Republican nominee for the US Presidency, Donald Trump, who slammed the US political system as ‘rigged’, seems to be himself an unwitting pawn in Washington’s high stakes game of thrones, which looks determined to crown Hillary Clinton in November.
It’s the dirtiest trick in the despot’s playbook: Introduce a foreign bogeyman as an existential threat – an individual that is (allegedly) so repugnant he distracts the masses from coming to grips with the real monsters lurking at home. Since 2001, America has propped up a long roster of such so-called villains, including Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Assad.
I would like to add another name to the empire’s growing rogue gallery: Donald Trump.
In the race between the Democrats and Republicans to seize the heights of Power Mountain, we are witnessing the bogeyman scenario playing out once again. The new stage for this political chicanery, however, is not some Middle Eastern country bubbling over in fossil fuel and fundamentalism.
The new stage set is Main Street, USA where roams the new and improved scoundrel of the moment: Homegrown racist, misogynist, Islamophobic, total nut job Donald Trump, the real estate tycoon who ranks on par with Adolf Hitler on the likeability charts, and that’s just considering his friends inside the Republican Party.
There is a good reason why such a shady character has been allowed anywhere near the heavily guarded gated community known as the Beltway. Sit down, Democrats, this may come as a shock. Because in order for legally challenged Clinton to pull off this election with any semblance of legitimacy she needs to be matched up against a super egoist who is not afraid to speak his mind in an age that has been intimidated by PC thought police, tamed by Tweets and Likes and systematically infantilised by one socio-cultural experiment gone awry after another.
Trump hails from a less anxious era when executives banged out business deals in smoke-choked boardrooms somewhere between an afternoon power-lunch and evening cocktails, and the concept of ‘political correctness’ meant handing a colleague a glass of whiskey and a cigar when he entered the office.
Many find Trump’s unabashed in-your-face poker style refreshing compared to the mental straitjacket designed for us by the Internet inquisitionists, where one misguided Tweet can destroy an otherwise squeaky clean career. However, this daunting openness makes Trump easy bait for humorless, corporate-muzzled media that places catchphrases above ideas, style above substance, and personal intrigue above political theory.
In other words, Trump is the ultimate bogeyman. A political maverick who won’t think twice about shooting off his foot with a shotgun remark just to hammer home a point. This approach may have worked about half-a-century ago, when voters relished raw, off-the-cuff discourse and political punditry was not yet a high-paying cottage industry. These days such brazenness is just political suicide.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, the sweetheart of Wall Street, can do absolutely no wrong. And when she does take a tumble from the horse, the mud somehow always lands on Trump.
Oh, and the Russians too. Yes, Trump has even been accused of cooperating with Russia’s Vladimir Putin – another global leader who has fallen afoul of the mainstream spleen machine – in releasing hacked emails that showed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had worked behind the scenes to sabotage the campaign of Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s Democratic challenger.
“We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC,” Clinton let loose in an interview with Fox. “And we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin.”
In reality (a disturbing three-dimensional place for some people), there is no evidence whatsoever linking the Russians to the leaked can of beans across the Atlantic, and there probably never will be. That’s because, despite the US media’s fantastic story about Trump and Putin’s budding bromance, it’s just that. Fantasy.
In fact, both Clinton and Trump are giving the Kremlin many sleepless nights, pondering the question as to who would be the more desirable American to negotiate with: an ego-maniacal magnate who probably flips the Monopoly board when he’s blocked from building hotels on Park Place, or a wily Washington insider who gets giddy at the thought of taking out foreign leaders?
Incidentally, claims that Trump was somehow cooperating with Putin to dash Clinton’s presidential dreams were hatched following a sarcastic remark by Trump, who wise-cracked at a rally:
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing… I think you will be probably rewarded by our press.”
That is what Hillary Clinton and the obsequious media has offered up as proof to the gods of investigative journalism that Trump is cooperating with Russia.
Meanwhile, the really dirty part of this story is being quietly swept under the rug. WikiLeaks last week announced a $20,000 reward for “information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich”, a 27-year-old who was mysteriously gunned down in Washington. Although police say Rich was the victim of an attempted robbery, none of his personal belongings were taken.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange seemed to suggest that the murdered Seth Rich was an informant for his whistleblowing site.
“Whistleblowers often take very significant efforts to bring us material and often at very significant risks,” Assange told the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur. “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the DNC and who was shot in the back, murdered, just a few weeks ago, for unknown reasons as he was walking down the streets in Washington.”
Meanwhile, the FBI – which failed to indict Clinton for sending government-related correspondence over a private server in the first place – is now investigating the preposterous claim that Russia is somehow behind the release of the emails.
But ultimately none of this really matters. Why? Because the American elite, like a school of piranha, has found their bait: his name is Donald Trump, and they aren’t letting go. Nothing Hillary Clinton does – even if it involves compromising national security – will change the narrative. According to the media, Trump is on par with the vilest Islamic radical.
Method to the madness
At this point, I must provide some full disclosure: I have never really understood American politics. I voted for Ronald Reagan even though I was a member of a worker’s union at the time; I swallowed Obama’s ‘hope and change’ hype with all the gusto of a kid eating cotton candy at a carnival fairground.
So as the battle between Clinton and Trump began to heat up and rational thought took a backseat to raw emotions, I was tempted, once again, to place some faith in this ridiculous “one party, two faction” sham that is passed off as democracy once every four to eight years. But then something inexplicable happened: Bernie Sanders came out in support of Clinton after failing to clinch the Democratic nomination.
Although I am no Sanders fan, it was that illuminating slap in the face moment when I finally saw the light and concluded – admittedly, a bit late in life – that the US electoral system is one big massive fraud.
Yes, there were some not-so-subtle hints before – like George W. Bush being selected, not elected, to the Oval Office by a 5-4 vote by a right-leaning Supreme Court. But for Sanders the Socialist to broadside his base by declaring fidelity to the Wall Street Queen of Mean, Hillary Clinton, well, that’s just a step too far into the realm of the implausible.
Sanders, who built his electoral base on fighting the 1 percent, had these words to say about Clinton at a rally:
“I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is, through her super-PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. I don’t think you are qualified if you get $15 million dollars from Wall Street… I don’t think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq.”
Sanders’ stance on divisive issues essentially built a very large wall between the Sanders’ camp and Clinton’s, but Sanders coldly sold out his supporters down the river when his campaign ran out of steam. To assume his fiercely loyal constituents would simply stroll into the Clinton camp was an insult to the intelligence of these astute voters, who must be seriously jaded at this moment.
And what was Sanders’ reasoning for throwing his support behind Clinton? To beat the big bad bogeyman named Donald Trump, of course:
“We have got to defeat Donald Trump and we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine”
Sanders told his stunned delegates at the Democratic National Convention, who responded with boos and heckles. He continued over the howling voice of collective pain:
“Brothers and sisters… this is the real world that we live in. Trump is a bully and a demagogue. Trump has made bigotry and hatred the cornerstone of his campaign…”
So how did Bernie the Socialist comfort himself from being forced out of presidential contention? Well, he went out and bought himself a house, his third. For a cool $600,000 dollars. Lenin must be turning in his grave.
But here is where the ‘Trump as bogeyman’ ploy gets really interesting. It seems The Donald has caught wind of the game he’s been unwittingly brought into. A bit like being dragged into a cheap knock-off of The Apprentice without ever being informed.
If I am correct, Trump is starting to sense exactly what role he is expected to play in this game of thrones, and that is to help Clinton make a seamless transition to the White House, and despite several 18-wheelers full of extra baggage (emails and Benghazi, for starters). But Trump ain’t playing.
At a weekend rally in Fairfield, Connecticut, Trump said his main fight is not against the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, but against journalists.
“I’m not running against Crooked Hillary,” he told his raucous supporters. “I’m running against the crooked media.”
And as everybody knows, few candidates will be able to reach the Oval office without first breaching the media firewall.
On Sunday, Trump made a plea on behalf of the First Amendment:
“It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false.”
Such talk is beginning to make some people nervous. After all, all these ‘conspiracy theories’ about a “rigged political system” could have some unintended consequences in the (highly likely) event of a Clinton victory.
Trump’s charges and counter charges are more than just campaign rhetoric, argued Timothy Frye, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University.
“(They) raise a central issue for democracy: the willingness of losers to comply with a decision reached via free and fair elections. Political scientists have long identified this willingness as a critical component of American democracy,” Frye continued. “The most prominent example in recent memory is Al Gore’s refusal to contest the decision of the Supreme Court awarding Florida’s electoral votes to George W. Bush, effectively handing him victory in 2000. Gore could have easily provoked a constitutional crisis by challenging the results.”
The problem with that analysis is quite simple: Trump is no Al Gore. Gore politely faded away when things turned ugly. Trump cannot be expected to do that. Trump would rather burn out than fade away. Whether that was taken into consideration when the straight-talking real estate developer was elected bogeyman is anybody’s guess. But it’s looking like some people seriously underestimated Trump’s ability to play spoiler.