In America, they have a choice between a man with nylon hair and a strange woman who can’t tell the truth. In England, three men pulled the rug out from under the whole country and somehow got away with it. And in Poland, we are still waiting for someone who will make the state exist practically as well as theoretically. Three different countries, but as we will see, they all want the same thing.
In November this year, Americans will have to chose between two extremely unpopular candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The grand part of America’s voting franchise has narrowed its focus towards mounting one of these two people as a figurehead.
Unusually, the American primaries threw up an alternative; a proportion of the electorate were dissatisfied with the bi-party system, upon which the illusion of democracy camouflages a sinister political class (the Bushes, the Clintons) who serve either corporate interests or their own financial gain. This proportion translated into just over twelve million votes for Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist – the only declared socialist ever to be elected to the US Senate. His values would run in tandem to those of Sweden’s Olaf Palme, Chavez of Venezuela, Gorbachev, with Mitterand and Mandela other notables.
When asked about Trump’s success, Sanders responded, ”his supporters are working class and they’re angry because they’re working longer hours for lower wages, they’re angry because their jobs have left this country and gone to China, they’re angry because they can’t afford to send their kids to college so they can’t retire with dignity.” Real fears which Sanders agrees with, but he believes that Trump has converted them into anger against Mexicans and Muslims rather than facing the real issue the American people have to confront, ”the greed of corporate America”.
It must be noted that Trump wants more tax breaks for the wealthy and is opposed to an increase in the minimum wage. Yet the illusion of democracy is never more transparent when you break down the campaign values of Trump’s ‘rival’ Hillary Clinton. I’ll let Bernie Sanders take you through it;
”I want to break up the Wall Street banks, she doesn’t. I want to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. She wants 12. I voted against the War in Iraq. She voted for it. I believe we should ban fracking. She does not. I believe we should have a tax on carbon and deal aggressively with climate change. That’s not her position.”
It is public knowledge that Hillary Clinton, a millionaire, is funded by Wall Street. Sanders has stood on picket lines with striking Verizon workers and has been unflinching in his support for the labor movement. Verizon, a communications company who own the Huffington Post paid Hillary Clinton $225,000 for making a single speech. They are vehemently opposed to unions but consider themselves a ”proud partner with the Clinton Foundation”.
Salon.com noted that while Sanders works with grassroots organisations like unions and stands with the workers themselves, the Clintons rub shoulders with big business.
But by virtue of three million more votes than Sanders, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for the 2016 Presidential Election. Liberal Americans want jobs and money but they don’t want socialism.
2 The United Kingdom
So if the American public has chosen a competition between a billionaire protector of the 1% and a woman who is impressively funded by the same billionaires, who have the British public put their faith in?
For one of the most important decisions in their history, Brexit, 17.4 million turned to former newspaper columnists Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, two Conservatives whose habit was to use broad, quick-fix statements in both their journalism and politics. They were the middle-class face of Brexit, representing those who felt their communities were being eroded by immigration.
It is now clear that Gove and Johnson didn’t have a plan or proper solutions for the problems the UK would face post Brexit. The benefits they promised from Brexit were lies. Theirs is the politics of entertainment, not expertise, indeed Gove is on record as saying, ”This country is tired of experts!” Johnson was fired by The Times for lying to its readers. He was subsequently fired by the then leader of the Conservative party, Michael Howard for lying to him. All politicians lie, but never before has a nation had its fate decided by two men whose campaign was built on a set of blatant, incontrovertible falsehoods designed to further their respective careers.
And yet over half of the electorate sided with them.
In part, this is because of the ineffectual leadership of David Cameron. A lifelong Eurosceptic, he had no answer to the hardliners on Europe once the issue had become turbocharged by austerity and immigration. His language leading up to the referendum, talking of ”swarms of migrants” was suspiciously close to that of the Leave campaigners. It is questionable where his loyalties and moral compass lie. Examples of this can be seen in Cameron’s college days when he campaigned to have Nelson Mandela hanged as a terrorist and more recently when his strong links with News International have led the Conservative party to tailor its policies to assist Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
It’s hard to be a leader when you are being led by someone else.
The leader of the Labour Party is Jeremy Corbyn, a politician along the lines of Sanders in that he endeavours to put people before politics. Several right-wing news organisations and a significant Blairist membership of his own party blamed him for Brexit and are currently trying to oust him from his position. A well-intentioned man, who is anti-austerity, but in the UK they don’t want a man whose policies of equality are inclusive of refugees.
The triumvirate of right-wing agony is completed by Poland, a country minimally populated by minorities, but reacting to concepts of non-Polishness in a disproportionately negatively manner. It is a country which experienced a calamitous Law and Justice experiment from 2005-7 and whose patient trust of the centre-right Civic Platform was taken advantage of by this two-term government who manipulated Poles with a giant Ponzi scheme and a modern-day colony system draining Poland of its natural resources and exploiting a talented workforce. The liberal media failed to highlight the merits of any emerging socialist alternative and last year the electorate were given a choice between two failed political entities. Both perpetrate cronyism and the short-term policy of division and settling scores.
Unlike America and the UK, there isn’t even the slightest chance of a socialist Third Way.
In Poland, the media is unable to look outside the political identikits of Right/Centre Right. Perhaps it is a question of democracy? Currently there is a catastrophic pollution problem, a crumbling health system, a witch-hunt of doctors, a lack of investment in Polish technology and Research and Development. There has been no change in the redistribution of wealth. The government of Law and Justice is unable or unwilling to provide a solution to these problems. But what is truly shocking to this Irishman living here, is how there is no demand for it.
It would seem the Polish electorate can’t see beyond Right/Centre Right either. It is the world they know and they are happy to live in it. Soon there will be an abortion issue and Poland’s left wingers, Partia Razem, will find their broader message drowned out by the ‘choice’ that particular debate throws up.
Dispiriting and predictable, it has been said, that Trump’s America would be what Poland is now. The Poles don’t have a Sanders or a Corbyn and they don’t want one. And if a Mandela-figure appeared on the political horizon here, just like Cameron, you can easily imagine a campaign to have him hanged.