The day has finally come when Americans set out to vote for their next president. What makes this day so special is not just the extraordinary campaign trail that preceded it, but also that is has become the greatest reflection of the state of Western politics.
Most Americans will be pleased that this seemingly endless campaign comes to an end today, for it was nothing but a toxic cocktail of FBI investigations, social tensions, violence at rallies and straightforward racism. Oh, and don’t forget the walls, the great big walls, lots of those as well. In many ways, the 2016 presidential election was unlike anything else seen in the history of the race for the highest office in the United States. However, what we were able to observe during that time was far from unique to the US. As a matter of fact, it is happening all around the West.
The politics of fear and divide are taking place not just in the United States, but in Britain, in France, in Austria and to a lesser extent in Germany and Italy. Trump supporters openly hate Hillary Clinton and Clinton supporters are genuinely afraid of Donald Trump. It appears as if the days in which a lost election, although shameful, nevertheless was seen as a legit democratic decision, are over. In the likely case of a Clinton victory, there will be conspiracy theories concerning a biased mainstream media and claims of a “rigged election.” Vice versa if Trump wins, some liberal Americans have claimed to emigrate to Canada. Both cannot be the symptoms of healthy politics.
The situation, however, is hardly different in Europe. Whilst in Britain one-half of the country celebrates the 23rd of June as their new independence day, the other half is trying to reassemble the shards of their future, which according to them, have been smashed by the vote to leave the European Union. Similar scenes can be observed in the upcoming presidential elections of Austria and France. In both of them, one-half of the country is pitched up against the other. Nowhere to be seen is that fine tradition of European politics which involved delicate compromise and a solid middle ground.
It seems to me that the only thing that we can agree upon in Western politics is, that the other half are complete idiots. Even Trump and Clinton supporters, Brexiteers and Remainers, liberals and conservatives agree to this. What we have in common is our hate for the other side. What a shameful state of politics. But perhaps this means that it can only get better.
Good luck, USA