Totems of a divided nation are a direct result of Obama's toxic legacy in US
Published 11/08/2015 | 02:30
One of the more frustrating aspects of discussing American politics with Irish people is that it gives them free rein to indulge in the laziest cliché of them all - the assumption that the average American voter is either stupid or dangerous, or both.
Nobody ever lost friends in this country by enjoying a good, old-fashioned and utterly cost-free sneer at the Yanks.
Indeed, the prevailing opinion, from the media down to the average bloke in the pub, is one which seems to believe that the most important country the world has ever seen is almost entirely populated by people called Bubba who care only about the Confederate flag and their constitutional right to shoot anyone who looks different to them.
It's an easy, comforting way to look at the world. Just listen to the average Irish poseur and you will be confidently told that Bush was mentally retarded, Obama is a hero (really?) and Donald Trump is a deranged megalomaniac who should never be allowed anywhere near the White House.
But no matter how wearisome it may be to listen to people who think repeating a Jon Stewart quip passes for informed comment, when it comes to Trump, they are right - even if it may be for the wrong reasons.
Like anyone else who stayed up for last Thursday night's Republican candidate debate on Fox News, I watched most of it through my fingers.
Sure, it was great fun, and nobody does political theatre quite like the American media, where such debates are treated as if they were the Super Bowl. But from the moment Trump made a typically nasty dig at Rosie O'Donnell, it became even more obvious that this was a man you wouldn't put in charge of your local Community Watch programme, let alone grant access to the nuclear codes.
It's been a tough station trying to defend the American electoral system in the last few weeks and Trump's latest SNAFU, which saw him apparently imply that Fox's Megyn Kelly was having her period after she quizzed him on Thursday night, is just another example of a man who should have been dumped from the race months ago.
Instead, he is now becoming 'Teflon Don', able to make ridiculous and pointlessly divisive remarks about Mexicans being rapists (made even worse by grudgingly admitting that "some of them are good people"); happy to imply that John McCain and, by extension, every other American POW was less of a soldier than those who weren't captured, and now he can insinuate that any woman who gives him a hard time on the campaign stumps must obviously be having her time of the month.
It's a horrifying example of the debasement of American politics, which has always had cranks and fruit cakes running for President, on both sides, but never has one gained so much traction.
Such a development is confusing and depressing in equal measure, but the chin strokers who express bafflement at his capacity to say stupid things and keep such a large lead in the polls are missing one crucial point: America is angry.
Obama will be remembered for what he represented rather than what he was - a rancorous and ineffectual President who seemed to feel a growing contempt for the country he led with such mediocrity.
Trump is the anti-Obama; brash where he is weak and utterly unconcerned about what the rest of the world thinks of America.
Unlike the current incumbent, the host of The Apprentice appeals to a vague, ill-defined fury which many American voters feel for the establishment.
As we have seen with the rise of militant left-wing TDs in Ireland, when people are scared and angry they will vote for a candidate who would never normally appeal to them. Protest votes often send the loudest message, but it is seldom the right one.
For all the talk about Trump being a racist, he is far from the most racially dangerous player on the pitch right now. No, that dubious accolade goes to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Portrayed by a craven and cowardly media as a spontaneous human rights response to the shooting of unarmed black men, they are actually a well-organised, well-funded bunch of race hucksters, an offshoot of the Black Panthers and Black Power movements who openly call for the murder of white cops and who insist that their white 'allies' walk separately from them when they march. Basically, think the KKK with cornrows.
They have so cowed the Democrats that even their white supporters, such as Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, have had speeches shut down by these racist fascists and you know things have all gone a little too weird when a politician feels compelled to apologise for pointing out that "all lives matter", as O'Malley did.
On the face of it, the boorish, almost heroically obnoxious Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement have little in common, but they are both different sides of the same coin.
They appeal to the angry and pissed off in their community, and both are willing to lie, demonise, intimidate and use any means necessary to achieve their aims.
Also, and this is the real indictment, these totems of a divided nation are the direct result of Obama's toxic legacy.