Predictable politics

 

Well, it appears the primary process for the presidential election is rapidly coming to a close, and as much as I hate to say it, our choice this November is going to be between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. As far as Bernie Sanders is concerned, I’ve heard conflicting reports about his ability to secure the nomination at this stage in the game, but even the most optimistic voices about him are couched in all kinds of caveats. Basically, the stars would have to line up perfectly for Bernie to win at this point. And sadly, that just doesn’t seem likely.

But on the Democratic side, we all could do way worse than Hillary Clinton. Yeah, she’s a slick politician and professional panderer, but what else is new? No, she’s not going to change anything, at least not in any real meaningful way, but she’s likely not going to screw anything up either. I recently heard her described as “perfectly predictable,” and considering the other party’s candidate, predictable sounds amazing!

Clinton is the candidate that we see every four years. Each time, this candidate shows up with a different face and name, and this time around, a different gender, but she’s basically the same candidate that shows up each election season. And I say that with respect to either party. If she were Republican, she’d be saying some stuff about smaller government and be giving lip-service to those who think gay people are icky. But like I quoted above, perfectly predictable. When thinking about the transfer of incredible power, there’s a certain comfort in knowing how that power is going to be used. Sure, I would love to see how Sanders would shake things up, or at least attempt to, but even with him, he was clear from the beginning about just what it was that he wanted to do.

trump_it_cant_happen_here-620x412
“It Can’t Happen Here” is a lesser-known work by American novelist Sinclair Lewis, in which he imagines a realistic scenario wherein fascism comes to the United States, despite a general public insistence that we’re immune to totalitarianism.

Trump, on the other hand, isn’t even consistent in any given sentence he utters. No one, probably himself included, has any fucking idea what he stands for beyond his own ego. And given the mad allegiance that his followers seem to have to him, and the political might that he’s been shown to command with just a small percentage of the voting public at his back, it’s absolutely terrifying to think about how this man would act with the power of the office of the presidency and all that comes with it. As it stands, he’s a narcissistic bully, a pathological serial liar, a self-obsessed egomaniac… and this isn’t even slander. His fans seem to love him because of these traits, not despite them. So what happens when we give a man of this M.O. more power than any person on Earth has ever had?

If you find that you have a hard time answering that question, don’t feel bad. At the very best, nobody has a clue what Trump would do if he became the next president. It only gets worse when you actually start guessing what he might do. He’s already talked about eradicating libel laws so that newspapers and other periodicals could be sued if you don’t like what you read. Given his thin skin, I’m guessing President Trump would be the first to take advantage of that breach of First Amendment protection, effectively using the power of the government to silence dissent against his administration. We’ve barely started this thought experiment, and the fabric of our society is already torn to shreds. So what about his disdain for Muslims, or Hispanics, or women, or the basics of our system of governance? What about the bridges he’s already starting to burn with our allies? Or the cozying up to our enemies for that matter? All it took was a casual compliment from KGB goon Vladimir Putin and Trump stated publically what a great guy he was. Is it respectable that our top leader be so vain and easily manipulated?

The options of what a President Trump might do are too numerous to speculate, and none of them sound good (any of the realistic ones at least). It’s disappointing and frustrating that we live in a country so torn by divisive politics that we’ve found ourselves in this situation, but now that we are, we need to deal with it. Ensuring that a predictable president takes office next year is definitely the only course of action open to us, so I guess that means that anyone who isn’t interested in living in a fascistic state should vote for Hillary Clinton this November (unless, of course, Bernie Sanders suddenly pulls ahead!).

For those of us who want substantial progressive political change, well, I guess there’s always 2020. For time marches on; we don’t seek a goal, but an ever evolving social landscape. The immediate fork in the road doesn’t include an option to the oasis, and likely never will, but one of them almost definitely leads us to the edge of a cliff.

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