The Olympic final of politics is fully under way and no holds barred. Security gaps in the management of e-mails threaten the Democratic side; demeaned women stepping forward to testify about abuse threaten the Republican side. These are just some of the artillery that Clinton and Trump are firing off against each other. Voter opinion sways back and forth. All this is going on before the election of whom should be the next leader of the Free World.
This is a vitally important drama and those who don’t care, and don’t perceive the serious and profoundly democratic rationale for this are often considered to be “less educated”. They lack that serious and deferential respect for the most precious jewels in our western world’s crown: democracy, freedom, openness and the dream of living in a community with the right to create the life you desire.
Those who don’t subscribe to this can’t see the Emperor’s new clothes.
The presidential election is part of everyone’s world right now. Everywhere there is frantic excitement, speculation and reverent expectation. This year’s Presidential election is unique. Never before have we seen so many non-political careerists, never before have the personal attacks been so brutal and never before have the contrasting views of the American people been so clear.
In my imagination I climb into a helicopter to get an overview. My “journey” starts off smoothly then heads straight into a firework display of spotlights. The Media’s searchlights are scanning everywhere in order to catch the slightest movement that can bring something new to analyze or forge into headlines. I continue past gigantic advertising screens displaying campaign videos. Voices from radio stations, the news media and propaganda from the lectern all create a bubbling cauldron of aspirations and vivid visions of the future United States.
Suddenly it becomes dark. When my eyes have adjusted, I perceive a gray landscape stretching out below me. After a while I turn the helicopter around and look back.
On the horizon, in the middle of this pale landscape, a lonely castle appears whose light and sound can now only dimly be perceived. Everywhere outside the castle walls and in this new world, people; millions of people, more than 300 million of them, can be seen working, watching television, doing their daily activities, sleeping or just taking a breather; their faces tired, gray and indifferent. The occasional face is lit up when that person pays attention to the party at the castle heralding the coronation of a new emperor. But most people don’t care. Even among those who pay attention, it is only rarely that someone seems to be happy or excited. On the contrary, most people seem resigned, angry and fearful.
They don’t see the emperor’s new clothes.
This year’s election offers the least popular presidential candidates in modern American history. When George W. Bush – after starting the Iraq war in 2003, which was soon condemned by almost the whole world – ran for his second term in 2004, he was at the time more popular than Hillary Clinton is today and considerably more popular than Donald Trump. The majority of voters say they are frustrated and disgusted by the election campaign. Only every third person cares and only every eighth to tenth person feels any optimism – the ones who can see the Emperor’s new clothes.
The gap between rich and poor in the United States continues to increase and is among the widest in the world with 20% of the poorest citizens sharing only a few percent of the income, while the richest 20% receive half.
The fine ball at the castle on the horizon feels unreal. Everyone knows that no matter who becomes the new emperor, nothing new will happen. Welfare and respect for the masses won’t be a reality for the next few years.
A few people walk to the castle on the big day to present a gift at the door. Mostly people vote out of anger or fear; wanting to show dissatisfaction and the desire to protest. Some people prefer to throw stones over the wall, hoping that they will hit one of those who are invited to the party; all those who see The Emperor’s New Clothes: news editors, politicians, the military and all the others in the imperial court.
The Emperor’s finest garment is the American Dream. But in reality, out in the countryside beyond the walls, many have already understood that this is a myth. In fact, the USA is one of the places where social mobility is least possible.
People stare absentmindedly at the television; switching channels between soap operas, stand-up comedies, quizzes, news about the presidential candidates. Everything is fiction, nothing is for real and the Emperor appears naked.