At Christmas, I had all of my children staying, which was brilliant. I have four children, two by my first marriage and two by my second.
My older two were more interested in Donald Trump. They both live, or have lived, in the United States, and unsurprisingly think that Trump is absolutely ghastly. They were a little shocked by my suggestion that there was probably little to choose between Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is not to say, of course, that I approve of Donald Trump. He looks like, and very probably is, extraordinarily vulgar, a bigot, ill-informed, a rabble-rouser et cetera et cetera. But the thing is, he has hair. Bizarrely, the Americans do not elect people as president without hair. The last exception was General Eisenhower, whose opponent did not have hair either, so they really did not have any choice that time around. As it happens, I have still got some hair, and I do not remotely think that qualifies me to be President of the United States. But it seems quite clear that being bald is regarded as an absolute disqualification. Now, Donald Trump’s hair is hardly attractive. Rumours of it being a toupee are, it seems untrue; the reality is that that hirsute monstrosity is the product of hairspray applied to his own, real if rather odd hair.
Hillary Clinton has hair too, although given her track record for dishonesty and duplicity, you’d have to wonder if it is her own. If you did not know her history, you would think that she is much more acceptable as a candidate than Donald Trump. But here’s the thing. In office, Donald Trump would probably be a lot less bad than he looks now. He is a businessman, and although he evidently knows quite a lot about public image, he probably knows very little about public administration, and as such, it is quite likely that he would hire smart people to make the detailed decisions that need to be made on administrative matters. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, would probably be quite a lot worse than she looks now if she got into the Oval Office, and her track record of dishonesty and duplicity would probably mean, I suspect, that she would do as much damage, or more, as Donald Trump. Anyway, my older two are horrified by the notion of Donald Trump getting into the Oval Office.
My younger two are more interested in the Bernie Sanders thing, and are surprisingly supportive of him. No matter that he is old, Jewish, socialist, and is made very little progress in politics over a very long time. This might be, of course, that they have never lived through the horrors of socialist government. There is something reminiscent, of course, about the Bernie Sanders campaign and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in the UK. The people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn are too young to recall what a disaster the Labour Party was under the likes of Michael Foot. For some people, particularly on the political right, all of this is just wonderful, because it means that the Labour Party has no realistic prospect of being re-elected for really quite some time. But my teenagers really would like to see Bernie Sanders get elected.
When I was their age, it was all quite different. I came in at the tail end of the baby boomers, a generation which is dominated politics, arts and culture for its entire life. We wanted young politicians, and we got them. None of that aspiration seems to be left now. At any rate, we still get the same old aging rock stars on the world stage. The kids get left out.
So, what gives? Interestingly, I looked at the recent views of John Pilger. I used to think he was a mad old socialist fox – a sort of male version of the potty Germaine Greer. But bizarrely, as time goes by, I find myself agreeing with him more often than I would expect. He reckons that Hillary Clinton would be even more of a disaster than Donald Trump, largely because she is a warmonger and we really do not need more wars. Trump, despite his many very obvious defects:
- Is less likely than Hillary Clinton to go to war in the Middle East;
- Is less likely to bugger up the economies of the Western world on obviously bust notions about climate change;
- Is more likely to deal with the reality that, whilst moderate migration is a very good thing, uncontrolled mass migration is a very bad thing.
There are risks, of course. Mussolini was said to make the trains run in time. But he was still a Bad Thing. Then again, Chamberlain was even worse.
Bernie Sanders is quite bald. But maybe it is time, not for a female president, but a bald president? Failing that, His Hairspray might well be less damaging than Her Hairspray?