Doesn’t seem so ridiculous now, does it?
Well, that’s what happens when you have a one-party system masquerading as a two-party system… and someone decides to crash the party.
I am personally enjoying the almighty hell out of every moment in the Trump campaign, primarily because The Donald is doing such a brilliant job of exposing our country’s political process for the extremely macabre joke it is. We haven’t had any genuine difference of political opinion among America’s leadership since George H.W. Bush was elected. And there’s no meaningful difference between Democrat and Republican agendas in the twenty-first century.
Wait? You disagree? You think that anything substantive separates the jackass and the elephant? You’re wrong. The fact of the matter is that in 2015, corporations set the economic agenda and the media sets the social agenda and no candidate is permitted to deviate it by more than the kind of differences that separated the ’84 Mercury Topaz from the ’84 Ford Tempo*. If you’re unsure about the corporate-media agenda, let me set it out for you here and you can tell me how your favorite candidate is OMG BREAKING THE RULES:
* There shall be no effective tariff on imported goods.
* It will continue to be difficult to manufacture products in the USA due to regulations on all fronts that exceed any other major manufacturing power on the globe.
* Financial adventurism, on the other hand, will be permitted. Sarbarnes-Oxley is a joke and will stay that way.
* If banks are profitable, they will be permitted to buy lobbyists and set policy. If they fail, they will be bailed out with public money.
* The institution of the Federal Reserve will continue into eternity. QE will happen whenever they feel like it. Asset prices will rise, the value of capital will rise.
* The top marginal tax rates, for people and corporations, will stay low.
* Middle-class wages will fall and jobs will disappear.
* Tax sheltering overseas by corporations will be permitted, even encouraged.
* Companies like Wal-Mart will continue to depress wages and a “social safety net” will take up the slack, effectively subsidizing those companies.
* Immigration from Mexico will continue at whatever rate keeps labor cheapest.
* The H1-B program will expand to infinity, doing to the American middle class what “undocumented” labor does to the working poor.
* There will be no attempt to shield children from extremely graphic sexual and violent imagery.
* Children will be sexualized as early as possible.
* Everything that was considered perverse by humanity until twenty years ago will be encouraged for children through cartoons and TV shows and the Internet.
* The rights of parents to determine their children’s moral character will be eroded.
* Abortion will continue to be legal, and there will always be “exceptions” no matter where the “goal line” of legality shifts.
* Favored classes of race and gender will receive handouts, preferential hiring, quota treatment, and protection from prosecution for criminal offenses. The actual classes will change, slightly, from time to time, to keep everybody churned up.
* The American military will continue to protect the interests of the House of Saud.
That’s the one-party line, folks, and if you deviate from it your candidacy for political office above that of county dog-catcher will be terminated with extreme prejudice. You’re allowed to have some window dressing, some red or blue meat to throw the crowd. But there can’t be anything substantive to it. You can whine about corporate misdeeds but you’d better make sure the H1-B numbers expand behind the scenes. You can bray about gay marriage for a few minutes but you’d better fold at the last minute and toe the line on the subject. You can have gun control — in the cities where the underclass won’t follow the rules anyway. You can move the goal line for abortion back a month or so — as long as you acknowledge that if the woman claims rape it will be done whenever she wants it done.
No wonder, then, that the pre-primary season has been utterly without interest for anyone, with two exceptions. The first is Bernie Sanders, who is actually talking about economic inequality:
In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is running for the Democratic presidential candidacy, said he could back a 90 percent top marginal tax rate.
Harwood brought up that some have likened efforts to combat income inequality to Nazi Germany. Sanders noted sarcastically, “When radical, socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, I think the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent.”
Harwood followed up by asking, “When you think about something like 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?” to which Sanders replied, “No.”
He continued, “What I think is obscene…when you have the top one-tenth of one percent owning almost as much as the bottom 90.”
He’s beating President-Assumpt Clinton II in some polls now. But the #BlackLivesMatter people have targeted him for extinction and before too long we’re going to hear about how he is just too old and senile and possibly racist to secure the Democratic nomination. Since the Democrats have the luxury of doing their dirty business in private (think of Rahm Emanuel for an example here, out serving as a bagman for Clinton before being rewarded with a fiefdom in Chicago) there will come a time when his army of small donors can’t keep up with George Soros, who would like to elect another Clinton the same way he selected the first one for re-election in 1996.
Bye bye, Bernie.
The other guy is Trump. And since the Republicans are massively disorganized compared to the Democrats, there’s no effective machine to shut him down. They tried to knock him down during the debate, without success. Now he’s speaking directly to the American public, and the results are spectacular.
The best part about the Trump phenomenon is his immunity to media crucifixion. Over the course of the past fifteen years, we have all come to know, and perhaps fear, the way that the media enforces uniformity of opinion. There are only some things that you are allowed to say in public. Doubleplusbadthink will get you fired. If you are already a CEO and you make a $1,000 donation to a non-media-approved cause, you will be hounded out of a career. If you say something that the media doesn’t like, you’ll be kicked off television. That’s the soft tyranny of 2015. Speak out and you will be cut down. No, you won’t be criminally prosecuted, unless you live in Europe where you can go to jail for “racist revving”. But you’ll become an unperson. You’ll be eliminated from history. Your children will suffer. You’ll lose your house and your job and your savings and your life.
Trump is immune to that. He has money. Not ten billion dollars, but enough. So he can say whatever he wants. And it turns out that… people want to hear it. He says that Rosie O’Donnell is a fat pig and that Heidi Klum isn’t a “10” any more. These facts are both self-evident, yet the media said that he WHIPPED UP A FIRESTORM OF CONTROVERSY on the subjects. They said that he ATTACKED WOMEN. They told women that they should all be OUTRAGED on Rosie O’s behalf. And what’s happened? Women are flocking to him. Women don’t like being told that they have to assemble the Avengers on behalf of some repugnant comedian or the late-middle-aged Mrs. Seal. They’d prefer to make their own choices.
Trump says that Mexico should pay for a bigger wall and the establishment sits up in front of their televisions at home and says CONSUELA DID YOU HEAR THAT? THAT MAN IS A RACIST! OH AND WOULD YOU TAKE A SECOND LOOK AT THE TOILET UPSTAIRS? THERE’S A STAIN RIGHT WHERE LITTLE BRAYDEN DROPS HIS PRIVILEGED LITTLE POOPIES AFTER DAY SCHOOL. POR FAVOR. Meanwhile, the unemployed former factory worker or construction worker or farm laborer isn’t shocked at all, because he lives in the reality of a bottomless labor pool the existence of which only Donald Trump seems willing to admit.
Trump says that Obama is a massive coward who has sabotaged America’s image in the world and the public-policy analyst for the Washington Post is WOW JUST WOW but the three-tour veteran of Afghanistan, sitting in his trailer and counting out his medication before he leaves for his shift at Wal-Mart, knows in his bones that Trump is correct.
The press says that Trump is RACIST! Yet Trump is catching Hilary among non-white voters. Turns out that not all black and Hispanic people want to be told about racism by white talking heads on TV. Amazing!
The media is running out of bullets to shoot at the guy. They could talk about his lack of experience in public life, but Americans voted for Obama when he hadn’t done anything worth noting as a senator. They can attack his money, but the fact is that Hilary is far more vulnerable on that. They can say he’s a terrible person, but Americans watched “The Apprentice” because they loved Trump’s lack of kindness and decency. They imagine him treating America’s enemies the same way and they like that. They can say he went bankrupt — but we live in a world where nearly one million Americans a year file for bankruptcy. All of those people will like the idea that he went from bankruptcy to the Presidency, because they’d like to succeed as well.
The final anti-Trump defense the media has, their Death Star, is to portray him as a buffoon, an idiot, a dilettante, a hobbyist. But Americans have watched Trump on TV more than they’ve watched any Clinton ever born. They know him. They like him. And he’s saying things that nobody else will say about jobs and trade and fairness.
In a perfect world, we’d have a Trump v. Sanders election. Give America a chance to make a populist choice for once, to bring a temporary respite to the endless era of corporate hegemony. But if the backroom dealers of both parties manage to make it Bush v. Clinton II: Electoral Boogaloo!, don’t be surprised if the voters just stay home. A Presidential election between two legacy candidates about whom nobody cares? Now that’s ridiculous.
* Yes, I know the Tempo was a six-window car, you Aspie!