Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Life in the land of the free

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The American civil war of 1861 to 1865 could loosely be described as a conflict between America’s liberals and conservatives. The conservative slave owners in the south wanted their privileged lifestyles to be maintained whereas the liberals in the North sought to abolish slavery.

The liberal north were led by their president Abraham Lincoln who was a Republican. In American politics the Republicans are the conservatives and the Democrats the liberals. This apparent about-face must have infuriated the confederate slave-owners.

The topsy-turvy world of politics seems to be occurring in America again. Donald Trump leads the conservative party, but his appeal seems to come largely from the blue collar working class and small business owners, despite being a billionaire himself.

President Trump embraces a whole new brand of politics known as populism. Populism is spreading its tentacles all over the western world and saw the Brits vote underwhelmingly for Brexit.

In Europe populist candidate Geert Wilders came within a hairs-breadth of upsetting the Dutch elections and Marine Le-Pen is the front runner for the upcoming Presidential elections in France. Meanwhile Nigel Farage and Pauline Hansen are making waves in England and Australia respectively.

Populists want to have a rethink about free trade agreements and unrestricted immigration and perhaps to a lesser extent, the virtues or otherwise of political correctness. Winston Peters has been championing these causes to his greying constituents for years. Even the name of his party - New Zealand First - fits the mould perfectly, but to the best of my knowledge no one has ever got round to calling him a populist.

Populism is perhaps a misnomer; it’s not all that popular as Mr Trump is finding out to his peril. Women mass against him in droves, furious among other things at his anti-Muslim immigration policy, despite the fact that Islam generally regards women as second-class citizens.

Meanwhile his own party is divided. Some think he is more of a Democrat than a Republican and have even reinstated within their party an ultra-conservative wing known as The House Freedom Caucus to stymie what they see as Mr Trump’s liberal policies.

The president must now regard himself as being in no man’s land and to regain his confidence he rushes south to the old confederate territories and holds rally’s in Florida and Nashville where tens of thousands of devotees turn up to cheer him on.

By their very attendance they endorse his actions.

So then it’s back to Washington where he is about as popular as a butcher at a vegetarian conference and continues to sign execrated executive orders to advance populism.

Abraham Lincoln never got to enjoy the accolades of victory. Not long after the war was over and the North had won he was assassinated by an actor named John Wilkes Booth while he was watching a play.

Some toxic twitterers and frightful Facebook users are constantly calling for someone to assassinate Mr. Trump.

Given the loathsome rants by various film stars and celebrities at recent award ceremonies I would advise the president to stay well clear of the theatre.

“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”- Douglas Adams


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