American Politics and Why Britons Should Care

Politics – a word that is both the answer to the question, “Why?” and “How?” simultaneously.  The UK has its fair share of it, and we Americans can empathize with the British people’s plight.  With the UK on the verge of losing Scotland altogether, it evokes painful reminders of what Britain lost and what America gained. That is, a rebellious child and a tax cut respectively.  You see, us Americans, we understand what it’s like to lose an important part of your country.  We’ve gone through it too; granted, we actually won our’s back and managed not to look like the bad guys (Really?  Red coats?).

But that’s not the only thing we have in common.  We speak English, we’re both obsessed with the English crown (sometimes it seems America is even more obsessed than Britain), and we both have absolutely no idea what we’re voting for.  For instance, Brexit, the perfect cross between a joke that went too far and a xenophobic nightmare.  That is to say, basically Donald Trump. Winston Churchill once said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”  Anybody who has spoken with one such voter will no doubt agree.

So what is really going on in America?  Well, the big thing is the presidential election.  A year-long process that takes the opportunity to flaunt everything that’s wrong with the US on international television.  From border walls to FBI investigations, there is very little the 2016 election hasn’t done to make itself as asinine as possible.   Someone outside the US might not understand just how strange the situation has become; so here’s a brief summary.

First of all, racism is way more of a thing in America than it should be.  It’s hard to tell why exactly the “Land of the Free” is still so racist, but the issue is far from past.  Donald Trump of the Republican party, American’s main conservative party, has some infamously intolerant policies such as mass deportation of illegal immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country, or his idea for building a wall between Mexico and the USA and having Mexico pay for it. This has been very popular with his supporters, unrealistic as they may be, and it may be the perfect analogy for his entire campaign.

Trump’s campaign takes advantage of terrorist organizations such as ISIL to play to the fears of the American people, claiming that “Muslims” are trying to destroy the country.  History has shown that there’s no better unifying factor than a common enemy, and Trump knows this well.  In a plan so cunning, you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox, Trump has turned to the age old tactic of scapegoating by using almost comically exaggerated accusations – and it’s working, as Trump’s campaign has seen some major victories despite its unrealistic (and unconstitutional) goals.

On the other side with the primarily liberal Democrats is Hillary Clinton, who somehow managed to spend her entire campaign bashing her rival candidate, Bernie Sanders’ ideas only to then adopt them after becoming the presumptive nominee for her party. Clinton has also managed to maintain her popularity while being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for sending classified emails on her own private server, which also played a role in the controversy regarding the September 2012 attacks on the US Embassy in Benghazi, with 900 of the emails that were turned over relating to Libya.  It seems that Clinton’s entire political career is rather sketchy, and the prospect of her becoming president may be worrisome for many.  With such a flurry of controversy regarding its presumptive nominee, America’s Democratic party isn’t doing much better than the Republicans, which leaves the American people with a difficult decision that may be changing the entire way American politics work.

Up until now, American politics have been controlled almost exclusively by two parties.  Now, however, the American people are looking for alternatives to this system.  For instance, the candidate for the Green Party, a smaller but still significant left-wing party, Jill Stein, is aiming to appeal to supporters of Clinton’s former rival, Bernie Sanders, whose democratic socialist views drew in many young voters eager for a change of pace.  On the other hand, America’s Libertarian party also has a promising candidate.

The Libertarian party is a fairly large party in the US that advocates for civil liberties and a laissez faire economy and stands in stark contrast to the Green Party.  Their candidate, Gary Johnson, may appeal to both liberal and conservative voters.  With his views on welfare, Johnson might be able to draw in Republican voters, while his view on civil liberties and even the legalization of marijuana may entice many Democratic voters.  While neither of these two candidates are yet at the point where they can run in the general election (the minimum is 15% of the vote), both are quickly becoming more well known. According to Reuters, 23% of those polled say they are “somewhat familiar” with Johnson, and 16% saying the same for Stein.

It’s pretty clear even from a page-long summary that the American political field is a mess at this point, and frankly there’s not much citizens of the UK or other countries can do about it.  The best way to make sure the US and the world stays peaceful and happy is to focus on making one’s own country better by voting for candidates that will positively influence the world, and hopefully America’s election. We’re counting on you!

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