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Trump And Clinton - America's Socio-Cultural Schizophrenia

02/11/2016 18:00

The United States of America is a vast country. It is inhabited by over three hundred million people and it's arguably the most diverse country on earth. Its enormity coupled with its liberal democratic values of freedom of speech and expression subsequently produces some shockingly disparate social, religious and political phenomena. America has the most number of billionaires in the world, over five hundred, yet nearly have of American children live in poverty. America is also an intellectual power house - Silicon Valley's tech industry, cutting edge medical practices and some of the world's most prestigious universities across the entire academic spectrum. Simultaneously, however, over two thirds of Americans believe that Jesus Christ himself will return in their own life time. The fact that America is so scientifically focussed both in industry and Academia does nothing to dispel the paradoxical refutation of science itself. Eight in ten Americans believe science has made life better for most people but they still don't trust scientists and/or aren't aware of their consensus on many of the most important science related issues of the day according to the Pew Research Center. Despite ninety percent of scientists agreeing on climate change this overwhelming consensus is not reflected in the general population. This is a population where over a quarter believe the Christian bible is the literal world of God and four in ten adopt the creationist not the evolutionary position on the origins of life. This is a population who witnessed their Government's space program land men on the moon but still question scientific expertise when it comes to climate change and evolution. Though perhaps the latter is not too surprising as many Americans believe the moon landings were faked.

America is a concoction of the sublime and the ridiculous. A country filled with both the smartest and the most ignorant, a nation soaked in corporate wealth but besieged by individual poverty. America is a country with socio-cultural schizophrenia. Perhaps nowhere is this conspicuous dichotomy more evident than in the current run for the White House. On the one hand we have one of the most qualified individuals to ever run for President. Hilary Clinton has been both Senator for New York and a Secretary of State whilst at the opposite end of the spectrum her opponent is completely devoid of any political experience.

The current Presidential campaign epitomises an ultimate clash of American actualities, realities and perceived realities. A clash of individuals, a clash of skills, a clash of experience and a clash of ideas. This aetiology is due in part to America's unique history but a ramification of this extreme form of polarity is the questioning of the sacred beliefs of western liberal democracy. On the Clinton side is the appeal to universal cultural tolerance and open borders, an emphasis on humanity and a marriage of the individual and the collective not population sizes or isolated cultures. At the other extreme, the spectrum is occupied by the proposition of closed borders, the vetting of Muslim immigrants and even the construction of a wall to physically stop illegal immigrants from Mexico. Although arguably this can be perceived as a fundamentally reductive racist and discriminating idea, this policy proposal illustrates a salient perceptual division between the two sides. Vetting migrants, constructing walls and profiling are crude practical approaches to the problems of illegal immigration and potential terror threats. Trump supporters have no time for liberal-progressive ideas. Time is short and they want or even need pragmatic approaches. What is more physically pragmatic in keeping Mexicans out than constructing an actual wall? Though ironically actually building it and funding it is impractical in itself. This rather frivolous approach highlights the dichotomy between the two political approaches of Clinton and Trump which by now has come to reflect two opposing perpetual frameworks of reality in America. The philosophical approach of human equality and non-bias does not practically work for the Trump legion. Contemporary problems faced by America can no longer be dressed up or obscured by what is perceived by them as liberal propaganda and jargon. For this surfeited crowd, some Muslims and Mexicans pose a threat so it is best to deal with them pragmatically; therefore there is no time to spare in potentially treating all Mexicans and Muslims the same.

Whilst this campaign has included some extremely distasteful and unprecedented political tactics such as the insulting of fellow runners, explicit sexist and racist attitudes this really only scratches the surface. This because at its core America's cultural and social dichotomy have been magnanimously exposed in this Presidential campaign and has come to represent more than just national divide but counterpoising psychological schemas, belief systems; and frameworks of rationality, perception and argumentation. At best it has tested the resolve of a nation and at worst the capacity, limits and tolerance for human thinking and in the process shun a spotlight on the life priorities of the differentiating American populous.

This is most prominently evidenced by the Trump campaign, whose expedition has more or less shocked half of America and the world and has continued to do so in a downward spiral. At first Trump began at the Republican primaries openly mocking fellow Republican candidates in what was immature and meaningless incivility such as "low energy Jeb" and "sweaty Marco". Many in the media laughed this off, ridiculing what was perceived as vacuous gesturing on the part of a candidate that clearly had no substantive contributory elements to politics. The media's dangerous dicing with the clown show for the purposes of comedic intrigue and sensationalism produced an unanticipated effect because the masses loved it. It was seen as refreshing, open and honest. One man's rudeness, unpreparedness and inexperience was seen as another man's bravery, determination and impudence for a system that is perceived as broken.

Here lies another dichotomy between Trump and Clinton. Clinton to her core supporters represents a stable and idealistic system of liberal democracy; an inclusive American project with the goal of bettering the lives of Americans, from the poor to the sexually and racially discriminated. To her followers, and much of the mainstream media, Trump represents ignorant, abaft racist and sexist views in part driven by hatred, frustration and disenchantment. Yet to Trump supporters Clinton represents all that is wrong with America - a corrupt political system based on salacious financial donations, private interests; and power for power's sake and self-political regard. The status quo is defective and Clinton represents it in its amelioration and culmination; the fruition of a Washington insider perennially conjoined to the Washington-Corporate complex. To these same people trump on the other hand represents a break with this; the potential inception of a new paradigm, a new approach to dealing with America's core problems.

Along this treacherous landscape of paralleled opposites and pandemonium the Trump concord has exemplified the tenacity of an almost cult like following. An allegiance to a cause regardless of controversy, an unconditional adherence to the leader of a movement in the face of draconic incidences. The insulting of fellow politicians and celebrities, calling Mexicans rapists, calling for a ban on Muslim immigration, depicting urban inner cities as hellholes, misogynistic comments towards women, talk of defaulting on America debt, openly admitting to non-consensual grabbing of women - all of this has not deterred his core support and beyond. He's still here, he's still running for president and he only trails Clinton narrowly. America is thus divided not only along basic philosophical ideas about social organisation and direction but fundamental issues of concern. The liberal quarters and the media have an understandable issue with racism and misogyny. To the Trump corner it is more complicated than this. For them these vile and dangerous traits, if not directly adhered to are at least tolerable as long as the country works better or as they see it: America is great again.

America as a large country with the liberal democratic ideals of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly has always displayed a copious duality ranging from the likes of quintessential rednecks who love guns and shooting to the refined corridors of the Ivy League and Wall Street. This campaign has magnified the spectrum - from the far left to the far right. It has displayed an entrenchment back into the quarters of the right and the left respectively. In its totality the melting put includes issues of rape culture, white privilege, political correctness, hate speeches mixed in with the desire for closed borders, profiling and anti-establishment tendencies. Perhaps the most telling aspect of this election is not just the disparity of political views and the actual candidates but the limits of rationality and sanity; how far each side is willing to push and test the ideas of tolerance, rationality and thinking in the face of mercurial and nefarious incidences. Ultimately this campaign has questioned the importance of ideas and polices, the role of personal characters, identity, reality, facts and philosophical spin in an unprecedented manner.

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