Clinton/Trump: Where is the difference?

This week's editorial looks at the U.S. election and the choices of Trump and Clinton.

The long process of nomination for November’s US presidential elections has now been finalized and the horses in the race have been identified.

While there was a lot of complacency at the beginning of the nomination battle within the Republican Party regarding Donald Trump’s chances of clinching the party’s candidacy for the presidency, the New-York based real estate mogul did manage to outflank the doubters in the end. And that created a lot of panic, not only in the ranks of the Democratic Party, but also in a much wider scale, among the American (and global) political establishment.

Historians who specialize in US presidential politics have been saying that it is for the first time in the last half a century or so that a sitting president and his family have become so much involved in a pre-election campaign. The objective of the political establishment has clearly been to show that Hillary Clinton is the right candidate for the presidency; even the FBI shut down an investigation which might otherwise have resulted in a grand jury being set up to indict another person for endangering the exposure of state secrets.

But the real question is if it will really make a difference if Hillary Clinton is elected instead of Donald Trump.

We are living through a tumultuous period, which will likely end up with radical changes in the way we live, think and act.

The first sign of the big shake-up was the Brexit vote; although it didn’t come with a massive electoral support, the decision of the British to break away from EU is the first major nail driven in the coffin of the current world order as we know it.

There is already a fast growing wave of opposition against globalization that has increased multiple times the wealth of the already wealthy around the world because its benefits have not been fairly shared. Now it is not only Donald Trump, but also Hillary Clinton who says she will not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

On the other side of the pond, disgruntled rumbling about EU is getting louder. Former Communist East European members of the grouping are very uncomfortable with Germany’s leadership of the political alliance, while France, the second most important anchor of the union is getting shakier. (As ISIS keeps targeting French cities and towns with its terrorist attacks, the far right nationalist front’s chances of winning the election next spring increase exponentially, possibly paving the way for a Frexit.) Vladimir Putin’s Russia is rubbing hands with ecstasy as Europe falls into further political and economic disarray.

On the other side of the other, bigger pond, China keeps flexing its military muscle, again with the support of Russia, making it clear to both regional countries and their distant chaperone in Washington that it will do whatever necessary to expand is influence and control in Southeast Asia, by military means if it can’t be done peacefully.

The never-ending military conflicts in the Middle East might assume a new, bigger dimension if the Sunni-Shiite divide further threatens the current setup of national borders.

And on top of all of this, the world economy is in the grip of an acute addiction to debt complicated by persistent subpar growth, destined for a massive implosion that will dwarf the 2008 crisis.

The fear of the Washington political establishment in a Donald Trump presidency is probably that if it materializes, the unraveling of this global mess might be too chaotic to be controlled. A US President breaking the country’s commitments to NATO, starting a trade war with China and antagonizing Muslim world is indeed a nightmare for many not only in the political establishment, but also in the boardrooms of multinationals.

If Hillary Clinton is elected (which appears likely for now but it might take only one two more mass shootings by ISIS militants to change the mood of the electorate), the unraveling process will probably be delayed or there will at least be attempts to control it here and there.

But, ultimately, the only difference between the two will be one of when rather than if.


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