United States “is a deeply divided nation”

Political experts talked about deep divisions in the USA at a Fulbright New Zealand forum hosted by the University of Otago last night.

ODT: Next president would preside over ‘deeply divided America’

Otago University politics professor Robert Patman told the audience at the College of Education auditorium that no matter whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump prevailed, the next president would preside over a ”deeply divided America”.

Despite a sustained economic recovery, changes to healthcare and combat troops leaving Afghanistan and Iraq under President Barack Obama, the signs showed ”many Americans feel alienated from their country’s political system”.

”For an increasing number of US citizens, the optimistic American dream … seems to be increasingly beyond their reach.”

Racial division had widened and economic inequality continued to deepen.

”Even the winning candidate is likely in reality to have a limited capacity to govern a polarised country and manage its relations with the rest of the world.”

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have high unfavourability ratings so whoever wins will have have a hard job gaining confidence and support.

Assistant professor and Fulbright scholar Simon Nicholson from American University, Washington DC spoke (via a pre-recorded video) about how divided the USA was on climate change.

Whereas in the past there was bipartisan support for environmental causes, the stance on climate change was now split on Republican and Democratic lines, Dr Nicholson said.

This meant the election was a ”big deal” for climate change and if Mr Trump was elected it would be a ”severe blow” to international efforts to battle it.

I don’t see the chasm between mainstream climate consensus, and strong scepticism and opposition, changing.

Carla Lam (Otago University)…

…said a Clinton win would be a victory for gender equality, but would not bring ”substantive change” on gender.

”That there is even any doubt that Hillary could win, given the alternative, to me says enough about gender politics.

”Consider for a moment what would be made of Hillary Clinton as a candidate if she were known to be married to a man 24 years her junior, married twice before, and as someone who openly declared sexual attraction to her child in his presence on national television.”

There’s no doubt that Trump seems to get a free pass from many on things that Clinton would be absolutely trashed for if they applied to her.

However Clinton may be seen more as ‘establishment candidate becomes President’ than being a huge victory for gender equality. That the first woman with a chance of making the top job in the White House has emerged from an established political family is barely a ‘woman makes it to the top on her own merits’ victory.