Controversy Analysis Of This Article
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Has 2016 turned into most trivial US election ever?
Published in Guardian on 2016-10-03T17:55:08+00:00
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Negative Comments

It's sad that the first female American President is going to have an asterisk by her name because the other side decided to run a misogynistic, racist pathological liar!

As a non-voter, I see this as the most important election in 30 years. The Establishment thought they could use Bernie the Evil Shepherd to herd in the bleating discontented sheep, but it only worked partially. Very partially. Every awake political observer knows that Trump will win in a landslide unless something major happens, such as his death or an invasion from Mars. The Guardian may want to trivialize it, but we have a revolution going on and where it will wind up, no one knows.

Daniel Ferris:
The larger and more intrusive the government becomes, the more important it is to make sure it's on your side. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Marcus Traianus:
"...turned into the most trivial..." That would imply that it started out serious and/or substantiative.

In answer to your question: Yes.

Positive Comments

Peace and prosperity, ? Prosperity for the weapons manufactures, the MIC that Eisenhower warned us about! U.S. is involved in at least 6 wars in faraway countries, bombing to smithereens innocent civilians in proxy wars.

It's a lot easier to sell the middle class' inexorable march towards oblivion when the alternative is Trump. Maybe this is the newest strategy to keep the trains running on time for the moneyed class?

Davide Verotta:
It is your problem. Hillary Clinton has been talking about real issues for as long as the campaign started. But it is so much easier instead to talk and comment about reality TV.

"At the Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh last week, Donald Trump promised a roomful of fracking executives and stalwarts, "Oh, you will like me so much, you will get that business. You are going to like Donald Trump." Trump has amassed a long and highly instructive list of advisers; many of them are also his leading campaign contributors. They're a wily bunch of extremist climate-change denialists, fossil-fuel supremacists, and at least one Koch Industries lobbyist, as well as Gordon Gekko-types who buy distressed oil companies, strip them for parts and sell them for a tidy profit. And they're all looking to cash in on some extremely well timed pro-oil hoopla from the GOP nominee."

Robert Cirasa:
There is only one way to cast a vote in this farce of an election: while displaying an American NosePin Salute ( )! Get yours now!

Controversy Analysis

Has 2016 turned into most trivial US election ever?
Published in Guardian on 2016-10-03T17:55:08+00:00

This is a public service announcement.

Despite all the drama of the debates; despite all thats at stake for the worlds security and stability; despite all the breathless coverage; this election is about as small as it gets.

A little more than a month away from election day, what have we really debated through this long contest?

We have dissected the midnight tweets of a delusional, failed businessman. We have watched in awe at his man-child tantrums and eruptions. We have investigated emails that the National Archives will never see. We have fretted about a candidates bacterial infection.

Lets be honest. We have not debated war and peace, capitalism and socialism, or even surveillance and privacy. More than anything else, we have simply obsessed about the psychopathic freak show that is the Trump campaign.

Let the historians of the future know that the great Trump-Clinton contest of 2016 was much like the famous Seinfeld pitch to NBC: its a show about nothing.

In that sense, we have to recognize something profound about this point in time. The blame is not entirely on the candidates or the campaigns, or even on our own shallow nature.

For this is an election at a time of relative peace and prosperity. Yes, its true: peace and prosperity. And our failure to admit the obvious is hurting our ability to sustain an adult conversation about our politics.

If you havent already pressed the publish button on your comments below, or tweeted your outrage to the world, its time to consider the facts.

Yes, of course there are unacceptable levels of gun violence and isolated acts of homegrown terrorism. And the squeeze on the middle class as well as the gap between rich and poor is a profound challenge to us all.

But back in the Seinfeld era, our cities saw far higher murder rates. There were the large-scale terrorist attacks of Oklahoma City and the Atlanta Olympics, the first attack on the World Trade Center and the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

The first internet bubble created millionaires and billionaires overnight, while the manufacturing decline that began in the early 1980s continued to hollow out the rust belt.

So we rolled into an election at the end of the 1990s that bears a remarkable similarity to this one: a contest between two candidates who thrilled nobody in particular.

A wonkish Democrat who wasnt particularly good at retail politics, seeking a third term after a popular and charismatic president. A simplistic Republican gun-slinger who promised a return to the Reagan era of even greater wealth and military superiority. Reporters (including this one) considered which of the two they would rather share a beer with. Meanwhile younger voters thought both candidates were hopelessly irrelevant to their lives and tiresomely similar in their politics.

Of course the political differences between George W Bush and Al Gore were obvious and catastrophically so. As we now know, within a year of taking office, President Bush had decided to invade Iraq a decision almost unthinkable for a President Gore. With a Gore White House, the US would have led the world on climate change more than a decade before President Obama struck the Paris agreement.

But back in 2000, at another time of relative peace and prosperity, it didnt seem to matter whether voters cast a few ballots for Ralph Nader or even got confused and chose Pat Buchanan. And so the infinitely wise supreme court decided the course of the planet on the basis of 537 votes in Florida.

The Trump-Clinton election isnt like 2004: a contest about national security, playing out in the bloodbath of the Iraqi civil war, while Osama bin Laden was still at large. Its nothing like 2008: an election that unfolded as the economy plunged into freefall in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

It may have some echoes of 2012, when a wealthy businessman who liked the idea of self-deportation went up against a mainstream Democrat on issues of gender equality. But that was a presidential re-election effort, and both the president and the economy were very far from where they are today.

Today unemployment stands at 4.9%. Thats lower than it was during George W Bushs election in 1988, Clintons re-election in 1996, and Bushs re-election in 2004. Four years ago, as Obama ran for the second time, it was 7.8%.

The only recent election with a lower rate: Bush v Gore in 2000, when unemployment was 3.9%.

Household incomes surged 5.2% last year, the largest gain since records began in 1967. If incomes continue to grow this year, they will have made up all the lost ground since the Great Recession of eight years ago and will be close to the all-time high reached in when else? 1999. Gas prices are lower than they were in the last two elections, and the presidents job approval ratings are above 50%.

And while there are still thousands of US troops deployed across the world, not least in Afghanistan, combat deaths are a fraction of what they were in the last three presidential cycles.

None of which is to say that this election should remain substance-free. After all, it certainly is not consequence-free. Donald Trumps election would throw the worlds economy and its security framework into disarray.

There are many factors to blame for this Seinfeld election: the capitulation of responsible Republicans to an extremist fringe; the small-bore politics of campaign strategists in a divided nation; and of course the brain of the GOP nominee himself.

But you should also blame our stubborn inability to recognize the relative peace and prosperity that exists today. Until we turn the page on our mindset of recession and war, we are condemning ourselves to an election that is entirely Trumped up.