Trump vs Sanders 2016: The Battle for America’s Soul

Even having dropped out of deep politics chasing, the US election looms large and wild eyed this year. Something about the truly preposterous nature of the Republican candidature, a rogue’s gallery of lunacy. And the almost unbelievable emergence of what seems an honest decent man from within the US political system, who talks sense, and, on paper as of now, has a shot at becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, and hence President.

As of now, we face an extraordinary potential Presidential election in 2016: Donald Trump against Bernie Sanders.

Let’s take a moment to grok this in all its poetic beauty as it encapsulates the world and its tensions.

On the one hand, Trump. An exemplar of the 1%: a billionaire, full of confidence, bluster and delusion, but doubtless some real ruthlessness and business cunning. An exemplar of the hype and emptiness of American culture: a candidate essentially making it on his celebrity status from The Apprentice. An exemplar of the very particular type of ignorance insularity and success bring: he’s lived in a world where he can have anything he wants, and doesn’t need to engage with reality the way lesser mortals do. A guy who has announced he is willing to nuke Iran. (Hell, nuke anywhere and you are frankly not the same moral species as me.)

On the other hand, Sanders. This clip was my introduction to Sanders. Five minutes of off-the-cuff comments, nailing lucidity and informed sanity. Seriously, it’s like a litany. Long standing independent, tried to get campaign finance reform, voted against Patriot Act, against Iraq War, is against TPPA. Preaches a necessary political revolution to bring politics back into being a democracy rather than an oligarchy and seems to mean it. Is old enough he doesn’t seem to mind if they shoot him for standing up for working people.

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So there we have it. A perfect choice. The fate of a nation’s soul. And, unfortunately, quite a lot of the world.
I love the symbolism. Seven years ago I called that
Barack Obama will, and needs to, win the election to demonstrate to America that they can still be great. Electing a black president just forty years after segregation ended will help wash away the sour taste of Bush.
Today, the choice is even simpler. Does America want a future? Does it want the world to have a future?
Peak oil, climate change, the multi-polar world of emergent China, the festering hotspots of the Middle East. Who does America choose to guide them through this?
Choose death and ignorance, a dream long since turned sick and nightmarish. Or choose life, integrity and sanity.
(Also: if we end up with Bush vs Clinton, again, this in itself is a defacto vote for disaster and the replacement of the West as world leader. Both represent the system, and the system will fail to respond in time. Trump just represents a will to death. Sanders seems legitimately the only hope for the US to have continued relevance (as anything other than a feared maniacal warmonger in the global ‘hood) and reform itself, and it is frankly a miracle he has emerged.
The terror, of course, is that in the US system, the guy with the most money usually wins. And guess who that is.)

The TPPA, New Zealand, and Sovereignty

The TPPA is a “trade deal” negotiated in secret that the leaked chapters reveal goes far beyond trade. Once signed, the TPPA will be extremely difficult to exit.

The key issue is sovereignty. Leaks reveal the TPPA will override the ability of nations who sign to determine their own laws, and open them up to massive lawsuits from foreign corporations if they do.

New Zealand has a very particular history with sovereignty, which allows a simple one sentence objection to the TPPA to be phrased:

The TPPA does for New Zealand sovereignty what the Treaty of Waitangi did for Maori sovereignty.

ie it cheats us out of it by stealth without our intending to give it away.

This I think communicates the situation in a way that all New Zealanders should grasp somewhat viscerally.

“Free trade” at the cost of sovereignty – our right to make decisions for ourselves – is far too expensive.

NZ should refuse to sign the TPPA.

At the least the government should make the TPPA’s text available to citizens so they can decide for themselves. (Appropriate, as it may be the last chance we get to decide something for ourselves.)

Since our leaders will not do that, New Zealanders should, frankly, actively engage their right to civil disobedience to communicate with our leaders that we do not want a deal on these terms. Because sovereignty and freedom are too important to give up without a fight.

 

the NZ flag debate

 

So far I have avoided comment on this because I think it is a giant waste of time. But now I think I can express why in a single sentence.

The only good time, and the only good reason, for New Zealand to change our flag is when we become a republic.

It is that simple.

Presently there is no good reason, no compelling reason, no necessity to change our flag.

The consultation process has been a bad joke, and the four “options” are uninspiring to say the least. It is not worth changing the flag to one of those designs for no particular reason, or “branding”. The resurgent Red Peak design at least looks like a flag, but why bother changing to that, even if we were allowed to?

However, when we someday become a republic, it will be entirely appropriate to select a new flag as befits a mature country celebrating its identity and independence. That flag will have meaning.