I have a few things to say on this matter, as always. And while I’m expansive I’m not (usually) bombastic, so I hope you’ll read to the end.
Trump is un-American in spirit (our ideals and the aim for social enlightenment) but he’s hyper-American in practice (bullying braggadocio and bigger than life, appearance over substance, abuse of the weak, etc.) His rise is the fault of his party’s long-standing dog-whistle racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
In fact he’s not a surprise.
But the GOP and the media are complicit with the way they’ve run (or covered) Republican primaries the past several cycles.
In the further past, the way politicians ascended to the national stage, and hence televised debates, was by having an active political organization, and it was in the party’s interest to limit that number to legitimately well-positioned candidates (at least as primaries moved forward) to keep funds from running thin, to preserve party unity, and to control the message.
Now the GOP has adopted a strategy (and it’s one I hope the Democrats won’t copy) of putting this ridiculously large number of candidates up and running an overload of terribly early and ongoing televised debates, almost as if to say “Look how many leaders we have in our party,” or “Look how our party is brimming with ideas.”
It was a waste of time in 2008, ‘12, and now in ‘16 it brought disaster.
Substantively the debates were a clown show that recklessly gave currency to wretched ideas and drove the image of statesmanship into the gutter. And for what? Donald Trump’s historic primary majority (albeit percentage wise it’s basically the same in a larger population) arose on the back of a bitterness and rancor that swelled beyond the usual levels, leaving a party already at risk of implosion and dissolution now on the verge of just such a collapse. That might be a satisfying and edifying thing to witness in our lifetimes (American political parties have collapsed and/or realigned or been born from nothing in earlier periods), but in the meantime the rise of a demagogue like Trump is not just a theoretical but improbable risk — his win, particularly in light of Brexit, is a real risk.
As for Hillary Clinton, there was a analysis piece that went around recently by Michael Arnovitz (which you can read here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/6/11 … ever-seen) that traced back to the first time the phrase “congenital liar” was used in relation to her — it was 20 years ago and written by conservative writer William Safire who held a particular zeal for unrelentingly targeting HRC. And the phrase — congenital liar — stuck. But Arnovitz goes on to chronicle numerous allegations against HRC that, when investigated, turned up nothing. But accusations alone can be enough.
It was probably evident to the Right even way back during her FLOTUS years that HRC was a force to contend with and they were going to make sure they built up a gigantic stack of accusations against her so that one day, when she went on to other work post-FLOTUS that she was duly tarred and feathered. It’s amazing to many people today that the mere mention of her name incites such rage both Right AND Left.
For the Right one can understand why it was done and they can boast of their success. But for the Left it’s baffling in the extreme that they aren’t doing their homework on her record, achievements, positions, and statements. In the end, the fault of knee-jerk further left Leftists is that they understand the true nuts and bolts of politics as poorly as fellow extremists on the Right, both of whom make the good the enemy of the perfect, refuse compromise, and tar centrist positions with the same venom and vitriol as they view the extreme views of each other’s opposite extremes. My way or the highway.
You can look up for yourself on the non-partisan Pulitizer Prize-winning site Politifact the startling rankings of honesty and lies in this campaign among candidates — but in short, HRC is the most honest by all measures and the rankings, numbers, and spreads are actually saying something. Of course all politicians spin, hype, stretch...but she does this the absolute least, and comes closer to very truthful statements the absolute most by wide margins, especially against the TRUMPet.
You can also look up yourself her progressive and even liberal record (and ps, in the Senate she was only 10 points behind Bernie on positive liberal/progressive rankings). The very fact of her liberal positions and policies, and her progressive stance, is what made her so reviled by the GOP. And they have 20+ years of ammo on that because she’s actually done the work. But now the all-or-nothing Left has bought into the caricature that she’s a war-mongering, money-hoarding, diabolical plotter who has sold out for so-called “power” and position.
Actually, the fact that she’s survived this far is double-plus amazing because, as it is, in the face of grave institutionalized American sexism most women in the US have to effectively work twice as hard to get half as much, and even when we do, we’re ball-busting bitches if we ascend to boss-level heights, baby-haters and negligent moms if we pursue career also, bon-bon eating soap-opera watching losers if we don’t work outside the home, and uppity, dowdy, and dour if we go into politics (unless we happen to be hot, and then there’s some leeway).
So for HRC to have achieved anything in the customary US climate against women is one thing, but for her to have persevered in the face of strident GOP lies and abuse and obfuscation and derailment without going crazy, and still accomplished a great many things in the face of such undeniable forces purposefully arrayed against her on the other side AND on her supposed side is nothing short of miraculous. This is NOT the offensively-named “woman card.” It is the offensive-to-live "American female reality." Do you want this for your mom, wife, sister, daughters, friends? Poor Abigail Adams, it's nearly 250 years later and we still haven't remembered " the ladies."
And HRC has done good works. Look it freaking up. She has stood up for ordinary people, their pocketbooks, and their identities (on race, sex, sexual orientation, children, and the poor) time and time again going way back to high school on values she never deviated from, while slowly dealing with the realities of politics — namely that most things move incrementally slowly except in revolutions, which are rare, and witness Brexit as a sort of democratic revolution, and hey, it ain’t usually pretty and most of the time it’s bloody and worse.
But people don’t understand politics, and we certainly don’t understand the difference between election campaigns and governance.
All of us today have lived through the age of cable TV’s Hardball, and the Tea Party age of no compromise, so we want — demand — that our candidates promise to give us everything we want, no compromise, and bully the other side into submission with bare-knuckled fury, bald-faced lies, and the refusal to dig for our own evidence. By 2016 we largely despise candidates and elected and appointed officials who grasp nuance, understand the incremental pace of legislative and judicial change, and work within the arguably frustrating system with all its entropy, personalities, and Byzantine layers of bureaucracy. We are the "I want my MTV" generation and dammit, we want it now and plus, "none for you!!!"
We want all gain and no pain for us and us alone and the rest can eat their fucking cake.
Similarly, we don’t understand America’s “Deep State.” I don’t mean this in the conspiratorial sense, but much as Bill Moyers has described — the aspects of our foreign policy, FED, military, etc. that essentially is largely unchanged, no matter who is in executive power.
I can’t tell you how many rabid liberals have decried Obama to me over the last eight years as “the worst of the worst militaristic, dictatorial, drone bomb-dropping, blood soaked on his hands, ten times worse than Bush, killer, killer, killer...” because of what amounts to deep state type policies that determine our engagements in the world.
So when HRC is called out for her time at State, it is because she’s actually been there and engaged in deeply complex layers in international relations, and the swarm of advisers, and the layers of policies and protocol, you know, they just don’t change that much from administration to administration. The visible state, and our elected leaders we see, but the deep state is relatively hidden, albeit in plain sight. And anyone who thinks Bernie Sanders has the ability to rebuff all that and just do it all with flowers and sunshine is naive at best and dangerous at worst. And I love Bernie and on one level I think he’d make a fine president, but I can gwaruntee you he’s not going to escape all the deep doo doo that is our deep state’s approach to things.
Now when, as a Senator, she voted for war on Iraq that was unfortunate as the lies around Iraqi WMDs were painfully obvious and Hussein wasn’t the only violent and repressive dictator on earth and our wars are far too costly on so many levels. But that was about oil and the deep state wants to “protect our interests,” and the “American way of life” (hyper intensive consumption and the endless growth paradigm) “is non-negotiable.” These things upset me, too. But again, to expect perfection, it just seems we ought to be smart enough to know we’re not going to get that. We need to change, and we need to get both the deep state and the international elite economic/technocratic class to begin some downward adjustments to align with energy realities and resource strains and communication transparencies that today's electorate wants and if they’ve got any brains they’ll do it but if we have any brains we’ll keep up that pressure and shift the argument from Brexit-like nativism to “small is beautiful” style localism but with essential global infrastructural elements preserved — communications, transportation, sanitation, preservation of the commons, military/foreign policy realities, and legitimate trade.
As far as things like the Goldman Sachs speeches go, if you’ve seen any of the research, it’s just a ridiculous “gotcha” request for her to turn them over. HRC (and rafts of other folks of her prominence and success) give immensely costly/profitable speeches to all kinds of groups and institutions. The Wall Street speeches are an unbelievably small number of high-paid speeches out of all the high-paid speeches she has given to all kinds of audiences and organizations in between being at State and running for office. And HRC has a legitimate defense for not releasing the transcripts of those (or other speeches at less “gotcha” places) — namely, why is she being held to a standard of release that other candidates are not? She’s followed suit on the precedent of releasing 40 years of tax returns, standard practice in the last half century, except for Trump, who refuses. Now here’s a new thing folks are demanding, these transcripts...but only from her.
Here’s the deal and the rub. We like our candidates and presidents to be entertaining and affable, as good a campaigner as they are an executive. Wonkery is very un-American post Hardball when yelling, bombast, name-calling, and a race to the bottom makes for good TV. We’ve always had some of this in politics to be sure, but 24-7 in your pocket and on TV is a level of inundation with no counterpoint, making it all WWF chili cheese dogs all the time, no time to digest or have a good colon blow that cleans the pipes for a reset. So now we’re perpetually hung over but addicted to the next cage match.
When the candidates are passionate we think that’s great...unless they’re a woman, and then it’s “shrill.” Harvard just came out with a study showing that the media unfailingly favored Trump coverage over coverage of HRC in terms of sheer numbers, and favorably positioned him content-wise while being more critical of her — the study finding the disparity too glaring to ignore. Sexism? Probably. But also other motives, like entertainment and tawdriness being more click bait (remote control and mouse driven) and hence profitable than making a stable case for steering the ship of state through calm waters. We love to hate him, we just hate her in the background. Now if she were Sarah Palin...well a typecast sexy train wreck is always more fun.
The US has a lot of problems. And to his credit Donald Trump understands that at its core the biggest problem people are having is a displacement of identity. He's tapped into that but is wrongly and manipulatively, exploitatively, pitching this problem in racist terms, and blames the government for a net loss of jobs that is more properly on the hands of large corporate multinationals who race to the bottom of labor for their own bottom line. The government IS complicit in policies that favor the shenanigans of the oligarchy, but it is by no means a matter of “taking back the government” or “taking back the country” without a clear understanding of what needs to be “taken back” and what the short and long term consequences of such a realignment would be.
But we’re all suffering a rapid change in identity as the world shifts beneath our feet nearly continually. No historic time period has ever asked as much of any individual or group or society in so unrelenting a pace for such a marathon of time with no sign of a let up. Demagogues delight in such a wedge in which to gain a foothold. And HRC ignores the deeper (and multifaceted) strands of both those conditions (and the risk of slick demagogues) to her peril when it comes to politicking because THAT'S the time to connect.
Not only would Trump be a manifold disaster for the country in terms of just watching his freakshow life everyday, but his personality shows classic signs of isolated, dictatorial tendencies and an unwillingness to bend, no matter how well this dog can learn the new teleprompter trick. In the wake of Brexit he was asked (while in Scotland), Was he huddling with his foreign policy advisers to discuss the results? He replied first that there was nothing really to discuss...in other words, no implications of Brexit to consider. He followed that by saying advisers don’t really know anything, and anyway, people who are in the foreign policy advising class (if you will) aren’t doing anything right. He only wants to listen to new people. But, he said, he mostly wants to listen “to himself.”
Surreal doesn't begin to cover it.
It is fine to vote one’s conscience. To prefer, say a Jill Stein or a write in, or the Libertarian. That’s our right. And realistically (unidealistically) speaking, our establishment is just that..it is what is established. It’s slow to respond, vexing too often, regularly out-of-touch, and top heavy in the extreme. More power should be ceded back to the states and to local government, we should all shrink back somewhat, but not in an all-or-nothing nativist fashion.
But to posit the establishment as an undifferentiated failure across the board is nonsensical and shows a lack of understanding about government, politics, and process.
And equally wrong is to say HRC is the lesser of two evils. She’s not evil. She’s actually quite good. It’s just everyone has bought the very effective narrative hook, line and sinker.
Waking up and seeing our own role in a complex democracy, the role of the citizen in cutting through the dross, is the first step to really “taking back our country.” The second is to realize that that knowledge, wed to patience, is usually the best step forward.