Lessons learned from the triumph of the unflushable Trump
OK -- I warned you that Trump could win this election, and I warned those who thought he might be fun that his cabinet and their staffs will launch a crusade for America to bomb the rest of the world into submission, and to make life inside the USA more like it was in their 1950s dreams. The dreams of Guliani, Palin, General Mattis, and the rest of Trump’s hacks will soon be our nightmares.
How the hell did it happen?
1. ENLIGHTENMENT BEATS OLD TESTAMENT BY 2.5 MILLION -- OLD TESTES WIN
The consensus among commentators is that many Trump voters are white folks pissed off that China took their jobs, banks took their homes, brown people took their taxes, and Hillary took the piss out of them. The Democrats’ prescription for change is that they’ll “listen to their fears”, but a blogger who grew up in that community points out that his people can’t unravel the scary stuff because the only belief-system they’ve ever known is a Bible-based stack of notions, like, “black people have dark skin because they are cursed by god”, and “homosexuality is a mortal sin”. Only moving outside that box of fundamental fantasies will enable them to re-evaluate. Meanwhile, they keep voting for Republicans who promise give them their country back, and then don’t because they can’t, it’s gone.
My theory about Trump v Clinton was that it was yet another round in the 300 years war between science and la-la-land. A startling number of older Americans still live by rules written by gurus thousands of years ago, or by modern ones like Bill O’Reilly – even though smart people have figured out how most things really work on this planet, and we need to get on with saving it and ourselves.
It’s a matter of time though. If only under-35 year-olds votes counted, Trump would have won 29 electoral votes to 509 for Hillary the Democrat. But with the Trumpsters in charge, how much time do we have?
2. AMERICAN POLITICIANS ARE BOUGHT & OWNED BY THE RICH
Trump got the votes of one out of four people eligible to vote. Clinton got at least 2.5 million more votes than he did, and almost half of all eligibles didn’t vote. By getting tiny majorities in low-population rural states, Trump will probably be named President when the electoral college formally declares the numbers on 19th December. There’s a very slight chance that some of the party hacks who do this charade-voting might go rogue and screw the system.
Regardless, the US has to face up to the fact that their electoral system is in worse shape than Mumbai’s railways.
The whole business of electing politicians has been hijacked by billionaires. This year Democratic and Republican candidates raised and spent $1.3 billion between them, mostly collected from wealthy corporations and individuals, who spent another $600 million on ads pro or con the candidate they wanted to win or lose. Clinton got more Defence, Wall St and Hollywood money, while Trump got an estimated $3 billion in free media for being a famous TV “personality” and an unapologetic bigot.
The elections also chose 500+ candidates for Congress ($1.5 billion spent), 12 state governorships, thousands of state legislators, and “ballot initiatives” on marijuana, minimum wage, gun control, etc – another half a billion bucks.
Two years ago the Supreme Court ruled that spending money like this to win political posts was “free speech” and so could not be seriously regulated. Rich people and big corporations are thrilled. US labour unions spent just $167 million on all these electoral battles combined. Trump spent just $56 million of his own money on his campaign.
3. ELECTION DAY IS MANAGED BY VOLUNTEERS, FIXERS, CHEATS AND BAD EQUIPMENT
American elections are all run by state and local governments, each with their own rules, and most “vote rigging” is by local Republicans. Their mission is to prevent fairness, openness, and making voting easy – because those things increase Democratic votes coming from working people in the cities, especially women, blacks, Latinos, Asians and young people. They also tamper with actual votes and voters – see gregpalast.com for gruesome details.
State governments also manage voter registration, and again, Republicans limit poor people’s access by making registration and voting as difficult and expensive as possible.
And then there’s the Electoral College. Intended to give extra power to small-population states, it has given the Presidency to popular-vote losers Bush in 2000, and Trump 2016. Surely its time is finally up … but any monument to established power is a very hard rock to move.
4. FAKE NEWS SPREAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA POISONED THE ELECTION
Suddenly, fake news is big news, because thousands of fake stories written by teenagers in Macedonia and Los Angeles screwed the election. A few dozen youths posted whatever got the most views, because facebook pays them per view, and they discovered that Trump supporters shared bogus stories more than any other “market” did, so they focused on inventing anti-Hillary crap. Far more people read a fake “Hillary WILL be busted by the FBI” story than read the New York Times investigative scoop on Trump paying no taxes.
Several Trump insiders own sites with millions of followers that publish inventions and distortions that would make Rupert Murdoch envious: one, Laura Ingraham, could be Presidential press secretary and another, Steve Bannon, will be White House Chief of Staff.
During the election, Trump’s daily boasts, insults, and taunts of “lying Hillary” got him far more attention than a single policy speech would have if he’d ever given one. Mainstream media continue to lap him up. Bullshit, clearly, still baffles brains.