Wrapped up what I hope is my last trip down under for a while. Only a partially successful trip in many ways. Work remains extremely dysfunctional with my boss detached and seemingly incapable of working at the level to which he is assigned. He has real limitations as a manager and the Asia Pacific IT organization is crumbling around him. Our leads in Japan and Australia, our two most complex programs have both quit. He doesn’t know yet, but I am also leaving in a few weeks. And it appears as if the IMO lead will be moving along — either by her choice or her bosses. I feel she has been doing a good job but it is clear that my boss and his equally inadequate counter-part feel differently. Neither of these two have adequately developed, staffed or supported their organizational model.
Anyway…..just work shit. I have this 14 hour flight, 2.5 hour layover in LAX, then 4.5 hour flight to Detroit, 45 minutes there and finally home. 25 hours from airport to home. Too fucking long and way too often.
A little segment I call American politics viewed through eyes of a foreigner.
Some observations from discussions with colleagues and people I met on this trip. I continue to be amazed by the drama that is playing out in American politics. While there a a thousand things to be fascinated by in relation to Trump being president, there is one thing in particular that continues to perplex me. It is this.
When I speak to people about American politics, and this includes foreigners, who very often follow American politics more closely than Americans, I hear time and again something similar to “well I don’t like like Trump, but it’s not like Hillary would have been any better.” When I hear this phrase or it’s functional equivalent, I always follow with “tell me specifically about Hillary’s policies that you disagree with.” And 100% of the time, there has yet to be an answer that is based in anything other than pure conjecture or rote repeats of something they heard. A ‘general feeling’. ‘She’s a criminal’. It is amazing how many people attempt to convey that ‘there was no good choice’. As if Hillary and Trump are very nearly equal.
The other night, at dinner, a young man from Romania was waiting on me. Australia has a great guest worker program and it is rare to have an Aussie kid waiting tables or tending bar, it seems to always be foreigners. Anyway, really nice kid. When he brought my check he of course knew from my accent that I was American or Canadian and so he started feeling me out on my politics. I immediately dismissed Trump as an idiot and lunatic and that is when he agreed with me but gave me the “Hillary would not have been any better” comment. So I asked him what I always ask and as always, he had nothing at all to say. He could not name a single policy that Hillary advocated or wanted to change. When I pressed him, he admitted it was just a general feeling that he had. When I pressed further, he admitted it almost certainly was just a reflection of things he had read and while he could not remember any specifics, he had formed an opinion about her.
So this, in my view, goes to the heart of the Russian meddling and what most likely turned the election against Hillary. There appear to be thousands or even millions of people who essentially felt like Trump and Hillary were both equally bad choices and therefore a great many of those people chose not to go vote at all—either because they thought Hillary had it in the bag, or because they truly did not care who won.
But I just can’t get my mind off this idea that people somehow felt that they had no choice at all because of a preconceived notion about Hillary, even though they cannot name anything at all about her policy. Most often, they tend to suggest ‘she is untrustworthy’ or ‘a criminal’. When I point out that she has never been even charged with a crime, let alone convicted; this in spite of years of rigorous investigation from an FBI director who appeared to be hostile towards her and yet still they could not find sufficient evidence to charge her with a crime.
I eventually divulge that Hillary was not my first choice and I tell them why but also I never looked at the situation as if Hillary and Trump were nearly equals and therefore I would not vote for either one.
Anyway, there simply is no explanation for our current situation in American government.
Trump is of course the most extreme example, but the truth is the GOP began systematically destroying our country under George Bush. The disastrous two wars that have cost trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions displaced, and generally left the region less stable than before we invaded were only part of the problem. Bush also cut taxes and massively increased spending, taking us from a good financial position at the conclusion of Clinton’s 2nd term to complete disaster 8 years later. Obama then inherited that terrible mess, did amazing things in spite of a completely obstructionist GOP Congress (imagine what we could have done if we had collaborated) and now we are watching Trump and GOP take the same slash revenue and increase spending approach.
H.L. Mencken said it best – “People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard.” So we are getting what we deserve.
My last night in Sydney was special. Expensive but wild and crazy and great fun. Not really family friendly content, so details will not make this journal entry.