Who is the big winner of the 2016 presidential election? The Communist Party of China (CPC). The current American political process – perhaps carnival would be more apt – has provided China with greater future political stability than the CPC could possibly achieve on its own.
In the end, it really won’t matter who wins Tuesday’s election. Half of the electorate will be angry that their candidate lost. And eventually everyone will be angry because the winning half will ultimately realize that their candidate has not delivered anything close to what he or she promised.
As far back as Ronald Reagan, newly elected American presidents have taken a series of politically popular positions with China that were ultimately rescinded or ineffective. President Reagan wanted to re-invigorate Taiwan’s independence. President Clinton vowed to get tough on human rights although there is no evidence that this pledge had any real impact. Numerous politicians have accused China of currency manipulation, but little has come of it.
Secretary Clinton, for her part, appears to favor continuation of the Obama pivot-to-Asia. It simply won’t work. China will eventually have uncontested control over the South China Sea and will use its economic might in the region to enhance its regional power, largely at the expense of the US.
Mr. Trump, for his part, has threatened to slap steep tariffs on imports from China and re-negotiate world trade deals with more favorable terms to the US. And, of course, he is no fan of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Secretary Clinton now opposes after initially supporting it. It doesn’t matter, because the reality is that China is not a party to the TPP and you can hardly have an effective trade agreement in the Pacific Rim without its participation. The US needs to engage China, not isolate it.
Nor does Mr. Trump ever mention that China is the third largest export market for US goods and services. And with the US economy growing at anemic rates, and Europe all but stalled, the reality is that the world cannot afford to de-stabilize China’s economy at the moment. By some estimates, the global economy is already in recession if you factor out the favorable impact of China’s strong, albeit diminished, economic growth.
Ironically, the American Democratic and Republican parties have amply demonstrated that their agendas are no different than the CPC’s. More than anything else they all want to maintain political stability with their leadership in charge. Yes, power.
And while the Democrats and Republicans have virtually assured themselves of mutually assured destruction, to use an old Cold War term, both have handed the CPC the greatest gift of all. They have laid bare all of the scandals, the failures, and the propaganda of the modern American political process. The CPC’s media surrogates now have more than enough fodder to denigrate and disparage the US political process for years to come.
A well-educated Chinese friend of mine once observed that if you use the American democratic model as a template, democracy cannot possibly work in China. “Elections would be an absolute mess. In a country of 1.4 billion people they would take years to conduct and the cost would bankrupt the country.”
Most Chinese would agree. The Chinese system of socialism with Chinese characteristics works for China. As my friend went on to say, “We must have a strong government. Otherwise we will just fight and the country will not move forward.” Like the US, in other words.
My own Chinese wife is witnessing her first US election. She can’t vote, of course, although I hasten to add that she is here legally. Her perspective of the US political process is not refreshing. She thinks it’s a joke and can’t begin to understand why we put ourselves through it. (Many Americans would now agree with her, I suspect.)
In the end, while I know most Americans are anxious for this charade to come to an end, I believe we will look back, long after the votes are counted, and wistfully long for the days before there was a winner and a loser. In the end, there will be neither.
Except for the CPC and other political entities like it that have long been chastised by American politicians for not being “more like us.” Is there anyone who would sincerely wish American style politics upon the people of the developing world now?
It would be inhumane.
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