Trump, a master of dominating the daily news cycle, understands that the USA has become a “mediocracy”! Keeping us all guessing on who he’s hiring is drowning out the real story. Democrats and Hillary won nationally by over 2 million votes and the Electoral College doesn’t meet to decide the winner until December 19th.
The USA, despite our worldwide promotion of democracy, is not itself a democracy, but a republic of states. The electoral college was designed to prevent rule by a nationwide popular majority. It was a compromise to empower small states, many slave-owning at that time, to create the Union. Since then, this Electoral College system has denied most US voters the president they chose on five different occasions. In 2000 it was Al Gore and today it is Hillary Rodham Clinton.
This current contentious election revealed the continuing power struggles in the USA over creating a more perfect Union versus competing groups. The US Civil War was between slave-owning states and those opposed. Today’s fault lines still include race, but are now also about corporate power, Wall Street and money-based influence over politics, rural versus urban dwellers, religions, gender, diversity, immigration, trade policies and the return of white nativism, among other issues.
The rest of the world looks on in surprised, baffled confusion, fearing the outcome of the US election in today’s multi-polar globalized, financialized economies awash with guns and nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the USA’s media obsess on Trump’s new reality TV show and who’s hired, while million-strong grassroots campaigns focus on the Electoral College and whether enough of its members in each district will bow to their own voters’ choice and elect Hillary — or stick with the rules and elect Trump.
The USA prides itself on the rule of law not of men. Yet most acknowledge that Trump has broken most of the rules so far in this long ugly election and continues to do so. Rules exist on conflict of interest, self-dealing, separating business from the public interest, nepotism, the power of the presidency, personal enrichment and accepting gifts and emoluments. Even rules on foreign interference in US elections, norms on releasing tax returns, public decorum, respect of all people, sexual harassment, bullying, bigotry, misogyny, and standards of civility in debates have been breached. Secrecy in business dealings, refusal so far to release tax returns, evading press pool coverage, threatening journalists, suing media outlets and critics and vowing to put his opponent in jail are all a familiar part of Trump’s style.
Meanwhile, the clock ticks on until December 19th, as minority Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein joins the demands for a recount in Michigan and other states where voter suppression and voting machine malfunction, not to mention Russian hackers are suspected in the narrow margin results. Perhaps Independent candidate, former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, a Hillary admirer may join in. The new debate examines how the historic role of the Electoral College, designed to prevent populism has resulted in the opposite: empowering a populist candidate! Bills are now in Congress to abolish the Electoral College and allow majority rule and democracy, as in all states in electing their governors.
Polls on issues rather than horse races between candidates, have shown large majorities in favor of getting money out of politics, enforcing gun safety laws, curbing corporate power especially in trade deals, creating new jobs, making polluters pay, universal healthcare, reducing inequality, restoring voting rights, breaking up big banks, supporting clean, renewable energy and resources, as well as tackling climate change.
Gridlock in Washington between ideological extremists has prevented most of these issues from being addressed or being covered adequately by corporate advertising influenced mainstream media. This led to frustration, anger and demand for real change that propelled both Bernie Sanders’ revolt and Donald Trump’s promises to recreate 19th century industries and jobs while “draining the Washington swamp”. So far, these changes seem unlikely. Will the USA stumble on for four more years as the world looks on, or will we, at last, enact deep needed reforms? The states are high. Stay tuned.
HAZEL HENDERSON, D.Sc. FRSA is CEO of Ethical Markets Media Certified B. Corporation and author of “Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age (2014) a free 56-page e-book, downloadable at www.ethicalmarkets.com and many other books.