If you’ve been following the world of politics lately it might seem as though we are living in some sort of alternate universe. It is starting to look like the inmates are taking over the asylum. It would appear that on both sides of the pond things have gotten a little crazy. First the UK shocked the world by deciding to leave the EU back in June. To be honest even the politicians who were campaigning to leave seemed surprised by the outcome. The result of the Brexit referendum showed that the leave side received 52.5% of the overall vote whereas the remain side only managed to acquire 47.5%.Usually when a party secures the result they set out to achieve celebrations follow but not in this case. This time they all began to disappear from both sides. First David Cameron resigned. Then as if reeling from the shock of a surprise victory Boris Johnson decided not to run for Prime Minister after all. Nigel Farage stood down claiming he wanted his life back.
I’m sure at that point there were a number of people who wanted their country back or just to go back in time to before the election. Thanks to Nigel and friends however this wasn’t possible. The Austrian actor Christoph Waltz put it best saying, “of course, the head rat would leave the sinking ship.” No one seems to know what’s next for Britain in the wake of this result. They can’t just leave the EU over night. It’s much more complex then that. There is also the worry that other countries will follow suit. There is a lot of uncertainty in the air as the new Prime Minister tries to wade through unchartered water. It will take a number of years for this messy divorce to be resolved but you can bet in this case it’s the children who will be the ones to suffer the consequences of this decision. A decision that was largely made by older people who have considerably less to lose.
Since then America has officially named Donald Trump the Republican nominee, off the back of one of the most bizarre events I’ve ever seen, the Republican Convention. It’s hard to pick which part was the weirdest really, could it be Ted Cruz refusing to endorse Trump and getting booed off the stage, Malania Trump clearly plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s speech or Rudy Giuliani looking like he was in a drug induced state and scaring the crap out of everyone with mis-information. It was truly one of the oddest, most disturbing things I have ever had the displeasure of watching on television and in the age of reality TV that is really saying something. After all we are used to seeing “celebrities” venture into the jungle for no reason whatsoever but to ingest discarded animal parts as a means of entertainment.
Nevertheless I was continuously shocked by the way the speakers riled up the crowd and encouraged them to spew vile chants, mostly about Hilary Clinton without an ounce of concern for their actions or dare I say it the truth. If you were to believe the Republican Party Clinton is responsible for world hunger and war. According to them she deserves to be locked up for her many crimes against humanity. These statements aren’t actually based on anything or grounded in any facts. Despite reporters telling the crowds countless times that the information they were receiving was wrong this didn’t seem to matter. The mob grew ever more vicious as the days rolled on. I felt as though I was watching a cult rising up and declaring war on their enemy.
Of course political conventions are by their very nature designed to put the other side down. They aim to rally the base and get people pumped and ready to vote in November. I doubt very much the Democratic Convention which started today, will involve sitting around holding hands talking about how misunderstood Donald Trump is and how underneath it all he’s really a nice guy who just happens to have misguided opinions about how best to run the country. They too will slag off their opponent in the hope that they can convince those who are undecided to get on board the Clinton love train. The Democrats are off to a rocky start with the resignation of their chairperson due to, yes you’ve guessed it, more leaked E-mails and a bunch of uncooperative Bernie Sanders supporters who won’t be so easily persuaded to join the Hillary camp now that their man has left the race.
I don’t think its possible however to top the Republicans in terms of fear mongering. The whole thing was more like an advert for the impending apocalypse then a political convention. Trump made sure, in his historically long speech, that he never missed an opportunity to warn the crowd about rising crime levels and how much danger they’re all in on a daily basis. This of course isn’t true, crime rates have steadily declined since Obama took office. The truth however is not really something that concerns Trump supporters very much. Trump needs very little, if any facts or real information in any of his speeches. He relies on fear and anger to win over the voters and they lap it up. All that matters is that they feel as though things are getting worse even if there is no evidence to back that up. The truth is completely irrelevant. When it comes to the Republicans this year is all about, as the comedian John Oliver describes it feeling over fact. The song Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon comes to mind. They have totally forgotten why the hell they are fighting. They just can’t help it anymore nor do they want to.
Trump’s big entrance made him look more like an X Factor judge then it did a serious political candidate. He emerged from a cloud of smoke to the Queen song “We are the Champions” playing in the background. And yes that thundering noise you’re hearing is the sound of Freddie Mercury rolling over in his grave. The other members of the band were quick to respond saying that they had not given Trump any permission to use their music at this event. In an age where entertainment is God perhaps Trump is striking the right chord in order to get elected. Maybe he is right and there really is no such thing as bad press anymore. At least that was his response during the recent embarrassing incident regarding his wife’s speech. Could it be the more coverage he gets the more likely it is that he will be elected president? Maybe we do hold entertainment over substance. After all the one thing that is repeatedly said about both VP picks in the media is that they are boring. Trump on the other hand provides ample entertainment and news cycles and therefore he is ahead in the poles. We now live in a culture where being boring is far worse than being dangerous.
Now if all that hasn’t made you want to lie down and go to sleep for the next four years, perhaps we should be asking ourselves what other reasons have attributed to these events. There seems to be an overwhelming urge among the public to push back against the establishment. People are sick of the status quo and a few irresponsible politicians have convinced them that they have the answers. The problem is they don’t. The Labour Party and UKIP in the UK and the Republican party and Donald Trump in the US have proven that over and over again. Donald Trump despite what he might say is part of that establishment that people hate so much and he is certainly part of the elite. The truth is there isn’t a better alternative on offer. We have to engage with the system we have, get informed and use our vote responsibly. We need to try to make it work for everyone and stop blaming it on the other guy. Voting isn’t the most we can do its the very least. We are all here and we have to learn to live with each other and welcome others in. Politics is supposed to be about discourse and in order for that to happen we have to stop all the yelling and listen to each other. The only other option is uncertainty, fear and a hell of a lot of hatred. I personally don’t want to choose fear. I believe that we deserve better.