Had the TV on for most of the day and been flicking between the cricket and coverage of the American Republican primaries.
I’m a keen follower of American politics, but mostly from afar. I follow the news keenly, and will avidly read available analysis. Probably because of time zones it’s rare I get to watch any of the coverage live. Today I chose the CNN broadcast, on the basis that Fox is just shit.
Watching today confirmed long established opinion: that American politics is fucked, but it’s also fascinating. Right now it’s a peak period for both aspects – never has American politics been more fascinating, nor more fucked.
Of course it’s particularly fucked on the Republican side of the ledger. Watching from the outside it seems both bizarre and scary. I’m sure it’s the same for many Americans, but obviously for many it’s anything but. Bees in a jar. When you’re inside the jar you get conditioned to the environment. It becomes normal.
In most parts of the world politicians live in their own reality. In American politics in the time of caucuses and primaries it’s a travelling circus. You have the candidates, vainglorious and self-important, pumped full of rhetoric and a vision that only they can deliver. You have the backslappers and camp followers, the crowds hootin’ and a hollering’ like it’s a carnival. You have victory elevated into something wondrous, and defeat twisted into something honourable and brave. And you have the pack of roving journalists reporting, commentating and scrutinising every bit of it.
This is the process, but fuck me dead, nothing about it is real. It’s satire made real, farce made true. But there are fucking sheep stations riding on it. It’s a joke, but it’s critically important. This is how the US of A comes to nominate the candidate who just become the so-called leader of the free world.
That’s a particularly scary thought when you consider the Republican candidates. Right now Donald Trump leads the pack. Need I really say anything about him? Okay, so I’ll concede that likely much of his bluster is theatre. He’s made a show out of being outrageous and controversial. That’s his platform just about. As one commentator said, Trump believes everything he says, which is what draws people to him, even when he contradicts himself.
One of his big pitches is to build a wall along the border with Mexico. There’s even been calls for a wall on the Canadian border. He wants to ban Muslims, ditch Obamacare, has jumped on board the gun lobby bandwagon (default for every Republican), and spends the rest of his time insulting, abusing or ridiculing his opponents, commentators, women, Obama, congress, and nasty foreigners. Therein lies much of his popularity. He talks about making America great again, about all the great things he will do, but not how he will do them.
He’s a shocker, but then there’s Cruz, who is plain creepy. A few years back he was the Tea Party’s big hope when the Tea Party was the latest crazy thing in American politics. In craziness Cruz has been gazumped by Trump since, but there’s plenty about him to be afraid of. He’s the hard line conservative against pretty well everything decent, enlightened people believe in. I’m sure who’s worse, he or Trump.
Of the other contenders there’s Rubio, who is the establishment pick. By comparison he’s the normal one, and the safe conservative candidate, but by jingo there’s been a fair bit of stupid coming out of his mouth too. I reckon part of that is trying to keep up with the Jones’ – or the Trumps. When controversy and theatre are winning the day it’s hard not to join in.
The winner will come out of those three. I don’t think it’ll be Cruz, thank christ. Trump leads, but with other candidates dropping by the wayside I think Rubio might close the gap. Will be interesting to see, but in all honesty I wouldn’t vote for any of them in a fit.
Crazy as American politics is there are still maths to go of this un-edifying circus. Months! Fuck me dead, what a world.