an energy amongst the white voting base in America which is similar to that which resulted in Great Britain’s recent referendum decision to leave the European Union (EU). This is an energy which is anti-globalization in nature.
Way back in the early days of investment capitalism, when Europe was entering/invading Asia, Africa, and America, the Europeans developed the ability to pool their resources into what we call “corporations.” To this day, people like us in Belize who have been victims of slavery and colonialism, have not developed such an ability: we are congenitally mistrustful of each other.
In the post-communism, post-Berlin Wall era after 1989, the transnational corporations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations introduced the philosophy of globalization, wherein their investment capital began moving their factories out of their host NATO nations into world market locations where cheap labor and natural resources were readily available. The corporations increased their profits immensely during the globalization/privatization decades of the 1990s and the early third millennium, but the white middle and working classes in NATO nations like Great Britain and the United States were noticeably damaged where their standard of living was concerned. That is why the British voted to leave the EU, and this white base backlash is the explanation for Trump’s popularity in the United States.
Mrs. Clinton is the candidate of the American corporate structure (Wall Street), and this was exposed during the challenge to her for the Democratic nomination which the Bernie Sanders campaign presented. She is not receiving the support from American black voters which propelled Barack Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012.
The second point I wish to make is that there are scholars who believe that Hillary presents more of a threat to world peace than Trump. Mrs. Clinton has a violent record (check Libya and Honduras) where American foreign policy is concerned, and she is totally committed to NATO, which has been confrontational and aggressive towards Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Scholars point out that Trump proposes a more direct engagement for the United States with Russia, bypassing the NATO commitments.
World War III seems like a crazy proposition to us Belizeans, but there are crazy things going on in the world today. For us in Belize, ignorance is a form of bliss. If the Americans and the Russians ever started shooting their missiles at each other, Russia would lose, but Europe would be destroyed. This is how people like Clinton Canul Luna see it. I can’t tell you what the implications of World War III are for Belize, but it is for sure, that,the planet is very much an interconnected place in this third millennium.
Finally, I would say that beneath all the wealth and glory we see in the great America, there are raw, bitter, and violent emotions which create the possibility of disorder if there is a close race on Tuesday. The relationship between the Trump and Clinton camps is very, very hostile. Trump is a wild card who has spoken repeatedly to his supporters about the race being “rigged,” and he has refused to declare outright that he will accept the electoral verdict, win or lose.
The mood in the United States amongst the people is more volatile than I have ever seen it in their presidential politics. In 1968, because of the Vietnam War and the black power phenomenon, the United States was in a revolutionary mood which affected the presidential conventions and campaigning that year, but in 2016 it is the presidential campaigns themselves which have destabilized the body politic. I’m just saying.
To repeat, I’ve never really understood American electoral politics. The voters do not elect the President directly. They elect delegates to an electoral college which has the final say. Each of the 50 states has a certain number of delegates they will send to the college. It is a complicated process, and in 2000 the race between the Republican George Bush and the Democrat Al Gore was so close that it was the delegates from Florida who would decide everything. But, there was procedural confusion in the Florida voting process, yes, in the great America. The 2000 presidential result was in limbo for almost three weeks, and it ended up with the United States Supreme Court’s having to make a ruling. There was a lot of uncertainty in the United States for weeks after election day in 2000.
There has been a saying in Belize, over the course of my lifetime, that when the United States sneezes, Belize catches a cold. If the race between Trump and Clinton is too close, there will be some sneezing going on in America this week. The Cubbies were one thing last Wednesday night: Trump and Clinton this Tuesday are something else entirely. In a sense, Belize’s fate is at stake here.