As awful as Israeli politicians and politics can be, I am so thankful that I'm an Israeli and expat American. In a few hours most American adult resident citizens will go to the polls. The 2016 Presidential Campaign has been going on for years. My guess is that it started, at least for the Democrats about nine years ago, when signs began to show that the then relatively unknown Barack Hussein Obama was going to grab the nomination from Hillary Clinton. The tipping point which upset all of Hillary's plans was the Kennedy women's surprise support for Obama. Their Uncle Ted was caught by surprise, too, and very possibly helped broker the deal that would give Obama the Presidency in 2008 and 2012 while the elder Hillary would wait until 2016 for her history-making chance. You must have noticed that she had no real opposition from any young, talented Democrats. They've all been waiting in the wings for 2020.
Donald Trump has also been campaigning for many years. And until just about a year ago, he was considered a joke. The mainstream American media and pundits kept insisting that his campaign and support would implode and disappear into a postscript in the history books.
Following American Presidential campaigns is a full-time job, even though Presidential elections are very regulated at every four years. In Israel we can have annual elections, which happened not that long ago, since coalitions can break down, or Prime Ministers can declare new elections at any time. But our actual Knesset* election campaigning time is strictly limited. It goes on for a few months, not years on end.
In Israel our votes are pretty ideological and direct, and the results even give the major losers a form of power. The Knesset is comprised of a number of political parties (which all received over the minimum percentage of the votes,) and the leader of the largest party not in the coalition becomes the Leader of the Opposition. In the USA, the loser of the Presidential Elections becomes history, or just continues campaigning for the next elections. There's no rest for the wicked.
There were no intelligent, ideological arguments and issues this election season between Hillary and Trump. It was more like a fight between two drunks by a bar's backdoor. And even worse has been the hatred between many supporters of both of them. On Facebook, opposing comments from both sides were as nasty as the candidates, and many people reported unfriending old friends and even relatives with whom they disagreed. In Israel, we are very used to having political disagreements and living with it together.
Israel, as a country, has real dangers and enemies, so there's a limit as how much mud we sling. I used to think that Israeli politicians/politics were the worst, but the Hillary-Trump battle and the mud being slung on American society dwarfs what happens in Israel.
|Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton face off, New Yorker vs. New Yorker, for the presidency. (Illustration: Andy Friedman/Observer)|
Within a day or so, it will be over, but cleaning up the mess and uniting the American People/citizens will take years if at all. In Israel, with all of our infighting and ideological arguments, we still know that we are family, and some families do fight, but still care about each other.
*In Israel we vote for party lists of potential Knesset Members. Parties winning the most seats are given the opportunity to form a ruling coalition, and the leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister.