Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Cure For Trumpitis

*The problem with political  jokes is they get elected.
 *~Henry Cate,  VII~ 

Like a majority of people in the USA before this election,  I was convinced most voters in our country could easily see for themselves the appalling defects of Donald Trump - not that Hillary Clinton does not have a number of her own, even if nowhere close to Trump's train full. Prior to the election I was convinced the sheer weight of the evidence against Trump was so obvious and self-evident that our countrymen would reject this classless, clueless, boorish, sociopathic and pathological narcissistic bully out of hand. I sincerely believed all along he did not have the ghost of a chance in the end, even as he piled up win after win. 
Tragically, I was so very wrong. My previous faith in the intrinsic wisdom of our US body politic has been shaken to its roots, if not now uprooted entirely.
I am very discouraged to see so many of my fellow Americans buy into Donald Trump's hysteria and horse hooey - hook, line and sinker, teacups to topsails! Every sentence he spoke contained at least one superlative (huge! gigantic! greatest!) etc., ad nauseam. Most of his spoken sentences have his signature 'believe me!'. These hyperboles are the unmistakable signatures of your common ordinary, cynical conman and huckster.
The thousands of gerrymandered voting districts helped Trump too since Ms Clinton actually did win the popular vote overall by 2-1/2%.  Another thing to think about is that only roughly 50% of our country's voters actually went to the polls in this momentous election. More the shame for our country as a social construct!
Did you know that all citizens of voting age in Australia are REQUIRED BY LAW to vote in federal and state elections, and are subject to a fine if they do not?  21 other countries have similar laws. An enlightened and responsible way to ensure participation as a small price for being a member of one's society I think!
Furthermore, New Zealand allows voters to vote at ANY voting station in the entire country. New Zealand also, by the by, was the first nation in the world to introduce women's suffrage (1893).
But back to Trump. One huge factor in his success was the billions of dollars of totally free media publicity he got by virtue of his continuously outrageous behavior and statements. Donald Trump played the American corporate media like a well-tuned Stradivarius. The collective media, in their competition for clicks, viewers, readers and listeners could not get enough of it. In my opinion, in the media's clutching for profits above all else, most of them abandoned all pretense of being anything remotely resembling a responsible fourth estate. The media failed us entirely, not that their track record has been all that stellar in the past. But, this time it was beyond shameless, and very near treasonous in my view - a total abdication of even a pretense for citizen responsibility, And this is their primary argument for their existence for goodness sakes! I think media owns a major portion of blame for our current electoral debacle. There's no doubt about that in my mind. But, you shouldn't expect any acknowledgment or acceptance of responsibility by the media, since that's just not gonna happen! 
There is one important silver lining found in this debacle, however. This electoral horror will compel BOTH major political parties to reassess their attitude to the voter. Congress has gotten so far out of hand - both parties - that the individual members neither respect nor respond to the public they represent. Congressional approval is at an abysmal 10-12%. The typical politician's efforts are focused on getting elected or reelected, and the money which influences them does not come from voters at large. The constituency they almost exclusively represent these days is deep-pocketed corporate donors and their political 'Pacs'. These groups now own both the Senate and the House, especially since the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. FEC which allows UNLIMITED donations by corporations and unions, and any sums to super PAC's. Just lay aside all your 'democratic' ideals since the proper term for today's political system in the US is 'plutocracy'.
The common citizen voter without unlimited money is almost completely ignored - until election time and then we are wooed cynically and shamelessly with political promises impossible to keep. We already see Trump walking back on his.
The only attention citizens usually get is being agitated to support or oppose legislation - mostly oppose. The NRA and anti-abortion groups jump quickly to mind, but there are many others. These are so-called 'hot-button' issues manipulated to agitate the various voting bases - guns, abortion, 'war-against-Christians', immigrants, Islamists, you name it. A more appropriate name for these so-called issues is 'red herrings'. The extremely well-paid shills pulling the agitating levers behind the scenes are very focused and smart in their efforts. (And it doesn't take a lot of effort to agitate evangelicals after all does it?)
The phenomenon of Mr. Trump's success is in his recognizing, and taking advantage of the massive citizen dissatisfaction with our elected 'leaders' which is rampant throughout the nation. People feel ignored and powerless, and now Trump steps into the ring as their 'straight-talking champion', who will 'fix things' and chase the rapscallions out of politics or make them behave. Our problem with this scenario is that Donald Trump is the biggest, baddest rascal of them all!
To a much lesser extent the same thing is seen on the Democratic side in Bernie Sanders - also a product of citizen voter rage and dissatisfaction. Both Trump and Bernie Sanders used citizen disaffection with our political system to people their political bases. The biggest difference is Mr. Trump had a much broader pool of low information voters to draw from. He knew it too, as proved by his statement about being able to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York without losing a single vote.
After falling victim to this horrible case of 'Trumpitis' (for lack of a better term) on November 8, 2016, both national parties are now forced to reexamine themselves. The mood of voters is unmistakable. Voters are so disgusted with our current political chicanery they came out by the mega-thousands in opposition to the diseased, warped political system ours has morphed into. Unfortunately for the nation, the current treatment selected by our country's voters is akin to a mega-dose of cod liver oil or perhaps a full-blown, total hysterectomy for our country.
What this means, at least in the short run, is Congress is now forced to actually DO SOMETHING in order to protect their very hides. The GOP members in the majority are in a very uncomfortable place between the 'Devil and the deep blue sea' as the saying goes. They are terrified of a totally unpredictable Donald Trump, who is largely a Tea Party creation, and the somewhere between 55 and 70% rest of the country who pretty much agree he is a train wreck en route.
The GOP knows if they resist Trump's demands, the Tea Party's pickaxes and pitchforks will come out. Congressional GOP types understand the tar and feathers are already not far off now. But, the GOP has no one to blame but themselves, since they helped create and nurture the Tea Party crazies, thinking they could control them. The GOP's embrace of the Looney Tunes spectrum of Teahadists, evangelicals, gun nuts, anti-abortion nuts and all the other loose nuts has now come back home to mama in spades in the person of Donald Trump. And, does anyone really think these nuts are capable of running the country?  Give me a break already! 
We WILL see changes, although it is impossible, and very unsettling -  to predict what they will be. My gut feeling is, we will not see successful wholesale attacks on our progressive basics. There will be - already are - attacks on our basic social fabric. But a majority of people in our country will not stand still for wholesale change, and Congress knows it, no matter who occupies the White House. The only way they can pass onerous legislation is by doing it behind the scenes or by subterfuge. And we saw the backlash when they tried to sneak through doing away with the Congressional ethics group. We have enough concerned outside watchdogs keeping eyes on things to shortstop those efforts I feel, while all the rest of us need to provide them with cover and support.
The GOP politicians embracing Donald Trump thinking to save their hides are gutless twits who will end up owning the destruction he might sow. I never thought I would have anything good to say about Marco Rubio, but he deserves some respect for not standing in line to kiss Trump's ass like so many other frightened Republicans are now doing. All of us have an obligation to put our country ahead of 'party loyalty' and resist the destruction of the bedrock our country stands upon.
Two things will go a long way towards fixing our mess: Real campaign finance reform and term limits for all national politicians. We've recognized this for decades, but so far the plutocracy has always defeated those, but one day, one day . . .
We are living in interesting and momentous times indeed. My current thinking is well expressed in this opinion piece by Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: