Sunday, November 27, 2016

Jonathan Pie Diagnoses the 2016 American Election

This guy is something else. If you have not seen his videos before (the ones that supposedly did not air, but which are generally readily available on Youtube) then you should check him out.

He has a lot to say, and let's just say it: he is very angry. This particular video is his reaction in the wake of the election victory of Donald Trump. Here, he lambasts American liberals for essentially looking down on Trump supporters and others who do not think the way that they think. He feels that these intellectual elites look down on Trump supporters, and in so doing, they close the door on any chance of discussion. What he suggests is that labeling all Trump voters as racists or mysoginists or sexists, and generally portraying them as backwards, is counterproductive.

His point is well taken. After all, think of the contradiction: liberals are looking down on people who they feel are looking down on others, precisely because they are looking down on others! Now, that is what is wrong with our country, and that is the role that liberals play in it. They are both enablers and hypocrites in this regard. Now, I should note that I hate using that word for a variety of reasons, as it has become a bad word in the United States since the Reagan years, and it also is misused, with people like the Clintons and Obamas allegedly representing or being part of the "liberal" label, which they are not. Finally, in this age where conspiracy theories seem to outweigh facts in terms of importance, many people have this incredibly mistaken impression that there are some "liberal elites" who are ruling over us all, and devise their evil plots to rule the world. This little lie has been repeated time and time again by right wingers, and in part, it was a huge part of the reason why Trump won this election. 

All of that said, I do agree with his main talking points here. Americans who supported either Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein often have gone too far in simply labeling Trump supporters as backwards and as representing everything that this country should not be, and dismiss their very real and legitimate concerns without anything resembling close or serious examination. 

Now, I have probably been guilty of this myself, to a certain extent. Frankly, the though of some of what Trump said was enough to send chills down my spine. Labeling Mexicans as rapists, proposing a ban on all Muslim immigration into the United States and, moreover, desiring that all Muslims register, talking in a brash manner about his sexual exploits and generally treating women as mere sexual objects and conquests and, of course, disgracing himself by making fun of the disabled. Plus, let's face it, the guy is a piece of...well, you know. I thought that way back in the 1980's, viewing him as the real life version of Gordon Gekko, this guy who builds an economic empire by feasting on the carcasses of the companies that he kills, essentially. He was one of the original vulture capitalists that have gone so far to ruin much of what was great about the country. Indeed, he represented the very worst that the country had to offer, as one editorial from a New Zealand paper so aptly pointed out last year, during the Republican primaries:

The takeover of American conservatism by evangelical Christianity, Fox News and a handful of shadowy billionaires has transformed the Republicans into the party of wilful ignorance: doctrinal purity is more valued than intelligence; tolerance has been supplanted by persecutory moralising; paranoia has replaced realism.  

This process may be reaching its logical conclusion with the emergence of property billionaire Donald Trump as the front-runner for the party's presidential nomination.  

Trump personifies everything the rest of the world despises about America: casual racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandisement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American in excelsis.  

You might expect a tycoon/buffoon cross to be a political player in some Latin American failed state or backward former Soviet republic, places with no democratic tradition or public institutions that have stood the test of time and no such thing as "the people" in the sense of an educated, civic-minded citizenry.  

The fact that so many Republicans are comfortable with the thought of this monumentally unqualified individual in the Oval Office shows how warped the party has become. To borrow the rhetoric of their candidates, the party is now an existential threat to America's leadership of the global community.

Yes, all of this is true, and I used this particular quote already somewhere here on the Charbor Chronicles before, admittedly. But Paul Thomas, the guy who wrote this piece, really hits the nail on the head with his description of Trump as "everything the rest of the world despises about America: casual racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandisement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American in excelsis."

Indeed he is. 

Which makes his rise to the top not only of the Republican field and eventual nomination, but his election to the highest office in the land, all the more alarming. This was a wake up call, and we would do well to take a serious look now at why so many Americans were willing to support him, despite all of these things that he said and did that so many Americans (let alone people outside of these borders, who tended to be far more horrified at what this man said and did). If he represented so much of what is bad about the country, why do so many people hail his as the nation's savior?

Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. And let me just say that I have probably dissected this election to death already. Quite a few readers are likely getting sick of my obsession with this election. But this was, to me, both the most amazing and, yes, the most horrifying election of my lifetime. We had someone like Bernie Sanders, who showed that a true and principled candidate can actually have a real chance at the White House. True, he would not have had an easy time getting things passed, granted. But we would at least have had someone in there who gave a damn about real Americans to actually use the power of the highest office to fight for their interests! He inspired millions, and seemed to be a refreshing change. For a while, I actually thought he had an outside chance, because he won numerous states in a row (I think it was ten), and Hillary and her campaign were reeling (which, frankly should have been the first real sign to them that maybe her presidency was not going to happen). 

Of course, Hillary's people interceded. They rigged things to ensure that their candidate would get through. So instead of a refreshing candidate with a new perspective and new ideas that were inspiring millions, we had the same old same old. Some suggested that she was exactly the wrong candidate at exactly the wrong time, and I would agree with that. The only people who did not recognize the signs that this election would not favor traditional politics as usual were Hillary supporters, because Bernie Sanders rose like the Phoenix for the Democratic side, coming from near anonymity to the brink of the nomination (had the Democratic establishment allowed the election to go on freely and fairly, which they most certainly did not), while Trump showed a rejection of far more conventional Republican candidates, one after the other, for the Republicans. With both of the major parties, the message could not have been clearer: people were tired of shallow, self-serving politicians with their empty rhetoric and overly processed viewpoints and statements, all geared to be as favorable with approval ratings and election results as possible. 

What many people were so horrified with regarding Trump was what so many others felt was refreshing. Love him or hate him, he spoke what was on his mind. Very clearly, he did not rely on a team of professionals to carefully weigh his opinion and statements on the issues. He was not a Marcobot or a Hillbot, in other words. That was why he dispatched with some of the more obvious and favored candidates, such as Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Hillary Clinton. That was also why the opposition from far more established politicians, including every major Democrat and many, if not most, prominent Republicans, including Mitt Romney, the Bushes in general, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell was not crippling to Trump. He realized that they were not only part of the problem, but that in many ways, they were the problem. It was a shock to Republicans, too, but they, to their credit, did not interfere with the primaries, even when they did not like the results. The message was received, loud and clear, that established politicians would not win out this year, and in allowing Trump to thrive, they were able to win the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives and, surely, the Supreme Court. A vast majority of states are controlled by Republicans, as well. 

By contrast, the Democrats did not like what was going on, and they did interfere with their primaries. They did not want to accept that a more conventional, less original candidate like Hillary Clinton would lose to a grass roots candidate like Bernie Sanders, and they made sure that he would not win. By so doing, they also made sure that their candidate would not win the general election. It was a classic case of unintended consequences, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. They look to blame everyone else but themselves for the loss: Bernie Sanders and his supporters, Jill Stein and her supporters, racist rednecks, and even the Russians. But those arguments do not hold water. They should not have stood in the way of progress, of the inevitable shifting winds. They are to blame for their candidate losing. Period. 

And a part of why they lost is indeed diagnosed (I think correctly) by Jonathan Pie in this video below. He blasts these intellectual elites who deemed Trump supporters as too backwards, as basically beneath their dignity to engage with. And he blasts Hillary Clinton and that kind of Democrat as what passes for liberal or progressive these days. I have said this before, too. How can anyone believe Hillary Clinton to be a liberal? True, she described herself as the "true progressive" in this election when she was facing off with Bernie Sanders. At other times during this campaign, however, she described her own politics as "grounded in conservatism" and also described herself as "moderate." You can't be all things to all people, and that kind of disingenuous approach, trying to be all things to all people, was and still is a Clinton family trademark. Just because it worked in the nineties, does not mean that it will always work. Clearly, in 2016, people wanted something different than that. The only people who seemed clueless on that score (and many still seem clueless on that score, frankly) are establishment Democrats and blind supporters of Hillary Clinton. 

We have to stop looking down on people who think differently then we do. The paradox of looking down on others as a whole because we feel that they look down on others is a little too much hypocrisy, even for a country that too often represents such paradoxes in the eyes of the world.

At some point, we are going to have to get over ourselves, and our overly idealized way of looking at the world and dreaming of an overly accommodating place in the future that, somehow, never quite comes into fruition. This time, that daydreaming of shattering glass ceilings cost us dearly, and brought us Donald Trump. I want to see a female president in the Oval Office someday, but was not comfortable with Hillary Clinton. To me, she represented the very worst of what the American political system represents. The paradoxes surrounding her and her entire family were just a little too glaring for the country's voters to ignore. She tripped over herself trying to say whatever the polls or her team of experts felt would get her elected, she catered to the "too big to fail" banks and corporations that are still ruining this country, even while promising to get tough on them, she herself personally got rich with some of these secretive deals and speaking engagements, all while being officially in a position as a "public servant." According to an article by The Washington Post (Hillary Clinton says she has "both a public and a private position" on Wall Street: WikiLeaks release by Ben Wolfgang, October 8, 2016) she claimed that it was okay to have "both a public and private position" regarding Wall Street, which is the kind of statement that not only was not going to help her overcome those crippling issues of trust, but exacerbated them. In similarly slippery and overly slick fashion, she could claim, with a straight face, that she was the "real progressive" while battling the rising star of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary, while having claimed, just weeks earlier, to be the "moderate" candidate when she felt comfortable with her lead. And, of course, she also claimed that her politics were "rooted in conservatism" dating back to the Goldwater era, when she proudly considered herself a "Goldwater girl."

Add to that how quickly and thoroughly she was wiling to change her political positions when they suited her, such as disavowing the same TPP deal that she had once proudly claimed to have helped to construct, and which she once held up as the "gold standard" of trade deals, is just not going to win you the trust of the people you are trying to get to vote for you. Even had she won, those issues with trust would have continued to dog her presidency, much as they stained the presidency of her husband. Let's face it: the Clinton family, and no one else, is responsible for those issues with trust that the American people had regarding the Clinton family as a whole. They are always willing to be whatever they feel the people want them to be, and that kind of wishy-washy kind of posturing was itself the problem in the 2016 election. Clearly, people felt tired of overly processed politicians who relied on a team of experts to tell them what their public position should be on the issues, according to the latest polls. That was true with Jeb Bush and the Marcobot on the Republican side, where the two far less conventional candidates, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, were far and away the most successful. And it was true on the Democratic side, where the only thing that really stood in the way of the momentum of the campaign of Bernie Sanders was the blatant interference by the Democratic Party establishment that was supposed to remain neutral, and which responded to Hillary Clinton asking for help. So, it stood to reason that the candidate who at least appeared to be the least processed and scripted would at least hold a decisive advantage, as proved to be the case. With Hillary Clinton holding conflicting positions in her past on everything from healthcare to the PATRIOT Act to the Iraq invasion to the bailout to getting tough on Wall Street firms to the TPP, it was hard to know her positions, let alone trust them. Indeed, that proved to be her albatross, her Achilles Heel. And that was not something that she could blame on investigations over her emails, or the Russians, or supporters of Bernie Sanders and/or Jill Stein. That was all on her.

Hell, let's face it: the Clintons are old-fashioned politicians. The fact that among the numerous people that they blame for costing them the elections are the Russians, of all people, is solid proof that they are stuck in an old-fashioned and outdated mode of thinking. They are used to scamming people, and took it for granted that this would always be the case. They have always tried to sell the American people a bill of goods, and indeed, with the smooth talking and charismatic Bill Clinton, they were able to get away with it far longer than they probably should have. But Hillary Clinton lacked her husband's speaking abilities and natural charms, and her flip-flopping and emphasis on secrecy cost her dearly. The Clinton family had assumed that they would always be able to win elections with enough people believing their nonsense. Pardon my bluntness, but whenever there was a mess, she would change her positions. But as Lincoln famously said, you can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. This time around, the only people who were fooled (and they were really just fooling themselves) were the hardcore Democrats. And instead of acknowledging their own foolishness, they simply took an arrogant stance by looking down on the vast majority of people who did not buy into the Clinton nonsense as readily and unconditionally as they did. There was no real debate as to whether Hillary Clinton was actually qualified, because they were too busy cramming her down everyone's throats, and stifling any dissent. The huge, game-changing stories that should have dominated the media when it was discovered that the primaries were indeed rigged were instead swept under the rug, as if they were no big deal. But Bernie Sanders supporters did not forget or overlook this. And you know who else didn't? Republicans, who came out en masse against what they perceived was the very real threat personified by Hillary Clinton and all that she represented to them. Some of the things that they believe about her were exaggerations and, frankly, ridiculous. But some of the things that they believed her, in fact, grounded in reality. She never could be trusted, and only her staunchest supporters failed to see that.

Unconditionally backing a candidate with that kind of a history, the people that pass as liberals in this country, and a huge portion of whom looked at Hillary Clinton, of all people, as nearly angelic and, as they put it, "the most qualified person ever to run" for the White House, clearly looked at supporters of Donald Trump in that same, generalized way. When they are blind to Clinton's faults and see their very flawed candidate only in the most positive way, it would only stand to reason that they went to such extremes in viewing all Trump supporters in the same, highly exaggerated manner. For them, this election was clearly a case of good versus evil, and it was beyond them to understand how anyone could have any reservations whatsoever about voting for Hillary Clinton, despite her glaring flaws. They not only looked down on Trump supporters, but they looked down on all voters who did not see things exactly as they saw them. And I think that if this election showed anything, it is that looking down on whole clumps of people based on generalizations can be costly. By so doing, they clearly helped to make the canyons dividing the American people even wider, with their camp claiming the so-called high ground - a position that seemed laughable (and with some reason) for all detractors of the Clintons, who once again relentlessly threw this hypocrisy in the face of those people who pass as liberals in the United States today.

The fact of the matter was that Hillary Clinton was not "the real progressive" that she claimed to be, and that those who bought into this particular hype, and who too easily looked past her flaws and trust issues, brought this on themselves. Many of them still refuse to view her as anything but the ideal candidate, even when a vast majority of Americans (two-thirds of them, in fact) viewed her in very unfavorable terms. They felt that all of these stories and scandals were, pardon the expression, trumped up. And they also remained blind to the contradictions and the flip-flopping on the issues that she was very well known for. While everyone else viewed two very flawed candidates, the supporters of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton saw the other candidate as having only flaws, while they viewed their own as basically perfect. Their own candidate could do no wrong.

The thing is, the most passionate Trump supporters have been known for provocation, and so this is no surprise. But the dismissiveness and, yes, arrogance of the Clinton supporters, even with all of those flaws, and even with her outright cheating in the primaries, was more than a little troubling, and in the end, it was just not something that voters could overlook.

Now, many of them are mad as hell, and predictably, they are pointing the finger of blame at anyone and everyone, while remaining blind to their own hypocrisy and their own polarizing stances.

Until that changes (assuming it actually does change), the Democrats should get ready to lose plenty of other elections in the future.

Quote above taken from:

The greatest threat to America? Republicans  by Paul Thomas of the New Zealand Herald, Jul 17, 2015:

Here's another video going a bit further back. This was the first video that I ever saw of Jonathan Pie, where he tells, in his words, the "fucking news.":

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