God Bless Americans
No other country splits the foreign Like vs. Dislike poll quite like the United States of America. We devour their products — Coca Cola, Hollywood movies, iPhones and hamburgers.
We hugely appreciate their many life-saving contributions to everyday medicine and technology, such as chemotherapy and traffic lights.
And we deeply deplore their gung-ho gun laws, their eagerness to sue for disproportionate big bucks over petty claims, and the arguably bullying tactics of some of their larger corporations, such as Starbucks, who shamelessly trade both home and abroad without paying a fair dime in corporate tax. Yet we continue to lap up their warm hospitality and friendly, helpful service. And a decent Flat white.
As equally paradoxically, we shake our heads in horror at US warmongering for personal gain — say, oil in the Middle East — yet automatically look to the US to ‘do something’ in times of political unrest. And they do. As Churchill once famously said: The Americans will always do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives. This backhanded compliment sums up a country that we outsiders don’t always get, that often doesn’t get it, but is usually more than willing to get their hands dirty. With or without a wide-spectrum international mandate to act upon.
Which brings me to US politics, and a political system in which money talks and buys votes.
Disagree? Consider how much money it takes to reach the White House and win the American Dream jackpot. And the fact that the two remaining Presidential candidates of the ca. 200,000,000 possible (roughly calculated on citizens minus minors and the elderly) have been whittled down to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
But as we outsiders roll our eyes, say only in America and giggle at the cheap cartoons on social media, what we sometimes fail to remember is that many, many decent American citizens share the sentiments and worries listed above.
The last thing they need is outside oil being poured onto the blazing fire. They have barrels to spare of their own.
Election run-ups, by default, involve taking sides. Picking a winner and putting a cross by their name on the ballot paper. But the 2016 Presidential Election, so far, has been more about voting against than voting for. Ask an American about the upcoming election, and in all likelihood he or she will not begin by telling you why their preferred candidate should win, but exactly why the other candidate is more unfit to be President. Is a liar. A Racist. A danger to peace. Corrupt. Has blood on their cuffs.
I’m sticking my neck out here by claiming this: Never before have so many American citizens felt neither candidate would be their first choice for President. I’m not talking among superdelegates and senators, but among the average, hard-working, intelligent and peace-seeking men and women of grass-roots America.
These ordinary citizens, know that Republicans, if defeated, will continue to disregard democracy by blocking and stalling the political processes to the nth degree of their mandate. Every move Clinton makes, personal or political, will be picked apart in the media to uncover her hidden, self-serving agenda.
They know that Democrats, if defeated, will hugely resent, ridicule and grab every public opportunity to undermine a Commander-In-Chief who avoids tax, rewards the rich, and regularly belittles the female half of the population.
But they also know strength lies in numbers.
So the good people of America stand aghast at the impending post-election aftermath. Because regardless of which candidate takes up residence in the White House, their country, formerly so proud to be united under the Star-Spangled Banner, is too bitterly divided over these two candidates to be reunited by either one of them.
The repercussions of the American vote on 8th November is also, of course, of huge global concern. From an international point of view, the new American President will hold the keys to US nuclear weapons, and wield great power over stability in the Middle East, NATO and the UN, the quality of the air we breathe, the welfare of our oceans, and the environment we live in at large.
Personally, at global level, I’m intrigued to discover what might be achieved, or prevented, with Mrs Clinton in the White House, Mrs May in the UK’s No. 10 and Mrs Merkel as Chancellor of Germany. In the midst of all the political unrest, both inside and outside America, trusting in the ladies is an exceedingly spindly straw. But I’m clutching it.
Over the past ten years, I have travelled to the US for both business and pleasure. From Niagara to New York, Newport and Napa Valley. To Washington, Gettysburg, Long Island, Cape Cod, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego. From Disneyland to conferences with 2000 delegates. From ride operators to celebrity authors.
At every end and turn, my family was welcomed with warmth and courtesy. I’ve made some very dear friends. Been given some excellent professional and personal advice. Learned and laughed in rooms full of kindred spirits. Arrived home with a new stock of memories and a date to return.
In short, I love the US.
I wish her only the very best, and pray the current political plight will read as a moment of madness rather than the beginning of a sinister chapter in her history.
So God Bless Americans. For theirs and all our sakes.