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US Primaries – let he who is without sin cast the first vote

February 17, 2020

On the Day of Judgement, God scours the web, checks out the social media and makes His decision on who goes to heaven or hell.

This also appears to be the prerogative of voters, except that each of us is expected to function as the judge, and determine the relative weight of the sins against the good deeds that will send the candidate to heaven.

One of the less pleasant aspects of modern elections is the way in which the closer you get to the election itself, the more intense the stream of calumny against the front-runners becomes. It’s as if opponents of the candidates drip-feed the negative stuff over the campaign, and save the really juicy morsels of poisoned meat until the end, at which point the choice is severely limited. The timing of the nasties often or not determines the result of the election.

Even in the case of Donald Trump, whose transgressions have been manifest more or less from the moment he took office, you get the sense that those who wish to overthrow him still have something in reserve. Will it be further compelling evidence of corruption, revelations from his tax returns, damning emails or some other yet-to-be revealed candidacy killer?

The sad aspect of the battle for Democratic nomination is that the different factions within the party are doing as effective a job as Trump in demolishing the prospects of the leading candidates. Biden’s senile, Bernie’s a socialist who hasn’t changed his views since he extolled the Soviet Union. Buttigeig is either gay, therefore unelectable, or isn’t gay enough, which is unacceptable. Warren will destroy Wall Street. Bloomberg is an oligarch turncoat who hates women and presided over an oppressive stop and search regime while Mayor of New York. Klobuchar bullies her staff. And that’s just scratching the surface.

What a bunch of irredeemable shits, it would seem! And this comes from their own side. Yes, I know this is a time-honoured ritual in American politics, in which the acts of those who have governed are judged not by the standards that applied when they carried them out, but by the often very different attitudes of today. Likewise those who were legislators are reminded of every vote they cast thirty years ago that might not fit the present realities. Every pecadillo, misspeak and dissonant word is brought to light again, never to be forgiven.

Then, when the candidate is chosen, the furies who have persecuted them and all those who have fallen by the wayside turn into cheer leaders who do their darndest to persuade the electorate to ignore the heinous flaws they had previously exposed.

Nowhere is this excoriation more evident than on Twitter. You would have to search very hard to find anyone prepared to extol Bloomberg’s achievements, either as a businessman or a politician. The virtues of other candidates as decent human beings whose qualities are the very opposite to those of Trump rarely get an airing. So it’s left to the candidates themselves to blow their own trumpets, only to be howled down by the hounds of hell.

Way before the age of Twitter, I used to wonder how the whole process ends up throwing up halfway decent leaders. It seems designed to identify the most inoffensive mediocrities, and then slather them with money from the wealthy in search of influence – in return for an unknown quid pro quo.

That of course was before King Donald showed up and broke the rules. But the Democrats seem not to have grasped what those rules are, which is to say anything, break any eggs and hurt any feelings in order to get elected. They will say that the number one priority is to defeat Trump, and then they scuttle off to spread poison about those best placed to do so. Whoever makes it to the main contest will be hobbled before they even start.

I hope I’m wrong, but I fear that the only way any of the embattled survivors of the race to nomination will defeat Trump will be through an implosion on his part – perhaps some further revelation about his murky past or present, or his failure to deal with a catastrophe that will repel all but his most fanatical supporters.

I don’t wish catastrophe on anyone, but if one serves to end the grotesque career of the current President, then at least there will be a silver lining.

I’m not just talking about the US primaries, by the way. In my country we have a Labour Party leadership election in which supporters of the various factions are using exactly the same tactics to denigrate the candidates – all on Twitter of course. Like Trump in America, Boris Johnson must be looking on with glee.

In these dark days for democracy, a little kindness might go a long way.

From → Politics, UK, USA

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