In a profound miscalculation, the myriad powers-that-be in the USA have inadvertently ushered in a new era, definitively abolishing the general framework that governed America and the globe since World War Two. Those powers – often masked from public view – had constructed a complex social/economic/political edifice composed of corporate business interests, the military-industrial complex (which naturally includes corporate interests), and media (corporately owned), all bound together with an ideological glue of American nationalism embodied in a kind of mindless patriotism of flag, (and for some Bible, guns and grits), and capitalism. As famously stated, “The business of America is business.”
It was the ideology of American Exceptionalism, which Hillary Clinton recently extolled, and as the heaving crowds of Trump’s fans echoed as they chanted USA USA USA! This ideology is seen expressed in the countless VFW halls in small-town America, in the national genuflection to our military – “the finest and best” – and in the blind and usually totally provincial insistence that the United States is the greatest country on earth, goddammit! Most insistently this is said by those who never set foot in another place, unless in the military.
Since 1945, at the conclusion of the WW2, America stood as the singular industrial power still standing, with marginal losses, and wielding nuclear weapons to boot. It had put the 30’s Depression era aside and largely unchallenged it proceeded to install itself as an unstated empire, taking most of Britain’s holdings and those of others. The emergence of the cold war with the Soviet Union, and then the Chinese, propelled this process, which had moved rapidly in the 1950’s, such that the former general and Republican President, Eisenhower, cautioned us against the dangers of our emerging military-industrial complex. We paid no heed, and in the following decades the linkage of the military, corporate interests and the media were bound ever tighter, as we expanded our military force beyond all reason aside from maintaining a stranglehold on global natural resources – especially oil. And we sought to maintain political control with the installation of puppet governments game to kow-tow to Uncle Sam. While we intervened in South East Asia, in the Middle East, in Central and South America, and Africa, our corporate controlled media largely dismissed what we were doing by simply not reporting it. America was too busy imagining itself as Ozzie and Harriet while it stitched together its far-flung “business holdings” backed with its military might. In the aftermath of the American loss in Vietnam, the collusion between the military-industrial complex and the media became such that for the most part our adventures abroad were simply not reported, as the body-counts in Vietnam had proved toxic to our imperial ambitions. Instead the American public was led into a fog of permanent propaganda, whether officially, from the mouths of government speakers, or unofficially in the onslaught of 24/7 television, Hollywood films, and talk radio. We were “exceptional” so we told ourselves, somehow exempt from judgement and from history, or from the consequences of our actions on the world stage.
Americans were constantly told theirs was the richest, best country on earth. They were not told that they were but 5% of the world’s population while they consumed 25% of the globe’s resources. They were not told that in order to acquire this imbalanced share of the world’s wealth that it required robbery, rape, mayhem and political knavery of the worst kinds. Nope, instead they were told that America was “good,” a shining city on a hill, and that whenever we were forced to intervene out in the big bad world it was to be the White Hat bringing the blessings of democracy or freedom or something “good” to those we were bombing and robbing blind.
When 9/11 came our slumbering public was blind-sided, completely unaware of American meddling since the early 50’s (and far earlier) in the middle-east. In turn the vast majority were easy marks for Bush’s imaginary WMD and Rumsfeld’s it’ll-pay-for-itself easy war. From the fraud of Bush’s failed Presidency, Americans leaped at the do-good chance to erase the stain of our slave state origins and deep racism, and elected a good Harvard trained establishment man, Barack Obama. Nice as his outward appearances were, Barack was a company man, and did his duty while liberals swooned and ignored the brass knuckle business being quietly conducted – drone assassinations, more military meddling, economic strong arming, and, well, America as usual. We were “defending our national interests,” however far from our own shores. “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” is how the marine hymn has it, since forever.
In 2016, still limping from the 2008 economic collapse with which the Bush administration departed, with many still seething at the failure of Obama to pursue those responsible (bankers, big corporate execs), and others likewise angered at the failure to bring Bush and company to account, the US political atmosphere was transparently smoldering with anti-establishment resentment. The success of Trump in the Republican primaries, as well as of Sanders with the Democrats, was evidence enough for even the thickest minded. And yet the Democrats, enmeshed in their narrow horizon Beltway vision, did backroom dirt to shove Sanders aside, and plowed on with their anointed one, HRC. Backed with a phalanx of political pros, pollsters, billionaire funds, pundits, and their own arrogant presumptions, they poured hundreds of millions of dollars into advertisements, a slick convention, and endless polls – all for naught. Like the CIA with the collapse of the Soviet Union, all the professional wisdom in the world failed to perceive the obvious, and Clinton came up short in the Electoral College on November 7th.
The shock waves still reverberate as Donald John Trump prepares to take on the Presidency, surrounded with sleaze in the form of Rudolph Giuliani, Chris Christie, and a cluster-fuck of others, including the editor of a strident right-wing website, Breitbart, and a Vice-Presidential side-kick ready to attempt to impose mid-western fundamentalist Christianism on the nation. I would not pretend to predict what Trump will or won’t do, or what it will do to our polity. During the campaign (and well before) he did open a can of very ugly worms, and in doing so legitimized them as OK for public discourse. I doubt he can, as President, make a U-turn, and stuff all the vile things he has said and done back into that can. Welcome to Pandora’s not-nice box. Of course the truth is that this can of worms was sitting there under the pressure cooker of the nice world of PCism. Naturally it stewed and festered, and now we will have its off-spring running the White House – Mr Bannon looks to be Chief of Staff for President Trump, which promises a very rough ride.
Who to blame? Most obviously, first in line is the Democratic National Committee which was as corrupt as Trump suggested. Hillary Clinton was their girl, and despite the obvious evidence of Sanders’ primary successes, and those of Trump, they stuck to their insiders game plan, awash with money, all those experienced “professionals” and drove themselves and the country, and perhaps the world, into a ditch. They did it in plain sight, and carried on despite numerous warnings that it was not the season for more “Change You Can Believe In” nor for “Stronger Together” sloganeering, but for up-ending the Establishment. Ah, but if you are the Establishment, what do you do? As demonstrated in this election, you stick your head up your butt and pretend it ain’t happening.
But it was, and rather than taking the path offered by Sanders, the DNC persisted, and handed us Trump on a silver plate.
Some of the rest of the blame belongs to the American right-wing which, since Reagan, has flooded the national psyche with hysterical radio, Fox, et al, with 24/7 propaganda, and, aided and abetted by the Clinton gang, let corporate interests run roughshod over the public interest in the form of trade agreements, privatizing education and prisons and whatever else they could grab, producing a dumbed-down populace in thrall to celebrity and money and the miracle of capitalism. Trump is the natural result.
That Trump, a Queen’s kid with a massive chip on his shoulder and a chronic loser himself, should pick up the chips may seem surprising but in the warped landscape of America circa 2016, it is perfectly logical even if his syntax and vocabulary aren’t. Frankly half of America cannot speak English decently and I am not talking about the ones who happen to have Spanish or some Asian language as their first tongue. Nor am I talking only about the uneducated whom Mr Trump asserts he loves, but rather the millions of dubiously “educated” college kids who are gifted with grade inflation while being unable to construct a coherent paragraph in our corrupted universities, many of which are more interested in football income than in the “liberal arts.” Reading, writing and arithmetic hardly covers the bases. These folks want “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” in which to obscure their helicopter parented ignorance. In this America Trump is a natural. His vulgarity, sexism, racism all slides nicely in with a large portion of the population who in fact think and feel just like that, especially when put into the pressure cooker of the new gig economy. Trump has given them their voice, and promises they they too will enter the Valhalla of a glittery gold-plated coal mine or factory, and a future in the New Again Great America.
Well, good luck with that. Though, frankly, while there likely would have been some softening of the rougher edges for some had Clinton won, those who voted for Trump in anticipation of working in the West Virginia or Kentucky mines, are more likely to find out they’ve been mystically turned into canaries. In fact it appears that all Americans have been so morphed, as we move into the post-WW2 “American Century” of the last 75 years, and enter a new era, with all the volatility which radical changes always bring. Whether Americans will take kindly to being weaned from their imperially enforced quarter of the global goodies for their 20th of the globe’s population is doubtful. Or for giving most of that “stuff” to a tiny minority of people – like their new President – while in time honored fashion, they feast on the crumbs falling from the table.
Mr Trump’s first wife, Ivana, tells us that her ex-husband’s bed time reading when they shared their lives, was Mein Kampf, the story of an aggrieved failed artist and corporal who went on to leave a significant imprint on history. Mr Schicklegruber reinvented himself in a highly theatrical manner, in a period of extreme economic and political stress in his time and culture. The sophisticated world of Beethoven, Hegel, etc. succumbed to his wiles and his prejudices. And paid a price.
Donald Trump was a kid from the Queens who got a nice head-start from his hustling father. Bedazzled by the classier folks across the East River, he moved to Manhattan, out to impress those people, with his string of sexy babes, his golden towers, his beauty contests and casinos. His nouveau-riche garishness failed to win their favor, and while happy to play with his money, Donald was never really accepted by the toney East Siders and Wall Street honchos. The chip on his shoulder grew bigger and bigger, and he had more and more to prove, revenge to take, scores to settle. He ran for President, and despite being reviled by almost everyone – the Republican establishment, the pundits, the intellectuals, the security experts, Wall Street, the hipwasie, the Democrats, and the Hollywood clans and monster pop stars, not to mention the minorities whom he joyfully slandered – he won.
My crystal ball is occluded, though history provides some clues where things might go. That well thumbed book at his bedside might be a place to look.
Item pertinent to this, worth the read: