Hillary, Trump: A Visionless America

“No Future is the New Future” (poster designed by Hannes Beer of 306/365, November 24th, 2011)

Eight years ago, Barack Obama surged in the polls against Hillary Clinton, and then Mitt Romney because of his positive vision of hope and change.

Today’s leading presidential candidates, Hillary and Trump, offer no such vision, no future in which to believe in, no call to action.  Trump has focused his message on angry and discontent elements of the middle class which, oddly, stands to lose the most from his 1% presidency.   These folks want it now!  Hillary has decided not to offend anyone by providing insipid, half-baked promises. Her book, “Hard Choices” doesn’t really tell us which way Hillary leans (Gene Robinson.)  Neither Hillary nor Trump have put forth clear visions of where they want to take our country.

What happened?

All that remains of hope is a distant memory, says Ross Wolfe.  The World has become more unstable: intractable wars, religious extremism, famine, disease, global warming, unpredictable weather, volatile stock markets, no permanent jobs, are just a sample of what is ailing us.  Back in the “good old days”, modernity was supposed to deliver happiness and wealth for all.

The idea of  American Exceptionalism was founded in part on the notion that social mobility and immigrant assimilation would lead to material prosperity for all.  (The Republicans still believe that.)  Instead, and as Bernie Sanders points out, America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s. As Ian Tyrrell says, the United States has turned out to be instead exceptionally bad, racist and violent.

A Complex and Visionless World

How did we get here?   Unlike Obama eight years ago, Hillary and Trump (Except for “I will make America great again”…) have yet to present the American People with their own inspirational (and aspirational) visions.  Where are they?

We (and our leaders) are bombarded daily with torrents of conflicting information on how to solve some of our basic societal issues: Are guns helping fight crime?  Are low wages helping the economy?  Does more sophisticated healthcare bring better results?  Then what about the rest of the World? The Middle East, North Korea, Boko Haram, to name just a few…

My take is that the World has become too complex, with too many moving and unpredictable parts to enable society to answer these questions with complete or near-complete certainty.

The notion that any vision of the future holds the possibility that conditions can be radically transformed for the better becomes increasingly tenuous. (after Franco “Bifo” Berardi, After the Future.)  Simple solutions (“build a wall”) are no longer viable in a complex World. Today, the U.S. depends on undocumented low wage workers to sustain its economy.  Articulating an attainable vision that can lead to a better and more prosperous future may well be a thing of the past…

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