By Pedro Campos
HAVANA TIMES — Grievances and exclamations of triumphs don’t really help us understand what is happening in the United States and what is the general feeling, which is complex, varied and contradictory, of its people and what the dynamics are behind its political system, which is vilified to death by its enemies and praised so highly by its supporters who acclaim it when it serves their interests and defame it when it doesn’t.
Freedom of speech: From the Left to the Right of the political spectrum every candidate was able to openly express themselves, use the media, promote its platforms and debate with their rivals in many different ways. Bernie Sanders, the socialist, had the same chances as Donald Trump, the liberal millionaire and businessman. There weren’t any barriers. All sides suffered plenty of low blows.
Highlights: Running as a Republican, Trump went against the big political party machine and then against what seemed to be the large majority of the nation.
Logic: a country, where money rules, is now led by a multi-millionaire.
There weren’t any serious incidents during the elections. They were peaceful and there was a high level of participation. The polls spoke. Discussions between friends and relatives because they supported different candidates didn’t end in tragedy, separation or feuds. Politics doesn’t go so far so as to break family ties or friendships. There were heated discussions, but they were tolerant.
After the result was made public, thousands of Trump opponents took to the streets to protest. Some carried out violent acts. A select few burned US flags. But, there wasn’t any violent repression. The election result might not be shared by all and can even be protested, but it won’t change and must be respected.
The country is internally divided, but it stands united against the rest of the world.
The US political system is founded upon a complex series of compensations that some people question. It’s the vote by State that grants the Presidency. Trump won. The popular vote, which he lost by a small margin, only holds weight in each State, not nationally. This relates to the birth of this nation as a federation of states with equal rights.
This is why there are also two Chambers: the Senate, where every State has the same number of representatives, irrelevant of how many citizens they have, which deals with federal-centric problems and the House of Representatives, where representation is proportional to how many inhabitants each State has and where they resolve and overlap the most difficult problems from all of the States and the nation as a whole.
There are states where direct democracy seems to be more effective. Maybe their positive experiences should be generalized. However, it’s still a model that undoubtedly works and manages to be representative.
People weren’t only voting for a President, but also for a part of Congress, of governors and State officials including judges and police chiefs. They were voting for laws in some States, such as for the legalization of medicinal marijuana and others.
This is the result of a colonial and anti-colonial past at the same time, a history of cowboys snatching land away from the Indians and then of these fighting back to defend their survival, of creoles of Irish and African descent rising up against the English, of slavery and discrimination and about the struggles against them, about its many immigrants, of labor improving against profits, of interests from all of the different regions and ethnicities which already live here together peacefully.
The political pendulum had swayed too far to the left and now it must move towards the center looking to include the Right. Some people hoped that after an almost social democrat Left President, it would be a woman’s turn to be president and then a gay person. However, according to this compensation system, it was rather the time for a white free market supporter, a friend told me.
Frustration and joy aside, the reality is that whoever becomes President, institutions and civil society are taken into account, and not only at the end.
No President would be able to not recognize Congress, or the Intelligence Community, or the various and contradictory interests and values that have been created over the course of the last two centuries.
The resonating discourse of Trump’s campaign will have to adapt itself to economic and political realities which no President can go against. No leader in a connected world will be able to stop the internalization of capital as well as the globalization of the economy and the most popular cultural practices.
The US will continue marching forward with Donald Trump and if he tries to go above all of these national and international realities, protests will break out, his limits will be made clear and he’ll have to adapt… otherwise there’s always impeachments.