This blog is NOT about who should become the next President of the United States. It’s a tale of two campaigns, about the way in which we Americans have elected to choose our leaders, compared to the way in which Great Britain chooses theirs.
I live in the UK, as most of you know, where I witnessed a revolution take place last June. By a small but important majority, the British people voted to overthrow their ruling government – the government of the European Union.
It was a huge surprise – even to those who campaigned to leave the EU, and it threw the country into an immediate panic. The morning after the decision, prime minister David Cameron resigned. Most of the cabinet of the Labour Party, the minority party, resigned. The FTSE 100 and the US stock market tumbled. Recession or worse was predicted.
Meanwhile, a few of the main architects of the LEAVE campaign were busy knifing each other in the back to seize power. For a short while, it felt as though Britain did not have a government anymore – only a decision about what it didn’t want. Chaos, right? Revolution, a certainty?
Wrong. Eighteen days later, Theresa May, a new Conservative prime minister was elected with virtually no opposition. By the following day, she’d swept the old cabinet clean, removed all those she felt had daggers out for each other, and had set up a special Brexit unit of the foreign office.
Despite being only the second woman to hold the highest elected office, the media did not scrutinize her weight or clothing choices (other than, in a nod to her femininity, applauding her penchant for leopard kitten heels); they reported on her ideas.
Despite being a type-1 diabetic who injects herself with insulin, nobody questioned her stamina or accused her of having AIDS.
Theresa May is tough as an old boot and was applauded for it and not called a ball buster. Ken Clarke called her a ‘bloody difficult woman’, and she made hay with that statement, announcing that that was exactly what was needed, that she planned to be ‘bloody difficult’ to negotiate ourselves out of the EU.
And throughout all the turmoil of the referendum campaign and the selection of Theresa May and this week’s election of the head of the Labour party, I have been struck by just how informed the average British man on the street is about the issues relating to these elections.
I pored over and every magazine article and watched every television broadcast that I could about the Brexit and the two elections in an attempt to come to my own decision on the issues.
Week after week, on shows such as BBC’s Question Time, a show with a rainbow panel of politicians and commentators, to whom an audience may ask an array of probing questions, I hear extraordinarily informed questions about the economy, Brexit and what it means, what kind of Labour government is best, plus whether we need selective schools or more money poured into the National Health Service.
Every week, these are questions posed by ordinary working people. They may be screened, but there are too many of them asking intelligent questions not to conclude that the average Brit cares enough to try to drill down to something substantive.
Nothing like Brexit
I’ve heard it said that the Donald Trump’s phenomenon is akin to Britain’s Brexit vote. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the exception of a small minority, the people voting for Brexit simply wanted to take back control of the country, which is currently being run by Brussels. The arguments on both sides were intelligent – in fact, most of the fear-mongering occurred among the Remain camp, possibly one reason why it lost.
In America, fear is the only emotion being stirred up by the campaign. Donald Trump will blow up the world. Hillary will take away your guns.
I have heard very little about how to solve the actual issues facing us, only a slew of all the problems with either candidate – how Hillary is a ‘lying bitch’ and Trump a ‘racist’ with a decent size hands and an equally decent sized penis.
I’ve watched interviews with ordinary people who are convinced that Hillary has AIDS or Parkinson’s, that Trump’s former Atlantic City casino, the Taj Mahal, is going to offer chips in return for abortions, that Obama was responsible for 9/11 (‘he wasn’t in the Oval Office at the time – so where was he???’ Answer: he wasn’t the President at the time). Source? Facebook.
To paraphrase Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s new campaign manager, Hillary is too lawyerly and her answers are too detailed. People want a President who speaks in short soundbites. That, to the American public, is a leader.
We Americans are supposed to be electing the leader of the free world, but we have no idea how either would lead.
Do you think the rest of world is looking to us now?
[9/23/16, 10:14:47 AM] Lynne McTaggart: Hi Thayne, above is the blog text.. thanks for your help.
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