It’s a bit of a momentous day, on the other side of the Pond, isn’t it? Clinton or Trump, who will it be? I don’t envy my American friends their decision today. I suspect I’d want to vote Republican for their policies, but would be very worried about Trump in leadership. Clinton has the better experience of the two, but I wouldn’t agree with a fair amount of her party’s policies (which strikes me as pretty key…).
But the whole thing seems to have been pretty acrimonious. In a sense, that’s no surprise. America is a somewhat adversarial place (I know that’s a somewhat sweeping statement, but bear with me). I remember being surprised, when visiting the States, to see a Nesquik advert on the telly that slagged off another chocolate drink manufacturer. (Or it might have been Nesquik being slagged off – the details don’t matter). I found myself thinking that was a profoundly weird way to advertise. In the UK, we’re used to advertisers claiming that their product is the best/coolest/cheapest etc., but they don’t usually resort to slagging off the opposition. So it doesn’t come as a great shock that Presidential hopefuls seem to spend as much time slagging off the opposition as they spend on actually saying what they themselves are planning to do.
But this leads to a great difficulty – it reminds me of a snippet of a line from a Casting Crowns song; ‘nobody knows what we’re for, only what we’re against…’ and I wouldn’t be surprised if people in the States might feel a bit like that. Sure, they know Trump’s going to build a wall, but there doesn’t seem to have been much useful input in the race to the Whitehouse. Of course, living on this side of the Atlantic makes it harder to see the fuller picture, but it just seems to be erring on the side of aggression rather than information. And that would make the decision harder to make.
And whoever wins looks set to be the least popular winner of all time. Barack Obama was an historic choice, as the nations first black president. Likewise, Clinton would be the first woman in the hotseat. Yet it doesn’t seem that there would be quite such eagerness to celebrate that.
It doesn’t seem like the rage is going to go away. I suppose it’s bound to settle down in time, but it seems like it will bubble on for a while. The fact that Trump is claiming he’ll challenge the result in the event of a Clinton win doesn’t help.
So I guess my prayer is for wisdom for American voters. Like I said at the start of this post, I don’t envy them their decision. But my prayer is also for unity. I’ve been annoyed, since Trump started using the phrase, by his claim that he’s going to ‘Make America Great Again’. I’m annoyed, because I’m a pedant, and am forced to point out that ‘Making Britain Great Again’ makes perfect sense (it is ‘Great Britain’, after all), but what the next American leader needs to do is not to make America great again (let’s face it, it’s pretty much at the top of the tree anyway). No, the next leader needs to Make America United Again. The United States came together many years ago, but it seems like the divisions have never been clearer. While some historical divides might be seeing some healing, the divisions that have been emphasised in this election, as the battle lines have been drawn, are a cause for great concern.