Monday, October 10, 2016
This Moment in History: Trump is Basically the Bad Guy from "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo", Except Worse, and Trying to be President
This isn't a political blog or news blog. In general, I don't talk sex, religion or politics here because - while this is my personal website and journal and I reserve the right to write about whatever strikes my fancy - I've done this long enough to note what's worth it and what isn't, where I have something to add, or where I don't when it comes to putting things out to the public.
This year has been one for the record books, but it's also been one that's been coming for a long time. I see a lot of friends on Facebook saying "more people need to say X" or "be vocal about Y", and, yeah, I basically don't do that. Not on Facebook. Anyone who actually knows me knows where I stand on issues that are sometimes considered political and I hope they know where I stand on moral issues. But I'm about as likely to talk about my political preferences on Facebook as I am in mixed company at work.
I hadn't planned to write anything on this until the days just prior to the election while early voting was still underway. But, at long last, after two Presidential Debates in which a candidate for the dominant party of my state and who could, conceivably, take office, has proven he has no shred of decency, is likely to abuse his power, endanger my fellow countrymen and certainly the lives of anyone outside our borders - who has now sworn he would seek to put his political opponents behind bars - now seems like a damn good time to say something. I am disheartened by anyone who feels the need to impress Billy Bush with language reserved for 19 year-old virgins lying to their dorm-mates, but... c'mon. Trump's record to date has been one of hating everyone who wasn't a white male or a model who was willing to let him "move on her".
We're in an election cycle that, if you'd asked me in 2008 what I saw as a worst-case scenario for the election and we'd used a bracketing system to determine who I really didn't want to see running against each other - this would have been my doomsday scenario. But it's also the endgame of the trends in American politics that have been bubbling since before 2000, the longtail effect of splintered media and the echo chamber of social media.
I don't identify as a Democrat or Republican, but I'm not pretending to have no opinions or biases. I lean left politically - sometimes more than folks would like, sometimes less. We discuss why I don't like being considered a Democrat some other time.
In this election I am voting for Hillary Clinton because I see no viable other choice, and I've felt that to be true since the very beginning of the election cycle. While I appreciate the vision of Bernie Sanders, I'm just not wired to but into what he was pitching. It's a great vision, and I am glad he shifted the party and added planks that provided needed hope to a younger generation. I will not vote for a "third" or "fourth" party, as it will assuredly dilute my vote, and I am insisting on one single issue as I pull the lever this November - I want to do what I can to ensure we don't wind up with an aging Mussolini at the head of this great republic.
Clinton was the anointed choice of the Dems, but I'd been gritting my teeth over her selection and decision to run since 2008. If you think Clinton didn't arrive with some serious baggage, you're either a young voter who doesn't read or you've been in a coma since 1991 (in which case, I can't wait to tell you who was a two-term Governor of California). There's no question just the sight of her has caused an irrational red-haze to descend over conservative pundits for my entire adult life, and it's led to witch hunt after witch hunt. Whether Clinton was guilty of everything from murder to lying about the paternity of Chelsea Clinton (c'mon, guys) to the Benghazi incident (and don't get me started on the topic of embassy issues during the Bush 2 Administration) - and she turned out to be clean in all cases based on independent investigations - a lot of folks think these are facts. She'll always be crooked Hillary.
If the congressional obstructionism of the Obama Presidency was a quagmire, what was a Clinton 2 Presidency going to look like?
I never believed Donald Trump would make it out of the primaries. Frankly, I don't think Donald Trump thought he'd make it out of the primaries. For him, it seemed like brand promotion and a chance to be in the spotlight for a bit, acting like he mattered. And I genuinely thought Americans watched enough TV and read enough to understand that deep down, Trump is a fraud. A guy who can fill an hour a night a week on TV, but a fraud in things that matter. I've known about his bankruptcies and scandals since high school, and I don't try to pay attention to the guy. Hell, I knew he wasn't adult enough to deal with being an actual celebrity or person-in-the-public when he sort of lost it on the comic strip Bloom County for making fun of him, and he got into a public feud with Rosie O'Donnell to such a degree that even I was aware of it, and I don't care about either Trump or O'Donnell.
I assumed the continuing sexual indiscretions were just part of Trump being Trump thanks to the string of marriages. And I didn't care. Frankly - I consider it personal, at best a data point and a sign of character, certainly, but in comparison to what works a person accomplishes, I try to separate a person's private life from their work life. Now, it'd be idiotic to campaign as a "family values" candidate when you've got a string of marriages and divorces and mistresses on the record - but that hasn't ever really stopped most politicians and it really hasn't stopped the voting electorate and Kim Davises of the world to gnash their teeth about "family values".
But in selecting Trump as a political candidate, it seems Trump's one inarguable success, name recognition, was been a major factor. Which makes sense in a country that continually equates wealth with brilliance and fame with wealth - no matter how little that turns out to be true, over and over and over, and with no real difference between notoriety and fame.
What has shocked me, disappointed me and made me reconsider much of what I believed about American society has been the endless string of racist, misogynistic and ill-considered stances Trump has allowed himself on the stump. This, paired with an even greater record of stating disproven and long-since debunked conspiracies alongside made-up statistics and figures, and simply lying to anyone listening, so long as it sounded good (this was called "gaslighting" by the hip media-sters. But that would mean we were somehow confused by what he was saying. We weren't. He was lying.). None of this impacted Trump, and, in fact, the overt xenophobia and racism of his campaign with heavy doses of misogyny tossed in there, seem to be what a lot of people are swarming to. He's the strong-man dictator they've been seeking.
In some ways, it's just the break in an unnecessary illusion. For many, I suspect this is why they've continually enjoyed voting for "outsiders" (ie: folks with no political experience or currency). The kind of race-baiting, misogynistic chatter that so many politicians had either employed in coded language and policies for maximum plausible deniability was, apparently, not really needed. And, so, it has come to pass that I now understand that the American people, no matter what the movies tell us about what sort of scandal will take someone down, has a seething appetite for someone to voice their own prejudices and fears as something they'll take on. They, too, may have been deaf to the dog whistle, in their way, feeling like those policies and promises were half-measures and compromise. They wanted the straight up racism, loose talk about nuclear weapons, and slipshod economic plans that seem to benefit the shit out of the super rich and leave the rest of us holding the bag.
We can dwell endlessly on what it means for America to be "great again" when any reading of our history other than in Paul Bunyan-esque folk mythology, you're quick to see we're a work in progress with some tremendous successes along the way, but also with terrible chapters in our epic novel. It has not always been a great place for everyone, and you can point to any point in our history and it's hardly a Norman Rockwell painting for most Americans. Sometime drive out of the city and take a good hard look at what's going on in small towns in America and consider what life is like in a place where the only healthy business you can see in a one-stop-light burg is the gas station. Imagine what a "successful" businessman who appears on TV - so good he has a new celebrity apprentice every six months - looks like to people who want to identify with a politician, especially when he starts dropping the same solutions they've wondered aloud about, simple ways to deal with all the scary things on the news.
I won't get into the many bits of rhetoric Trump uses that echo 20th Century fascists. That's all out there on the internet, and even if I'm utterly shocked that folks can't see that we've seen a particularly heinous few world leaders rise to power by promising to do something about a race of people they find particularly vexing - I won't draw the obvious last line between dots here. You're a well read, educated bunch of people.
I don't know what to tell anyone I consider a friend who is planning to vote for Trump. "Please, don't", I guess. As much as you may despise Hillary Clinton, every vote in this election will count. It is true a vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson is not a vote for Trump in the literal sense, but especially those of you in battleground states - of which there are suddenly more than in previous elections - it matters. Those of us who voted in 2000 - whether we loved the outcome or otherwise - know that it can matter. It's a game of math.
If you've been following the election and you hate both major party candidates equally - I'm unsure what to tell you. Trump is despicable and vile at his very core, in his every utterance. Hillary may be a crafty politician, and to me, those aren't exactly the same thing. Compromising yourself is tough, but, man, I'll do it all day long to keep the circus peanut out of the Oval Office.
I genuinely feel this is a turning point for America as much as a Lincoln vote was at one point (not that either candidate is Lincoln, but in terms of potential impact). This is where history turns on a dime, for better or worse, whether we uphold our promise of a free democracy for all, and maintain the path toward greater representation for all Americans, regardless of sex, religion, race or sexual preference. That we embrace what it means to be free beings, or whether we vote for someone promising persecution of Hispanics, religious minorities such as Muslims, and criminalizing black skin and allowing for "stop and frisk" to be deployed on every American (but you know what the hell he was talking about). And the absolute certainty that Donald Trump, if elected president, will take our soldiers into conflicts with no wisdom or clear outcomes in mind.
This isn't so much an endorsement of Senator Clinton, although she will be receiving my vote, as it is a repudiation of Donald Trump.
If nothing else, he's totally the rich real estate swindler who would have wanted to tear down a Community Center to put up luxury condos and ruin the neighborhood for a bunch of spunky rappers and breakdancers in a mid-80's, low-budget movie. You know he is, and you know the best part is when that rat-faced fink gets his comeuppance.
Be the spunky breakdancer who makes it happen.