During Bill Clinton’s impeachment, I was living in France, and every time I turn on the TV these days, I am reminded of how Europeans viewed that spectacle, imagining how the Donald/Hillary/Bernie show is playing ‘over there’. Surely, they are far from imagining that each episode is dissected by experts and commented by ‘average voters’, hour after hour, between short takes on shootings, either by police or terrorists.
‘Over there’ was the way Americans referred to Europe during the first and second world wars, when “GI’s” were saviors. There was even a patriotic song that started with those words. Today, hopes that those vying for the position of world leader would pass a course in world history or geography are dashed when we hear them talk about ‘foreign affairs’.
The reason why candidates no longer refer to Europe as ‘over there’, is that America now considers the entire globe its foreign affair. And yet, the only details Americans are getting from their media are the minute-to-minute developments in the craziest US presidential election ever. What is supposed to be a solemn occasion has been a dog and poney show from the start, when Donald Trump went from TV show host to TV news subject, wearing a Republican-red baseball cap that hangs low over his blond-banged brow.
While their counterparts in Europe are divided between the far right and Occupiers, America’s middle agers still believe they know what’s going on in the world by reading The New York Times, and perhaps watching the BBC once in a while. In their ignorance, they can only condemn the UN, allowing whoever sits in the White House to assassinate opponents using drones, and replace patriotic GI’s with mercenaries on far-flung battlefields.
The ‘millennial generation’ (those born between 1980 and 2000), has also disappointed, failing to break through the two-party system and allow Americans real alternatives to Republican and Republican-light candidates funded by Wall Street and big business. This has resulted in a seventy-four year old stepping between two sexagenarians, one who has long dreamed of becoming the legitimate occupant of the Oval Office, the other who would make it into a TV studio.
While these two ritually invoke real and imaginary enemies, in a doomed effort to maintain the United States as the world’s pre-eminent power, only the crowd-funded candidate focuses on domestic needs, including rotting infrastructures.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.”