Spending an hour with Rachel Maddow last night turned the presidential race into nothing short of frightening.
That is not melodrama.
The host played footage of the recent Alt Right convention in Washington D.C. in which various speakers proudly declared two things:
1 1)They are at root a racist organization seeking a pure white United States
2 2)They support and are supported by Donald Trump and his campaign for the presidency.
They have adopted a graphic of what they call a “smug frog” they call Pepe, as their logo and Ms Maddow’s team dug up a piece of video from a recent Hillary Clinton speech decrying the Alt Right in which, at a quiet pivotal moment, someone in the back of the room cries out “Pepe!” attempting to stick the finger of the Alt Right in Ms Clinton’s eye.
And these disclosures come on the same day that Trump attempts to wash his hands of the “birther” movement, his signal card in his rise to political prominence, by heading the racist sabotage that Obama was not born in the United States, and therefore was not a legitimate candidate for the presidency. Only rather than apologize for the racist defamation of Obama, he blamed Hillary Clinton and her 2008 campaign against Obama for starting the smear, just another of his many lies.
It is the same day on which the Black Caucus came out to the microphone to demand an apology from Trump to the president and to the American people for his racist “birther” movement. One by one they drew a deep line in the sand of American history, openly calling for the electorate, black, Latino, Asian, and white, not to walk but to run to the polls to defeat Trump. Cogently, these speakers, all of them elected members of Congress, pointed out that Trump would never have done to Romney, or McCain or any other ‘white’ candidate for president what he did to Obama. They called Trump sinister for having the gall to pin the birther movement’s origin on Hillary Clinton, in spite of the fact there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.
As Ms Clinton put it, the Trump political rise started with his call for the president to produce his birth certificate, and even when it was produced, Trump was still not satisfied, demanding his transcripts from Harvard and pouring scepticism on the veracity of the birth certificate itself. Today, still, a majority of Republican voters believe that Obama was not born in the United States, illustrating how, if a lie is repeated often enough, there will be a large number of people who come to believe it.
And that fact, that people are gullible, especially to lies that tie in with their perspective on the world, lies that support and sustain their fears, and lies that complement their angst about whatever dramatic change has occurred, especially something as historic as the election of the first black president in the history of the union, is also at the core of the Trump campaign. It is not only outrageous statements, it is also complete fabrications and even threats that are the currency of the Trump campaign.
Yesterday too, Trump called for the disarming of the secret service detail attached to Ms Clinton “and then see what happens to her”…and afterward denying any threat was implied. (His statement was based on her proposal to restrict gun ownership.) For the last 120 days of a presidential campaign, candidates from the major parties are assigned secret service details, following the death of Robert Kennedy in the throes of his own presidential campaign in 1968.
Racism, lies, a tax scheme that demonstrably favours the rich, more lies, a wall to keep immigrants out, more lies, hollow promises, more lies, unveiling his new hotel amid the presidential campaign while committing never to use the presidency to grow his business, another blatant lie, cheerleading Vladimir Putin, while disavowing knowledge that he was appearing on a television show (with Larry King ) that would air in Moscow, another ruse, a shock of died hair to cover a bald head, another act of deception, encouraging the Russians to hack the emails of his opponent, denouncing the viability of NATO, denying the science of global warming and climate change….these are just a few of the many insults the Republican candidate for the most powerful office in the world has inflicted on the world, and especially on the electorate.
And, to add more insult to injury, he has done it all without a moment of shame, or remorse, or reflection, or retraction or even humility….of course no humility. It is at the core of his being that he demonstrates no humility, even breaking the accepted ground rules of no overt campaigning in the black church in Flint Michigan, and then having to be reined in by the female pastor.
And what is truly shocking is that the race is “tightening” with people around the country lauding his “take no prisoners” approach (right out of Pepe’s playbook), refusing to take in and to reflect upon the kind of presidency Trump would offer, and “straight talk” being considered “leadership” and not bullying…
Will yesterday be the watershed moment that wakens millennials, that turns suburban women away from Trump and back toward Clinton, that celebrates the entry of both Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders into the campaign as Clinton surrogates and that finally witnesses the sabotage of Trump by Trump in the eyes of a large majority of the electorate?
The debates, in ten days, will likely generate a “huuuge” audience, (with a nod to Bernie Sanders), giving the voters yet another opportunity to see through the façade of the most dishonest, the most deceptive and the most arrogant candidate, as well as the least prepared and least ready to commit to the kind of preparation needed to serve as president.
Can the Black Caucus, the First Lady, the President, the former president, the Vice-president, the military and national security establishment, the major newspapers and a large cadre of Republican leaders all united in their denunciation of Trump and in their support of Ms Clinton be enough to overcome the addiction of the American people to reality television, and the reality television candidate? Can this election demonstrate the strength of will of the American people to reject “fast food” for a “healthy diet” of political nourishment?
The girth that straddles television screens when the cameras pan many streets in urban centres across the land would only generate scepticism and fear and angst that the appetite for “sugar and salt” will continue to ‘trump’ the need for fresh vegetables and fruit.
That would be the “change” in this “change election” that would offer hope and health for the children and grandchildren of the electorate. It is, however, a very hard “sell” in a country awash in pink candy floss, effete blond hair, hollow promises and anti-hero fixation. And Ms Clinton will need all the help she can muster to overcome the cultural odds against her winning.