Clinton’s Trumped, God help America

Donald Trump (pic courtesy of Gage Skidmore/flickr)
Donald Trump (pic courtesy of Gage Skidmore/flickr)

Well, blow me over with a feather, Trump will be the 45th president of America.

I sat eating my Rice Krispies in a state of shock, glued to the telly as Trump addressed his loyal followers and thanked everybody bar his dog for helping his campaign grasp victory.

“I promise to unify the country,” he said.

“The people who were forgot will no longer be forgotten,” he promised.

“Millions of people will be put to work rebuilding America.”

It was a surreal end point to what’s been an unedifying spectacle. I can’t recall a fight so ugly, where two candidates were tearing out each others’ throats to the very last gasp.

Where was the charisma of Obama; the mystique of JFK; the suaveness of even Bill Clinton in his prime?

Instead, having boiled down all options from a population of around 300 million people, we were left with Hillary Clinton and the guy from The Apprentice.

It reminded me of the scene in Back To the Future when Marty McFly tries to convince Doc Brown he’s travelled back in time from the year 1985.

“Then tell me, future boy, who’s President of the United States in 1985?”

“Ronald Reagan.”

“Ronald Reagan? The actor? Then who’s vice president? Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman is the first lady.”

As incredulous as it might seem (especially to those who watched him lampooned on Spitting Image), Reagan at least had real political currency having risen through the ranks as governor of California.

But Trump? It was weirdly mesmerising seeing him battle Clinton in the televised debates; obvious that his depth of knowledge on national matters was woefully inadequate but, amazingly, that didn’t seem to dent his popularity.

He made any number of outlandish statements, about immigrants and women, for example, which would have spelled the end of any political career in the United Kingdom but in America it seemed he could say anything he wanted to because to many, many Americans he represented hope; a change from the status quo.

If anything it made him more real. Men and women – especially those unemployed in America’s downbeat industrial heartlands – probably said “I’m not voting for a saint, I’m voting for someone to get me out of this mess.”

It’s an indication of how out of touch Hillary Clinton was that she didn’t quite grasp this. He represented everything she did not – an alternative to the political establishment, however unpalatable his views were to people with liberal values.

Even if Clinton had won, her victory would have been a shallow one with little power in the Senate.

While holding the reins of power in unprecedented political times, Trump still presides over a country which has shown itself to be deeply divided.

Before yesterday I would have thought it improbable that either candidate would be running for relection in four years’ time.

Now, I’m not so sure of anything any more.