God help us all if Trump wins

CityPress - - Voices - Mondli Makhanya voices@ city­press. co. za

Get your pop­corn and get ready for the great­est political show on earth. To­mor­row sees the of­fi­cial kick­off of the US pres­i­den­tial race, a gru­elling marathon that leaves en­er­gies sapped and bank ac­counts dry. While the bat­tle to suc­ceed Barack Obama in the White House has been rag­ing since he took the oath for the se­cond time in Jan­uary 2013, to­mor­row’s pri­mary in Iowa marks the mo­ment the of­fi­cial starter gun goes off. From there, the show will move to New Hamp­shire and then coun­try­wide un­til June, cli­max­ing in Novem­ber with the elec­tion.

It is the most fas­ci­nat­ing and high-oc­tane political con­test in the world. And what is even more de­li­cious is that we get to ex­pe­ri­ence it blow by blow. Un­like the in­trigue-filled suc­ces­sion in that other su­per­power called China, Amer­ica’s ver­sion is pure en­ter­tain­ment.

This year’s race has thrown up in­ter­est­ing per­mu­ta­tions on both the Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can slates. On the lat­ter’s side there has been a wor­ri­some swing to right wing pop­ulism, with bil­lion­aire Don­ald Trump and con­ser­va­tive sen­a­tors Ted Cruz and Marco Ru­bio lead­ing the pack. The sit­u­a­tion is now such that even if vot­ers tire of Trump’s buf­foon­ery and call his bluff, the other two men, who may not be as ab­surd as him, are also ra­bidly right wing.

On the Demo­cratic side, Hil­lary Clin­ton is fac­ing a tough chal­lenge from Sen­a­tor Bernie San­ders, a man who self-de­scribes as a demo­cratic so­cial­ist. This is weird in a coun­try that has, over the decades, been so ob­ses­sively anti-so­cial­ist it once con­ducted of­fi­cial com­mu­nist witch-hunts.

Ter­ri­fied at the prospect of pop­ulists tak­ing over the world’s largest econ­omy, The Econ­o­mist noted that “the race for the world’s most pow­er­ful of­fice has been up­ended more by out­siders than any elec­tion in the past half-cen­tury”. It wor­ried that be­cause Repub­li­cans were smarter cam­paign­ers than Clin­ton, the chances of one of them land­ing up in the Oval Of­fice were high.

This, of course, would be a disas­ter not only for the US, but the world. Dur­ing the cam­paign, they have been en­dorsed by cra­zies on the evan­gel­i­cal cir­cuit, right wing pop­ulists on con­ser­va­tive broad­cast­ing houses and gun-lov­ing imbeciles through­out the na­tion. They have said some rather scary things as they made prom­ises about what they in­tended to do to “re­store Amer­ica’s great­ness”. Un­der any of them, the world would be a more dan­ger­ous place than it was un­der hawk­ish cow­boy Ge­orge W Bush. There will be more bombs land­ing in desert lands than ever be­fore.

For Africa, it would spell ter­ri­ble news. They ei­ther do not care about Africa or, in the case of Trump, are hos­tile to the con­ti­nent. Cruz and Ru­bio’s Africa con­sists of north Africa, where they be­lieve lie threats to Amer­i­can se­cu­rity and the safety of Is­rael.

In Trump’s world, Africa is some in­fested back­wa­ter some­where that should al­ways be the tar­get of de­ri­sion. His com­ment on the #Black­Lives­Mat­ter cam­paign – which was a re­sponse to po­lice killings of African-Amer­i­cans – was to de­clare that “there’s no such thing as racism any more”.

“We’ve had a black pres­i­dent, so it’s not a ques­tion any more. Are they say­ing black lives should mat­ter more than white lives or Asian lives? If black lives mat­ter, then go back to Africa. We’ll see how much they mat­ter there,” he scoffed.

A few months ear­lier, he was mak­ing waves by say­ing Africa should be re­colonised for 100 years; that Africans are so use­less they “im­port ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing match­sticks”, that African coun­tries “only qual­ify to be used as a case study when­ever bad ex­am­ples are re­quired” and Obama “and his Kenyan brothers and sis­ters should be de­ported back to Kenya to make Amer­ica safe”.

Or­di­nar­ily, you would place a safe bet that the high­est of­fice a man with such out­landish views would reach is chair­per­son of his lo­cal bowl­ing club. Not so. In less than 12 months’ time, Trump could – to­gether with Vladimir Putin – be re­spon­si­ble for world peace. He could be rep­re­sent­ing the world’s big­gest econ­omy at multi­na­tional fo­rums where is­sues of in­te­grat­ing de­vel­op­ing na­tions into the world econ­omy, as well as fair trade, are be­ing dis­cussed. No prizes for guess­ing what his and his two ri­vals’ po­si­tions would be when such is­sues arise.

It may sound like a dooms­day sce­nario, but Africa should start pre­par­ing it­self for a po­lar night in­so­far as re­la­tions with the US are con­cerned. South Africa, whose re­la­tions with the US un­der Obama can best be de­scribed as cor­dial and prac­ti­cal, would be in for a rough ride if the man who once de­scribed the coun­try as “a crimerid­den mess that is just wait­ing to ex­plode” is elected pres­i­dent.

The an­swer to a pos­si­ble far-right takeover of the White House will not be to “look East”, as some of our politi­cians will sug­gest. It will be to bol­ster our diplo­matic ca­pa­bil­i­ties so as to pen­e­trate sec­tors of Amer­i­can power and by­pass the White House for most of our deal­ings.

It hasn’t rained since Oc­to­ber. The earth is ter­ri­bly scorched

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