Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Harbinger of the Douchepocalypse

“One word. Made up. Douchepocalypse!”
          - Barney Stinson, ‘How I Met Your Mother’

So here’s the thing. I get how people have differing, even polarized political ideologies, how they have different priorities in terms of what we as a nation need to do and how we need to do it. However, zealotry in any form is dangerous. ‘Toeing the party line’ is not, in my opinion, a viable strategy for change. In fact, just the opposite is the case.

Though I’m registered as a Democrat and agree with many of that party’s tenets, some of my views are on the Republican spectrum. I’m okay with that. If someone asked me to identify my political affiliation, I’d probably respond that I’m in ‘The Common Sense Party’ whose core belief is simply this: “The person with the best idea wins.” Granted, determining what the best idea is can at times be immensely challenging but within that statement lies an undercurrent of objectivity, receptivity, and flexibility of thought, a willingness to consider alternative points of view regardless of their source.

That is a lesson our two-party political system needs to learn. As I’ve written about previously, they have completely lost their way, devolving into a perpetual game of one-up-man-ship. They not only stick to their own agendas with superglue-like adhesion; they actively attempt to derail anything the other party does, whether it’s good for the country or not. It’s not their job to fight for their own agendas. It’s their job to do what’s best for the country, regardless of which side of the aisle they sit on and who comes up with the idea. I think there’s a compelling case to be made for dismantling the current political party system and starting over.

Anyway, my slightly paradoxical point in establishing this atmosphere of flexibility and common sense is to unconditionally excoriate the Republican candidate for President, Donald Trump. My need to do so has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he’s a Republican and everything to do with the fact that his words and actions illustrate him to be a boorish, mean-spirited, narrow-minded, misogynistic, bigoted, narcissistic, manipulative, grandstanding blowhard who lacks the intelligence, integrity, morality, and compassion to earn him the right to have a cup of coffee with any decent American citizen, let alone run their country. The fact that perhaps one out of ten of his opinions may have some degree of validity does not preclude him from being comprehensively unsuitable for the job.

I’m not going to bore you with an overabundance of quotes or video clips depicting his abominable behavior. You can find hundreds of them on your own. This post is more about theme than specifics.

The power of Trump lies in his willingness to pour gasoline on lowest common denominator emotions and fears, mercilessly set them aflame, and use the ensuing chaos to his advantage. He is a human sound byte, spouting key words and phrases that sound impressive and meaningful but actually have no substance whatsoever. Think about the short, emphatic statements he uses to convey his intentions as President:

          “We’re going to build a wall.” (immigration)
          “I know more about ISIS than anybody.” (terrorism)
          “I’ll have great relationships with Russia and China.” (foreign policy)
          “Law and order.” (racial tensions between the black community 

               and the police).
          “We’re going to make America great again.” (his entire platform)

He has few if any actual plans to solve the nation’s problems. Whenever possible, he actively avoids answering questions. It’s far easier to cast aspersions at others than put the time and effort into truly understanding the issues and creating a cohesive strategy to contend with them. He has essentially seduced a large number of people in this country with his lowbrow, dumbed-down ideology, his inability to exhibit self-restraint, and his delusional but no less effective willingness to paint himself as someone who “tells it like it is,” someone who is “just like us.”

Please believe me when I say that Donald Trump has absolutely no connection to anything resembling an average citizen of America today. He is not only removed from reality; he’s devoid of it. He has no understanding of what it means to live little more than paycheck to paycheck as most Americans do today. He has no conception of the struggles we all face.

The most telling statement of the entire first presidential debate in my opinion was one he was justifiably condemned for. In response to Clinton suggesting that he has used the tax laws to avoid paying taxes, he couldn’t help interjecting, “That makes me smart.” This is typical corporate sociopath thinking. There is no moral foundation within this mentality. It is soullessly mercenary.

Side-Note: Though there is ample opportunity for corporations to make more money than they know what to do with in this country, it’s never enough for them. They’re constantly scrabbling for more, more, more; by any means necessary. The fact that big corporations have a moral obligation to give back to the country that birthed them and thereby contribute to the overall wellbeing of our nation isn’t on their agendas. “We can make more money by dumping our US factories and call centers and moving them overseas.” “We can dodge paying taxes if we center our operations overseas and/or use the loopholes in the (cripplingly arcane) US tax codes.” The biggest problem with the underlying conceit of the “Citizens United” Supreme Court case (easily among the most obscene legislative rulings in the history of our country as far as I’m concerned) is that if corporations were actually people, a large percentage of them would be diagnosed as clinical sociopaths. Think about some of the major components of enterprise in this country: banking and other aspects of financial services, real estate, insurance, pharmaceuticals, big oil (and don’t get me started on the gun lobby and the power they continue to wield over us). These and more have all amply demonstrated that they cannot be trusted. They will do whatever they can to perpetuate their own agendas. They act in unequivocal self-interest; nothing more. 

Anyway, back to my primary topic. I do not believe that Donald Trump actually wants to be President. He just wants to win. What greater ego stroke is there than scoring the biggest job on the planet? But actually doing the job? Seriously. He doesn’t know how to play nicely with the other children! He doesn’t have the patience to truly negotiate, compromise, or listen to anyone other than himself. He’d swagger across the world stage when he felt like it and let his VP and cabinet take care of the nuts & bolts stuff he doesn’t have the patience or knowledge to be bothered with.

And if he loses? Not a problem. He’s already establishing his Quintessential Narcissist Escape Route: “I didn’t lose. The system was rigged.” The notion that his contemptible character and ignorance of the nuances of the country’s problems and how to solve them may ultimately be refuted by a majority of Americans in November is not a possibility he is capable of accepting.

This is not the person we want representing our nation to the world. He typifies every negative American stereotype there is. He is an unmitigated embarrassment to what it truly means to be an American.

That said, despite his demented, Cro-Magnon, rodeo clown theatrics (and perhaps to some extent, because of them), I believe he has a pretty good chance of winning the election.

Here’s why:

Hillary Clinton has problems.

She has in my opinion, been conducting a largely terrible campaign. Running ads telling everyone that Donald Trump is a douchebag is a waste of time. The people who support her already know it. The people who support him don’t believe it or they don’t care.

Say what you want about Hillary Clinton. Love her or hate her, agree with her or disagree with her. The bottom line is she has the documented, verifiable experience, credentials, and knowledge to do the job. She has a broad-based, informed understanding of the issues and has the intelligence to contend with them. Donald Trump doesn’t. That’s her strong suit. That’s what she should be using to sway undecided voters. Perhaps more significantly, that’s what she should be using to sway the large numbers of still-disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters who are seriously considering either staying home on election day or making a protest vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, neither of whom has what it takes to be President even if they had the momentum to win the election.

Side Note: Despite my “wipe the board and start over” note above, I do believe that the concept of a viable third party is very much worth talking about and cultivating but the fact is we’re not close to being there yet. At this rather ominous moment in history, where so much depends on the choices we make over the next several years, casting a vote for Stein or Johnson is the equivalent of pulling on a “Make America Great Again!” t-shirt. I am confident you will find it be very ill-fitting very quickly. Underestimate Donald Trump at your peril.

I wouldn’t classify myself as “disaffected” but I would vote for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton any day of the week, despite her having (in certain respects) a more diverse curriculum vitae than he does. Further, I think Bernie would have mopped the floor with Trump because whether you agree with his ideologies or not, Bernie Sanders inspires a quality that Hillary Clinton is sorely lacking in: Trust. No one can question (certainly not to the degree they do with Clinton) where Bernie Sanders stands on things. He states his position, puts his words into action and remains consistent in both.

On the other hand, if we were to take a survey of what people don’t like about Hillary Clinton, I’m quite confident that the number one answer by a 75% or more margin would be “I just don’t trust her.”

I’m one of those people.

I believe that a lot more has been made of her email scandal than is warranted. To be honest, I don’t particularly care what’s in the missing emails. I suspect they’re more embarrassing than dangerous to national security. What I very much care about is the fact that other than saying “It was a mistake for me to use a private server and I’m sorry,” we have no conclusive answers about why she did so. Nor do we have any conclusive answer as to what actually happened to all those emails. Given all her political experience and savvy, how can anyone believe that it simply never occurred to her that using a private server for government business was a bad idea? How can anyone possibly accept that she has no idea what happened to all those emails? The answer is: They can’t. Even her most diehard supporters have concerns regarding what this email thing and its underlying issues are really about and if they tell you they don’t, they’re either lying to you, or they’re lying to themselves.

There’s more.

Just to jump back to Sanders for a second, I remain very deeply troubled by Clinton’s (to put it generously) conscious unwillingness to act against the DNC’s plans to keelhaul him if he got too close to her by the convention. If they’d spent half as much time not underestimating Trump as they did freaking out about Bernie Sanders, this race wouldn’t be as close as it is. This is more about the stupidity of the DNC backing Clinton over Sanders in the first place than it is about Clinton herself but I can’t help but feel that it paints a picture of her as someone who is willing to do quite a lot of questionable things to get what she wants, regardless of who happens to be standing in the way.

Another serious concern of mine is that she appears to have a lot of ties to a lot of people with a lot of money. I question how steadfast and thorough she’s truly going to be with regard to shifting the catastrophic imbalance in wealth distribution in this country when those actions may threaten her funding for her second term.

Side-Note: the President should have one term of six years. The bottom line is, no matter who they are or what they think is best for the country, they always spend their first term not rocking the boat too much to ensure they have the same or greater level of support for reelection. If they only have one term to do the job, they can leave it all on the field with impunity. Giving the President only one term would make us a better, stronger country.

The point is, both candidates have less than desirable qualities but one is far less desirable than the other.

Trump and his supporters believe he’s going to stomp into the Oval Office and “fix” everything but his penchant for animosity, finger-pointing, and exclusionary thinking make him about as likely to pull the country together as a jellyfish is likely to win a tap-dancing contest. Further, he’s got so much resistance on both sides of the aisle, he’d be hard-pressed to get much if anything accomplished.

However, this does not preclude him from having a potentially devastating effect on the credibility of this country around the world and quite possibly further polarizing other nations against us. Domestically, his slightly modified “trickle-down” economics plan will have exactly the same effect (probably worse) than it did the first time we tried the concept: Multibillion dollar corporations (his own interests among them) will get their “more, more, more” and the rest of us will continue to slide toward economic obscurity.

Hillary Clinton isn’t doing herself any favors in terms of her campaign by continuing to devolve into the “Not Trump” candidate. Further, she will continue to be dogged by trust issues because her actions, as well as her unwillingness to explain them in a satisfactory manner, have illustrated her to be someone who bears watching.

That said, the fact remains that Clinton is not even close to being as potentially destructive to the wellbeing of our nation domestically and internationally as Donald Trump is. Indeed, he is a clear and present danger to everyone and everything around him. That has nothing to do with Democrat vs. Republican. It has to do with Trump as an individual lacking the intelligence (both emotional and analytical) and strength of character to even make the D-List of candidates for the job of President of the Unites States of America.

Does it seriously suck that we are often faced with a “lesser of two evils” situation in our current political climate? You bet.

Does that make the choice any less clear?

No. It does not.

Thank you for reading.