There’s less than a week to go until America elects its next president. As the Trump/Clinton campaign finally comes to a conclusion, there are a few thoughts that have crossed my mind.
I will begin in an unusual place – the exhibition at the V&A in London, which I visited on Monday, called “You say you want a Revolution, Records and Rebels 1966-70”. It also depicts the American involvement in the Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis with Russia as well as the race to put a man on the moon. Bob Dylan wrote “The times they are a changing” and the Beatles were at their global height, experimenting with drugs, meditation and peace.
I remember as a teenager the absolute explosion of music and the real feeling of change and unrest around the world; none more so than in America where Lyndon Johnson was escalating their involvement in Vietnam, civil rights were boiling over as Muhammad Ali refused the draft and the black power movement were protesting at the 1968 Olympics.
The assassinations of J F Kennedy and Martin Luther King brought America to the boil and Richard Nixon came to power on a ticket of reform and listening to the people.
So fast forward to 2016 and consider what it is like for the average American today. The American dream of independence, booming economy and global power before the financial crisis, has been replaced with eight years of relative austerity, job losses, unemployment, longer working hours, growing debt (35% of all Americans have debt that is more than six months overdue), Islamic State threatening their homeland, immigrants stealing their jobs and Russia flexing its muscles on the world stage.
The violence and unrest that has been present at the Trump rallies is an eruption of this frustration, boiling over in front of a candidate who is stoking the fire with his rhetoric, aimed directly at their fears and prejudices.
Add to this the view that “Washington” has done nothing to support them and “politicians” are generally not to be trusted. Enter Donald Trump.
Americans are looking for someone to stand up for them, make them powerful again and not spout political messages that have no substance.
The Brexit vote was a vote for change, “ordinary people” who finally had a vehicle to express their anger, irrespective of the consequences.
Well Trump is not a politician, he is a celebrity and we know that people are influenced by celebrities. He plans to deport 11 million immigrants, build a wall on the border of Mexico, create the world’s greatest army, wipe out Isis and have America be respected again, “really respected” and no one seems to care how he intends to perform this miracle.
Meanwhile, Hillary, the polar opposite of Trump, is embroiled in scandal and represents the very establishment Trump supporters are opposed to, which is why the vote is so close.
The FBI investigation into Hillary’s emails will not conclude until after the election so we are all watching this supreme farce being played out as deuce point in the final set.
On the wall of the V&A exhibition was the following.
“The change that took place from 1966 to 1970 was that people no longer believed that authorities knew best, they increasingly trusted their own judgment and believed in the possibility of progress”.
Fifty years on, don’t bet against Trump, despite the widely held view he is a dangerous lunatic!