Polls have closed and the results are in. We’re all doomed.
Or, at least, they are. If this week’s ‘Super Tuesday’ is anything to go by (and all sources say it is), then America, the land of the free, will soon be under the sure-to-be whimsical presidential rule of Donald Trump. The candidate voting shows that the American people are already in his thrall, and if the toupee-touting inheritor-come-politician can just out-charm Hillary, there’ll be no stopping him. But – I’ve jumped ahead a bit.
I came to America in January of this year. I landed in Hawaii, blissful, out-of-the-way Hawaii, where nothing much happens except the slow eroding of beautiful natural wildlife by over-enthusiastic tourists. It wasn’t until I landed in Oregon, a week later, that I realised an election was even taking place.
Political jockeying for party leadership began almost a year ago, a few months before Donald Trump announced his candidacy. The vote in Iowa took place on February 1st, but that’s just Iowa and it didn’t worry anyone. Then there was the Super Bowl and, for a while, the country was distracted from the constant political sniping by the sad spectacle of Chris Martin trying to outshine Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.
Then Super Tuesday hit and it all went south.
Super Tuesday is like nothing in Australian politics and, as I’m learning, American politics is nothing like Australian politics either. Sure, both of our countries are democracies (though many people I’ve met seem to think Australia is still ‘owned’ by the Brits), and we both esteem the qualities of foolishness, penis-having and whiteness in our leaders, recent obvious exceptions aside, but the similarities end there. In fact, though you can draw basic left, and right, wing parallels between our Labor party and America’s Democrats, and our Liberals and their Republicans respectively, here, every candidate has different policy ideas. Ted Cruz wants to end all abortions, Bernie Sanders wants to bring down the 1%, and Donald Trump changes his mind as often as his hairpiece (although he definitely mentioned something about building a wall to keep the Mexicans out).
Australian politicians like to make a big deal about how much their party is behind them, or vice versa. Of course, we know they don’t mean it, but we expect them to pretend they do right up until the moment they stab their party leaders in the back. But there’s no such thing as keeping dirty-party-laundry in cabinet closets here. In fact, Republicans Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have been openly slinging shit at each other ever since Rubio called Trump a con-man and said he had small hands. That’s because they both want to be the leader, and the people decide which of the five remaining Republicans and two remaining Democrat candidates will take the metaphorical blue or red crown. It’s like if Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull had visited every little Australian town and then the people had voted on who they wanted for Prime Minister (probably neither). It sounds like real democracy. It also sounds expensive, which is probably why we don’t do it.
That’s the funny thing. All of this voting isn’t even for the actual presidency. It’s just for the right to represent whichever party you want to lead at the election. All this going from state to state, riling up crowds, swearing you’ll annihilate ISIS better than everyone else that wants to annihilate ISIS (all of them want to annihilate ISIS), is just to win the favour of enough ‘delegates’ in enough counties to become a presidential candidate when the election finally swings around in November. It’s about as exhausting as an episode of House of Cards and, you get the feeling, it’s just as ridiculous.
The voting is far from over, but on Super Tuesday a whole chunk of states voted, including some of the big Southern ones. So how did it go? Well, either really badly, or really, really well, depending on where you sit on the whole Trump thing. The yellow-haired charlatan managed to score seven states, compared to his nearest rival, Ted Cruz’s mere three. Marco Rubio won his first state, Minnesota, prompting Ted Cruz to ask Rubio to ‘prayerfully consider’ removing himself from the race so that someone else would have a better chance of beating Trump.
As for the Democrats, it seems that for all the hype Bernie Sanders has created, he’s fallen short at the first hurdle. He may have the lowest average donation and the support of the young people, but Hillary has the black vote, and the religious vote. Out of eleven states, Clinton won seven. Bernie won in his hometown, but (John Howard aside) who doesn’t? We’ll have to wait for Saturday to see if Hillary can keep up her winning streak.
The only thing unifying the Republicans at this point is their hatred of Donald Trump, who, to their immense chagrin, is immensely popular with Republican voters. If Tuesday’s results are anything to go by, we’re looking at a Trump versus Clinton showdown – but that’s election time, and this is, after all, ‘only’ the presidential candidate’s race. And, if it sounds ridiculous that a rich bully with a penchant for misspelling Tweets could become America’s next political leader, just remember who we elected at our last election.
*Words by Mat Drogemuller. Follow him on Twitter.