Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Trump’s claims of a conspiracy against him are undermining democracy

The Conversation

Stephen Harrington, Queensland University of Technology

Two months ago – in a piece I submitted to this website, but which was not published – I wrote:

As the coming months unfold, [Donald] Trump is likely to do or say something that will push him beyond a hitherto unforeseen event horizon that will almost completely break his candidacy.

And, when the post-election analyses are written, it’s looking very likely that “grab them by the pussy” will be marked as that event horizon: the point at which public (and, particularly, Republican) support moved away from him to a point of no return.

Although, as a result, many political observers around the world now seem almost certain to breathe a sigh of relief on November 8, that sense of relief might also be premature.

‘The election is going to be rigged…’

Donald Trump was never going to be a magnanimous loser. Big egos almost never enjoy a soft landing when they fall.

It’s hard to imagine a man who once disputed the outcome of the Emmy Awards would suddenly become more gracious when the stakes were raised, and when running against a female opponent.

As far back as August he was buying insurance for a potential electoral loss by telling his supporters:

I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.

In recent days, now faced with an almost certain landslide loss, he has massively ramped-up that rhetoric.

Donald Trump’s supporters worry about the ‘rigged’ election.

When pressed during Wednesday’s third presidental debate by moderator Chris Wallace as to whether he would accept the election outcome, Trump said he’d “keep [us] in suspense”.

That may be a non-answer, but it is still an unprecedented move by a major political candidate in the US.

Why we need faith in the system

It is quite normal for people to lack faith in their political representatives or to disagree with them, even vehemently, on ideological grounds.

It is also common for politicians to claim that they have been represented unfairly. Conservative politicians, for instance, have long railed against the so-called “liberal” media. Indeed, Trump is claiming that negative coverage of his campaign is one part of big conspiracy to have Clinton elected (who, ironically, also once complained about conspiracies herself):

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It is, however, quite another thing entirely for people to feel that officials have been elevated illegally to their positions, or that the electoral apparatus itself is corrupt. For them to get that feeling from the presidential nominee of a major political party is very dangerous indeed.

Democracy rests heavily on the idea that, though we may not like those who govern, they gained that power by fair means, and there will be another opportunity to remove them from power via the same mechanism in the near future.

In order for the political system to work, we require broadly shared faith that it does work: a somewhat circuitous idea academics have called “system legitimacy”.

In healthy democracies, the vanquished play a crucial part in this by performing a display of respect for the will of the people, often in the form of a gracious concession speech. In some cases they can display extraordinary goodwill to their former rivals.

That is why Trump’s attempt to paint himself (and his supporters) as the victim of a corrupt system may be uniquely damaging, and may permanently reshape the political landscape. Because this is unprecedented, we have no idea what the long-term effects of this strategy might be.

Suggesting that the election is “rigged” creates doubt among some citizens as to whether they should even bother voting in the first place. It can intimidate those who do choose to vote, and lead some fringe groups to believe that politicians should be removed by force.

In a country that loves guns – and their open carriage – as deeply as America, it’s a potentially deadly combination.

Governing after Trump

Trump prides himself on being a political “outsider” who – unlike the “career politicians” he disparages – has not devoted his life to the political system. So, assuming he is defeated in less than three weeks, he has no investment in the ongoing stability of American democracy.

It would be my guess, therefore, that he will be content to keep his supporters in a state of permanent anger for as long as possible.

In fact, observers have suspected for some time that his ultimate goal might be to leverage that support to create his own news media outlet, which might explain why he currently has Stephen Bannon (formerly of Breitbart) and Roger Ailes (the disgraced former CEO of Fox News) working for his campaign.

A news outlet of this sort would presumably contribute even further to what I have called “a collapse of factual consensus” in recent years, in which it’s becoming almost impossible to find societal (let alone political) agreement on reality.

At the same time, existing partisan divides are getting wider and wider.

Even John McCain, the man who once built a political movement around rejecting extreme partisanship, now says that the Republican Party won’t hold hearings for any of Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court nominations. This too, as Ed Kilgore points out, is unprecedented.

Hillary Clinton will go where no woman has gone before when she becomes the president of the United States. But, if this instability and obstructionism continues, she will face challenges that no president before her has faced either.

Rupert Murdoch once called Australia “ungovernable”. But, thanks in large part to Trump’s destructive efforts, Clinton may soon find out what a truly “ungovernable” nation really looks like.

The ConversationStephen Harrington, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Media and Communication, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

1 Comment

Filed under Reblogs

Clinton triumphs over a trio of Trumps

The Conversation

Brian McNair, Queensland University of Technology

“People hear what they want to hear, and disregard the rest,” sang Paul Simon about America in the 1960s. The line came to me when I reflected on the varying interpretations of how these three Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debates have gone.

To me, and I’ll freely declare my personal preference for Clinton – I rooted for her in 2008, too, though Barack Obama was a worthy winner and has been a great president – she has trumped Trump in all three matches, seriously slipping up on only one occasion in four-and-a-half hours of primetime grilling.

Quite late in the third, apparently losing concentration while answering a question about the Middle East, she got her words mixed up and seemed to freeze momentarily.

I know the feeling, as someone who speaks regularly in public for a living, and I know how easily it can happen that your thoughts race ahead or behind of the words coming out of your mouth, and you frantically try to cover it by steaming nonsensically on regardless. It happened to Obama in one of the 2012 presidential debates, I seem to recall.

In the entirety of those three long, gruelling debates, despite being called a “liar”, a “nasty woman”, the enabler of a rapist and more by Trump, this was the only time she wavered. That shows strength and resilience in the face of hostile fire, and bodes well for the Clinton presidency in its dealings with bullies around the world.

Those who favour Trump, on the other hand – particularly the deplorables who pack his rallies and cheer his every threat and insult – think he did quite well. For them, the very things they love about their man were on full display. The Guardian reported after the third debate that:

Sean Ringert of Maryville, Ohio, who was wearing a shirt that proclaimed ‘keep calm and carry guns’ thought last night’s debate was Trump’s best yet.

Ringert was reported to be:

… comfortable with Trump’s unwillingness to concede the election, saying: ‘I am perfectly fine with that; it’s a great media tactic’.

This is disturbing, because Trump will not go quietly, and others will come after him with similarly fascistic beliefs, but armed with better media advisers, slicker publicity machines, more experience of how to lose and how to win elections in our hyperactive communication environment.

That’s a worry for another day, though. For now, let’s dare to celebrate a little.

I missed the live broadcast of the third debate, and watched it later. By then I’d read some commentary and spoke to a few folk whose judgement I respect who had witnessed the event in full. Trump had done well, it seemed, hitting home on a couple of points. The Guardian felt it necessary to headline an article with a question:

Who won the final presidential debate?.

I approached my recording of the debate with trepidation, therefore. Could it be that he had improved on his earlier performances, reined in his worst instincts, and persuaded some undecided voters of his fitness for office?

Nah.

In my opinion, hearing what I wanted to hear, as I perhaps was, there was no contest. This was his worst performance of the three.

He ranted and raved, throwing names and accusations around like confetti – “Buffett” this, “Clinton Foundation” that, blaming Clinton for everything that had ever gone wrong in America, blurting out immediately satirisable statements such as:

No-one respects women more than I do, no-one.

Alec Baldwin will have fun with that.

Clinton stayed calm, occasionally allowing her anger to show, but not to overwhelm her delivery. And she laced some very telling points with wit and even humour.

While Clinton was in the Situation Room with Obama, she pointed out, overseeing the demise of Osama bin Laden, Trump was on Celebrity Apprentice. The audience at home could only imagine Trump yelling “you’re fired” at some hapless publicity-seeking B-lister. She told that one twice, and I smiled both times.

While she was working to improve the lives of socially deprived black kids in the 1990s, she noted, he was being prosecuted for racial discrimination against black tenants in the management of his New York rental apartments.

While she was working hard in the Senate to secure good trade deals for America, he was using undocumented labour on his construction sites, and cheap Chinese steel imports in Trump Tower.

In the end, Trump went completely off the rails. “I’ll keep you guessing,” he pouted at debate chair Chris Wallace when asked if he would accept the result on November 8. That throwaway insult to the democratic process, and the entire 240-year history of US presidential politics, was the final evidence that he knows it’s over and doesn’t give a damn anymore.

Not for the first time in these debates, the spoilt rich kid used to getting his own way was on display, threatening to take away his ball because the game was “rigged” (and Clinton also had some fun with Trump’s history of calling foul when he loses).

While supporters like Sean Ringert will never give up on their hero, the rest of America, and the world, witnessed in this third debate the ignoble end of a bizarre and literally obscene political campaign in which much of what the official GOP candidate said was classifiable as For Adults Only.

What next? Will he and his offspring set up Trump TV? Will Clinton as president establish a Cosby-type legal process into Trump’s history of sexual assault, or his tax dodging, or his alleged links to Putin and the Russian government?

I don’t think she will, even if she could, because she is better than that and will wish to win back the less deplorable segments of the Trump base. But part of me wishes she would, not least to keep Trump fully occupied for the next four years while she continues the good work that Obama began.

I won’t have a vote in November, and like many observers around the world have watched anxiously as the Republican candidate sunk to evermore murky depths in his efforts to win, and seemed until very recently to be getting away with it.

I am much more confident after this trio of Trump performances that she rather than he will take the US forward into the difficult years ahead. Trump, as Clinton often said in the debates, and as the opinion polls now indicate, is not who America is, and that’s deeply reassuring for the rest of us.


Brian McNair is the author of Communication and Political Crisis (Peter Lang, 2016).

The ConversationBrian McNair, Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

1 Comment

Filed under Reblogs

Trump or Clinton: who will be the best for our region?

The Conversation

Mark Beeson, University of Western Australia

Everyone knows by now that the current, endlessly drawn-out electoral process in the US is remarkable, even by the standards of an increasingly weird political era. The consensus is that no matter who becomes the next president, it will be bad. If it’s Donald Trump, though, it could be apocalyptic.

Despite growing concerns about declining American power and influence, the US still dominates the region upon which Australia has increasingly come to depend. Therefore, the election outcome will have potentially major and enduring consequences for Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

What do Trump’s foreign policies suggest?

Even though many people have real and understandable doubts about Hillary Clinton’s historical baggage, inconsistency and proclivity for “misspeaking”, most serious analysts hope she wins. The alternative is too awful, unpredictable and frankly alarming to even contemplate.

Consequently, not many people – including Australia’s foreign policy establishment, it seems – have given much thought to what happens if Trump triumphs.

Consistency and measured reflection are not words often seen in the same sentence as Donald Trump, but it is possible to get some idea of what his foreign policy might look like. Most of it is alarming. And none of it is likely to be good for Australia.

Trump’s policies are frequently described as “neo-isolationist”. They resonate with many who are disillusioned with the supposed failings of the Obama doctrine, and sick of American involvement in seemingly intractable conflicts in places they neither know nor care about.

Many Americans are remarkably ill-informed and uninterested in foreign policy. This is not a unique national characteristic, but some of the widely shared beliefs that inform voting intentions in what is still the world’s most-powerful country are striking.

For example, the average American thinks something like one-quarter of its US$4 trillion national budget is spent on foreign aid. In reality it’s less than a miserly 1%.

Trump may share this misapprehension for all we know. Either way, he is threatening to make supposedly freeloading allies pick up more of the bill for America’s implicit defence guarantees.

What might it all mean for Australia?

Given Australians have made disproportionate sacrifices to underpin its alliance relationship with the US over the years, this is a bit rich.

Australia’s major parties seem to have a policy of not having a policy when it comes to dealing with a possible Trump presidency. The reality would – or should – force a rethink of some of the most enduring foundations of Australian foreign policy.

This is why so many of Australia’s foreign policy and strategic elites are pinning their hopes on Clinton. She wouldn’t welcome the label, but Clinton is clearly the establishment candidate and consummate insider who can be relied upon to do the right thing as far as Australia and the world is concerned.

One assumes this may include rediscovering her surprisingly lost enthusiasm for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Her habit of being economical with the truth is one of the reasons she is personally unpopular, such an electoral liability, and no certainty to knock off the most unlikely and unpredictable candidate in recent US political history.

As far as our region is concerned, most analysts will be reassured by the prospect of a Clinton presidency. She is one of the architects of the so-called “pivot”, or shift in American strategic priorities to the Asia-Pacific region and response to China’s seemingly inexorable rise.

Whether she has the will to confront an expansionist China is the big question. Whether smaller countries like Australia would want her to is another question altogether. But this is not an issue that often gets an unambiguous airing here, despite the amount we are currently investing in military modernisation.

The prospects for Australia could be daunting no matter who wins the election. It is conceivable that Trump may follow through on his threat to demand greater self-reliance on the part of traditional allies and simply pull American forces out of the region. This would allow China to assert its dominance, and fundamentally overturn the long-standing basis of Australian foreign policy.

If Clinton wins, though, the options don’t necessarily look any more auspicious, even if they are more predictable. If the US is ever to stand up to China and try to reassert its former dominance of our region, it will have to get on with it.

If we extrapolate from here, it is only a question of time before China overtakes the US on every significant measure of great power status.

Clinton may decide it is her historical destiny to reassert American primacy, not to mention defend the rules-based international order that the US has done so much to develop – if not necessarily abide by – over the last half-century.

Under such circumstances, Australia’s nightmare choice between its principal security guarantor and its most important trade partner may come one step closer. And that’s the good outcome.

The ConversationMark Beeson, Professor of International Politics, University of Western Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reblogs

Hillary Clinton in Australia

A nice light-hearted interview with the U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton for The 7pm Project (Australia).

Note: This is not the time or place for heavy political comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Videos