I tried. I tried for the past eight months to ignore the elephant in the room. The orange, combed over, donkey in elephant’s clothing elephant in the room. But, I can’t. And at this point I feel like if I ignore it any longer I’ll be no better than the people I’m about to launch accusations against in this post. This must be somewhat how the captain of the Titanic felt after the first lurch of the ship, and slowly the voice in his head that said, “we’re going to sink,” became a little more audible. We’re sinking folks. We’re sinking and I feel like for every pail of water I bail out ten more get tossed back in. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has extended months beyond what we all thought it would. I mean who could have predicted he would even be this culturally relevant so as to attract all the attention he has? If Caitlyn Jenner were polling this successfully, I would believe it. But Donald Trump? I can’t tell you the last time I saw an episode of “The Apprentice” but I can tell you it was before I was old enough to get my driver’s license. So how did we get here? How did we reach a point where a man with the political tact of a badger is polling higher than proven Senators, than proven Governors? Is this how the Mensheviks felt when Lenin seized control? I’ve read and heard enough references of Trump’s campaign to Hitler’s to spare you that analogy but I will say this, those that use the defense that, “millions are supporting Trump so he can’t be wrong,” (yes I’ve heard that, and my response was that millions also smoke crack, does that make crack smoking okay?) those people that use that defense NEED to read their history. Look at how many supported Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Mao, Castro. Were those guys not wrong if any of their support numbers reached the million man mark? Barack Obama’s support numbers have been in the millions since he launched his campaign in 2007, has he never been wrong? But I digress, which may be a problem in this post as I could write an encyclopedia on why Donald Trump should not be President, but I’ll try to keep it brief. The culprits for Donald Trump’s success are many, and what is surprising is not one of those culprits is Donald Trump himself. This is the perfect storm, the culmination of eight years of rhetoric and hornet’s nest poking and empty promises that created an environment in which dwells a portion of the populace so angry that I think they would support Michelle for President if she divorced Barack and renounced his politics tomorrow. The foundations of The Donald’s campaign go all the way back to the creation of the Internet itself, (stay with me here, I promise as conspiracy theory as this sounds I won’t be passing out any tinfoil hats or showing how steel beams can’t melt). Let’s dive in.
Since the creation of the Internet, people have been able to become much more confident in their ignorance. The faith that someone will put into a Facebook news article is astonishing. What’s worse, people that navigate the Internet as well as I navigate Victoria’s Secret now have unprecedented access to it since it’s available 24/7 on everything from our computers to our freaking watches. One would hope that all this access would cause people to become more diligent in what they hold to be true. That research would expand and those in power would be held more accountable thanks to the transparency of our world. But, alas, the opposite has occurred. Conspiracy theorists that still squint at dollar bills for evidence of Benjamin Franklin’s eighteenth century attempts to hide codes of a not so secret secret organization on our currency, and now rather than content themselves to rambling their lunacy to their multitude of pet snakes, they can congregate online and reaffirm these hypotheses among one another, tuning out any sort of sanity that dares intrude. Even worse, the necessity of authenticity has been utterly obliterated. People no longer check to see where or who an article or piece of information is coming from, they merely check to see if what they’re reading or listening to confirms what they already knew to be true because as my beloved Harper Lee wrote, “People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.” So, the instant someone finds something that comforts their uncertainty, they know it to be gospel and not only stop questioning its truth, but prosecute anyone that dares imply it be inerrant.
Thanks to the Internet you have a potential for a person to become vastly ignorant, yet wholly confident in all the untrue things they have committed to their heart. What this also creates is a person incredibly vulnerable to those that would seize on these traits for their own benefit.
Eight years ago,when Barack Obama announced his campaign for President, I have to think that all of the media outlets started foaming at the mouth harder than my dog whenever I’m frying bacon. I’m talking Ron Burgundy, “It’s the pleats,” level of arousal at the unprecedented profit potential this would create. The most polarizing candidate since JFK, someone who EVERYONE had an opinion on, as well as an opinion on everyone else’s opinion. If he lost, no biggie. They rode the wave while it lasted, and they can make residuals over hypothesizing the what ifs, and continuing to persuade Americans to believe that we are still the most racist nation in the world because we couldn’t elect a black president. But Hallelujah, he won. No matter your political affiliation, if you worked in the media industry in 2008, you probably partied harder than Pats fans after a Super Bowl win. Thus began eight years of unapologetic, unashamed, and unchecked pandering and politicizing from anyone and everyone with an opinion and a medium to deliver it to as many people as possible. People seized on everything. Barack Obama is the Antichrist, Barack Obama wants to relinquish the United States to Saudi Arabia, anyone who criticizes Barack Obama is also a member of the KKK. Why do you think shows like “House of Cards” are doing so well? The 2008 election created a revival in political interest, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, had the American political landscape not become perverted because of the tendencies of people described above. Arguably the worst of the worst? Fox News. Like any good capitalist, the executives at Fox News saw a demand with incredible profit potential, and pounced. They recognized the insatiable appetite of opponents of the Obama presidency, and saturated the market with analysts, specials, and show after show dedicated to countering and undermining anything and everything to do with Barack Obama and the Democrat Party. Hot on their heels? Talk radio. Conservative talk radio hosts stoked the fires of loyal Republican voters with notions of catastrophe, taking the tiniest of probabilities and exaggerating them to proportions fit for the Book of Revelations. Granted some were accurate, such as Obamacare. And yes, his penchant for the Executive Order is rather unprecedented. But, I have yet to see any of the four horsemen riding down Pennsylvania Ave, and I’m pretty sure Osama Bin Laden isn’t secretly hiding out in the Lincoln Bedroom. Nevertheless,
Fox News and Conservative Talk Radio seized the opportunity to fatten their wallets and increase their listener base by fueling people’s paranoia to a point that it got so out of hand they could no longer maintain their momentum by simply going after just Obama and the Democrats.
Thus the cannibalism began. It was not enough to blame American woes on the Obama presidency. Now the Republicans were to blame. They weren’t doing enough. They weren’t fighting back hard enough. They weren’t poring through the Constitution for hidden clauses that would have Obama kicked out within his first 100 days. Why haven’t they tried to impeach him they all cried? Don’t they know they’ve got the support? If we could do it with Clinton, why not Obama? The media industry changed the American political environment. They altered the demands of the citizens, and reshaped what people considered to be the job of their elected officials. Media created a distrust and distaste with politics of all kinds, causing a revolutionary renaissance. Suddenly words and images from our founding days became much more popular, anybody remember Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement? They were going to be our saviors, they were going to kick down the doors of Congress and sweep through the halls of government, restoring paradise the way Washington and all the founding leaders intended. But they didn’t. Because those in the GOP were terrified of going after Obama. Because it’s one thing to scream election speech after election speech to your local constituents promising a new day, and get sent off to Washington like a hometown son being sent off to war, but it’s entirely different to try to make good on those promises when you need the support of not only your political opponents in the Democrat Party, but also the leaders of your own who are so afraid of opposing Obama and being labeled as the party of old white racists, as the GOP was so terrified would happen. In hindsight, shame on the voters for believing that your one congressman can enact fundamental change in a government of over 500 elected officials. But, such is the belief that both the Democrats and the Republicans gave the American people. Obama’s campaign speech of “Hope and Change,” and “Yes we can,” created an idea that he alone can bring about any sort of change, and with such rejection of his policies during his first term, opposition voters sought out any one who stood up and announced they would rebuke his actions. So in 2012 the GOP took home broad victories, which many thought was a signal that the general election would go the Republican route as well. Until the Republicans put together a ticket designed to not oppose Obama. Mitt Romney, a pacifist on the level of Neville Chamberlain, and Paul Ryan, a young, promising congressman designed to silence the shouts of betrayal coming from the Tea Party faction of the party. The GOP was doomed from the start. Romney and Ryan never mounted a serious opposition against Obama’s campaign, and the Democrats were able to easily paint a picture of a country that was a work in progress, that would be the gleaming utopia he knew it could be if you just gave him four more years. Fast forward four more years of politicizing and pandering and pointing fingers and you’ve created a volatile political climate where no one is safe. First term elected officials are cast out as elites because they didn’t collapse the government during their time in Washington. There now exists a group of Americans who for eight years has been led to believe that salvation is just the right candidate away. That in order to redact the destruction Obama and the Democrats and “Republican establishment,” have caused, one needs only elect one more candidate.
After running the gamut of politically knowledgeable pundits such as Ted Nugent and Phil Robertson, Fox News, being the loyal capitalists they still are, saw potential in giving Donald Trump a little air time. Trump was beginning to become a bit more vocal about his opinions, my guess is because he had probably recently gotten snubbed from a White House private event and was determined to wedge his relevancy down the throats of the country. After a few appearances in which Trump did largely nothing but offer John Madden like commentary on the state of America, someone, somewhere, threw the idea to the universe that Donald Trump should run for president. Thanks, jerk.
Donald Trump, being the good capitalist he is, surely saw the profit potential in a Presidential candidacy. Truly, there has been no better time to be a candidate. If he loses, all the connections he’s made have created an entirely new industry for him to break into. For once he’ll be on the receiving side of donations rather than the giving side. If he wins, well then that’s at least four more years of Donald Trump being exposed to people and investments he would have never seen otherwise. I believe that’s why he’s running. I don’t believe for a second that someone with his wealth woke up one morning with altruism and patriotism tugging at his heart strings, beckoning him to stand as the voice of the citizenry.
The brilliance behind it all? Everyone has already done all the work for him. His voter base was already created, he didn’t have to recruit people to his cause. You could toss out Donald Trump and put in anyone else with remote similarity, and his supporters would not care. It’s not about Donald Trump. The only part he plays in all this is he saw the storm before the GOP or the media did, and steered straight into it. He seized on the opportunity, and he’s playing the election system and everyone involved for fools. He realizes that people are looking for change, but even they don’t know what sort of change they want. If voters truly wanted change, then Ted Cruz would have already won enough delegates for the nomination, because he has consistently had the most substantive and detailed policies of all of the candidates. If voters truly wanted a “shakeup” of Washington, then Ted Cruz would be the front runner, because he’s the only candidate with intimate knowledge of the Constitution, to the extent necessary to use it in order to create serious change in politics and government. People want neither of those things. They want their feelings acknowledged. They want to be satiated with rhetoric that will not only affirm their fears and aggression, but will also hold their increasingly short attention spans. So Donald pacifies them with broad talking points that allow them to perceive and impress whatever it is that they are looking to hear, so that there is no way he can be wrong. You can’t be wrong if you never say anything, and he realized that the first time he got before an audience of voters. Donald Trump’s rhetoric not only allows people to perceive what they want, but because of this it affirms their beliefs even more so, because his ideas are coming from themselves, not from him. Therefore, when someone challenges what Trump says, his supporters do not believe that they are challenging him, but rather them personally.
Perhaps the worst part of all of this is not that Donald Trump is leading the polls, because frankly the climate exists on both sides of the political spectrum. I believe if you put Leonardo DiCaprio in the Democrat Primary he’d be wiping the floor with Bernie and Hillary. The damage has been done, it’s likely irreparable, because the media industry isn’t going to give up profit in the name of integrity. What’s truly sad and frustrating about this is how closely it parallels past events, and how true the adage that, “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” is proving in 2016. Almost all of Donald Trump’s supporters have at one point or another uttered the phrase, “we the people,” usually in a Facebook post, usually in all caps, and usually at the beginning of a long paragraph containing little more than talking points or unverified conspiracy theories. Now, I believe they’re saying this because of the revolutionary renaissance we spoke of earlier, when it suddenly became trendy to reference our founders’ words and images.
What’s so frustrating about this is that if this is the case, these voters really do believe that by electing Donald Trump they are setting in motion some sort of revolution. They legitimately think that putting one man in office who shares Presidential qualifications with