Why we all need Hillary to win
Maybe we were too smug?” Those were my words on the morning of June 24, as Britain turned its back on Europe, exiting the EU with the seductively simple (almost Trump-ish?) slogan ‘Take Back Control’.
Barely 15 weeks later, Americans will vote on whether to turn their backs on the whole world and this time there can be no room for liberal smugness.
For a long time I was dismissive of Trump — cocky, even. I couldn’t even imagine him winning the nomination. I assumed that, like most reality stars, Trump would be notoriously bad at actual reality. Then he won the nomination, beating opponents who were, like Hillary, more experienced. Opponents who were, like Hillary, more educated. Opponents who were, like Hillary, more presidential.
And then Brexit happened; and my assumptions about the 21st century were shaken to the core. It was, as many of us observed at the time, like watching the fall of the Berlin Wall in reverse.
It then makes perfect sense that Trump’s flagship policy is to literally build a wall. Trumpism is Brexit’s more dangerous, ambitious and ruthless cousin. Britain’s divorce from Europe was argued by Nigel Farage (UKIP member of the European Parliament), who is himself married to a German. Trumpism’s populist anger against ‘elites’ is led by a billionaire son of a multi-millionaire, whose existence to this day has been the epitome of elitism.
I was involved in the ‘Remain’ campaign for the UK to stay in the EU. Three months on, many of us are beginning to learn where we went wrong. We underestimated how difficult it is for the masses to be liberal when in their everyday working lives they feel no freedom. How difficult it is for people to vote for progressive values when we are not showing them progress.
America: Please do not repeat our errors. We cannot afford to make the same mistake twice, this time on a bigger stage. The alt-right are UKIP squared. Trump is Farage on steroids. Nigel Farage appearing alongside Trump at a rally in Mississippi is his attempt to export his reactionary revolution, with all-American, fake-tanned and golden-haired branding.
Farage supporters insisted on voting with pens rather than pencils, believing the conspiracy theory that pencil would be rubbed out and their votes changed. Trump told the audience last night that voting machines were rigged to switch votes. UKIP constantly accuse the media of bias, even the painfully impartial BBC. Trump spoke last night of ‘mainstream media nonsense.’
Most worryingly, the Brexit vote went through because the right wing appealed to blue collar voters who would traditionally vote for the left. Trump didn’t deviate an inch from the Brexit playbook when he claimed that ‘Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of,’ appealing to disenfranchised Bernie bros whose desire for radical change is greater than their discretion as to what that change actually is.
This is, of course, not the whole story. Hillary’s campaigns are not without their weaknesses. Her husband’s cheating lingers heavily in the American collective memory, and family values are so much more important in US elections than in the UK. This may explain Trump’s decision to invite an alleged mistress of Bill Clinton to the debates, as well as Hillary opening the debate with a reference to her two-year-old grand daughter, as well as mentioning her father on more than one occasion.
Hillary’s actual health issues are minor to the point of insignificance, but reality stars hate reality, remember? And we do have to acknowledge the symbolic significance of Hillary’s collapse at ground zero, but more importantly that this is what Trump’s people have been saying all along about ‘Sick Hillary.’ The Trumpian logic (which may now become more attractive to swing voters) is ‘if Trump was right about Hillary being sick, what else is he right about?’ The argument that ‘even a broken clock is right twice a day’ is not likely to convince everyone.
But convince them Hillary must, because whatever her weaknesses may be, the reality of a President Trump would be so much worse. Worse than his racism, worse than his sexism, worse than his lies, and worse even than his financial corruption. All these sins have been tolerated by the world in Heads of State, in varying degrees, before. And to some voters, flirting with racism or sexism is not a cardinal sin. But what no voter wants is incompetence; and Trump has it in spades.
Nothing suggests that Trump would know how to run a country. A country is not a hotel. A country is lots and lots of hotels, plus houses, plus schools, plus hospitals, plus (seemingly never-ending) race riots, plus an army, an air force, a navy, and a nuclear arsenal. And 325 million people who need a leader they can rely on.
And let’s not forget the 7 billion people who don’t have a vote on Nov. 8, but who need America’s leadership in the world just as much as those who do have a vote.
They need the delicate balance of power between the West and Russia to be maintained. They need stability in the Middle East and a move toward peace in Syria (and Yemen, and Libya, and Ukraine, and Israel, and Palestine). They need a positive role for China as it cements itself as a global power.
If America’s place in the world declines after a Trumpist ‘Brexit 2.0,’ the leadership of the free world will fall to the European Union, which is busy trying to hold itself together after Brexit 1.0.
Many American colleagues and friends wonder if America is still the greatest nation on earth. But make no mistake: On Nov. 8, America will be the greatest, or at least the most significant, nation on earth, because it holds the fate of the world in its ballot boxes. Trump’s most ‘Brexit-ish’ moment yesterday was when he alleged that ‘Under Obama we’ve lost control of things we used to have control of.’ Listen to Brexit, America: ‘Take back control.’ Control of your democracy and your future. Vote Hillary. For all our sakes — and yours.
— Muddassar Ahmed is managing partner of Unitas Communications Ltd, a reputed management firm based in London. He tweets at @unitascomms