I have said it before and I will say it again: Bernie was our last hope as a species. As Roosevelt famously said: ‘the seeds of fascism are sown in misery and want’. America has been on a downward trajectory since Bush usurped Al Gore in 2000, so it stands to reason that a protest candidate would eventually capitalise on the misery and want created by a presidential tenure as disastrously bad as that of Bush. But, across the pond, we are all thinking the same thing: Did it have to be him?
Following the result in the US Presidential election, block-layers from all corners of America have begun to assemble on the fringes of the border with Mexico, trowels grasped in eager anticipation. While the victory of the wall-building Trump may have been music to the ears of the bricks-and-mortar of the construction sector, the rest of the world was decidedly less enthused.
2016 has been an insanely tumultuous year. Even still, Trump’s election seemed outlandish right up until it happened. The Orange One’s rapid ascension from reality TV star to the most high-powered public office in the world would have been fascinating to observe were the signs of the impending destruction of the human race not so ominous.
How did such a man get elected? He blows hot and cold with the same velocity as his wispy hair whips in the wind – do Americans really want a man so ruled by his passions to have access to nuclear codes?
From the outside looking in (and believe me, I am quite content to observe this debacle from the outside), it appears as though Trump gave voice to the concerns of working people better than his incredibly impersonal and distant rival, Clinton. Seemingly, it mattered not to the electorate that he also carries with him extremely objectionable personal views.
You can be sure that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is going to be in hot water for her apparent rigging of the Democratic nomination. In attempting to pour favour over HRC, the Democrats side-lined a genuinely-electable candidate in Bernie Sanders.
The American presidential election, if nothing else, has heralded a re-visitation of one of the most contentious debates in modern democracy: Does majority decision making always reach the most desirable outcome?
Simple majority rules voting eliminates minority views, races are boiled down to the lowest common denominator. With all of the personal name-sullying, the abusive Tweeting and the rest of the outright contempt displayed between HRC and Trump, this duel has essentially been a race to the bottom that resembled a playground slagging match more so than the most significant democratic contest in living memory.
Speaking of poor democratically-reached decisions, does anyone remember Brexit? Well in the midst of all of the Trump hype the British High Court ruled that a British secession from the European Union cannot be carried out without the assent of the House of Commons, a majority of whom supported the ‘remain’ campaign.
This decision prompted an outburst from the usually quiet and reserved UKIP politician, Nigel Farage, who lambasted the decision as being contrary to democracy. Indeed, there are accusations of usurpation of power any time the judiciary begin to throw their weight around in the political arena. The High Court judge in this case maintained that it was a ‘pure question of law’ and not a decision that was led by a consideration of the merits of EU membership.
The British government have appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, who will be very conscious of the PR consequences of stepping on the toes of the democratic will of the people, as it were.
Theresa May has indicated that Article 50 will be triggered as planned, and the UK will go ahead with their plan to row off into the sunset alone. Whatever the case may be, the UK doesn’t have a traditional written constitution so Westminster could still technically treat the result of the referendum as merely advisory. Therefore, England may actually be able to circumvent a democratically-reached decision to protect the best interests of its people, if that makes any sense at all.
As it now stands, the UK is at an impasse much like Ireland was in 1922. We had just forcefully extracted ourselves from a domineering foreign influence, yet we chose to retain close ties with our former oppressors. In 1922, the Irish Free State remained the right to free trade with the UK and our Commonwealth colleagues, and we retained our right of appeal to the British Supreme Court.
These rights were akin to bicycle stabilisers that helped our fledgling state get off the ground. Hopefully Britain can obtain a similarly-favourable deal, because our commercial interests are still intrinsically linked with those of our former colonial masters. The rapidly-tumbling value of sterling has affected the price of Irish exports, thereby proving that England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity no more – we share a common problem in Brexit.
It seems as though the UK will have another chance at getting Brexit right, irrespective of the consequences of out-rightly disregarding the will of the people. In the case of Trump, all we can hope for is that the Republicans in the House and Senate obstruct him at every turn as they did Obama. While he may be a Republican, Trump is far from an Establishment candidate and hasn’t really enjoyed the support of much of the old guard within the Grand Old Party. Here’s hoping that despite all of his pomp-and-pouting, The Donald ends up exactly like every other politician in the history of the world – with a heap of frustrated and unfulfilled election promises.
-By Eoin Molloy