How Low Can A President Go?

"McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every single day of his life, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect representation of everything he stands for.
Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?"
-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

Last Tuesday we finally got an answer to Thompson's question. Even back in '72 he could see how far right the country had begun to slide. He saw right through the veil of political language that hid Nixon's sexism, racism, and general disdain for the lower classes. Thompson believed it was that veil that allowed him to get so far in politics. Yet as the results of November 8th have shown, it just may have been the veil that was holding him back.

How low do you have to stoop to sweep a presidential election in the year 2016? Try overt racism, bigotry and misogyny, backed up by a multitude of sexual assault allegations and an underage rape charge. Mash that up into a rancid stew and season with a zest of intimidation and instigation of violence. Serve alongside a hearty main course of narcissism and demagoguery, marinated 30 years in a rich and tangy blend of fraud, bankruptcy and tax evasion, cooked nice and rare, still oozing with the blood of gullible middle class workers, all topped with sautéed bullshit and smothered in Insanity sauce. It's an American classic, originating in the Deep South, timeless as apple pie, and it's what every Republican household will be gorging themselves on at their Thanksgiving and Christmas tables in the coming weeks. Yes indeed. The American electorate will eat that shit up. They'll stuff themselves to capacity and then vomit it up all over each other to make room for another helping, in the customary Roman Catholic tradition. And as you go about the arduous labor of preparing this most unholy of sacraments, remember to keep always in your heart and mind the wise words of the Fuhrer:

"How fortunate for leaders that men do not think."
"Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."
- Adolf Hitler

And it is important to specify the American electorate, for thanks to the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act over the last few years that demographic has grown significantly older and whiter in proportions. Many citizens of Our Great Nation found it a hell of a lot harder to vote this time around than in 2012, and that degree of difficulty varied with exponential intensity and direct proportionality to the tint of one's skin and indirectly to one's income level. In other words, if you were a student, poor, black, Hispanic or any other kind of brown-skinned it was damn near impossible for you to vote in 2016. In Wisconsin especially, and many other states, draconian voter ID laws blocked masses of students and poor people from voting. Republicans removed 103 polling stations in Louisiana, 202 in Arizona, and a whopping 403 across only 53% of Texas counties, mostly from black and hispanic urban neighborhoods, where people tend to vote for Democrats. Among the most egregious voting rights violators was Ohio, where the Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted made it illegal for any county to have more than one polling station - to make it "fair" - on Souls to the Polls Sunday when all the black churches in Ohio rally their congregations to vote early. The entire black populations of Cleveland and Cincinnati had only two polling stations available to them, causing lines snaking through entire three-floor buildings, out into the parking lot and around the city block. And that was the compromise that resulted from dipshit Husted's attempt to make voting illegal altogether on Sundays and weekday evenings. But even more despicable than Husted of Ohio is Kris Kobach of Kansas (alliteration unintentional), also Secretary of State. Through a program called Crosscheck he managed to knock an estimated 1.1 million voters off the roles across the nation in Republican-controlled states. The program compiles lists of voters with similar names in different states to check for voter fraud, and Kobach talked all the other GOP Secretaries of State into handing him the lists and letting him decide which names get knocked off. And so on the baseless claims that James Brown Jr. in Georgia might be the same voter as James Brown Sr. in Virginia (That's not a made-up example by the way. There are 288 James Browns registered to vote in Georgia alone.) or Maria Christina Hernandez might be the same voter as Maria Isabel Hernandez (another real example) all of the James Browns, Maria Hernandez's, David Lees, and a whole slew of other standard names common to minorities were completely scrubbed from the roles. If the Democrats hadn't taken back Virginia in the mid-terms and put an end to the program there, Trump might have carried it as well.

That's the great asterisk on democracy. Sure, you can vote for whoever you like, but They determine who is eligible to vote, what sort of ID is required, where the polling stations are and how many of them, how the precinct and district lines are drawn, whether or not there is a paper trail for your vote or if it get's dumped into an antiquated computer from the 1980s more hackable than a Coca-Cola vending machine and makes more calculation errors than a dyslexic Alzheimer's patient. They control every single aspect of the process besides your vote. Donald Trump was right when he said the election was rigged. The great irony is that it was rigged in his favor. Hillary won the popular vote, and if all those students, all those black, brown and poor people had their voting rights properly protected there's no doubt she would have won the electoral vote as well.

Now before I go any further, let me be perfectly clear: I'm no supporter of Hillary Clinton. She's a two-faced globalist oligarch, an international mobster in bed with the most nefarious of characters running one of the largest money-laundering, racketeering and extortion schemes in the world disguised as a charity. She's a proponent of the neoliberal system that has allowed corporations to infect and erode every level of our democratic systems, selling working families down the road and handing the nation's entire economy, foreign and domestic policy over to a handful of billionaires that only serve their own interests. She's Richard Nixon with a vagina, and about as fit to be President as Whitey Bulger or Pablo Escobar.

This election wasn't much of a meaningful choice at all in the end. If America were a car headed for a cliff, a vote for Clinton was one to pop a few Xanax and pretend there is no cliff. A vote for Trump was one to say, "Fuck it!" Pop another beer, snort another line, drop her into fifth and put the pedal to the floorboard with AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" blaring at full volume. The only option on the ballot to hit the brakes and try to find a way around the cliff, Jill Stein, didn't even get the 5% of the vote she needed to get federal matching funds for the Green Party because Americans only give a damn about winning, the survival of civil society and the biosphere is secondary at best.

But if anyone can understand the "Fuck It" approach, it's me. I lived the entire four years of my life as an Army Ranger by the Fuck It Philosophy.  Spent all night doing lunges up and down the hallway holding a machine gun over your head, shouting the Ranger Creed and taking shots of Jameson every time you fuck it up or drop the gun because you were ten minutes late to work that morning? Fuck it. Jumping out of a plane after having been at work for thirty-eight hours because some jackass nearly rolled a Stryker into a canyon? Fuck it. Losing your hearing in your right ear for a week and a half because you didn't get your ear-pro back on in time after the platoon sergeant hollered, "We're going hot!"? Fuck it. The Fuck It Philosophy is something you embrace when you feel you have absolutely no other choice. And that's exactly how not just Trump voters, but the country at large feels. Because even a vote for Hillary was still a Fuck It vote - a depressed, non-committal, reluctant "Fuck it . . . ," rather than an angry, deranged war cry. Hillary generated about as much enthusiasm in voters as the mannequins generate in customers at Old Navy. At best people just thought she was a standard politician, not believing the real crimes she has committed or the baby-eating, Satan worshiping bullshit Alex Jones puts out. But this was not the year for standard politicians. Politics as usual has fucked working people over in this country for so long, worn them so thin that all they want is a way out. And that's what they saw in Donald Trump.

But of course, Donald Trump is full of shit. He's not a smart businessman, he's an incompetent con man. So incompetent he managed to bankrupt a casino. He filed for bankruptcy multiple times, yet if he had just put the $200 million inheritance from his father into an index fund and reinvested the interest he'd be worth $12 billion. He can't even prove the $4 billion he claims he's worth.Trump Steaks were just repackaged steaks from the grocery store, and Trump University was as much a university as the Church of Scientology is a religion. Remember how he was saying he self-funding his campaign? Nope. He loaned the  money to "Donald Trump for President." A trick that allowed him to pay himself back  and pad his own pockets with the millions of dollars donated to his campaign by grassroots supporters. Just another con game. And that's what his entire campaign was too. He had a few people sit around and listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones and all those other right-wing pastors and nut jobs who only broadcast on certain airwaves or within certain circles of the internet. Then Donald Trump started saying all the same shit on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC and rallied a political base most people, liberals especially, had no idea even existed.

Trump did have a few good messages coming out of his campaign such as working with Russia to secure the middle east instead of treating them like an enemy, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and rejecting trade deals like the TPP and NAFTA. All those are great ideas. The problem is that even if he wanted to do those things Donald Trump hasn't got a fucking clue how to create an infrastructure program, run a military campaign, or write a good trade deal. He's failed at everything in his life, besides conning working people out of their money and votes, and now that he's made friends with the Republican establishment he'll turn to them to fill all his cabinet positions, to tell him who to nominate to the Supreme Court and who to appoint to the lower courts. Lobbyists from arms manufacturers will tell him who to put as Secretary of Defense and which generals to promote and which to fire. Any genuine populist agenda Trump has will be effectively neutralized or absorbed by the Republican establishment and the corporate state. Already the newly forming Trump regime has reached out to Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase as a prospect for Treasury Secretary. On the campaign trail, Trump himself called Dimon "the worst banker in America."

I would like to think that it's only a matter of time before Trump's base realizes they've been betrayed and turn on him, that now that he and and the Republicans have enough rope they'll finally hang themselves. But that's not how things work in this country anymore. Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges points out that Trump and the hardline conservatives who support him are emblematic of what are called "crisis cults" in the past. They have already given up on politics and rejected intellectual discourse. Reality being to much to bear, they have retreated into fantastical thinking and obsession with  taking apocalyptic vengeance on the world that betrayed and left them behind, believing that the only way to bring back the lost golden age is to wipe out all the gays, Mexicans, Muslims, and intellectuals and convert everyone that's left to their vicious version of Christianity. They now live in a bubble impervious to facts and reason. They'll continue to blame liberals and brown people for all the destruction Trump's administration does, and media culture being the way it is, nothing is going to change. With lies, slander and half-truths having become so normalized by the mainstream press and then hyper-normalized with the advent of the internet and social media, finding the real truth is arduous for even a good journalist. In that media environment, it's kind of hard to blame Trump supporters, or anyone else for that matter, from just saying, "Fuck it," and believing whatever they want to believe. So conservatives have their bubble and liberals have theirs too, and as incredibly advanced cyber algorithms decipher our desires to feed more of the same back to us, the walls of those bubbles get thicker with every click.

Even if Trump's base does realize they've been betrayed, the damage may already have been done. With the far right in control of every branch of government and the largest surveillance apparatus ever constructed in the history of mankind they have all the tools they need to impose absolute totalitarianism overnight and effectively crush a liberal backlash before it ever happens. All it would take is one big terrorist to give them the excuse to do it. Article 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act allows the president to use military force to detain anyone, including Americans citizens, and hold them indefinitely without charges. So after Trump's taken care of Rosie O'Donnell and Bill Maher, journalists and activists will start simply disappearing. Republicans will finish gutting the Voting Rights Acts and by 2020 no one will be able to vote unless you're white, work for a major corporation and have a fucking microchip implanted under your skin.

In the end, Trump wasn't so much an insurgent candidate for the people as he was a fascism barometer for the elites. They tossed him in there to test the waters: see if the country was divided enough, the population finally dumbed down enough and all the liberal institutions (the church, the press, the universities) pushed far right enough to sell the American electorate a candidate so vulgar he did everything short of saying nigger, spick, raghead and cunt in front of a camera. And thanks to the scum-sucking whores in the mainstream media giving him $3 billion dollars in free advertising and the arrogant, spineless Democrats succumbing to the Notorious H.R.C. and stomping out Bernie Sanders, they managed to pull it off. But no matter who we blame now for Trump's election, - the Republicans, the DNC, or the mainstream media - and whether or not there is an effective liberal backlash in the coming years, we will have to answer to our children and grandchildren for how we voted last Tuesday - just as Germans had to answer to their future generations for how they voted in 1932 - and there will be no one to blame but ourselves.

I don't see any way out except full-fledged revolution. We can no longer attempt to make change through the traditional organizations and channels of power. Bernie Sanders represented an attempt to do just that and we saw how far the corporate state was willing go to crush him. Playing by the rules the elites set up for us is how they keep us under control. Power concedes nothing without demand. Our only hope now is mass civil disobedience. The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline need to quadruple in size. We need sit-ins in state capitols that hold our representatives hostage until they meet our demands for social and environmental justice. We need mass boycotts of Monsanto, Merck, Bayer all the other companies that conspire to poison our food, water and air and then pump us full of drugs to treat the cancer they cause. We need a second Occupy Movement too big and too unified to be forced out by militarized police that will shut down Wall Street until a we pass a Constitutional Amendment to get money out of politics.

It's time for the gloves to come off and prove that liberals can be badasses. No more appeals to power. No more playing by the rules. Let's get to work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *