It seems like the days of people around the world wishing that they were American will soon to be over. After watching the first Presidential debate, I know that I wouldn’t wish American voting rights upon my worst enemy. It sounds hyperbolic but it’s true. For the first time in my political life, I do not envy America in the slightest.
American politics has been famously contentious and fantastical, with two sides that seem not to be able to agree on anything at all. It doesn’t quite seem that way this year. In fact, it is quite fitting that Hillary was wearing all red at the debate whist Donald sported a blue tie; as if it wasn’t already difficult enough to deduce which party was which.
Immigration is normally a very contentious Red versus Blue policy. However, immigration was hardly mentioned in the debate and it seems that neither candidate has anything more than rhetoric on either how much they love Mexican rice or how well they can construct a wall to offer to the debate. Both candidates just say vaguely what people want to hear and frankly if neither can offer an actual plan at this point then we can just assume that they won’t actually do anything. Not necessarily surprising when we talk about politicians, but always disappointing.
America has in recent years gained a bad reputation for fighting in distant wars abroad, and opinions of them on the world stage have suffered. What will the candidates do about it? Clinton wants to bomb the Middle East and force them to accept American backed governments that will act as allies to the superpower. Trump wants to bomb the Middle East and then take all of their oil and give it the American government to sell. Key difference here is that one candidate wants to raze, loot, and pillage an entire geographic area and the other candidate wants to raze and then enforce vassalage on an entire geographic area. Trump does in all fairness want to avoid future quagmires, but only after creating the largest quagmire in history by raping a nation of its infrastructure, natural resources, and oil. Both candidates seem reasonably committed to some kind of ‘America: World Police’ pursuit. Not exactly full of choice.
How about the economy? Clinton gave her usually broad spiel about economic equality and blamed the rich for most of America’s problems in a pretty shameless attempt to court Sanders’s voters. Nothing different from a democratic candidate there. What about Trump?
People like to still say that the historical classifications of the two main American political parties apply in a post-Trump world. Trump’s tax plan is a clear indicator that they do not apply. At all. Trump believes that the wealthy should be taxed more, despite the fact that he doesn’t pay any income tax; presumably because he didn’t want to pay such high taxes. Trump also seemed to express, however vaguely and inarticulate, during the debate that goods from abroad should be taxed heavily in order to force businesses in the US to remain in the US, to extort foreign businesses into relocating to the US, and to give American businesses a competitive advantage. Trump does however paradoxically want to lower corporation tax significantly. Not that it will matter when its benefits are offset by a punitive war on foreign businesses. Trump blames foreign businesses and emerging economies trading with the US for the woes of the middle and lower classes. Trump basically blames free market capitalism. He wants to tax businesses for being competitive. Trump is no less tax-mad than Clinton. Clinton blames the owners of big businesses; Trump blames the businesses themselves. Both candidates believe that free markets are inherently bad and should be curbed by taxes. The American dream sure has changed.
If there’s one thing that Democrats and Republicans definitely disagree on its guns, right? Wrong. Not this time around at least. The Donald wants to institute the wildly unconstitutional Giuliani policy of ‘Stop and Frisk’ nation-wide. This would give officers of the law the power to search citizens and remove firearms from citizens on the street if they see fit, and all without a warrant. By the way, the NRA somehow has decided to give him their support, which adds to the confusing and ‘anything goes’ nature of this election season.
Clinton, on the other hand, wants to ban assault weapons and institute mandatory background checks at a federal level. Which one was the pro-gun candidate again?
Over here in Europe we tend to marvel at how American’s don’t want public healthcare. Those days look like they are soon to be over seeing as both candidates agree with some kind of taxpayer funded federal healthcare programme. The main bone of contention seems to be whether it will be called ObamaCare or TrumpCare. This is pretty strange when you consider that a majority of Americans consider themselves staunchly anti-socialist and state intervention. Who will they vote for this year?
Surely they must disagree over some of the more fringe issues that tend to win over moderate voters? Once again, this is not the case. Both candidates support continuing the federal level ban on marijuana and believe that it should be considered a schedule one drug; just like heroin and cocaine. Both Hillary and Donald also believe that God should very much be kept in the public sphere, which means prayer in schools and so on.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are just two faces on the same dirty, statist penny. It seems at the moment that the American electorate only has one choice this election, and that is indeed a larger federal government. Both of the candidates share a lack of faith in free-trade, the concept that made America’s economy so large and booming, and additionally a belief that problems are best solved at the government level; there is no individualist or small-government candidate from the major parties.
Of course, Americans could vote third-party, and many commentators are calling this the biggest opportunity for a third party breakthrough in recent history; although it doesn’t look that way looking from the outside in. Gary Johnson has largely failed to seize the imaginations of the American voters. He didn’t even poll well enough nationally to enter into the debates. It would seem that third parties are, counter intuitively, seen as a ‘spoiler’ vote in America. People are too afraid to venture away from the main candidates no matter how terrible they are, because they believe that they will be throwing away their vote. With that in mind, there is no realistic, credible vote for those who want a small, benign government, and civil liberties.
My desktop wallpaper is a high definition rendering of General Washington crossing the Delaware. I honestly believe that the American Revolution was one of the most important and significant events in the English speaking world. It took the British ideals of democracy and individual law-based liberty to the maximum and ran with it. The constitution is the greatest political document ever forged since Magna Carta, and I want to have faith in it. This election is shaking that faith, and I cannot imagine how Americans must feel. There is an illusion of choice this year, and all it will do is test the power of that great document forged by the founding fathers to constrain tyranny at the presidential level. To any Americans who might be reading this, and to any Brits who look to give support to a candidate from across the pond, remember that it is incredibly easy to lose on a coin toss. Especially when the coin is double-faced.
Nathan Friend is the Chairman of Conservatives for Liberty Wales
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty