I’d been hoping to start writing about music and other art forms again, especially music; but a not-so-funny thing happened last 7 November 2016 that has put me into an emotional malaise that has virtually paralysed me; it put me into a funk from which I just can’t seem to arise: and that, my dear friends, was the election of Donald J. Trump and, since his inauguration the complete spinelessness of the major media, members of both branches of Congress — particularly Republicans, but Democrats as well — in not calling this man out for his flagrant and continued unbridled immaturity and arrant sociopathy (with its constant, insistent, pathological lying and associated narcissism). Almost everybody skirts around the true issue: that what we have in the White House is a buffoon, a fool who was (and still is) propped up and manipulated by the crazoids of the far-far (also referred to as the “alt”) right; i.e., racists, bigots and conspiracy nut-jobs who are just as sociopathic he is. No, I stand corrected: they are psychopaths.
My feelings of despair have harboured for a long time; however, there was always the caveat of hope that people of good will would ultimately find a way of prevailing this insidious — perverse — proclivity that the U.S. has manifested over the past generation or two; i. e., since the Reagan administration, of looking backward to a period of time when only white european (including middle/upper class hispanic) culture, “free market,” economics where wealthy, predominantly (though not exclusively) protestants prevailed. This regression, moreover, has included the dismantling of the governmental (both state and federal) protections and regulations we have since learned to be extremely beneficial to the well-being of the public’s health, safety and security (to name a few), all in the name of economic expediency; what is erroneously referred to as conservatism.
Class warfare has raised its ugly head in the era of Donald Trump in unprecedented ways that are genuinely frightening. I’m a product of the 60’s and 70’s. I saw the riots in Watts, Chicago Democratic Convention, Kent State, and so many more. All of these resulted in promises of change; and gradually change had begun, until Ronald Reagan, unintentionally through his economic policies, emphasising corporate and upper income tax cuts under what has been historically proven to be the fallacious concept of “trickle down” economics, coupled with a gratuitous increase in military spending over domestic resurrected a class (and resulting racial) warfare on the the country’s less fortunate.† But, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Democrats have this convenient amnesia when it comes to Bill Clinton’s “Welfare Reform Act” which summarily caused millions of people to lose their benefits causing immense pressure on non-profits to try and cover the gap; and his signing away the Glass-Steagall Act paving the way for the recession of 2008.
Class warfare is easy. All that the wealthy have to do is throw money at Capitol Hill so that they (those who have that kind of huge money) can, and unabashedly, do their bidding on those we — the putative electorate — have supposedly (naively) elected to represent us. And what is the easiest of the easy ways of creating class warfare? Bigotry, racism being the most efficacious, followed by (not necessarily in any particular order) sexism, LGBT oppression, anti-intellectual thinking, and free speech suppression (on both the left and the right viz. college/university harassment of conservative speakers); though I’m sure there are more: bigotry covers a lot bases; which is why classicism is such an effective tool. When you have so many people quibbling and squabbling amongst themselves it’s easy to sit back, watch and exploit. The exploitation with all of the technological “bells and whistles” at peoples’ disposal has become the modern day equivalent to Juvenal’s “bread and circuses;” as long as the populace is sufficiently distracted with easily accessible toys (smartphones) and their accompanying diversions (games and social media primarily), as well as an educational system (both public and private) that is woefully lacking in teaching the art of critical thinking, and you have a perfect formula for keeping a large segment of the population acutely prone to demagoguery.
Just look at the current political situation. Contrary to the tendency of most pundits you hear in the media who flatter the American electorate by constantly saying “The American people aren’t stupid,” that somehow they manage to see through the sham and phoniness and make the right decision. Well, we’ve seen how well that worked out, and I’m not just referring to election of Trump; rather, I’m referring to how the power brokers — the folks that own the media — have saturated our society with extremely visceral, yet mind numbing distractions under the guise of entertainment. Entertainment which has insistently lowered the bar literally appealing to the lowest common denominator. That explains the election of the last two presidents and why so-called conservative Republicans have become the dominate party in our governments, both state and federal.
Elections, especially presidential elections, have become no different than any other form of entertainment; i. e., distractions that focus more on personality — the politician’s “star power” — than on what his or her agenda. Oh sure, there’s constant blather about focussing on those matters, but let’s face it, that very rarely happens. After all that’s not the sexy part.
Let’s look at the last two presidential elections. Why was Barack Obama elected president? Was it his policies on trade, healthcare, military spending, domestic spending, his experience? Maybe some of his ideas appealed to some of the more educated voters; but, that was not the reason he was elected: he was elected because he was black, young, photogenic and had the backing of the Kennedys. Let’s face it he might never have been elected if African-Americans hadn’t come out in droves to vote him strictly because he was of African-American descent and he was a Democrat. Moreover, he was young (relatively) and appealed to the “youth” vote simply because he was young, dynamic and black which made him very hip. Then there is the whole inexperience thing; although he had some experience in the Senate, he was only there a few months and had not really garnered the kind of experience one would need to be able to work with members of the opposing party (not that they would anyway, expressing their blatantly racist views to having a person of colour in the White House).
Then there’s Trump. First let’s consider how stupid the American electorate really is. After their experience with voting in an inexperienced junior Senator nine years ago one would think (don’t forget many Obama voters voted for Trump) that maybe, JUST MAYBE, they would have learned that voting someone in with not only less experience in government, but WITH NO EXPERIENCE in government, one who was used to running a business as a personal fiefdom wth 1) no concept of history, and 2) absolutely no concept of constitutional government; but, no, they turn around and elect (according to the anti-democratic Electoral College) a sociopath and sexual predator as president. And yet, this part of the electorate for the most part are still willing to turn a blind eye to what has become an innumerable number of improprieties and abuses of the office, because they continue live under the delusion that he’s going to change things for their betterment.
I watch “Morning Joe” in the morning because it’s good for me to get the perspective of a legitimate conservative thinker like Joe Scarborough; and yet, what I see is this honest-to-God diehard fiscal Reagan Republican having to quit his party (of which he had been a lifelong member) and become an independent because he could no longer identify with the Trump/Bannon idiots and the completely spineless others of the “new” Republican party. Moreover, George Will, yes GEORGE WILL, that bastion of conservative intellectualism, again a staunch Republican, also felt the need to quit the GOP because he could no longer stomach the direction of his erstwhile party.
The thing that really gets me is the constant talk of “the base;” that 30-35% of the electorate who are more than willing to believe that the lies, deception, jingoism, racism, sexism (to point of predation) and the quintessentially narcissistic inability to take responsibility for any mistakes or any of the aforementioned foibles are perfectly acceptable, because none of these constantly and demonstrably (by his own actions and words) are real: it’s all “fake news.” Everybody knows that the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, Boston Globe, the major networks — even NPR/PBS — are all conspiring against him. It’s only Breitbart, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, the Drudge Report that tell the truth; i. e., only what Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and their supporters say is true, no matter how contradictory or false their statements have been or currently are. The fact that he has that many people (don’t forget 30-35% means millions) unquestionably supporting him, or least willing to vote for him again is monumentally depressing to me. How stupid, how blind, how completely oblivious to reality can that many Americans be?
Ignorance is terrible thing for an ostensibly democratic state; but, stupidity is so much worse. The former is a result of insufficient learning of basic facts as supposedly delivered by our school systems — both public and private; the latter is the result of either a conscious decision on someone’s part to be able, or (more than likely) unwilling to engage in critical thinking, and thus ignore facts and simply go by what one feels is emotionally more satisfying: whether it’s voting for a narcissist/sociopath who will say anything to appeal to the most xenophobic, and base aspects of our species, or for someone, in spite of his/her determined efforts to try and appeal to the those higher elements of the human psyche; i. e., intellectualism, rationalism, open mindedness, will vote for that person because of some tribal or racial predilection; e.g, liberal/progressive, race. In any event either is deleterious to a democratic state; whether it’s the former, which would be ultimately destructive, or the latter which could possibly be beneficial, because the end was the result of a decision based on the completely wrong premise: not the qualifications or ability but on strictly emotional, narrow-minded criteria by an infinite amount of life saturating media whose primary purpose is to make extortionate profits by pandering to and sanctioning the public’s over indulgence for as many frivolous and jejune distractions as can be possibly absorbed. The result is an electorate that is virtually incapable to, or recalcitrant of, making a rational, informed, intelligent political decision.
What depresses me more about all of this is our current social structure, as a result of ultra-conservatives dating back to the Nixon administration, has become virulently anti-intellectual. The disparagement of scientists, artists, and educators in general has continued to grow as the far right and the financial-powers-to-be have managed to keep people ignorant, politically unaware and naïve; and, have continued to exert their powerful influence on the spending of government. As a result schools, libraries, and literally every institution and organisation dedicated to the advancement of human intelligence and social enlightenment and the betterment of the planet have been and will continue to be financially, and therefore culturally, starved of the resources they need to educate our nation. The last thing the GOP, as it stands now as Trump’s errand boys and girls, want is that the American public learn, critically evaluate, understand and ultimate realise how they (the GOP and a few Dems) will do anything to keep the public in the dark about who actually runs things in DC.
Contrary to the pundits and commentators on MSNBC, CNN, and network Sunday morning talk shows, the American electorate is pathetically ignorant and/or stupid politically. It’s not their fault; and that’s what angers me most of all. Politicians have done everything they can to cut money for education, particularly in the humanities and the arts. Not because (as they would lead you to believe) the arts and humanities aren’t important or are frivolous; rather, the humanities teach us the lessons of history and culture, the arts teach us discipline and how to think critically. These are exactly the qualities that those on the far right in particular do not want the public to possess; that would result in an ACTUAL DEMOCRACY in which the people are truly capable of choosing the representative or senator who not only represents but REFLECTS the people who have elected him/her.
This will NEVER HAPPEN in the United States until we, the people, compel those whom we have elected to do the right thing. In this case the impeachment and removal of a president who has every single day, during the campaign and since inauguration has (ironically consistently) bespoke not only his incompetence, but total (and uniquely) mental inadequacy for the job. The latest revelations are from Michael Wolf’s “Fire and Fury” book. I mean what the blazes more do you need?!
So yes, I have no hope. Even if the Democrats manage to take back the House and the Senate, the damage that has been done by Trump and his fascist zealots will take years, even decades, to undo. Just look at what the bungling Devin Nunes and the Republican members of the Congressional Intelligence(?) Committee have done to totally and deliberately destroy any credibility to that committee, the GOP, and the concept of representative government.
Then there are the things that Trump has managed to do (about which, of course, he brags as his HUGE accomplishments) by executive order in despoiling generations of protective regulations against health, civil liberties, the environment, you name it , and staffing his cabinet with people who, because of their vested interests in deregulating, who are bound an determined to castrate those organisations of which they are supposed have fiduciary responsibility. It’s enough to make an intelligent, rational person vomit.
Of then there is the latest in regard to the mass murder in Parkland, Florida. I mean, seriously, does any sane, rational, moderately intelligent person seriously believe that arming teachers, who are so incredibly overburdened, under paid and disrespected as it is in this country, is a remotely responsible idea? Unfortunately, there are many people, mostly Republicans, who actually think this is a good idea.
To sum up and reiterate, I am sick and tired of the folks (like Donny Deutsch on Morning Joe, as well as Joe and Mika) who keep saying that the American public isn’t stupid. They supposedly know what going and they’ll change things in November, blah, blah. NO! Let’s be clear the American public IS STUPID! Otherwise people like Donald Trump, Devin Nunes, Ron Johnson, and host of other ultra-rightwing nut jobs would never see any part of Washington, D.C. I’m with Bill Maher this one.
†This “theory” of economics perpetrated by Milton Friedman’s version of Adam Smith’s school of laissez faire economics is often referred to as the Chicago [University] School of Economics.