Here in Australia, 2016 saw the longest election campaign in history except for one. In 1954, Robert Menzies had a campaign that lasted ninety four days between calling the election and the actual election. Our elections are governed by some rather complex arrangements, but generally, an election occurs each three to four years into the government term.
This year’s campaign (officially) lasted from the 9th of May to the 2nd of July, or fifty one days. Of course, some of the jockeying for position started well in advance of that.
You can possibly understand then, that we feel as if we’ve been watching the current US presidential candidates campaign forever. One site I looked at stated that candidates (on average) start campaigning 531 days prior to the election date!
In addition to that, I’m not really sure whether many people from inside the US understand some of the bemusement that we outsiders view said presidential race. Of course, no-one from outside any country really understands its internal politics as well as the people who live under the policies that come about as a result of those politics. But in this case, the current major players have been public figures for decades, both appearing on our televisions frequently.
I’ve been finding Facebook political discussions fascinating, and a little unnerving. We had a few when our own election was on, but because I have author friends from all over the world, I’ve been privileged (?) to watch my US friends ‘discuss’ things. The discussions have been at times amicable, but frequently passionate and sometimes very divided. People have very strong opinions, and never the twain shall apparently meet.
And why am I writing about this on my blog? Because it’s been on my mind, I suppose, and because there are significant implications for my own country. Much as we’d prefer not to believe, the US plays a significant role in world politics, and its next leader will have long lasting impacts upon the world stage.
Which is why a significant chunk of us are quite interested. From an outsider’s perspective, we see Clinton as a long term politician, familiar with the system, a bit of a chequered past and maybe some rather dodgy views, but having at the very least, some political credibility, even if she’s not nearly as progressive (from my point of view) as her previous opponent, Bernie Sanders. Trump appears as a loose cannon, undisciplined, probably shady, a potentially dodgy businessman, who, just to top it off, is apparently a misogynist bigot. (Mind you, we have Pauline Hanson in our senate…)
And one of them will end up as the titular head of one of the world’s biggest players. In my mind there’s a big red button in the Oval Office – one that should never be pressed – and also inside my mind, is the thought that one of them is more likely to press it, and it gives me the cold shivers.
I almost deleted this post, but after watching bits of the ‘debate’ last night, I’ve decided to pull it out and post it.
Is it wise for me to comment on it here? (Particularly given that I am not a US citizen.) Possibly not, but it is on my mind, and I worry for the future.