2017 minus 59: Five days to go

Posted: 3 November 2016 in 2017 minus, politics
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31st December 1999. I was in Disneyland Anaheim with Laura (my then- but now ex- wife) and our four year old son Phil. We’d got to the park early that morning – about 6am – as we wanted to do New Year’s Eve there and had been warned that it would be jam packed by evening; indeed it was.

We spent the day doing rides, walking around, enjoying our son’s sheer delight at the park; repeated rides on things like It’s A Small World, trying to capture forever the joy on his face at the prospect of doing this, then that, then this, than that… then that again, and this again… Exhausted, he fell asleep in the stroller around half-past seven, and slept for the next four hours.

By half-ten at night, the darkness lit only by the million lights or so of the park, we were in our final positions, a good view of the fireworks to come, and we were just waiting… waiting… waiting. An hour later, with thirty minutes to go before everything went nuts, we miraculously saw people we knew, people staying at the same hotel as us and we caught up with them. 

Packed like sardines, the warmth of the crowd increasing, seeing the forced smiles of Disney people slipping momentarily before being plastered back on, the time clicked away. Phil was awake by now, surprised by the crowds, wanting to be lifted up. The adults? We were tired.  Sure, we were excited about the forthcoming celebrations, the fireworks we knew would be spectacular, the start of the year 2000, the fact that we were there, five and a half thousand miles from home… but we were tired, hot, crowded…

About ten minutes before midnight, I remember saying to one of my companions, “Thirty minutes to go… Thirty minutes to go…” 

Puzzled, he glanced up at the giant clock, then looked back at me. “Thirty minutes?”

“Thirty minutes…” I repeated, “…until we can get out of here…”

I’m beginning to feel the same way about the United States Presidential Election taking place in five days.

Between the speculation of who’d be running, the primary campaigns, the nominations and the actual campaigns for the presidency, this has been going on for over four years. Yes, over four years.

I came across a video file the other day, one I’d saved: it’s of the live broadcast of The Daily Show from November 6th 2012. While The Daily Show is normally recorded at 6pm and broadcast at 11pm (both Eastern Time), rarely they broadcast live. Well, not quite live. I’d assume they’re on a ten second delay, to enable panicked broadcasters to bleep out any swearing. And on election night, I’d imagine that danger is front and centre. But it’s effectively live, I think we can agree that.

That people were already preparing for the 2016 race was such an open and acknowledged gag at the time that the show did a couple of minutes on it. (It’s genuinely amusing now to see the names mentioned, some who went for it and didn’t make it, some who didn’t even try.) Yes, people were pretty sure that President Obama was going to win re-election, but there were still thirty-odd Senate elections and of course all 435 House seats were up for election. But even then, some of the names mentioned for 2016’s Presidential election were being re-elected that night. 

And it’ll be the same this year, no doubt. If Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency, the discussions on who’ll run in 2020 for the Republican Party nomination will start that evening. If Donald Trump wins*, CNN will within hours start a countdown clock in the bottom right of the screen; a countdown to probable human extinction.

(*I apologise for making you sick up in your mouth a little just then.)

But yeah, even if you only count from when the first candidates confirmed they were seeking their party’s nomination, this has been a long, long process. 

Senator Ted Cruz was the first to make it official, in late March 2015. Not “made it official” that he’s a prick; oh, he’d made that formal and astonishingly obvious years earlier. But that he was the first prick to run for President for this specific election. He was joined by more than a dozen other major Republicans… and then in June 2015, Donald Trump, the prickest of pricks, announced his candidacy, starting it as he intended to go on: coming down a tacky escalator, promoting both himself and his business, in front of a group of people who cheered when he said racist things, and applauded at the incoherent ramblings of a man who lied not because he had to, not because he chose to, but because he didn’t know not to.

On the Democratic Party side, Clinton was the first to formally launch a campaign; informally, she started it the day she left office as Secretary of State, if not before. But I’l’l give her the benefit of the doubt and limit it to then, to mid-April 2015. If it seems longer, well, I’m not sure if that’s because you’re not giving her that benefit of the doubt or because her 2008 campaign seems so recent.

I suppose I’d better mention Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, from the Green Party and the Libertarian Party respectively.  “Then you’ve got Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, from the Green Party and the Libertarian Party respectively.” OK. There. I’ve mentioned them. Happy now?

It always fills me with wonder that no-one has so far misprouncounced it as The Librarian Party. Because I’d give serious consideration for voting for someone from the Librarian Party. I would.

Wait, what about Evan McMullin? Yes, there is a path that leads to him becoming President. There is. True, it’s about as slim a chance as a flying saucer landing in Times Square on Election night, a door opens and Elvis comes out doing the macarena while Glenn Miller jams with Bob Marley though… so let’s leave that to one side, eh? 

But returning to the two people who actually stand a chance of becoming President… this has been an election campaign full of contrasts. From someone who’s probably the most prepared nominee to become president to someone who barely prepares for a rally; with one candidate who’s wanted it for decades vs a man who got into it mainly for shits and giggles.

My friend Mitch Benn once suggested that the best way to look at Trump was to consider him the Sean Connery character from The Man Who Would Be King; got into it for the aforementioned shits and giggles and then started to believe his own propaganda. I call it that rather than ‘publicity’ because it’s not his publicity, but that of the media who have fallen over themselves backwards to give him free air time.

We’re less than a week away from the election and we exhausted the idea of an October Surprise and are well into November What the Fuck territory. I mean, is there anything Trump could now say that would actually even mildly surprise anyone?

(And before you suggest “Yeah, I was only kidding… this is all a promo for my next tv series”, I’d reply (a) we know the second part’s true; Trump TV will be announced within weeks, if not days, of his loss; and (b) if he said it, the walkback from surrogates would be on the air in under 30 minutes. Again, no surprise.)

I’m not going to give an exhaustive list of things he’s said that should have surprised people and should have ended his political aspirations – they’re all over the web and have been since teh first racist bit of his announcement speech. 

Hell, I’m not going to even give a list at all; everyone knows his racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, misogynist, antisemitic ramblings as well as he does. Hell, better than he does, since I’ve yet to be convinced that he has the memory of a seven year old or the attention span of a six year old.  

But any of his terrible, nasty, incredibly disqualifying comments, any of them taken individually should have harmed, crippled, maimed his campaign. Not only the voters should have been running away, but the Republican Party, the party that has such perfect examples of “people who should never have power” as Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz should have been backing away so fast they’d have left skid marks on the tarmac. 

Instead, as I suggested months back, the response from the Republican Party, the party that nominated him a couple of months back, has been…

I tweeted that out about five months ago… and for once, looks like my prediction was spot on.

Which is scary as hell. 

I quoted The West Wing the other day. Here’s another quote that presaged to Trump and what The Republican Party has come: “Is it possible to be astonished and, yet at the same time, not surprised?” 

If nothing else, this election has shown that for all their screaming of ‘principles’, the Republican Party is devoted to one principle above all others, one that all bullies recognise but deny: please like me, or if you don’t like me, then for fuck’s sake fear me. 

And then there’s Hillary Clinton. Who used a private email server.

Uh-huh.

Apparently, there are still millions of American voters who are undecided. 

Look, it’s not for me to tell another country’ voters how to vote in an election. It’s not. I’d feel more than aggrieved if anyone from another country told me how to vote in a UK general election.

So I won’t. I will just beg, plead and implore you… PLEASE don’t vote for that fucking racist clown, that sexist piece of shit in a suit, that orange pus filled sexual assaulting turd, that far right pandering prick?

Thank you.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

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