Which brings us, obviously, to the US presidential campaign. US politics has never been this interesting, and couldn’t be more so if it was a monkey vs. a minion.
Which it is. No need to point out which is which, I presume. To be fair, Trump isn’t completely ape-like, but his responses can be; he might do something that makes you think he’s really clever, or the opposite. It could go either way. Clinton is minion-like, offering up nothing really new other than being female, and her familiar messages and style are letting Trump stay in the race. Her biggest problem is that the general public has had it up to here with plastic candidates thrust forward by the party establishments, who then achieve absolutely nothing productive. Even Ted Cruz noted as he exited the campaign that he had become aware of the “volcanic anger” that the general population feels towards Washington.
But it’s not Hillary Clinton that’s making it interesting. She is the first female to get this close, which is a very good thing to see (the testosterone-only model has brought us countless wars, endless stupid policies and ego-driven madness; we really should give the alternative a try), but unfortunately she looks like a marionette or product of the established US political machines. The juntas that run US political parties put forward stool pigeons that will keep things rolling exactly as they like them (as Republican stooge Curly Haugland put it, “the media has created the perception that the voters choose the nominee.”)
The Republicans had grand plans to do exactly the same, yet again. They even found yet another Bush to throw into the fray. Is that not an astonishing commentary on US politics – that out of 300 million people the GOP would choose three people from the same family in the span of 30 years to run the country? What is so staggeringly competent about the Bushes – are they modern day Edisons? Rockefellers? Breathtakingly competent statesmen? No, to find an appropriate comparison for general all-around character you’d have to march steadily down the roster until you get to Homer Simpson. But for the establishment, as long as the buffoon was their buffoon, bought and paid for, things were under control and the status quo safe.
Then along comes Trump, with no respect for tradition or anything else for that matter. There’s good and bad in his antics; he is a scrapper who seems willing to smash up the comfortable and cozy establishment, which is so sorely needed. On the other hand, smashing things up sometimes means collateral damage, like some of Trump’s ludicrous comments about women and immigrants. The big question is, is it worth it?
In one sense, yes. Sorry women and immigrants, but what the country needs far more than a politically correct automaton is someone willing and able to shake up the establishment in a momentous way. The US is in trouble; $19 trillion of debt (and growing rapidly) is going to sink the ship someday, and no one seems to care. The gridlock between the parties ensures nothing will get done unless some outsider comes in that isn’t a puppet and isn’t afraid to smash some china. And some China. With regards to his idiotic comments about women and immigrants, it remains to be seen how racist and misogynistic Trump really will be. He has said some truly dumb things on the topics during the campaign, however his deal making mentality may be staking outrageous positions as a starting point and then negotiating from there. A politically correct stream of jabber that isn’t sincere is not helpful either, even if it’s less obnoxious. Let’s hope, if Trump is elected, that he has some considerable retractions and/or more thoughtful actual policies.
We are used to slick politicians that are trained like circus bears; there is no room for personality or independent thought that isn’t staged, focus-grouped, and rehearsed to the point of complete phoniness. Trump is raw, belligerent, obnoxious, sometimes wrong, sometimes ignorant – but a deal maker. Anyone who’s been involved in business transactions knows the type, full of bluster and posturing that morphs into a deal. The media of course laps up the outlandishness and magnifies it, which often obscures the true potential of what he’s saying.
It is hard defending the loon, who might just start world war III, but it’s hard to argue that we don’t need a 90-degree, left field, semi-civilized entrant to shake up the establishment. The ruling infrastructure of both parties is utterly calcified and entrenched, and they’re marching the world’s economies (and societies) straight to the brink because their own entrenched interests come first. Witness Wall Street banks, who have (up to late 2015) paid out over $200 billion in fines for their pathetic behaviour in the housing crisis, with no one paying a price except the lower ranks who get laid off at a whiff of lower revenues. It’s the same rotten system that paralyzes Washington.
That’s why no real change occurs. Excepting GW Bush’s lunatic invasion of Iraq, the general government function under Obama wasn’t really all that different than under Bush. The biggest policy differences amounted to battles over the level of health care coverage, which is pretty inconsequential compared to the bigger problems the US should have been structurally pursuing – debt reduction, some sort of plan for terrorism, getting a halter on Wall Street, developing a real energy policy. Any establishment-provided plastic candidate won’t do anything of substance either. The vested interests call the shots, the lobbyists and super-pacs and mega-contributors.
Trump is blowing out those cobwebs, a process that is sorely needed. Even the jaded American public can see that.
So where does that leave energy? Trump has thus far not unveiled a comprehensive energy policy. He very recently nominated a North Dakotan, a major drilling advocate, to write a paper outlining his ideas which will emphasize the dangers of foreign ownership of US energy assets. Presumably he’ll also be for open markets and American self-sufficiency (the fact that those can be contradictory aims won’t slow him in the slightest).
Speculating is often pointless, and Trump is full of surprises, but he does have an odd consistency about some of his “platform”. He will look out for the US’ interests above all, which means sometimes doing right-wing things and sometimes left. So protectionism isn’t off the table, and there will likely be encouragement of the US energy industry to pursue self-sufficiency (despite media hoopla over shale production, the US still consumes far more oil than it produces). China will be in the crosshairs; Trump erased any doubt of that on his website by stating that he will “bring China to the bargaining table by immediately declaring it a currency manipulator.” I am pretty sure that message will survive translation intact. China also desperately needs access to large quantities of energy, so one can assume that energy will become a pawn in Trump’s foreign policy.
Regardless of what his policies end up being, Trump possesses the one trait that’s required to break log jams –a deal making style, which means results will trump ideology. Things will change in US politics, both foreign policy and energy policy. A lot of people are terrified that he will be sexist, racist, or just plain stupid. But the US survived 8 years of George W. Bush, somehow, even though his war-mongering administration war-mongered as promised and paid no heed whatsoever to fiscal restraint. It might not be as pretty, but would Trump be any worse?
Read more insightful analysis from Terry Etam here