Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Are the American people about to surrender the farm to the ultimate huckster?

We are enraptured by scoundrels. They showcase our passion for ingenuity and resourcefulness. Rules don’t matter in a culture that constantly reinvents itself. In the world of flimflam, con artists are American prototypes who exemplify the land of opportunity. Aren’t we all searching for the trickster Wizard at the end of the yellow brick road? (By Amy Henderson, The Smithsonian, January 30, 2014)

How do the American people “square the circle” by even considering the option of putting this scoundrel into the White House?

Certainly the world is running amok. Certainly the text books and the theses that inform and drive the Pentagon are straining to demonstrate their relevance and their effectiveness. Certainly the political theorists who documented the last two-plus hundred years of political campaigns are struggling to hang on to the keel of the apparently overturned ship of state. While the law books and libraries are filled with “precedents” for the obviously valid reason that they comprise the foundation of the rule of law, there is an obvious oxymoron in the term “huckster president”.

When Richard Nixon ran for president, more than once, books were written comparing his campaign to the selling of a “Coke” so similar were the processes and the patterns of the packaging and the marketing of both the candidate and the sugar soda. And Madison Avenue owns the reputation of making a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear” something realists find not only oxymoronic but impossible.

The missing ingredient in the transformation of sow’s ear into silk purse, is the ultimate gullibility of the consumer who simply wants the extreme thrill of trying anything once, without regard to whether or not the experience is worth even one try. The Brits recently went too far in their vote to leave the European Union, having been seduced by many lies laid on them by the hucksters of the “Leave” campaign. Political doctoral theses will be written for decades, perhaps even centuries, documenting the political calculations of David Cameron who, in his failed attempt to heal party divisions in the Conservative Party by counting on the public to vote “Remain”, is now something of a footnote in British history, “I was once the future too!” as he fondly reflected in his farewell address to parliament.

In 2003, another failed exploit, this time in American history under the presidency of George W. Bush, found the necessary votes in the U.S Congress, sold by people like Condoleesa Rice and Colin Powell, the latter having been publicly shamed into being  sent out to the United Nations to “sell” a pack of intelligence lies to secure a supportive vote to declare war on Iraq. (If Canada were a truly supportive culture of her leaders, the Canadian Prime Minister who rejected Dubya’s request to join the coalition of the willing would have been showered with honorary doctorates for his honourable and courageous decision.) Back in the campaign of 1988, George H.W. Bush told the Republican National Convention that elected him their presidential candidate, “Read My Lips” (there will be no tax increase) only to have to eat those words. Pierre Trudeau, when running against Progressive Conservative leader, Robert Stanfield, promised the voters there would be no wage and price controls, only to introduce them immediately following his election as Prime Minister.

These isolated examples of “buyer beware” pale in comparison to the historic return of Prime Minister Chamberlain from Berlin, declaring “Peace in our Time” following his visit with the Fuhrer. And the American people are now facing a historic moment, in which they could and might very likely tip the balance of geopolitical power in favour of the huckster.

Long-term Republican veterans of both Houses of Congress are loud in their denunciation of Trump’s lack of knowledge about, or concern to learn the rules of parliamentary, the traditions of democratic government, the history of the country’s long battle for civil rights, for fair labour laws, for the beginnings of equality between the genders, and for equality for members of the LGBT community. In fact, the Republican platform imposes taxes on the LGBT community and on those who choose abortion.

Just because the American people, as do all people in the world, feel a sense of angst over many colliding issues: carbon emissions, terrorist attacks, Putin’s impromptu incursions (invasions), Assad’s treachery and assassination of innocents in the hundreds of thousands, a moving giant river of homeless refugees, the gutting of the  middle class and the manufacturing sector in the United States, the virtual paralysis of the American government (largely the result of Republican obstruction), the spike in violence on the streets of American towns and cities especially the violence between races (white law enforcement and black men, primarily, given that violent crime is down (with the obvious exception of the city of Chicago)….

All of these pressures are still no reason to throw one’s lot in with the NRA, the Koch brothers, the climate deniers, the muscle-flexing “bomb the hell out of all our enemies”, those who want to create the latest version of the American fortress, moated, this time by the Panama Canal, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (with Canada sitting on their northern border). Hucksters are skilled at playing to the fears of their “innocents” especially when they operate from the premise that ordinary people are both stupid and disengaged, or if not, drugged into unconsciousness. How dare the Trump cabal claim they wrote the presumptive first lady’ speech last night, when the whole world knows large chunks were lifted from the Michelle Obama address to the Democratic Convention of 2008. How dare the Trump cabal highjack the Republican party from former presidents and presidential candidates….and do it with the impunity offered by emasculated Republican leaders like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the latest “Charlie McCarthy puppet, Mike Pence? How dare the national and the international media gag itself in order to maximize profits and ratings, as if the political convention is the latest in a string of reality television shows, filled with testosterone, yet empty of both reflective thought and responsible debate.
Is there any limit to the number and the depth of the insults the trump cabal is willing, even eager, to dump on the American political system, in the first instance, and then all international relationships, including but not restricted to Islam, and radical Islam, including all immigrants, especially those seeking a better life, whose history and vetting will demonstrate unequivocally, their bona fides and their gratitude for admission into and the opportunity to serve their new homeland, The United States of America.

And also is there a limit to the level of patronizing, condescension and put-downs which the American people will tolerate?
The answer to both of those questions seems to be “NO!”

And the collision of those two unbridled forces could explode into a far more damaging political volcanic eruption than the world has witnessed for decades.
Words like “unfit”, “untrustworthy,” “ crooked”, “lying” “imprisoned”, “murderer”, thrown like verbal grenades in what has become the most violent and virulent presidential campaign for many years, do not belong on our television and ipad screens.


  • ·      Just because corporations like Volkswagen will subvert the emission testing process, by inserting software that makes such subversion feasible, and
           just because Tanaka  manufactures millions of defective airbags that kill drivers and passengers with shrapnel, and

·       just because pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing drugs that have more serious side effects than healing impacts, and

·      just because there are loop holes in the tax code permitting mega corporations to hide billions in off-shore tax havens with impunity, and far into the future if the Republicans maintain control of both Houses of Congress,  

·      just because the Koch brothers and the energy companies spend billions to counteract the science of climate change and global warming, and

·      just because white police officers shoot and kill innocent black men, and

·      just because retaliation from military trained shooters kill black policemen….

These are not excuses for a political campaign that snubs its nose at the world, at the voters, at the science, and all the options available for reconciliation, collaboration, mediation and healing. However, as we all know, such processes are slow, complicated, needing skilled and trained participants, dependent on a “good faith” foundation from which to begin and rely on both professional attitudes and vocabulary, deep and profound and experienced thinkers and patience.

Apparently, neither Trump nor the American people have banked a reserve of patience, tolerance, balance and long-term vision to generate a culture that would render this candidacy not only subversive and dangerous, but also impotent and out of bounds.

It is virtually impossible to put a fence around any huckster, and this latest version of the huckster proves that theory beyond doubt. And when an educated middle-aged woman working in the school system in the United States proudly informs me, “Jesus was the world’s best salesman!” as the core nugget of her theology, you know how far the huckster archetype has penetrated the American psyche. There is so much left out of that image as to be tragic and reprehensible….but never forgotten!

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