I’m starting with a summary: This is all messed up! How do you stop a politician that people are willing to vote for, but would be the worst thing that ever happened to your country? Elections can be very unpredictable and when people are tired of the old lies they prefer new ones.
What’s going on in the USA at the moment reminds me of Norway in the 1980’s and 90’s. A party called The Progress Party (shortened Frp in Norwegian) was founded in 1973 and a couple of election later it started getting massive support. This changed the political landscape quite a bit. Frp is an immigration skeptic party, but not at all the radical right party that some foreigners like to describe it as. It is interesting that when Frp finally managed to enter its first coalition government in 2013, Swedish media was outraged and compared this party to National Front in France and Golden Dawn in Greece. They also claimed that this could never happen in Sweden.
When Sweden had their parlamentary election the following year the Sweden Democrats (SD) ended up with 49 seats in Parliament. This is interesting because the SD is a lot more extreme on immigration, and they present themselves as the only Sweden-friendly party in parliament. The situation in Sweden may have been worsened by what can only be described as living in denial. This country has had massive immigration for many years. This has been followed by “white flight” in major cities and increased support for neo nazis and parties like SD. The only acceptable opinion in Sweden is that immigrants only enrich the country. There are no negative sides and racism in non-existing. I know this very well because we do the same in Norway, but to a smaller extent. The problem is that the map doesn’t match the terrain at all.
The Swedish government was initially described as weak, possibly the weakest they had ever had with only 138 out of the 349 seats in parliament. The problem was the SD, which all the other parties wanted to marginalize, but when SD voted against the minority government on the budget, the government tried to solve the problem by calling for a new election. This was called off in early 2015 when the two blocks, Labour + Green Party and the Conservatives agreed to work together to minimize the influence SD had.
The point I wanted to make about Frp was that they sometimes had as much as 40 % in the polls in between election, but when the parties started their election campaigns they attacked Frp. They used any dirty trick they could think of and went as far as saying that it didn’t matter how much support Frp would have in the people. They would always keep them away from power. I guess that’s how democracy works, but it seems like we should have had a better way of dealing with people we don’t like. Perhaps we have to be content with being undemocratic when that is in our best interest? If so we don’t have any reason to complain when it doesn’t suit us.
The strange thing is that most parties, including the biggest one, Labour, agree with Frp. Norway has been governed mostly by Labour since World War II with a few, short Conservative interludes that haven’t even lasted a full term. They have all agreed that a moderate immigration, one we can handle, but also help refugees elsewhere, is the best strategy. I find it hard to accept what is going on in Norway at the moment. This is a statement from Stoltenberg’s second government. It acknowledged how serious the situation was, but did very little. The previous government has more blame than it has been willing to accept because it took part in creating this situation, both directly by bombing Libya and indirectly by supporting NATO in Iraq and Syria. The same people are now criticizing the Conservative government for not doing enough, and the Prime Minister in charge between 2005 and 2013 is now General Secretary of NATO. The people doesn’t seem interested in finding out more about what caused this refugee crisis. This is an interesting background for US politics at the moment. When people don’t care they vote for a candidate they know isn’t the answer, but there are no good candidates at the moment.
Danielle Allen, political theorist at Harvard University and a contributing columnist for Washington Post wrote The moment of truth: We must stop Trump. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds like initially, because the headline made it sound like she wanted to send the following message to the voters: “Your vote doesn’t count and I’m willing to overrule democracy if that’s what it takes.”
I agree with some of what Danielle Allen said, but I wonder how far she would be willing to go. Here are the last two paragraphs from her text:
Donald Trump has no respect for the basic rights that are the foundation of constitutional democracy, nor for the requirements of decency necessary to sustain democratic citizenship. Nor can any democracy survive without an expectation that the people require reasonable arguments that bring the truth to light, and Trump has nothing but contempt for our intelligence.
We, the people, need to find somewhere, buried in the recesses of our fading memories, the capacity to make common cause against this formidable threat to our equally shared liberties. The time is now.
I agree that Donald Trump has nothing but contempt for the Americans’ intelligence, but what is she really suggesting? There was a period when I wasn’t sure Trump was a genuine candidate. He was so comical and over the top that I suspected him of playing a part where he would make another candidate seem like a better choice, but I guess he really is aiming for the White House. There’s been a bizarre change in how many view the last 16 years. There used to be a time when George W. Bush wasn’t concidered to be the best thing that ever happened to the USA, but he seems to have claimed that reward after 8 years with Obama.
Ronald Reagan was an actor and possibly very ill with Alzheimer during his second term in office. One may wonder how much the president can really do on his own. Besides, how democratic are the other candidates? Danielle Allen makes it sound like this is a choice between Trump and democracy. Just get the Donald out of the race and we can all live happily ever after with our civil rights intact.
As soon as Antonin Scalia, member of Supreme Court, had died, the Republican candidates stated that they would block President Obama’s nomination for a year. There’s a good chance the Republicans will control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House in January 2017, so of course they don’t have any interest in a quick replacement. I think it’s fair to say that the Republicans haven’t been overly supportive of Obama’s plans for a health reform, budget or gun control either. Obama has also been accused of abusing his powers.
The question of whether or not the executive powers should be limited is interesting. Technically Obama has issued fewer executive orders than other presidents, but accordring to this article from USA Today he’s just playing with semantics. What if Donald Trump wins? Will his own party trust him with as much freedom as Bush H and W? I have a feeling some of them worry about getting a commander in chief with a reputation for being erratic, arbitrary, aimless, random and even accidental. Could they live with an accidental president? I wonder who would really be in charge.