Testing the parties to destruction

donald-trump-vs-hillary-clintonAmerica has traditionally operated a two-party system: from Federalists vs Anti-Federalists to Democrats vs Republicans since 1856. No-one outside this duopoly has participated in the televised debates since 1992, won a state since 1968, or pushed one of the major parties into third place since 1912. That’s a pretty well-established duopoly.

This year is unlikely to be the breakthrough year. Gary Johnson did not achieve an average of 15% in the polls this month, so the Commission on Presidential Debates has decided he will not be included in the debates. The Commission was established by the two major parties after the 1992 election, when the League of Women Voters, which used to sponsor debates, let Ross Perot into the debates. Perot would not have qualified under this year’s rules. Indeed, in September 1992 he wasn’t even a declared candidate. He had pulled out and later rejoined. Yet Perot went on to win 19% of the vote, the largest percentage for a candidate outside the duopoly since 1912.

If the parties had wanted to test their control of the system to destruction, they could not have devised a more apparently foolproof method than the one they have adopted.

The Republican candidate is an unstable, ignorant, buffoon. He knows next to nothing of the issues facing America, and actively chooses not to learn of them. He has put less research into running for president than the rest of us would put into buying a set of curtains. His policy for Syria is to ask the generals to devise a plan for wiping out ISIS. Apparently he thinks there is a simple, easy to implement, plan available, but the president has not pursued it because he didn’t think of asking the generals. The only issues he really cares about are ones on which he is hopelessly wrong. He wants to imitate Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez on trade by locking out imports. This would produce a global depression so devastating that people would literally starve.

Some 11% of the population believe that the Democratic candidate is honest and trustworthy. For comparison, 14% believe in Bigfoot. She does score more highly than the proposition that Elvis Presley is still alive. That had fallen below 5% before the end of the Twentieth Century.

Yet your columnist wants to grab the 11% by the lapels and yell “what the hell are you thinking?”. It may be a small number, but that even that number of people holds on to the fantasy that Hillary Clinton is trustworthy is a matter of deep concern. She was “extremely careless” with classified documents – the FBI’s words, not mine – purely for her own convenience, and she lied, and lied, and lied about the matter for years. She continues to lie. Since the FBI declared that it was not worth prosecuting her, she has claimed they cleared her of lying to the American people. Director Comey has expressly refused to do that and expressly contradicted a series of statements she has repeatedly made. She even lies about the lies she has told.

Yet the liar and the buffoon will be first and second in the election.


Quentin Langley lives in New York and London and teaches at the University of Bedfordshire Business School. He is the author of Brandjack: How your reputation is at risk from brand pirates and what to do about it


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