Americans find themselves in a tricky situation where they have to elect a President between two relatively unpopular candidates.
Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are viewed, within and outside America, as failing short of the presidential material this leading capitalist powerhouse has to offer. Many Americans are finding it hard to reconcile what they believe are the virtues of American democracy with the spectacle they have been subjected to over the past months.
The on-going Presidential election campaign has been characterised by scandalous media revelations, personality attacks, lack of civility and shallow policy content. Even the ugly face of physical violence keeps on emerging from time to time. The entire global community is watching and wondering. The frequently posed question is how a country that for decades praised itself as a pinnacle for democratic values and principles finds itself in such a mess? Is democracy not supposed to help us come up with the best political leadership and process outcomes?
However, America is not alone in this dilemma. Recent elections in many European countries produced equally shocking results. Far right extremist parties are dramatically gaining ground in local government and parliamentary elections. The underlying causes are to be found in low economic growth, increased unemployment levels and reductions in social spending. The influx of migrants increased terrorist attacks, imposed wars on foreign territories and other challenges have exacerbated the situation.
The old liberal and conservative parties do not want to be left behind. They are opportunistically competing for the now-in-fashion extreme rightist and populist policy positions. The elections are therefore producing leaders that are at variance with a peaceful, humane world. In essence, we are witnessing a political crisis whose underlying causes are embedded in the faulty globalised capitalist economic system.
One would think that under very difficult times, the best leadership would emerge! However, history has other lessons for us. Where people are insecure, fearful or are without much hope for the future; the demagogues and populists win the day. Voters look forward to simple and one-dimensional solutions. These provide the much needed comfort. Complexity and objectivity get thrown away. A socialism inclined Bernie Sanders in the USA did not and will not have emerged winner. His inclusive and conciliatory messages of equity and humanity were harshly drowned in a media and political landscape favouring one-dimensional narratives. Demagogue and deception sold best.
The consequence of this development is not hard to decipher. A Trump or Clinton as President of the most powerful economic and military nation on earth, will not guarantee world peace, foster mutual respect amongst countries or cage the destructive powers of monopoly corporations.
We will all pay a price for the decisions made by American voters. May be the time has come for the entire humanity to play a role in electing American Presidents; – after all the political choices made in America affect all of us.