October 8th 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Reaper mows down first child in the Low Countries

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition still gridlocked despite foreign success

EDITORIAL Trump v Clinton: choice between bad and worse

GENERATION RENT The economics behind political unrest

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Kevin Andrews: defend marriage on principles

WA DRUG POLICY Forum told intervention works with cannabis, ice

OPINION "Deconstruction" fosters contempt of its object

POPULATION POLITICS Philanthropy as a weapon of mass destruction

SUPERANNUATION Take away the number you first thought of ...

HISTORY Germany and its long history of immigration

CINEMA The online madding crowd: Nerve

BOOK REVIEW Tale of forestry dynasty not quite pulp quality

BOOK REVIEW Roman refresher


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Trump v Clinton: choice between bad and worse

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, October 8, 2016

When Donald Trump launched his campaign for the U.S. presidency, very few expected that he would succeed against a set of formidable Republican candidates who included very experienced politicians such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and former governor of Florida and scion of the Bush dynasty Jeb Bush.

After all, Trump has no experience in public administration, made his millions as a real estate entrepreneur, then became host of his own television reality show, which displayed his penchant for extravagant wealth.

It seemed inconceivable that he would be able to campaign as the anti-establishment candidate, and the champion of working-class Americans against corporate America.


It is a matter of record that Trump’s aggressive, abusive no-holds-barred style routed his Republican rivals in the bruising party primaries that are designed to produce the best candidate for the major parties to win the presidential race. Trump succeeded despite several embarrassing slip-ups that should have ruled him out as a credible candidate, including his attacks on Latinos and Mexican Americans, and his defence of police shootings of unarmed black suspects.

It seems that his campaign to “make America great again”, his opposition to free trade deals which benefit the rich and export American jobs to China, his rejection of climate alarmism, and promise to rebuild America’s manufacturing base, have overridden everything else.

Clinton’s campaign

On the other side, there was never any doubt that Hillary Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, with the endorsement of President Barack Obama and the Democratic party machine, would secure the Democratic nomination.

What was surprising, however, is that Clinton’s anti-establishment rival, Bernie Sanders, whose political career has been far to the left of the Democratic Party, defeated Clinton in a significant number of states, and fought his campaign all the way to the Democratic Party Convention, before accepting defeat and endorsing Clinton.

As the presidential race has proceeded, it is clear that there is a deep undercurrent of hostility to the financial and political elites in the United States. It is this hostility that Donald Trump has tapped into.

The Trump phenomenon is an expression of a wider loss of faith in the dominant political class throughout the Western world.

In Great Britain, it was seen in the decisive popular vote to pull out of the European Union, despite a campaign that was almost totally dominated by the pro-EU media, and in which the major political parties (Conservative and Labour), the financial centres, big business, and political leaders from the U.S. and Europe all insisted that Britain remain in the EU.

It has already led to the resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the referendum, and led to new tensions between Great Britain and the EU.

In Western Europe, it is seen in the rise of anti-establishment political parties of both the left and right that give expression to the fears of a generation that faces the combination of economic decline and the failure of the great European experiment to protect Europe’s borders and provide economic growth.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the latest opinion polls in the U.S. show Trump and Clinton neck-and-neck in the Presidential race, which will culminate in a popular vote on November 8.

Hillary Clinton’s own campaign has helped to consolidate Trump’s supporters. The strong endorsement by President Obama is definitely a double-edged sword, helpful in mobilising black voters, but damaging Clinton’s cause with Republicans who are apprehensive about Trump.

More seriously, she has certainly lost ground over the revelations of her foreign policy flip-flops on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, over her use of a private email address to conduct official business during her term as Secretary of State, and her denunciation of Trump’s supporters as “deplorable” at a fundraiser organised by the gay and lesbian community.

Even the business community in America has publicly deplored her policy reversal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Clinton was one of those who developed the free-trade plan for the Pacific region but, in the face of widespread public opposition, has announced that she now opposes it.

The perception is that Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected, adding to a widespread apprehension over her inconsistency and lack of principles. Her campaign has descended to a level of desperation, with shrill cries that voters have to support her, as the alternative is Donald Trump.

Where does this leave the rest of the world, including Australia?

In my view, both candidates are deeply flawed. Donald Trump offers a clear alternative agenda at a time when the world is calling out for strong and clear leadership to confront the many problems that face us. But does he have the stability of character to lead the United States?

Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.

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