November 4. 2016
Allen D. Blume
In four days, Americans will head to the polls to select the next putative leader of the “Free World,” Members of Congress, governors, state legislatures, judges, and local government leadership. They will also render opinions on ballot propositions, bond initiatives, and state constitutional amendments. In past tumultuous times, pollsters and pundits held forth on potential outcomes where there appeared to be clear and distinct choices between the candidates and political parties. I suppose you could make the argument that in 2016 those choices still exist, but in the eyes of many – perhaps all – voters, the choices are perilous if not openly menacing.
At the top of the ticket the choice is between a capricious if not openly unstable faux biblical con artiste extraordinaire and robber baron and a flinty-eyed corporatist whose liberal credentials are more than a little suspect. Down ballot are more careerists, ideologues, and forum seekers who seem to have little interest in the overarching needs of the nation and the rest of the planet; and overspreading the entirety is a suspicion that the election process is in some way “rigged” to deny people their choice of “true” leaders. In a very real sense the 2016 Election is a striking example of why “None of the Above” should be considered as a voting option; but the overarching question remains “How did we get to this state of affairs?”
As a liberal, I can readily point fingers at conservative practices that have kept fraught and emotional anti-choice and gun-control and “jobs, any jobs” arguments in the forefront of political debate while deftly concealing increasing oligarchic control of the levers of government by multinational corporations and conservative billionaires and shifting greater wealth to the “Masters of the Universe” and their minions – a miniscule number of people who control more than ninety-five percent of the world’s wealth. But those are easy targets if your worldview posits republican democracy, social justice and equality of opportunities for all, an end to violence (by terrorist perpetrators, common thugs, and the police), an end to America’s perpetual state of international warfare (a form of corporatist terrorism), and the urgent need for binding global action to stem the planet killing effects of environmental change.
However, one-sided finger pointing and scapegoating miss the point if Democrats and liberals fail to consider their own shortcomings and outright failures: The principal issue being our indifference to our own fragmentation into separate communities of interest and unwillingness to work towards a common agenda and common goals. For me, one of the more egregious examples of our failure is the entrenchment of liberal “Five Percent” voting blocs who will abandon qualified candidates because they fail special interest litmus tests. It is the fragmentation of our own skills in building consensus and centrist positions that has cost us countless voters and elections; encouraged the growth of corporatist “Iron Triangle” special interests; fostered the high-jacking of our liberal, democratic values; and allowed the kind of right-wing political extremism we see today.
Of course, I have my own sense of schadenfreude (i.e., a delighted appreciation of another’s misery) at the rise of the GOP’s Donald Trump, having seen over forty years of right-wing race baiting, blatant gerrymandering, a conspicuous anti-union “dumbing down” of rural and urban workers, and political pandering to fundamentalist religious communities. The Republican Party’s practice of fostering divisiveness and anger has spawned in their midst a corrupt buffoon as heir to their mendacity, and they act like it’s a surprise. On this one point I’m quite happy to let them “stew in their own juices.” But I’m as equally concerned over the rise of Hillary Clinton in breaking the political “glass ceiling” to gain the White House. I have long believed that a woman can and should be President of the United States of America, but, unfortunately, not this one.
I believe that Hillary Clinton’s corporatist leanings have effectively excluded younger and more liberal voters, and since her nomination she has moved increasingly to the right of center in appealing to GOP voters and heavyweight business interests. I will not denigrate her effectiveness on behalf of women world-wide during her tenure as Secretary of State, but those were noble gains that came along with the hubris of her husband’s pseudo-foundation buying off of state Democratic Party organizations and politicians to pad her path to the White House, her own self-dealing with moneyed interests while ostensibly acting as the fair-minded international face of the United States of America, and her wind-vane attitude on international trade agreements and energy pipelines that will allow her to “rethink” her campaign positions when her incoming political advisors become cabinet secretaries and other policy mavens.
What should be of overarching concern to all Americans is whether the coming election has, in fact, been “rigged” against their interests, after all. While I don’t share Mr. Trump’s shrill fearmongering, it is worthwhile looking at the continuing disclosures from the Clinton camp in the form of WikiLeaks, FBI intermeddling, and wholesale disclosures by Democratic Party apparatchiki on every aspect to Ms. Clinton’s questionable behavior and political practices. Last summer’s disclosure of the Democratic Party’s national leadership conspiring to deny Bernie Sanders any visibility in challenging Secretary Clinton should be enough for those of us on the left to understand the visceral nature of Trump follower’s responses to the rigging charge. The Clinton Campaign threw a few of her party operatives under the bus, where they landed in sinecure positions that will allow their “rehabilitation” and re-entry into her administration.
And there’s this: In the absence of any sensible debates on policy and long term solutions for increasingly intractable problems – refugees, corporate monopolization of resources, sustained religious and racial warfare, care for the planet’s poorest people, and foremost the issues surrounding global environmental change that will only fester and spread more fear, Donald Trump’s blather about building walls on our southern border beggars the question of when individual American states will begin drafting laws limiting the mobility of our own climate change refugees? The last decade of hurricanes striking New Orleans and northern Atlantic coastal states, the increasing desertification of western and deep southern states, rising global sea levels and the attendant loss of arable lands is already pushing new immigration patterns in the USA, let alone on a global scale, and all are demonstrating our utter inability to respond to these gathering crises. We can be quite certain that the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security have already begun drafting their own policy memoranda for monitoring Americans on the move, and it won’t be all that long before we start seeing state governments following in their wake.
What is also virtually certain with this election is that the American electorate will be increasingly marginalized by dyspeptic right-wing anger and threats of violence, and by timid, milk toast responses by liberals on virtually every issue, and all of us will be drowned out by the blaring billion-dollar megaphones of global corporatism (see also, “fascism”).
What has become increasingly clear is that unseen and unreported, there are pitched battles going on between global interests to seize control of the American national agenda at the expense of ordinary citizens. Next Tuesday the open question is whether Americans will find their voices to repudiate this rising fascism and fear-mongering? I doubt that they will, and at this stage, I doubt that they can.