The last time I wrote in my blog, I’d expressed my desire to make yet another attempt at blogging/writing more regularly.
And that was over four months ago.
So why not try kickstarting my blogging and writing efforts once again by writing about the 2016 Election?
I’ve spent a great deal of time since the election processing Trump’s victory and reading various opinions about the outcome, and I’ve made the closest thing to peace that I can. And I’ll explain why.
First, I’ll get it out of the way that I voted for Hillary Clinton. Not because I truly believed in her–though I was impressed with her performance in the debates–but because I viewed her as the devil I knew rather than the devil I didn’t. Which, by the way, is not the best reason for choosing a president.
The fact is, Trump somehow managed to convince a very naive segment of the population that he is not a part of the “establishment” that he so railed against during his campaign. His rhetoric struck a chord with a significant segment of the population that’s been feeling ignored by the Obama administration–in the same way that Obama struck a different chord with a population that had grown fed up of eight years of Bush. On a side note, anyone who voted for Trump who actually believes that an egomaniacal billionaire reality TV star can relate to the average American and has the best interest of anyone other than himself in mind, is delusional and should start preparing to be very disappointed over the next four years.
Of course, the same could be said for most if not all of our career politicians–including Obama. They are all so far removed from the challenges of “the commoners” that they are unqualified to truly represent any of us.
Here’s what I think will happen during a Trump presidency. I think that once he actually settles into the job, he will begin to realize that it is infinitely more difficult than even he expected. I suspect that even his massive ego will be at least somewhat humbled by the sheer magnitude of the job. And he will quickly begin to understand that many–if not all–of his “revolutionary” ideas that got him elected will be more of a challenge than he previously thought.
To go back to Obama’s election and presidency as an example, he had some very grandiose and ambitious plans for his administration. And while there’s no denying that he did manage to achieve some very noteworthy accomplishments, many of his campaign promises were gradually tempered by the constraints of reality. Even his Affordable Care Act–which was to be among the crown jewels of his presidency–has devolved into a quagmire of bureaucratic inefficiency. And I anticipate Trump experiencing similar challenges during his presidency–even when factoring in a Republican-dominated Congress.
The simple fact remains that the inefficiency of our monolithic government machine is an obstacle to whichever party’s candidate occupies the White House. So, I expect Trump to have some difficulty in fulfilling the promises he made during his campaign–even his more ridiculous and outlandish ideas, like the wall between Mexico.
Looking back over many different presidential administrations, it would be difficult for me to identify any real significant change made by an administration that threatened to undermine a system controlled by the “powers that be” (not to be confused with our government; our government is merely a utility of a larger system).
The monster that is Donald Trump is a product of this same system and legitimized by the media–which is among the many tools employed to control the populace by keeping it fearful, divided, outraged, distracted, and–most importantly–consuming.
Which brings me to my biggest lament about the 2016 election: it is another victory of the ever-increasing anti-intellectual sentiment that pervades our society.
An informed populace would be too much of a threat to the aforementioned system. So while our culture superficially appears to prize intelligence and divergent thinking (as long as doesn’t disrupt the overall agenda), our society also places a disproportionately higher priority on lesser intellectual pursuits like entertainment, fashion, and other more superficial pursuits. Certainly the arts like music and cinema have their place in our society, as does athletic competition. But it’s no secret that professional athletes, pop musicians, and movie stars earn astronomically more than the scientists, doctors, and teachers who are actually toiling in relative obscurity to improve the quality of our lives.
Like I mentioned already, I was by no means excited about voting for Clinton–it was more about voting against Trump, really. But, I admit, Clinton at least had experience in government and knew how to debate properly. She actually thoughtfully answered the debate questions posed to her, using reason and supporting arguments. Trump could not truly answer a single question. He instead dodged the questions, falling back onto his same, tired, inflammatory and fear-mongering rhetoric–and his audience lapped it up.
So, to me, Trump’s victory legitimizes anti-intellectualism or “The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle”, as described by author Chris Hedges. An era where pseudo-science, rumor, and gossip outrank provable facts. Scientists and their scientific findings are regarded with suspicion–not a healthy and productive fact-checking skepticism–but a stubborn and narrow-minded willful ignorance. “Intelligence” somehow became equated with “elite”–as if being smart is something of which to be ashamed.
One higher-profile example of this is the climate change debate. To deny phenomena like climate change outright is to be willfully and stubbornly naive and ignorant–when the majority of scientists and their evidence supports a profound and unprecedented change in our global climate. Whether climate change is as doom-and-gloom as it’s been presented to us by the aforementioned fear-mongering media, it’s difficult to say. But there is at least something to it that is worth acknowledging.
Another example is how parents ignored medical advice based on scientific studies and stopped vaccinating their children on the recommendation of Jenny McCarthy, a former Playboy Playmate. Celebrity opinion carries more weight than scientific proof.
During the campaign and the debates, Trump could spout off any manufactured statistic, and even when called on his blatant misinformation, he avoided any accountability. It was almost as if his audience wanted to believe his half-truths or outright lies because they supported the narrative of victimization they wanted to rally behind.
Most Trump detractors fear that racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and homophobia will all find validation in a Trump presidency. And to this, I would argue that such sentiments have never needed validation by anyone, including a sitting or former president. Ever. An African-American president did little or nothing to reduce racism–in fact, I would suggest that it might have even strengthened it among certain more resentful segments of the population. Same for bullying. Bullying never needed presidential approval, either. And the media has only stoked these fires to ensure everyone remains afraid, suspicious, and consuming.
I’ll add that one thing I will lament most about a Trump presidency is the shift away from inclusiveness. I’m an inclusive person by nature–which is why I have no place in politics and a disdain for organized religion. The overall admittedly sometimes superficial sentiment of inclusiveness that we have enjoyed during the Obama years will be going away.
As far as Trump’s war-mongering… I have no doubt that part of the damage he will inflict during his presidency is diverting even more money toward an already over-inflated military budget at the expense of social programs. At the same time, though, I expect one of Trump’s harsh realizations upon taking office will be how stretched-thin our military really is. So his plans for wielding America’s military might across the globe will have to be tempered by reality–even if he does inflate the military budget even more.
On a related note, many Trump detractors have expressed fears about Trump abusing drone strikes, illegal intelligence gathering, and fostering anti-whistleblower sentiment. But I would argue that those trends would have continued unabated in either candidate’s administration. That has been among Obama’s greatest hypocrisies, in my opinion–and one about which I’ve been most disappointed.
And I have little doubt that a Trump presidency means a continued rise in the trend of militarizing local and state police. But, again, this went largely unchecked during the Obama administration.
The reality of it all is, very little–if anything–happens outside of the agenda of the “powers that be” (again, not to be confused with our government). Our government and the media and the banking system are all tools employed to keep the populace under control through false institutions. So whoever occupies the Oval Office makes only so much difference, really.
I often resort to the pendulum analogy when trying to understand politics. Back in 2008 when Obama won his first election, the pendulum swung dramatically away from its place during the Bush years. Now, in 2016, it has taken another dramatic swing in the opposite direction. Those of us who embrace a different value system other than that of a Trump administration can only weather the storm until the next election and hope that pendulum will then swing back the other way.