"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Circus Of American Politics–And How Trump, The Greatest Circus Performer Of All, Will Win In November

With no vote yet counted in the Iowa Caucuses, candidate Pete Buttigieg has claimed victory.  Iow is but the most recent sideshow of the Democratic campaign, with 24 candidates stumbling over each other in a rush to the left.  At first bells rang out in unison –  the most ignorant, retrograde, destructive President in the nation’s history had to be removed from office.  As the drumbeat to defeat Donald Trump increased, each candidate added their tattoo; and each, according his most promising constituencies, piled on the President with charges of homophobia, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, corruption, and ignorance. Female candidates targeted his outrageous treatment of women - his insensitive photo ops with beauty queens and Hollywood divas, his lack of affirmative hiring (the White House glass ceiling was case-hardened, unreachable, and impenetrable) , his off-handed comments about women’s place by the hearth and in the kitchen, and his unrepentant fanny-patting machismo. 

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Candidates who courted the gay vote, criticized Trump for this dismissal of the gender spectrum, and cruel jokes about the transgendered who only hope to gain respectability and a place alongside of stay-at-home moms and straight dads.  Why shouldn’t a transgender couple with complementary sex changes, not adopt a child.  ‘Outrageous’, shouted one candidate, at what he saw as Trump’s antediluvian attitude towards sexuality and his stubborn, ignorant grasping on to the gunwales of the sinking ship of heterosexuality.

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Candidates who were black or mixed race, pounded Trump for his rejection of affirmative action, his racist internment of people of color on the US-Mexican border, and his unreconstructed Cavalier slaver attitudes.  Those presidential hopefuls with Latino heritage, saw his border wall as the last and final affront to Hispanic legitimacy, his calls for English as America’s official language as xenophobic and biased; and those who were either avowedly or temperamentally socialist, blasted Trump for his Robber Baron, laissez-faire economics. 

As the race grew tighter and the candidates were winnowed to eleven, they began to attack each other, moving out of their silos to spill and grab some of their opponents’ grain.  Those on the far Left disparaged each other for their timidity and hesitation to call America the worst kind of exploitative, elitist, predatory country in the world.  Even China and Russia were given a bye in candidates excoriation of the American system of injustice.  At least in those countries the people knew what was what.  Both Putin and  Xi Jinping made no bones about their intent to restore empire, to neuter ethnic opposition and to include all rebel territories within the larger nation, and to achieve geopolitical supremacy.  Only revolution, however, could remove the endemic rot of a failing country.  Progressive candidates, if elected, would distribute wealth from the entitled rich to the deserving poor, would create an equitable system of free services of health, education, and welfare; and would stop all sabre-rattling, provocative, foreign policy.  The world under them would be a peaceful one.

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The women in the race co-opted the gay and ethnic positions of their opponents.  Solidarity was important, they said, and all minorities and oppressed people not only belonged within the same big tent, but were owed a place at the table.  Those whose positions were being picked at, took offense.  While they of course respected the idea of one, large, progressive tent, only by narrowcasting and committed focus could the most serious problems of American be solved.  In short order, the stumbling to claim vindictive righteousness in the battle against Trump, became tripping and bumbling as they hurried to stake out more inclusive positions   Every time one candidate got a bump in the polls because of public policy statement, the others revised their stump speeches and television ads to counter it.  By the time the Iowa caucuses were held, the Democratic campaign resembled a circus where the lion tamers, clown managers, and side show carny barkers had gone home. 

The time for platitudes comes next.  Whoever emerges victorious out of this fractured field and becomes the Democratic Candidate for President, will try to keep his mouth shut; and if he has to open it, will say nothing of substance and purpose. The Democrats have already forgotten the lessons of Hilary Clinton who, once nominated, resembled a talking doll whose handlers pulled her string and her lips started moving.  Hillary was convinced that Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win against her.  Not only was he an arriviste ignoramus, but she was a woman! And just as the country realized the historical imperative of electing a black man, they would do the same for a woman.  She and her staff concluded that since her victory was assured, there was no point in getting into debates about policy.  So for the many months running up to the November election, she remained a resolute Chatty Cathy.

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The problem is that whoever becomes the Democratic candidate will have to run against the most savvy vaudevillian circus performer in the nation’s history.  Trump’s entire first term has been resetting the political calculus.  No more political correctness, compromise, respectful debate, or honorable disagreement.  Trump has been a clown, a comedian, a bare-knuckles John L Sullivan street fighter, a man cut from an American cloth with an amoral approach to power and individual interest.  The Democratic candidate will be sorely tested by this master of sarcasm, cynical darts, and innuendoes.  At first he or she will be bemused, wry smiles, and head-shaking at Trump’s obtuseness. The people understand what a buffoon Trump is and rectitude, temperance, and good counsel will win the day; but as Trump’s ad hominem attacks continue and increase in intensity, the candidate will become flustered and despite the advice of his handlers, will respond in kind.  Yet none of the remaining eleven candidates in the primaries are up to fighting dirty.  First of all, anyone representing the party of decency, progress, respect, and inclusivity can afford to look like a street-fighter.  It would be unseemly, and it would show the electorate that there is no qualitative difference between the candidates.  Round One to Trump.

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Trump has always played fast and loose with the facts, and by so doing  has invigorated his base and enraged his opposition.  His supporters know that there is no such thing as ‘the truth’ – everything is distorted, manipulated, transformed, and reconfigured to suit political ends; every politician is venal and self-serving; and that there is no such thing as higher values in politics.  So his supporters love Trump’s railing at the media’s fake news; at  his dismissal of Democrats’ Salem witch hunts and rigged trials; at his low blows and irremediable politically incorrect references.

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Yet Democrats still don’t get it, don’t get Trump, and don’t get his supporters.  There is such a thing as truth, they insist, and they alone have it.  How can anyone reject their calls for a better world?

Only irretrievably Sixties liberals, young idealists, and opportunistic identity groups are tempted by a progressive vision which dismisses five-thousand years of recorded history – a history which has repeated its aggressive, self-interested, territorial, acquisitive self since the first human settlements.  Attempting to re-route the course of history and deny the human nature which is its engine, is just whistlin’ Dixie.

So the election campaign will not be a fair fight.  The Democratic candidates have shown only that they are amateur circus performers, most too young to have ever been in the biggest ring of the show, and never on the vaudeville stage. 

So Trump sits back, waiting for his acquittal by the kangaroo court, keeping his missiles in their silos; his zingers, darts and arrows in their quivers; and his poison pens capped.  He will wait until the dust settles, the trapezes, animal cages, and fun houses are dismantled, and his opponent emerges; and then attack. 

While many Americans take our political process seriously, there are at least a few who don’t.  Since politics is a hilarious sideshow; since truth is up for grabs, and since the whole idea of statesmanship went out long ago, why not enjoy  politics for what it is -- the most American,  Hollywood, Las Vegas, New York glitz, glamour, fantasy show on earth? And it comes around only once in four years; but we all have front-row seats.

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