–An Essay By Member William
A fine victory for Hillary Clinton in Nevada yesterday. The road looks very good for her to win the Democratic nomination. But of course that is only halfway toward winning the election. And that is the absolute necessity, for so many reasons.
So there are things to worry about. And while too much worry can be counterproductive, not enough reasonable concern can also be damaging. Maybe if we worry about these things now, there is still time to do something about them.
One significant concern is the fact that in the early voting, the Democratic turnout is a good deal down from 2008, the last time that there was a contested primary race. In Nevada, it looks like the turnout was down about a third. That is significant. Meanwhile, the Republicans are drawing record turnouts. This does not necessarily translate to a Republican victory in the Fall, but it is a concerning sign. What is the cause of this?
We know that Donald Trump has been a big draw for the Republicans, both in debates and obviously now the primaries. What fun. Here is a guy who has never held elective office (too boring for the average voter, apparently); and has made his fame as a flamboyant rich person who declared bankruptcy four times, and then as the host of one of those faux reality TV shows. People love those shows, and that is why there are so many of them on TV. So Trump just says whatever comes into his head, just like he can do on his TV show, and people love it. Because apparently they now confuse real life, and the governance of this country, with a reality show.
In the ’50’s, there used to be this term, “the Ugly American.” There was even a book with that title. Some of that referred to the way that America tried to control the politics of the rest of the world. But some had to do with this feeling, held by many Europeans, that Americans were rather rude and pushy, and thought that everyone should cater to their whims and be like them. Fair or not, that was an image which was pervasive. Donald Trump is now the epitome of that image. He insults everyone who disagrees with him or gets in his way. He makes outlandish promises and claims. And the audience eats it up.
People have grown to hate politicians, without even understanding much about politics or governance. They have this sense that political figures are only out for themselves. Many of them yearn for “non-politicians” to run for President. They somehow think that “an outsider” is just what we need. This theme is so powerful, that even career political figures regularly try to position themselves as outsiders. I guess it is the “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” myth; that the idealistic outsider will come into leadership, and bring us back to some imagined halcyon days of forthrightness and straight dealing. Ronald Reagan capitalized on that, and his career as an actor and pitchman. Arnold Schwarzenegger also did, and what a disaster his governorship was. Ross Perot had a lot of people believing that he was the answer to all the country’s ills. And now Trump is filling this absurd hope that an outsider will magically fix all the complicated and nuanced problems which this country faces, and indeed has always faced.
This is completely and dangerously projective, of course. Someone with no record can be imagined to do anything–but the imagining usually takes the coloration of positives, not negatives. And of course it is also, very chillingly, the way to dictatorship. When Europe was facing terrible economic and political problems after World War I, there sprang up a series of fascist types who were championed by desperate and very foolish people who wanted order, and someone to believe in. Hitler. Mussolini. Oswald Mosley. All of Europe almost fell prey to fascism. And of course one doesn’t need to recount the absolute horrors of Nazi Germany. Or does one? Is a populace fed on the pabulum of awful and mindless TV shows, capable of actually knowing any history? Is it able to make logical connections between the past and the present, and to learn from any of it? So many people scoff at learning anything about history or economics or any of it; they are told by the purveyors of entertainment that they don’t have to know anything, all they have to do is to go with their gut feelings about things, and to always choose the more entertaining thing over anything else.
So there is Donald Trump. And Trump actually tells the media, “I am making you lots of money,” and it is true. And if that is all that matters now, then here we are. And on the other side, we have Hillary Clinton. Someone with a long and very distinguished history of political service. She often recounts much of it, trying to show the voters how much she has learned and done; her credentials. And the media tells her and us that she is putting too much “I” in her speeches. The media and the voters don’t want to know about her record and accomplishments, they are saying; they want to hear more “We’s.” Such as “We are going to make America great again.” We are going to give you a medical insurance program that is even better than what we have, and cheaper. I won’t tell you wnat it is, though, just trust me” “It will be huuuge!” ‘We need to raise taxes to Eisenhower era levels, and break up the banks, and make college free for everyone, and vastly redistribute income.” Nonsense promises, the timeworn mark of the huckster, con man, or would be dictator.
The media, ever anxious to tell us what we should watch, and what we should like, are quick to inform us that Hillary Clinton’s campaign “lacks excitement.” Now, some of that may indeed be true, but what does that tell us about the media and the audience? First, that the media has conspired to create and advance their own narrative. They have been pushing this since the outset, along their invented narratives about “lack of trust.” Lack of trust about what? A woman who was Senator from New York for eight years, and had not one breath of scandal; and who was Secretary of State for four years, and was lauded by world figures as one of our greatest ever in that capacity? But then of course there is the audience, who has become addicted to fake reality shows, talent contests, and hyped up carnival style enertainment. To many of them, real accomplishments, real intelligence, is boring. They want style, flair, bravado, nonsensical statements which are fun to listen to!
Now, to me, and to many of us, Hillary Clinton is one of the most exciting candidates ever. And I am completely serious about that. First, of course, she is going to be the first woman ever to be nominated by a major party for President. But that is only a small part of it. She is absolutely one of the brightest and most intellectually gifted candidates in our nation’s history. Her grasp of issues is unparalleled. She can discourse knowledgeably about any important matter. I know that for too many Americans, that kind of stuff is boring, but it shouldn’t be. You see, the problems that society faces are not simple little matters which can be easily fixed by a lot of trumpery, or hyped up patriotism, or slogans, such as the Republican candidates love to blare. Complex problems need to be faced and dealt with by complex minds, capable of thinking through possible solutions and their implications. That may not be ‘fun” for people; that may not be the way that one of their reality shows or superhero movies go, but it is, it must be, the way that domestic and international problems are dealt with.
Hillary is ready and able to tackle a variety of issues, if elected. That is exciting to me. “Hope and Change” was never exciting to me as a slogan, or as any kind of meaningful promise. “Make America Great Again,” is a nonsensical promise redolent of 20th century fascist leaders. Are we not capable of discerning the difference between a potentially great President, and a bunch of con men and carnival barkers? Look for fun in your movies, or awards shows, or whatever you watch for entertainment. But governance is not where you should look for entertainment. You should look for high intelligence and competence and experience. That is exciting, but in a different way than many have become brainwashed into thinking. Revolutions are exciting, but they always end up with Napoleons, or Stalins, or Castros. “Strongmen” lead to dictatorships, and horror.
This upcoming election will mean the future of the Supreme Court, probably for another forty years. That will mean whether we do anything to arrest global warming, or just let it go, and then face the oncoming ecological catastrophes. It will mean whether women will have control over their bodies. It will be about getting dark money out of politics, or whether we succumb to a corporate oligarchy which goes on for centuries. It is about how we deal with the very dangerous and very complex international problems.This is not exciting enough for the Democratic voters? You are just going to let the future of this nation be in the hands of one of the other stupid, dangerous, emotionally stunted people, just because it is not exciting enough for you to get involved before it is too late?
I am all for enjoyment, when appropriate. I like a good ballgame, or an exciting movie, or an involving novel or mystery story to read. But the world, and life, is not all about excitement, or pretty things. Part of being a responsible citizen is actually taking the time to study the issues, and learn about the candidates, and how they will deal with them. And simplistic is not best, it is almost always worst. And you might have fun watching the TV coverage of politics as a reality show or sports event, but the real thing to focus on is governance, and having a President whose abilities allow you to sleep at night, knowing that she has the ability and experience to deal with them. We are now counting on the ability of citizens to somehow rouse themselves from the druglike stupor that mass media tries to induce, and to get out and vote for Hillary Clinton. I hate to say this, but if Hillary does not win, our country is going to very likely become unsaveable, given the evil forces at work both within and without. I do hope that this is exciting enough to cause people to get out and vote for her, and campaign for her, and send her money. There is going to be a lot of worthless repenting in years after, if they do not.
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