Circling the Wagons

Written by Robert Warden

robertIt has been a long time (for me) since I have written a blog post. There are reasons for that which I cannot elaborate on here, aside from having a very busy summer teaching session. However, I now look up and see that the Republican convention has taken place, and the surreal image of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump invades my consciousness.

It occurs to me that what we are seeing now is the circling of the wagons stage of political decline. Mobs of angry independent voters are gathering outside the beltway. Donald Trump? Isn’t he an outsider? Well, not really. I wouldn’t call any billionnaire (or person who can look legitimate in claiming to be one) an outsider — not in a corporate-capitalist society. Clearly, Republican insiders are horrified by his nomination, although they rolled over for him in the end. However, he represents the values of the corporate, white male dominated mindset better than probably any other public figure can. His candidacy certainly was the creation of Koch money, Teatards and an unwittingly compliant corporate media, but Trump represents the potential for total corporate dominance over the institutions of society, including our political ones. Trump’s candidacy is a dirty trick played upon the gullible. He claims to stand for political reform from the outside, while advancing oligarchy from the inside, as the few but powerful financial elite circle their wagons and hope to evade an onslaught of anger and demands for democratic reforms to help the average citizen, by the disenfranchised many.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton awaits her long-planned coronation anxiously. A more establishment candidate could not have been chosen by the Democratic Party establishment. And they did choose her, as evidenced by the emails posted today by Wikileaks, showing that the DNC engaged in constant attempts to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ campaign. A clearer case of circling the wagons could hardly be more evident. Again, her candidacy is something of a trick to fool the gullible. She is a ground breaker, they say, the ultimate glass ceiling breaker — the “first woman president.” Well, we have the first Black president now, and he isn’t all that different from other democratic presidents in recent history, although a great many voters find him competent, admirable and likeable, and he has been put up against some pretty stiff opposition. With Barack Obama, at least he was a true trailblazer. With Hillary Clinton, the only trail I see her blazing is following in the steps of her husband.

I just did a search and came up with an interesting list. There are large numbers of close female relatives of former male leaders, around the world, who are in positions of power. It is extremely disproportionate. Of course, this list does not mention male relatives of former male leaders, which also is a substantial list. But the point I am making here, is that proportionately, a greater percentage of the relatively few women leaders around the world, are relatives of former male leaders as compared to current leaders who are male. In other words, people seem to consider being a wife or daughter of a prime minister or a president, as a qualification, if not a prerequisite, for a woman to be a leader. I would think that as the nominal world leader in democracy, the United States would be above that, but if anything, it appears that we are behind the curve in terms of electing female leaders. Here is the article: http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/07/women-politics

Do any of these women really seem like political trailblazers? I don’t think so. Are they great reformers and progressives? Again, that appears not to be the case. If anything, they tend to represent another way of perpetuating the status quo.

And so it is with Hillary Clinton, or “Billary,” which is one of the kinder and more accurate epithets hurled at her by the Bernie or Bust crowd. Remember when Bill Clinton was elected? A young upstart in 1992? Well, it’s 24 years later, and his nearly 70 year old wife is now on the cusp of attaining the Democratic Party nomination. Yes, she is younger than Bernie Sanders, and about the same age as Donald Trump, but the point is that the same people and families are basically being recycled to the public. She is certainly much older than Bill Clinton was when first elected, or Barack Obama was or even is now. Again, the Democratic Party nomination takes on a surreal quality.

And so, we are confronted with candidates of the two major parties, with net unfavorability ratings in the minus 15 range, if Hillary’s nomination goes as planned, while Bernie Sanders continues to have a net favorability rating of around positive 15, in contrast to Trump and Clinton. This is a bizarre and unhealthy situation. The positive that I see in it, however, is that it may motivate reforms, and more power for other political parties, as teh credibility of the “2 major parties” continues to decline. But for now, we are stuck with these nominees, or presumed nominees. Of course, Hillary Clinton has been the “presumed nominee” for 8 years and nothing, not even that upstart democratic socialist Jew, Bernie Sanders, was going to keep her from her “appointment with destiny.” Friends in high places helped her make sure that would happen.

Personally, I am relieved — not elated, but relieved — when I see polls showing Clinton leading, but that is because I think a Trump presidency would be a world-class embarrassment and disaster worthy of making me consider renouncing my U.S. citizenship, while a Clinton presidency would not. I perceive that a Trump presidency would dig a deeper hole for our society to dig out of — deeper than anything we have faced before — while a Clinton presidency would maintain things much as they are, perhaps even offer some true improvements if progressive values prevail, or at worst, perhaps a continued gradual slide to the right. As always, I definitely want a good election for progressives as opposed to conservatives, up and down ticket.

There is a psychological side to all this. Although Congress has horrible approval ratings, it is natural for people to want to feel liked, useful, and “doing a good job.” Unfortunately, that means maintaining the status quo. To let themselves be replaced in large quantities, and have an “outsider” elected as their leader, would cause not only displacement, but much psychological stress and cognitive dissonance among establishment politicians. Of course, human nature tends to make people in such positions want to prevent that from happening. Call it a human foible, but people want to feel good about themselves, as well as those in powerful places to continue accruing the benefits of power. That’s why, even though a Bernie Sanders victory would be a great thing for the Democratic Party, the party leadership circled the wagons from the beginning and did its best to exclude Bernie Sanders and his supporters from the inner circle, and it appears that they have been successful in doing so. Bernie Sanders holds a mirror up to other politicians, even democrats, which puts then in a rather bad light. But it’s a mirror they need to look into if they are to see themselves as they truly are. Sadly, the success of the democratic party establishment in making their choice the nominee, has allowed them not to glance into that mirror too much. However, the strength of the progressive movement which Sanders leads, will determine whether or not United States politics truly begins to head in a more progressive direction from this point in history. That is why we need to keep politicians’ feet to the fire and make them accountable for their actions at all times.