Archive for September, 2016

Where are Snowden and Assange when you need them?

September 18, 2016

It seems that the emails of important people can be hacked but Trump’s income tax returns remain secret. There must be a bevy of officials, lawyers and accountants who have seen them and know what they contain. Perhaps they are waiting for an opportune time to release the details. These may be more informative than Dr Oz’s medical reports of Trump.

 

Only Gilbert and Sullivan or Monty Python could do justice to what takes place daily in the presidential election. Neither candidate is liked or respected by a big chunk of the US electorate. Who gets fewer dislikes may become the winner. The election appears not to be about the candidates and their policies, but about a widespread feeling that all is not well in American society.

 

Trump offers action leading to change, and although the action may be unrealistic, voters like the idea that someone argues the need for change. Clinton has been around Washington for a quarter century, and while she may recognize change is needed, as Bernie Sanders did, she is less believable. And trotting out Bill may not be helpful …….a consummate politician but often on a glide path that gets him into trouble.

 

Canadians reside smugly north of the border unaware of what might happen, and governed by Donnie and Marie. Canada could be sideswiped by whoever wins. If Trump, there will be a neophyte politician who will try to run the country like the businesses he may have owned. If Clinton, there will likely still be a Republican oriented HouseĀ if not Senate, and governing will remain the challenge that it has been recently for Obama. Measures like the CETA and the TPP will be difficult to pass, which in my view will be a mistake as trade and investment are the ingredients for improved living standards. Ok, I am aware that the benefits have not always been equally shared, but protectionism guarantees lower living standards.

 

The final days of the campaign are likely to contain the determining factors, and what has gone on before will be forgotten, at least by the voters, if not by the reporters whose livelihood depends on reporting the news and are in intense competition with social media.

Clumping Along

September 16, 2016

Sixty days to the US presidential election presents a period of uncertainty. Whichever candidate wins, the issues that propel this election will remain. Countries including Canada are far from immune from the outcome and may well be sideswiped by what follows.

My observations at this point are:

1. The US has a first class economy and a third class political system. A danger is that the latter will undermine the former. Respect for the economy is shown by the fact that many if not most people want to hold US dollars, visit the US whether to work there as legal or illegal migrants, do business and study there. It has some of the best universities in the world.

2. The political system was designed to be first class and to address the weaknesses of the Westminster system that prevailed at the time of independence when George III reigned. It has become sclerotic as voters and politicians have learned how to play the electoral process and the steps needed to pass and implement legislation. Elizabeth Drew describes this well in The New York Review of Books August 16, 2016, “American Democracy Betrayed”. I recommend that it be read.

3. Clinton and Trump or Clump, the two candidates reflect different aspects of this political train wreck. Clinton is viewed as having been for the past quarter century an insider and part of the forces that shaped the malfunctioning politics. Trump is seen as a political outsider without the Clintonesque scars, but someone who benefited from the gravy that the political system produced and still produces for some. Thus there are many voters who don’t want to support either candidate and may turn to the two third party candidates.

4. While the winning count of 270 electoral college votes seems to favour Clinton at this stage sixty days out, the voters could upset these predictions. They did that when it came to the Republicans choosing their candidate Trump, out of seventeen contenders.

5. After election day the issues that gave voters the Clump choice will remain, and until a way is found to revise the underlying conditions the US political system is likely to stay either broken or severely damaged.

6. Many Canadians seem to think they are separate and isolated from Clump on one side and Brexit in Europe. I doubt this is the case. How this will all work out is a mystery to me.