How We Got To Where We Are Now
By Matt Bump | Our Voice Contributor
When I look around I see poverty, destruction of nature, inequality. I see a celebration of ignorance and apathy. I’d like to believe that we Americans are a reasonable gathering of beings, that we are a people who desire to educate ourselves, to think critically, to be willing to suspend deeply held beliefs that may not be correct, and to admit when we are wrong. I’d like to believe that we can come together, “agree to disagree” and hammer our differences out – in the light of factual reality. Instead I see our national humanity blindly set against itself. Whether because of ignorance or selfish intent, it is becoming entrenched in political and philosophical partisanship that, in some cases, is divorced from all truth and can’t bear any self-examination.
I find it hard to believe anyone would ever vote for a rich businessman to be the President of the United States. This is someone who has scammed thousands of people. I guess it’s true that people will sometimes act against their own economic best interests. The devil is in the details, so they say, but apparently we don’t go there. We think on a very superficial level: “Oh, he is successful so he must be knowledgeable!” Or “When he talks to the people he says what he feels in the moment, so he must be authentic!”
There is some validity to the simple needs we reveal however. Even a blowhard can seem seductively refreshing for a political scene that, for us, has gone stale. We want a real person. Someone “we can relate to” to be in power and to empower us. But then there are, yes, those devilish details. They can’t help but be exposed, eventually, if we care about our commonwealth.
How did he become a successful businessman? A 30-second Google search, typing in “How did Donald trump begin in business?” takes you to a video. In it trump states: “His father gave him a small loan of a million dollars” (the New York Times was to report later that this loan was actually $60.7 million) Indeed, is this “someone like us”?
What comes to my mind is that he came from a type of wealth and privilege that automatically distances him from most people. “Well” you might say, “He turned that million – or 60.7 million – into billions. He must have done something right”. On the surface that seems like a strong argument, but another quick internet search reveals more inconvenient truths.
He is known, for example, to have stiffed many of his contractors. They would complete construction or renovations of his high-rises, golf courses and casinos, but he either wouldn’t bother to pay them or he would reduce them to accepting miserly settlements that in some cases wiped out the contractor’s business. This man’s selfishness cost companies. Not just jobs, but their very existence. He might blackball a company, in retribution for their standing up for their right to be paid for their work, causing them to have difficulty getting business anywhere else. Do these repeated types of greedy and vindictive actions represent someone who “cares about the average joe”? I hear people say, over and over, that he stands for the little guy… that he’s looking out for their best interests. From his history, which is well documented and easily accessible, it seems quite obvious that this is entirely false. When this is pointed out, you might say, “Well, that doesn’t worry me. At least he is not like the other guys and gals who ran. He is an outsider, which is great. We’re sick of politics as usual. He will shake things up!” Sadly, his record doesn’t bear this out.
Watching the debates, we witnessed him systematically expose the weaknesses of his ‘political insider’ opponents. He would know these weaknesses well; as a person who sought power to increase his own wealth, he was quite familiar with seeking political favors. It’s ironic that he could appear corruption free as an “outsider amateur politician” when it’s always been about the money for him. And now that he’s achieved the presidency, it’s collection time. In fact, he is like every other politician.
He’s a real insider with a twist: he is also willing to betray his own compatriots and followers. He preys on the ignorance of the voters and the corruption of politicians regardless of party affiliation. Like a chameleon, he changes his positions opportunistically to advance himself above anyone and everyone else.
There are those who say, ”Well at least he didn’t support this or that policy.” Take the Iraq War, for example. He says he was always against this disastrous war and called it out for the incompetent way it was handled. But it is easy to do a quick YouTube search: trump on the war in Iraq. There you will see him encouraging the worst foreign policy blunder in recent, if not all of America’s history. This was the same stance as most of the “insider” politicians at the time.
In order to appear united against terrorism, a lot of politicians, both Republican and Democrat, supported a horrible unjust war (based on lies). For Donald Trump it was convenient for him to promote it at the time – just as it is convenient for him to oppose it now. So who are the real outsiders in politics? People like Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul, who actually did oppose the immoral decision to attack innocent people in another country.
We have thus far visited several points of contention regarding the decision to vote for Donald Trump. Maybe we should, just for the sake of fairness, compare where the opposition stood on these issues. Maybe then the results of the November 2016 election will become more intelligible.
Hillary thought she was a shoe-in for president, as if the role was owed to her. She did not have a platform of hope. It was just “Hey I’m not trump.” That wasn’t even good enough to get most women to vote for her. She called trump out for his patriarch-style moments, his chauvinistic and sexist predator-like behavior. But even as trump piled on one insult to women after another, she herself didn’t manage to appear sincere about her own stance. She could have stood on the firm ground that men and women are equal and she could have strongly defended the rights of women, making trump look like the chauvinist clown he is. Everyone remembers when he infamously stated that he could “grab women by the pussy” because “you can do anything when you’re famous”.
He made it clear, all over the news, that he “doesn’t wait, if he sees a pretty girl”, he just goes for it. The widespread acknowledgment that he is a sexist moron who could very well undermine important civil rights for women would lead eventually to one of the biggest protests ever in the U.S.: the January 2017 Women’s March. But Hillary could not, or would not, take advantage of these critical moments. Perhaps this was because Hillary had her own record of shaming women who called out Bill Clinton for being similarly predatory. The claims that these women made against Bill were true, but Hillary did not support them in sisterhood. Instead she tried to ruin their lives. This kind of flawed history really does make you vulnerable as a political candidate. It is something that voting women, in particular, don’t forget.
Clinton supporters, and Ms. Clinton herself, like to point out that she isn’t a racist like trump.
But here too, there past evidence to the contrary. Trump has called for a border wall and has made some highly inflammatory and denigrating comments about Mexicans. In comparison to him, Clinton seemed the voice of reason during the election debates. The reality is, however, that Clinton voted for a border wall over five times in the past. And she has been recorded comparing illegal immigrants to terrorists. Who is the more racist in this context?
Then there is the argument that at least she isn’t a homophobe. In my online research, interestingly, I have not found any statements from trump in the past in which he disapproves of gay marriage. Since launching his campaign he has played both sides, seemingly both for and against it. He has paraded with a bible in hand, citing verses that don’t exist. But in those moments he never mentioned gays or the LGBT community.
At one time, he gave a speech with LGBT flags in the background and a rainbow trump sign appealing to the LGBT, awkwardly, and saying he will protect them from hate crimes. When a gunman (a Muslim) opened fire in the dance club Pulse in Florida, killing dozens of folks, trump simply slammed the gay community for not owning guns and blamed the event on Islam. After the election, however, he has worked to undermine LGBT civil rights and has targeted gays through his policy decisions. In this context Hillary should appear supportive of the LGBT community. But again, a quick search paints a different picture.
There is Hillary, in the 90’s, giving a speech in defense of the homophobic ‘Defense Of Marriage Act’ (DOMA). She points out that marriage is a sacred bond – between a man and a woman – which makes her stance one of a religious belief, something that should not influence laws in the U.S. and is in opposition to the U.S. Constitution. We fast forward to an appearance on the TV show “Ellen” hosted by the quintessential queen of the LGBT, Ellen DeGeneres (an open lesbian). Ellen raised the question of gay marriage but again Hillary cited her religious view, that she is against gay marriage. Her appearance on Ellen was supposed to appeal to progressives during one of her presidential runs. But she bombed it by inadvertently demonstrating how really non-progressive she was.
The audience booed her, as one would expect. She wanted to be seen as a moderate politician, but that wasn’t enough; she could not offer hope, that very critical ingredient for political success, if she could not even represent the real needs and concerns of a majority, or at least large minority, of Americans.
Worse, she came off a bible thumping authoritarian on a progressive LGBT show – I’m surprised she didn’t have a shoe thrown at her, but the fact that the crowd screamed “Booooo” should have told her she was wrong and didn’t know what the hell she was doing. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage making it legal in every state. After this landmark event, she made a video announcing her apparent change of heart, that she was proud to stand up with the LGBT and support the ruling that granted them marriage rights. How very hypocritical of her, considering that the law that got struck down was the one she supported in the 90s, the one made law by her husband, Bill Clinton. In all of these cases, Hillary has come off reeking of opportunism. This has come back to bite her as many voters, seeking someone more authentic in public office, turned against her.
For these reasons, and many others, Hillary came to be regarded very unfavorably by a large segment of the American voting public. Since general popularity often hinges on how a person is advertised, we should also address the role of the media in the election. To me, it is quite ironic that Donald Trump has labeled mainstream news “fake news”. I never thought someone could be so right for the wrong reasons. The MSM did waste a lot of time on scandals and rumors that could be construed as fake news. However, when real news came out and real questions were asked, he also deemed all of it “fake news.” At one point during the primaries season, in a Republican debate, a conservative female analyst asked him a legitimate question which he dodged with the personally denigrating and sexist statement, “she’s on her period.”
Anything that he didn’t want to deal with, he simply dismissed as “fake news”, a tactic he continues to use. Meanwhile, in both conservative and progressive groups on Facebook the real “fakes news” was running rampant. Their victim: Hillary Clinton. Everything from random unknown sites such as Embols.com to the more well known Breitbart and Infowars carried conspiracy theories that spread from website to website, Facebook account to Facebook account.
These fake news outlets were spreading rumors about establishment politicians, of which Hillary was a part, engaging in satanic rituals, child rape, slavery, any pernicious criminal activity that one could imagine. Later it would be discovered that many of the original fake news sources could be traced back to Russian bots, but the damage was done; many progressive idealists, well-intentioned but not critically thinking, accepted at face value much of this “news”, allowing it to support their predetermined ideology vilifying establishment politicians. If anyone was “establishment” it was Hillary. She was an easy collective target for both the right and the left.
Such was the case for many Bernie supporters. At one time during the election, it was rumored that Bernie was threatened by Hillary and was forced to endorse her – or pay with his life. This came from a fabricated interview with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks but since it fit a preconceived progressive notion that Hillary is a bad evil person it gained some traction. The “news” was mindlessly shared on the internet. Many progressives could not cope with the thought of their beloved Bernie urging them to support the very person he had spent the year systematically attacking and perhaps it helped them to understand it better if they thought he had been really threatened.
The end result of all this fake news was to contribute to the far left and moderates abandoning the Democratic party to vote for trump. Gary Johnson (the libertarian quack so high on weed and ignorant of the Syrian conflict that when asked how he felt about the terror in their capital city Aleppo he said,“Aleppo, what Aleppo?”) or the Green Party Jill Stein (a progressive idealist with good intentions yet pandered to anti-vaxxers and other nutcases), were both candidates who helped to siphon away votes. Fake news was a real issue. The same sites being shared by the Alt-Right (white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis) were being shared by progressives because they took the information and assumed it was true. You could say that Donald was correct that fake news existed; he was just wrong about who it targeted and who these fake news sources were (surprisingly not the mainstream media).
So while Hillary was being brought down, both by her own history and by the fake news machine, there were insidious forces supporting trump. Hillary did not have the endorsement of white nationalist (neo-nazi) sites like the Alt-Right “Breitbart.com” which thinks even conservative Republicans don’t go far enough in regard to racial oppression of minorities. Trump did. Among the leaders of that media site which calls itself the “Platform for the Alternative-Right Wing” is Steve Bannon. A race baiter who has openly spoken out against Jews. Trump made him a chief strategist for his campaign. Trump associated his campaign with this man who directly appeals to the lowest of the low like those named Spencer who held rallies for white nationalists and in their speeches say things like, “Asking white people to celebrate diversity is asking them to celebrate their dwindling numbers.”
During the conclusion of their speeches, they give Nazi salutes. This kind of overt support for a major political candidate from a truly racist radical fringe of our society is something unprecedented in recent U.S. history. Bannon makes conservatives like Glenn Beck fear for our freedom. That should make sirens go off. Bannon was promoted after trump’s election but was fired… as trump would say. Apparently, there were no hard feelings. With Bannon’s heightened influence he has put fear into traditional Republicans by threatening to challenge politicians in elections with a hand-picked Alt Right conservatives if they don’t support trump’s agenda. (This has had a continuing negative effect on the party and does not bode well for the future of our country.)
Another big piece of the support puzzle for Donald came from the evangelical wing of the Republican party. He picked his vice president candidate, the rigidly ‘Christian’ Mike Pence, to appeal to this faction of traditionalists and conservatives. Personally, I don’t know what to think about Pence. The man is a dumpster fire, a monster. He was governor of Indiana and signed some of the most ridiculous and stupid things into law and advocated for federal funding for things that historically seem rooted in and similar to torture.
He signed a bill into law requiring women who get abortions to give a funeral to the aborted fetus. He signed a bill into law threatening doctors who perform abortions with years in prison. He supports gay conversion therapy which in the past has included electrocuting people so they would be “cured.” That has been dropped (supposedly) from the process, but in any case, gay conversion therapy has never worked and still doesn’t. Mike Pence advocated for federal funding of this useless and idiotic “therapy.”
Trump picked this man to be VP. He is literally a heartbeat away from the most powerful man in the world. There goes trump’s pro LGBT point. Trump coined the term fake news, benefited from the real version of it online while attacking more traditional objective media and even the First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of the press. He pretended to be smarter than Hillary Clinton and everyone for that matter. He even fooled Michael Moore, the activist filmmaker who proclaims that trump outsmarted Americans. He also proclaims that he was the only person who predicted (on the left) that trump would win, which is false; Cenk Uygur of “The Young Turks,” an online news program, made the same prediction before Moore on national morning television. Granted he changed his mind at one point. He still saw it coming, as most progressive viewers of The young Turks did as well.
Trump pretended to pander and cave to the LGBT and the Blacks Matter Movement (he called a single shooting incident murder.) He pretended to care about the poor and the working class Americans. He did fool a lot of people. But that’s not why he won. He won because the opposition was running on a message, not of hope but of fear. “I’m not trump” isn’t a seriously clinching campaign promise, especially from someone as establishment and status quo as Hillary. I don’t remember where I heard this but it is perfect imagery:
|Donald Trump is a gun and Hillary is aiming it at your head.
She also refused to go to Michigan and Wisconsin in the general election’s closing weeks. Bernie stumped for her there, however. Michael Moore says he tried advising her to go to these states, to his credit. It doesn’t seem she cared. She refused to take that advice and lost those states to trim, along with Pennsylvania. Those 3 states have not been red (Republican states) since 1985, but that changed when trump was on the presidential ballot in November of 2016. Not coincidentally they lost these 3 states to Bernie in the Dem Primary season. In my view, she must have thought that she would automatically get, deserve, and win these states, and that she was owed the presidency. As South Park so accurately posted it, Hillary was a turd sandwich and trump was a giant douche. The lesser of the two evils is hard to distinguish if you’re the average voter. The corrupted or the corrupter.
If Hillary or the democrats wonder why she lost, here are some of the reasons… keep in mind this is likely the tip of the iceberg. Hillary Clinton had not yet entered the presidential race but had amassed virtually the entire Democratic Party’s support. She had virtually every super-delegate (party insiders like governors and senators, etc) from the Democratic Party’s support. This super-delegate system is anti-democracy. Each state has delegates, they go proportionally to the candidates based on votes. In at least one case, that didn’t happen and even people on TV said Hillary was rigging the primaries against Bernie. This is ironic because she said “trump rigged the general election” and even more ironically trump said the general election was rigged… but he won?
Each state also has super-delegates. They don’t have to vote the way the state does. And seeing how Hillary had all their votes, even in states she lost. She had them even before a single primary election was held – it was anti-democracy. She had the party nomination rigged in her favor. That’s just the first base she had covered, whether or not it was on purpose.
The party protected Hillary. The news often counted those ‘super-delegates’ in their totals making it appear like Clinton was leading dramatically and trying to force crowds to think Bernie should drop out, had no chance of winning. The worst part about this was that the super-delegates had not even voted until July 27th, 2016. Those same super-delegates were counted for Hillary’s totals as early as 2015, before any state had even voted! The media and the party should be ashamed of themselves.
Through the DNC and Podesta email hacks and leaks, WikiLeaks reported the party tried to sabotage Bernie’s campaign with cooperation from the media. Some of these hacks would be blamed on trump and his request for Russia to find Hillary’s missing emails, but Hillary’s emails had to do with her time as secretary of state. This is when she,without authorization, used a non secure email server for work. It had nothing to do with the DNC working with her campaign to undermine Bernie’s campaign. ‘The Young Turks’s Jordan Chariton was the earliest to sift through these DNC emails and report on the corruption of the party and its collusion with the media to attack Bernie. One of the emails said they thought Bernie was an atheist, so they instructed the media to ask him his religion. Bernie didn’t know this at the time but with class answered “My religion is that we are all in this together. When you suffer, I suffer.” That’s by far the best answer anyone has ever given that question and I will never forget it.
There was more, but moving on to the systematic corruption that a lot of people don’t know about. In 2007, Hillary ran a hard campaign against Barack Obama. She lost. She thought she had the nomination. She must have felt like she deserved it. Alas, she lost and endorsed Obama and he became President for the next 8 years. Hillary’s campaign manager in 07 was a woman named Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. She is a terribly corrupted human being and after the reelection of Obama, she was elected to be the leader of the Democratic Party (the DNC chairwoman) on the national level. She was in charge of scheduling the debates and managing the primary election process. This sounds fair, eh? She set the debates for times that no one would watch. So no one would see Hillary debate Bernie. In 2007 there were more than 20 debates between Hillary and Obama.
In 2016, Wasserman-Schultz scheduled only 8 debates; all at times that nobody would watch. The worst part is that she was elected not by the people, but by Democratic committee members and the person she replaced became Hillary’s VP candidate. So let me recap: this man Tim Kaine Steps down from chairman of the party and then Hillary’s former campaign manager takes his place as chairwoman. She helps rig the primary season, colluded with the media and he becomes the vice presidential candidate for Hillary. I may not be a genius but I am not stupid. This is systemic corruption and is why Wasserman-Schultz was forced to step down at the behest of the Sanders’ campaign. WikiLeaks exposed the party’s corruption for the sake of Democracy. Every event I’ve written about here alienated Bernie supporters and progressives nationwide. Even without the fake news, her real record on the issues and systemic corruption warranted enough reason not to vote for her, especially as her campaign was not of hope, progress, or anything other than fear.
Simply put: Hillary did not deserve or earn the presidency, let alone the nomination. Even before losing, she started blaming Russia for the hacked emails that Wikileaks released, as if to forget the fact that all of this was true. Hillary supporters blindly and loyally jumped on the bandwagon. Whether or not Russia did the leaking doesn’t matter. The emails were real. Even the interim replacement for Wasserman-Schultz, Donna Brazile, was implicated in rigging and assisting Hillary with debate questions months in advance. She initially denied what was proven; she gave Hillary a CNN debate question months in advance and at that time was an analyst for CNN. You don’t put out a dumpster fire with gasoline!
Now, don’t get me wrong… Trump is a shitty person and a terrible politician, a liar and a crook. He did a lot of double talk “I have a good relationship with Putin” and “I’ve never met Putin”. He may have asked Russia to find her missing emails from when she was ‘secretary of State’. His voters were never ever going to vote for Hillary. He also managed to stay afloat through turbulence and ignorance that was purely his fault. Most this was done despite his open- [foot-in] – mouth policy. He absolutely did not deserve the presidency, let alone the nomination for it. He is indeed a giant douche. But he did not win because of Russia, he won because the Democrats ran Hillary, the shittiest candidate I have ever seen on the Democratic ticket. Because the Democrats stopped being democratic. Not because of fake news, not Russia. But because Hillary and the Democrats alienated every progressive, had no message of hope, and were corrupt to the core. The Democrats resisted the only honest politician left; The only people’s candidate; The only corruption-free candidate; The only person competent enough to be president: Bernie Sanders. They resisted Democracy and The People. This is what our country lost in 2016 – the possibility of a truly democratic and progressive government. And this is what we’ll need to regain if we really want to make America great again.