The Election

Nov 09,2016


As of 4.33PM Japan time, the votes have finally been counted.

The results weren't even in yet, and two different media outlets had their representatives accost me for my take on the United States presidential election.

Everyone's been on edge about it, which I suppose is understandable, considering the illusion most people have about how much power the American president has in the world. For Japan, a lot of the hullabaloo comes down to whether the military bases will remain in Okinawa or the nation will remilitarise itself and start butting heads with China and North Korea. (Since most Japanese people don't want that, they tended to favour Hillary Clinton.)

One of the newspapers telephoned, and the other had their man come directly in to talk to me. Why me? I'm forced to wonder. I'm just some daftie in an office who translates some words here and there. Sure, I happen to have grown up in the United States, but it's been so long that I've landed in that part of the world that I don't really know what's going on over there. Much less can I give a really cogent analysis of why, out of all those millions of Americans, those particular two rose to the top to contest each other.

Frankly, I was rather pleased to say I'd abstained from voting with greater confidence than that with which I abstained from all previous elections but one (I did vote in a presidential election once in my early twenties, but I will not disclose my selection.)

Here's the thing, though: I didn't actually believe Donald Trump would ever become president of the United States. I'm more surprised that in today's world, the expressed preference of the majority really counts for so much.

As something of a public representative, at least in my capacity at TPIEF, it wouldn't really be proper to endorse any particular political party or candidate. For that reason alone it's a dubious blessing to be able to be perfectly candid in asserting that either choice was likely to yield unpleasant consequences for the United States and the world.

Donald Trump professed to advocate more benevolent relations with Russia. Putin's military was already on order to begin preparing for war immediately in the event of a Clinton victory. So we narrowly avoided that one. On the other hand, his lack of diplomacy is bound to provoke some other head of state at some point. The United States is already involved in at least four wars, and possibly as many as 80, depending on who's doing the analysis and what is meant by 'involved'--and doesn't really need any more.
Then there's the myriad other complications that would have attended the election of either of these undesirables. Without sufficient space here to probe the specific details of how bad they both are, suffice it to say nothing would have been so different if Clinton had won. The United States, and the world, will continue on their extant path.

Having managed to see the results before the end of my work day, I cheerlessly conclude, having been absolved of any responsibility to truth or morals that would have required me to say anything even slightly controversial.

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