Monday, 7 November 2016

Trump or Clinton: Decision Day for the United States

As campaigning for the US Presidential Election enters its final day, the world is looking nervously to who the next President of the United States will be. Will it be the Democrat Hillary Clinton or
Democratic Candidate: Hillary Clinton
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 Republican Donald Trump? The polls make it agonisingly too close to call. However, what is certain is that whoever becomes the 45th President of the United States will probably be the most unpopular president in modern times. After all, these two candidates are the two most unpopular candidates to run for the presidency. 

Earlier this year I remarked that the EU referendum campaign in the UK was one of the most negative and divisive campaigns I have ever witnessed. However, that was until the US Presidential campaign which has trumped it (pardon the pun) in terms of negativity, fear and vitriol.

To be honest most of the blame for the negative tone of this campaign can be laid at the feet of the billionaire businessman Donald Trump. I have no qualms in saying that this man, in the words of his rival Hillary Clinton, is ‘temperamentally unfit to be President of the United States.’ He has built his campaign on fear and hatred. Throughout this extraordinary and depressing campaign he has used racist and sexist language, he has been exposed as a bully, as someone who degrades women, and, most dangerous of all for democracy, he claims that the election is rigged - but only when things don’t go his way. How is it that such a dangerous and unpleasant individual can be within touching distance of the White House? Of course I know that Hillary is no saint, that the email scandal has damaged her credibility and raised issues about her trustworthiness, but I have trouble in understanding why anyone would choose a racist, sexist, narcissistic bully over her. But Trump has been a master in playing on the hatred that many Americans have of a political elite in Washington that is out of touch with the concerns of ordinary citizens

Republican Candidate: Donald Trump
Photo: Michael Vadon. Creative Commons License
For me, the campaign has also highlighted huge differences between the British and our transatlantic cousins. Most Britons struggle to understand the mentality of huge swathes of the American public who think that, on the one hand, healthcare, free at the point of delivery, is an evil to be feared, and, on the other, that anyone should be able to have access to lethal automatic weapons in a country where citizens regularly feel the need to gun down other citizens. We may speak a common language but there is a huge gulf between Britain and many in the United States. However, while we in Britain may not always understand these aspects of US culture, we should still care about what happens to our closest ally and friend. After all, our two nations have much shared history, and it does matter to our nation's prosperity and security who inhabits the Oval Office.

What I’ve also found disturbing is that many evangelical Christians have endorsed Trump’s candidacy out of hatred of his rival. To many evangelicals, Hillary represents an immoral metropolitan liberal elite who opposes their conservative views on abortion and gay rights. Irrespective of whether you agree or disagree with Hillary’s stance on these issues, there can be no justification in supporting a man whose lifestyle and views are so diametrically opposed to the Christian gospel. Can a man who uses racist slurs, who bullies his opponents, who lies and who degrades women really be God’s candidate? To me the answer is obvious. Sadly, those evangelicals who support Trump are not just mistaken but are playing with fire. Their stance seems to apply that they have forgotten what the gospel of Jesus Christ is really all about. They are very, very wrong when it comes to Trump.

So what will happen on November 8th? This past year has shown us that anything is possible. A year ago, who would have thought that Britain would have voted for Brexit? A year ago, who would have guessed that Boris Johnson - of all people - would be the new UK Foreign Secretary and our chief diplomat. And a year ago, who would have guessed that Donald Trump would be this close to winning power. This year has been a year full of surprises. I’m not a betting man, but I would not bet against a Trump presidency. Stranger things have happened.

However, my hope is that a majority of the American people will come to their senses. A Trump presidency would spell bad news and create even more instability in a deeply troubled world. I hope and pray that on November 9th we will wake up to a Clinton victory, for the alternative is too depressing to contemplate. But assuming that Clinton wins, then this would be where the hard work really begins. After all, the United States is now a deeply fractured and embittered society and is desperately in need of a leader who can heal the nation. Would Donald Trump be the man to heal the United States? I don’t think so. But can Hillary Clinton? I hope so.

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