So what happens in week two of Trump’s term? He warns Israel that building more settlements isn’t going to be helping. Which is essentially the line Obama kept for 8 years. While he eases some sanctions on Russia, Trump refuses to unblock Russian assets in the US until Russia removes its paramilitary troops from Crimea and returns Crimea to Ukraine. Which is the line Obama kept for 8 years. And finally, Trump continues to shift America’s focus to the Pacific, particularly towards efforts to counter China’s expansionist aspirations. Which is the line Obama kept for 8 years (the Pivot to Asia).
I’d say spending some time in office tends to temper even the fringest of people, and get them back in line with the mainstream realities, at least as far as foreign policy is concerned.
There are differences, for sure. And significant ones, at that. The sharp tone he has taken towards China and Mexico, to begin with. It’s part of his “tough guy” and “business approach to diplomacy” image that he has crafted for himself (there was an insightful piece about this at CNN). The demand that Europe should contribute more fairly to its own security (fair point, by the way), and the insistance that America shouldn’t be funding everyone else’s defense (NATO) – which is an argument I’ve been hearing from left and right all over the place long before Trump appeared. The scrapping of the TTP, and possibly the blocking of TTIP until fairer deals are struck – which is what many people from both the left and right demanded for years. And then there’s that pipeline of course. Still, the overall trend points to something very different from what some alarmists are, well, alarming about, namely an almost-World-War-Three state of affairs, and the end of the world as we know it, to use that worn-out cliche.
Now, as for domestic policy, there’s no argument there – I’m afraid America is truly fucked.
Some are arguing that Trump’s unconventional and unpredictable, Twitter-enhanced behaviour regarding international affairs in the early stages of his ascent to the presidency, is not the workings of a madman, or more precisely, not just some random emoting of a spoiled teenage kid who has somehow incidentally found himself at the political scene and doesn’t know what to do with his position. They are arguing that it’s a well-calculated tactic called the Madman approach, previously employed by Nixon, where he is trying to make himself look dangerously unpredictable in the eyes of America’s adversaries (and even the allies).
The purpose is to intimidate everybody into making concessions they wouldn’t have made in more “normal” circumstances. Latest example: his reaction about that stolen naval drone, which the Chinese were prompt to return after he tweeted some passive-aggressive remarks that they should “keep it”.
It’s a risky tactic, granted – especially at a moment when the world has become increasingly volatile, and even the slightest spark could ignite one powder keg or another. And especially given the fact that the US has at least nominally tried to present itself as a balancing factor, a peace-bringer, the one who settles conflicts rather than inflaming them. But I suppose that is not a very sexy way to Make America Great Again, right? I suppose it makes America look meek and cowardly in the eyes of the ultra-patriotic wing, and frankly, a bit boring in its predictability. The revamped Nixon approach, now turned Trump approach of the Madman, might be viewed by some as one that brings a refreshing change of pace, a more direct (and honest?) approach to international relations – as opposed to the more covert, more professional way Obama (and many of his predecessors) conducted their geopolitical games: covert spec ops, relentless nation-building, subtle regime change, influencing foreign societies in a political and economic way, blackmailing world leaders, using corporations as Economic Hit-men to bring lesser countries into submission, and fighting limited-scope undeclared wars (drone strikes, etc).
I’ll admit Trump is more calculating than people give him credit for, but he is probably more P.T.Barnum than Nixon. As controversial and hated as he was, it is undeniable that Nixon was also quite brilliant. He had a very high IQ, was well-read, and was an intellectual in his own twisted sort of way (he still was a bastard, granted). Trump is the guy who bullied and manipulated the academic system into passing him along because of who his father was and how much money he had. He has said it outright that with guys like him anything goes, just because they are famous and rich. And now he might take a play or two from the Nixon handbook, but to compare the two would be to compare an intellectual giant and an intellectual midget.
That still doesn’t mean he won’t excel at copy-pasting Nixon’s tactics. It yet remains to be seen how that would work out, of course, but the first signs are already there.
Okay, I get it, Trump is basking in his glory from scoring an early win on his promise to keep US jobs at home. He has talked Carrier into staying in Indiana rather than running off to Mexico for profit – which has earned him applause by locals. And some raised eyebrows from both libertarians and the business itself. The issue with such individual ad hoc “solutions” is simple: it could incentivize other companies to blackmail the government into giving concessions (tax cuts for individual companies) by threatening to leave the country.
It’s also a problem for the libertarian wing among the GOP base, which is a considerable force in right-wing politics. They hate statism, and Trump’s potential interventions on the market, if they happen along the same pattern like with Carrier, could cost him a lot of support among his base. Which spells trouble, as far as support from Congress is concerned. We don’t want another lame-duck president, do we?
Another issue is foreign policy. Signs of the same ad-hoc sort of behavior can be spotted in the way Trump has hastily contacted Taiwan, angering China. And he has promised to visit Pakistan, another delicate issue. He’s treading like an elephant inside a glass shop – he doesn’t seek or heed advice on foreign policy (he has previously said outright that he knows more about ISIS than the Pentagon generals), and all in all, his actions have so far suggested of quite a big deal of unpredictability in his future manner of conducting foreign policy. And the world doesn’t need an unpredictable America, does it?
He may well start heeding advice, as soon as he surrounds himself with advisors and appoints a Secretary of State, but something tells me the inherent pattern that we’re seeing now in his behavior will persist.
So my two questions are actually one question, but split between domestic policy (the “saving jobs” precedent) and foreign policy (the “I’ll talk to whoever I please” precedent). Would these hurt America in the long run, rather than help it? I mean, he may’ve saved a few hundred jobs in Indiana, but if this sort of intervention sends the wrong signals to business (that the market is now unpredictable, and the government could intervene and favor one business at the expense of others, based on arbitrary criteria like “I saw this report on the news the other day and decided to do something”) – then how’s that going to make America great again? Same applies to overlooking established diplomatic procedure and risking to create the wrong impression in powerful foreign countries about America’s intentions regarding issues of great international importance.
“Trump’s lavish dinner with Mitt will likely be played for laughs for a few days, but it is a symbol of something very serious — and very wrong — with Trump’s transition from alleged billionaire to 45th president, who was elected by the disenfranchised, disadvantaged and forgotten Americans who genuinely struggle. Yet when Trump wasn’t downing frog legs with his multi-millionaire new pal, Romney, he has been larding his cabinet with super-wealthy Republican loyalists who have completely ignored the needs of the very people who elected Trump.”
Well, here’s a saying that I’ve heard around here. Not the one eating the pie is the crazy one, it’s the ones who gave’m the pie in the first place.
You guys chose this guy. Well, a minority of you that was significant enough to make him your leader. Now you don’t get to whine about it when he screws you over. Or maybe you do? Because that’s what he’ll do. He’ll fuck you up big time. He may seem to believe that a country is run like a business, which may be a reason why he’s filling his cabinet with fellow wealthy folks. Or maybe it’s really because these are the only sort of guys he can trust, I don’t know which is more valid. Or maybe it’s just that he’s part of an oligarchy that he’s now bringing into position to be calling the shots from now on (not that they haven’t been running the party for, like, forever – but now they’ll be doing it openly anyway).
Point is, if ordinary “real Americans” from the small rural areas of core America who largely propped this guy up into power are really expecting him to stand up for them and defend their interests because he promised so – they’re in for quite a cold shower in the next four to eight years. He was brought by hopes for changing things and snatching America out of the paws of the greedy detached elites – and when those hopes get dashed by the realization that no, the greedy detached elites are not only not going anywhere but they’re getting even more entrenched into power with their champion at the helm… well, I’m seeing big, BIG trouble coming up at the horizon. Possibly political turmoil, and I’m not ruling out massive violence either. Perhaps the revolution that Bernie professed will have to turn ugly before things get really better and constructive. In a way though, that would be the catharsis that any society in trouble needs in order to cleanse itself and move on. And perhaps Trump’s ascent, and that of all those frog-leg-munching gazillionaires around him by extension, is the painful, yet necessary catalyst that would precipitate this process.
Bottom-line: I get the feeling that something will snap, and soon. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.
And since we’re in the era of post-truth (whatever that’s supposed to mean anyway), a lie told a hundred maybe two times, becomes truth. Right?
Well, here’s the thing though. The electoral college, as weird and outdated as it may be, and as distorting the democratic process as it is, is what it is. And unless you’d like to fundamentally scrap it and replace it with something else, it is there to stay. It’ll certainly create more future situations where one candidate loses the popular vote (by nearly a million) but ends up a “landslide” winner. Challenging that makes the loser look like, well, a sore loser.
Frankly, I don’t get the whole effort. It shows that the losing candidate is either desperate, or (and) doesn’t grasp the whole picture of why she actually lost. It’s not about a few tens of thousands of votes. It goes much deeper than that. We’ve talked about this already here. Unless the political elites do some thorough soul-searching and come out with a thoughtful analysis of the causes for this outcome, and the a plan, they’ll keep snatching defeats from the jaws of presumed victory in the future as well.
As for the recount, it may or may not produce something viable (most likely not, but it’s worth a shot, from Hillary’s perspective – even though the recount has been conveniently triggered by a third party). The thing is, the Obama-Trump transition process has already begun. Face it already, folks. There’s no way back from this. Trump is the president. Everyone has to deal with it.
Granted, there’s a difference between contending an election after the fact based on how close it was, and declaring it fraudulent outright without any evidence. While Hillary’s actions (or those of her surrogates, more precisely) may not be exactly of the highest moral integrity imaginable (and don’t quite match her preliminary calls for her opponent to respect the election result no matter what), they’re hardly comparable to the new lows that Trump’s actions are plunging to. Come on dude, you’re the president. You’ve got what you wanted. Time to grow up already.
The whole world was watching with dismay, morbid curiosity and growing horror how the tragicomical and rather vulgar reality show that the US presidential campaign unraveled for the last few months. And though the monopolar world model has fast been sinking back into history for quite a while, the choice of the American people was still bound to have long-lasting implications on a global scale. So the world was watching nervously, waiting to see the outcome of this “choice between two evils”. We wanted to know which would be “the lesser evil” for us all. And we were bracing ourselves for what was to come, and making bets on who the next one to be bombed would be – presumably depending on America’s choice.
Although there were more than two candidates on the ballot (at least on paper), the realities of the plutocratic bipolar parisan model were such that it all boiled down to a choice between Hillary and Donald, which is a choice that looked as if borrowed from a crappy comedy – or rather, a dystopian novel. This made the outside observer wonder if it was more comforting or horrifying that the political circus in the world’s hegemon was even more absurd than the one back home (and I can promise you, our own political circus is quite ridiculous).
I don’t think it would be an overstatement if I said that this was a clash between the embodiment of absolute cynicism and the one of complete grotesquery. Because in fact, most of the nasty things that the two opponents and their supporters flung at each other, were actually true.
Trump is indeed the epitome of intellectual downfall, he’s a byproduct of the TV consumer culture, and an embodiment of egocentric hedonism. He’s a guy who in a rational and logical world shouldn’t be supposed to get anywhere beyond a mere gate-keeper at a shitty brothel, let alone a viable candidate for the highest position in the land (and the world). Trump is the grotesque face of everything that’s wrong with the culture of modern consumerist society. Case in point: daddy’s daughter, who didn’t even wait for a week to pass since daddy’s election to start flaunting her jewelry and using daddy’s fame to promote her company’s products. She did later apologize facing the public backlash (and a potential organized boycott of her business) – but that’s not the point.
Now, seen from a safe distance, Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton looked quite different: she was like just another rubber politician from the establishment. Even when you looked closer into the details, she still managed to look like a synthesized version of everything that’s wrong with the political elites: cynicism, corruption, hypocrisy, immorality, lack of principles, hunger for power, warmongering, irresponsibility, abuse of power, trading with influence, and dependence on corporate interests. If someone decided to make a statue of the rotten status quo, they could’ve easily picked up Hillary for prototype.
Although these two looked very different from each other, both were equally horrifying in their own way. After all, they both shared some common characteristics – such as their pathological affinity for dishonesty. The choice between them was not just a mere curiosity, or an exotic glitch of US representative democracy, it was a hostage crisis at a global scale.
If Hillary got to the White House, that would have meant the US would’ve been ruled by two dynasties for the last three decades, with a convenient 8-year interruption that went to the “minorities’ quota”. America’s choice between the umpteenth member of a corrupt oligarchic clan that’s been subscribed for power, and an idiotic clown who normalizes fascist rhetoric on a daily basis, didn’t quite seem like the most inspiring motivation to get politically active and vote. So the citizens of “the world’s greatest democracy” were standing at a crossroads: they had to choose between the model of power inheritance that exists in the Central Asian republics, and the bombastic chieftain populism that can be witnessed in Duterte’s Philippines or Latin America.
From an establishment Democratic perspective, at a first sight, Trump was the perfect opponent to a politician as weak and heavily loaded with baggage as Hillary Clinton. In theory, any standard and faceless Republican candidate would’ve been much more dangerous, especially given the state the GOP was in, after two Obama terms. Given Trump’s infuriating idiotism, it shouldn’t have been a problem for the American people to recognize the lesser among these two evils, right? This should’ve been a no-brainer. And yet Hillary still failed. For which she has only herself to blame. Oh, and Comey. And her party’s short-sightedness and arrogance. And people being fed up with politicians like her. The list got a bit long, I realize.
Let’s not forget, though, that she managed to snatch the much coveted nomination at a time when the consequences of all her actions during her political career started to hit her back in full force. We all know the case with Those Emails – they provided a very good picture of the way the political machinery of the mainstream parties is functioning. They only confirmed things that were already known, or at least suspected. Including the fact that Hillary had used sensitive information in a way that under any normal circumstances should’ve granted her a place right next to Chelsea Manning, or at least David Petraeus’ fate. And the fact that as a Secretary of State she had done favors, oops, I mean, granted “personal access” to the larger donors to her family foundation, including sponsors of Islamic terrorism like the Saudis and Qatar; or her active contribution to the US disastrous policies in Libya, Syria and Iraq – all of that did not help her much, either. It all terribly reeked of corruption and dishonestly, even though the cases were dropped in one way or another. People tend to pay attention to these things.
But the most damning revelations were not those emails. It was the leaked texts of her paid speeches to Wall Street bankers. In one of them, she clearly defined the biggest problem the electorate might be having with her. She compared politics to making a sausage: it ain’t pretty, but we eventually always get to the end – while everyone is watching. And politicians need to have two positions on issues: one for the cameras, the other for the backdoor meetings, where they face nervous donors and lobbyists that need appeasement.
Her letters and speeches show that she also had those two faces, the public and the private one – virtually on any issue of importance. The regulations on the private sector, global warming and environment protection, the globalist trade agreements, tax reform, social policy – you name it. While hardly being a surprise, the revelations of Clinton’s “private” positions only add more color to the picture of the constant transformations (or “evolvement”) of her “public” positions on issues from the war in Iraq to trade agreements to gay marriage.
So here, when we’ve got two terrible players like these, the role of the third serious participant in the political equation becomes more important than ever: the media. In the US, there’s a tradition that most media would make an official endorsement of candidates and political positions. Lobbyism in America may have taken shocking and cynical proportions compared to other democracies, but at least it’s sincere about its biases. You know where it stands. A brief look at the list of print media who declared official support for any candidate, however, shows quite an imbalance. The vast majority of them declared for Clinton. And that’s hardly a surprise – not just because of the nature of the Trump phenomenon, but also because nearly 90% of all media in the US are in the hands of six corporations, more or less. And big business was clearly on Clinton’s side.
This even includes media like Foreign Policy, which in their entire history had never declared official support for a candidate. The situation was similar in television. Some even started calling CNN the “Clinton News Network”, just like RT is Putin’s news outlet in Russia. Even the pillar of blatant conservative propaganda, Fox News only supported the GOP’s nominee with half a mouth. What’s more, this tendency spread beyond the US media, and engulfed The Economist, The Guardian, and dozens more from around the world. They all had their reasons.
If we’re to keep it simple, the pro-Hillary media narrative could essentially be boiled down to two talking points: 1) sure, she does have stains on her biography, but at least she’s not Trump; and 2) she’s the candidate with the most experience, and besides, she’s not Trump. We could add a few more if you like: electing the first woman president would be historic, besides, it would teach that misogynist buffoon Trump a good lesson; and, Hillary offers some stability and normalcy, while Trump means chaos, collapse and other unspecified horrors.
Well, perhaps these messages would’ve been convincing enough for any other candidate – maybe even for Hillary, but a few years ago. At this point though, people’s tolerance to the financial, social, political and ideological bankruptcy of the neo-liberalist experiment, seems to have run out. Many of the voters cannot be convinced that More Of The Same represents a lesser evil than those unspecified horrors. This became evident by the socialist rebellion within the Democratic Party initiated by Bernie Sanders, and by Trump’s populist tsunami within the Republican Party. Although the two phenomena were driven by very different motivations and convictions.
Now granted, Trump himself constantly provided abundant ammo and good reasons for the media to demonize him, but at the end of the day, the blatant one-sidedness of the media coverage only amplified his legitimization as a perceived alternative to the status quo. Which he really is not – but more about this, a bit further down. The infuriating double standards in the coverage of the two candidates’ transgressions helped quite a lot in that respect, too.
So there was the false dichotomy. On one side there was a spoiled, constantly feuding, aggressive, egoistical rich man who had known privilege his entire life and only pretended to care about the ordinary people. Shedding light on all the reasons that made him unfit for the White House was fair game. On the other side though, there was a politician with decades of history in a position of power, who had occupied some of the most influential positions within the establishment, and whose list of transgressions was constantly growing, the biggest of which, it turns out, was her disregard for the people whose champion she had always claimed to be.
If it’s important that Trump had made extremely degrading and sexist comments back in 2005, it should be just as important that back in 2006, Hillary, in her capacity of a US Senator, expressed regret that the US hadn’t attempted to manipulate the elections in the Palestine. (Curiously, Trump’s vulgar comments about women from a decade ago actually hurt him much more than his racist statements about Mexicans which he had made just recently). Shouldn’t the coverage of the sex abuse allegations against Trump be just as important as the allegations of a number of women who allege that Hillary had tried to intimidate them against testifying for actual sexual misconduct against her husband about the same time?
A number of media and even more analysts expressed loud indignation at Trump’s allegations that the election might be rigged. In the meantime, they almost unanimously echoed Clinton’s theories that the election process was being rigged against her by various conspiracies involving Wikileaks, the FBI, and Vladimir Putin.
What’s more, the revelations that Clinton has used her immense influence within the Democratic machine to snatch the nomination from under Sanders’ nose, somehow got pushed to the sidelines. Whenever those were tangentially mentioned, the focus was somehow not on the essence of the facts themselves, but on the source (Russian hackers and Wikileaks). A number of media actively jumped on the bandwagon – some of them, those same media who in GWB’s time had aided Julian Assange, gaining popularity and winning journalism awards thanks to Wikileaks, and even covering the shady Russian connections of the Clinton Foundation.
It’s also worth noting that the carefully crafted notion that Trump is somehow something extraordinary, a glitch, failed to look convincing enough – especially for the outside observer. All the cartoonish absurdity of his character notwithstanding, Trump is actually a logical result of all the messages that the Republican electorate had been fed with for decades. Xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, religious fundamentalism, extremist nationalism – all of these have been the norm for the Republican way of thinking and talking. Hey, on some issues Trump sounded even less extreme and horrifying than some of his fellow partymen, including some of the candidates that he vanquished on his way to the nomination, like Ted Cruz. It’s quite telling that The Newyorker recently mocked the conspiracy theory that the GOP is preparing to replace Trump with their preferred puppet Mike Pence, saying that “they want to replace a man who hates women with a man who hates women and gays”.
We shouldn’t also forget that having an idiotic showman for president who’s almost completely detached from reality, is hardly a precedent in the US. We needn’t even look too far back, to remember the moronic George Bush Jr, or Ronald Reagan the Hollywood actor. Their terms arguably led to heavy consequences for the rest of the world – but in many respects, Hillary Clinton also looked like a worthy successor of their economic and geopolitical heritage. Only, without the charisma.
It’s curious to speculate what the media would’ve done, had Hillary become president as everyone in the media/politics establishment expected. The Trump threat would no longer be an excuse for her sins, after all. Could we have expected the media to return to the journalist standards that they had abandoned for short-term political gains? Would they be capable of holding a Clinton administration accountable, despite all the scandals that would’ve defined it? (The investigation of those emails could take five years, mind you).
If we’re to judge by the revelations of Clinton’s close relations with the media, perhaps we shouldn’t have expected too much criticism of her from them. Moreover, the same media worked hard for her during her fight with Bernie Sanders, when she still didn’t have Trump as an excuse.
And a president does need criticism and accountability, and using various ways to distract the public attention from real transgressions would only last up to a point. Which is the case with the new president-elect, by the way.
All that said, the relentless propping up of a candidate who was barely electable, even when running against Trump, ultimately worked against that candidate, and in Trump’s favor.
But let’s face it, Trump is not the alternative to the status quo that he likes to pretend he is. As satirist Jonathan Pie aptly points out, while Hillary is in the pocket of the corporations, Trump is himself a corporation. He doesn’t offer anything viable on important issues like the staggering social inequality, the domination of the financial capitals. and corporate irresponsibility. All issues that need urgent tackling, as the wide support for Sanders indicated. The early signs from Trump are that he’ll just strive to offer some short-term vent for the problems, mostly by means of fostering internal conflict along political, racial and ideological lines. A divide and rule sort of governing style, so to speak.
The hopes that he’ll pursue more isolationist policies will likely also be proven wrong. Don’t get me wrong, the world would certainly gain more if the accelerated turning of East Europe into a new battleground is scaled back, or the reversion of the Middle East to the Stone Age, or the forceful shoving of “free” trade agreements without the people’s consent. But just like Hillary, the Donald will also seek for a vent for unsolved problems, and he’ll eventually look for a convenient external enemy. He also shows a proneness to scare his people with external threats: while Hillary used the Russians, he’s using the Chinese and the Mexicans. Trump is courting the Israeli lobby nearly as much as Hillary did, and this doesn’t bode well for the Palestine, and doesn’t promise a more moderate approach to Syria or Iran.
At the end of the day, Trump is not just a false messiah of change – he’ll ultimately serve as an agent for discrediting the resistance to the status quo, even if unintentionally. Because he’ll be defining that resistance from now on, at least on the surface. Despite the horror he seems to pose for the elites, and despite his calls for putting an end to the corrupt establishment in Washington, he’s actually one of them. Although he’s just a clown with the mind and temperament of a 5 year old, he’s of the same class and breed like the elite. Now that he has found his way into the White House, the powers-that-be will likely invite him to the big table, he’ll be ushered into one of the comfy leather sofas, and then he’ll be explained how things actually are. And everything will click right back into their ordinary place. He probably won’t even need a dramatic warning against playing with the “primary forces of nature”, the way Howard Beale from The Network was brought back in line.
In fact, the big, real threat to the rotten political and economic status quo in the US was Bernie Sanders. Which is why there was no way he could be allowed access to the nomination – even though he could’ve demolished Trump by a landslide in the general election. It’s just that he was the real agent of change, and the elites couldn’t possibly have that.
Sanders put the real issues to the fore, instead of distracting the attention with nonsense like, “which country of brown people should we bomb next”, or “should we ask for ID upon buying a machine-gun”, or “could we trade allowing gay marriage for an abortion ban”. He managed to direct attention to the real problems, and the need for real solutions. But with the concerted efforts of both media and elite, this drive for change was at least temporarily muted, muzzled, and put into the grotesque frames of a conveniently scripted mud-fight between two oligarchic clans.
What’s now happening in the US has largely been mirrored in Europe as well, in the last few years. People have run out of patience, and this initially gave rise to various popular (not populist) movements against the system. The political and economic establishment and the media are already recognizing this as a problem, but they still refuse to allow a real alternative, for fear of losing their control. Even if that alternative comes in the form of moderate, reasonable social-democracy, which is trying to bring the political spectrum back to its normal condition, after it had been pushed extremely to the right by the reigning neo-liberal consensus. Thus, the new moderate center-left movements in South Europe were soon blocked or even crushed through political and financial pressure. The ideological vacuum was instantly filled with various destructive forms of populist anti-establishment protest, shamelessly sucking up life power out of people’s fears, xenophobia, and desperation. Meaningful movements like Syriza and Podemos were sucked dry of blood, while evil, yelling ulcers like Pegida and Alternative For Germany took their place.
The situation in Britain is similar, where Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to bring the Labour Party back into the left political space where it belongs, was met with considerable media and political resistance, while the forces that managed to drag the country out of the EU, enjoyed remarkable comfort to act as they please.
There’s a certain amount of historical logic in all of this, when you think of it. In the past, the conservative and liberal right also used to go through phases of reluctant adoption, and eventual alliance with far-right populist movements and agendas. The parallel to the 30s may look a bit too much at a first sight, but when we look at the way UK’s new PM Theresa May has adopted the rhetoric and the messages of the far-right populists from UKIP in order to consolidate her position of power at a time of crisis, we get the general idea.
Now that the anti-establishment crowd has adopted Trump as their champion and made him everybody’s president, he’ll just infuse himself into the fabric of the corrupt system he pretends to be opposing, and this will start the process of merging the plutocracy with conservative populism. The GOP may be basking in its shocking rise to dominance right now, but that process promises big trouble for its identity, and ultimately, its long-term fate (or maybe a chance to finally transform and evolve). On the other hand, the protests that we’ve seen right after Trump’s election, may further politicize and activate the civic society, particularly the youth. Constant resistance could start to act as that correcting power that the media failed to provide for Hillary, and it could become the beginning of a new political movement that would foster real change in the future. On the other side, we shouldn’t forget that there were large-scale protests against Bush Jr too, but they still failed to prevent him from committing a long list of crimes against humanity, which largely precipitated the global financial crisis eventually, and hugely eroded the world’s trust in America.
The big resistance to Hillary could have forced her to act more moderately and keep some of her promises that were made by her “public” version (as opposed to the “private” one). Especially if she was hoping to be a two-term president. But that’s history now. After all, Obama came with a message of hope and change too, riding a wave of huge enthusiasm and big expectations, but he failed to deliver on most of those promises for one reason or another. The threat with a Clinton president would have been that with the highest glass ceiling being shattered just for its own sake, the “real change” movement that had started forming around Sanders could have been blunted, and fallen into apathy, the way it happened with Occupy Wall Street not so long ago. And now that Trump is president, they’ll have a big opportunity to make themselves more prominent than they’ve ever imagined. Because he’ll be sure to give them plenty of reason to stay active. And that, I guess, is an upside of having Trump for president.
Sadly, the upsides end there. It takes a lot of optimism to expect anything good from a Trump regime, as was the case with a potential Clinton regime, albeit in a different way. Neither Hillary was the normal candidate, nor is Trump a true alternative to the status quo. In both cases, the light at the end of the tunnel mostly relies on the positive energy for change preserving itself and developing into a significant political movement that would endure the imminent reactionary pressure that is sure to come against it – both from the political and media establishment on one side, and from the now legitimized destructive populism on the other. The outcome of this fight will determine the ultimate fate of American democracy, and world democracy by extension. And not just of the now almost-discredited “representative” form of democracy, but of the very essence of democracy itself. Trump’s popularity among the various anti-establishment movements, the Brexit, the rising Euroskepticism within the EU, the geopolitical advancement of despotic regimes like China and Russia, and the emerging resistance against the global trade agreements, are all converging to give a general picture, where the voices arguing for the fundamental failure of democracy will be getting ever stronger. These used to be whispers before, but now they’re getting louder. So there’s a real threat that one day, sooner than we might expect, democracy would be abolished… in the name of democracy.
Hey, h’America! It’s been a great/disastrous/??? day for democracy, hasn’t it? See, we’ve had our own Mityo “Pishtova” (The Gun) for presidential candidate around here too, and though he couldn’t win the election despite promising free meatballs and lemonade for everyone who dared vote for him, seems like the h’American* version of Mityo has earned a brilliant and shocking victory.
Well done, h’America! You’ve completely jumped the shark now, and proven to be the most [insert expletive containing intelligence-related overtones]** nation on this planet. One thing is for sure: there’ll be a lot of LOLs from here on. But even more cringes.
Some say h’America is in trouble in terms of domestic policy. We the people around the world may’ve seemed concerned about his foreign policies as well, but given PresidentDouche***’s general stated proneness to leave the rest of the world to their means while enjoying himself around his casinos and leaving the folks in his team run the country, this might not be such bad news for us (can we see some hiatus from the frantic nation-building that we’ve seen lately, heh?) Conversely, this could spell disaster for international politics, as various rogue players would be sure to probe the ground and test how far they could push things – which brings us to PresidentDouche’s unpredictability in terms of reaction to their actions. But we’ll see.
What matters though is, if PresidentDouche keeps even 10% of his promises and intentions, h’America is truly screwed domestically – and that’s bad for the rest of the world in the long run, because it can’t help reflecting on the rest of us. The public has reacted to years of elitist disconnect in the ugliest and stupidest way possible, so in a sense this is really a reactionary step backwards. One that now, in hindsight, doesn’t seem as shocking and unexpected as it did a while back.
This, from a foreigner’s perspective.
As for the complex maze that is the US political system, the checks’n’balances that have been put there from day one, will probably smoothen PresidentDouche’s douchiness somewhat. Granted, that largely depends on whom he encircles himself with, from now on. Something tells me Congress, even GOP-dominated, won’t let him Make America Great Again the way he imagined – whatever that means – and for good or for bad.
Ultimately, the result shows two more things. One: populism is winning big these days (and not just in h’America), because people feel hugely disenfranchized and disconnected from their rulers. And two: all the polling agencies, pundits, analysts, and all the collective harpies that call themselves the media, can go die in a fire. Their projections and predictions are worth less than a cat’s poop. Whatever they say, the people appear to think otherwise – if most of them are able to think, anyway**.
* An old joke around these parts: h’America, the lamer side of America. Long story. I intend to call her so for the duration of PresidentDouche’s tenure. Trademarked!
** Care to bet what % of the populace are capable of autonomous critical thought? My observations have pointed to roughly about 5%. Although that could vary from country to country.
*** There used to be a PresidentMoron website, dedicated to updating news of GWB’s stupidity daily. It has been down for years, but a new niche seems to have opened in its place now. We’ll be all ears. The showmen around h’America and the world will sure have a lot of work in the upcoming years.