Terrible as it may seem, Russian state sponsored hacking is far from the worst of our problems here in America. The greater challenge to our Elections, Democracy, Human Rights, Liberty & Freedom, and Environment (which supports life itself) is far closer to home. The epicenter of this challenge is Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
Trump spent the last 18 months becoming our Commander in Tweet, and in just four short days he will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America, dragging along Pence for the ride as his VP. It should also be mentioned that the States seem to be anything but United over the election of this dynamic duo. Trump has the lowest approval rating, since we started keeping records and an unprecedented number of citizens and politicians plan to either protest or boycott his inauguration, the most notable being the civil rights icon, John Lewis.
True, were it not for Russia’s attempts to discredit the Clintons and the Democratic party, Hilary may have won, but she would have still been elected President of a country where the majority of citizens are deeply divided over the most basic of issues. As was the case for much of Obama’s Presidency, the pervasive stench of divisionism, hate and mistrust, sown by Republicans over the last 16 years and most recently by Donald Trump, would have still been overwhelming, making progress or any kind of forward motion almost impossible.
Thus, there are a myriad of reasons why Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and virtually every single one of his appointments thus far are completely antithetical to anything like democracy and the America that I and so many others expect and demand to live in.
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine, whose unexpected views on a number of subjects around the election brought home for me just how pervasive the Trump phenomenon is. I, like so many others at the bar where he expressed these views, sat quietly shaking my head, hoping to God that a few more weeks of Trump would change his, and the minds of so many other misguided Trump supporters.
Here are some of the topics discussed;
I. “Trump and Hilary are as bad as each other”.
The false equivalency that some have tried to draw between Hilary Clinton’s political career and Donald Trump’s long history of me-centric deceit and business missteps is truly worrying. I’m personally not a fan of either person, but I also understand that my opinion on this subject is not exactly typical. I was never a fan of Hilary, because she is a skilled politician. I much preferred Bernie Sanders, because he is a person who actually passionately believes in uplifting the poor and creating an economy which works for everybody. His democratic-socialist ideology has a lot more in common with those that I admire, people such as MLK, Malcolm X, and Dr. John Henrik Clark. Bernie Sanders’ record is solid on the issues that matter. However, even I can still be objective, examine the facts and come to the obvious conclusion that Trump and Clinton are nothing alike. This simple task seems to be near impossible for those afflicted by the Trump phenomenon.
Some wrongly believe there to be a meaningful difference between politicians and multinational CEOs. The only meaningful difference is that politicians are supposed to be held accountable by those who elect them. They also owe an allegiance to the nation which they are citizen of. Businessmen have no such responsibilities and are bound by no such allegiance or code of ethics. Their only goal is the acquisition of the all mighty dollar. This is precisely why they outsource and export jobs whenever and wherever doing so will increase profits or reduce cost. Donald Trump is a multinational CEO masquerading as a politician. Many of the same business practices which he now condemns he practiced throughout his life in order to further enrich himself. A leopard does not change its spots.
Many Trump supporters’ positions on Hilary are chiefly based on their raw emotions, which have been fed and nurtured over the last 16 years by an extensive smear campaign, which Republicans have unceasingly waged against her and her Husband. The Trumps and the Clintons were friends for years, but being the opportunist and reality TV dramatist that we all know him to be, Donald further amplified this smear campaign by labeling his opponent, Hilary, a habitual liar and even a criminal. He led “Lock her up”, chants with his supporters and even suggested that he would have her thrown in jail if he got elected. This is how he treated his longtime family friend.
Today Trump supporter’s seething hatred for anything Clinton effectively prevents most of them from being able to see or examine the obvious facts, which suggest that there are so many skeletons in the Trump Closet that it would be more accurate to call it a cemetery. There are more and more skeletons coming to light every day. In fact, the prospect of what actually lies hidden in Trump’s closet/cemetery is truly daunting. Prior to Trump and the present post-truth fact-skeptic environment, there has never been a politician who could withstand a Watergate level scandal and still remain in politics. However, by my conservative count Donald Trump is now on at least his 15th Trumpgate. Further evidence that he is only masquerading as a politician.
When asked to name Hilary’s skeletons, most of her critics will say that she is a liar or “crooked”, because she has changed her political positions on certain issues over the course of her career, like almost every male politician and certainly every Republican politician. Some with more Republican Fox News leanings will point to the private email server scandal and Benghazi. Some black people will talk about her “super-predator” comments from the 90s. Bernie supporters will talk about the rigged Democratic primary. After that we get into the “out there” conspiracy theory stuff, such as the fake news Clinton pizzeria child sex trafficking ring, etc. The most serious of all of these was the private email server scandal which, when viewed in the context of common Washington practice, was a minor incident greatly amplified to gargantuan proportions by the Republicans and Trump.
A brief catalogue of the Trumpgates in no specific order yields;
I: The Russians – His pre-election knowledge of Russian hacking (which is on record) that he now denies. Remember when he mocked Hilary by asking them to “please hack her email and find the 30,000 missing emails”? That’s pre-election knowledge of Russian Hacking.
II: The FBI-CIA-NSA – Essentially Trump going to war with the intelligence community over his dismissal of their daily intelligence briefings and his very public denials regarding their assessments; That Russia’s hacking was directed at giving him the edge over Hilary in the election. He now agrees with their assessment that Russia was behind the hacking of the DNC, but still denies that their goal was to help him win.
III: China – The One China Policy debacle. This is a very serious foreign policy blunder which he is still trying to turn into a win by now using The One China Policy as a bargaining chip to influence a new trade deal with China, the Art of the Deal style.
IV: His conflicts of interest regarding his multinational corporation, his international business investments, his debts to foreign governments, his refusal to divest from his business, and his nepotistic lack of separation between his immediate family, transition team, and entertaining various heads of state. His latest press conference with the stacks of dummy paperwork, where he suggested that his sons would take over the business and not talk to him about the way his decisions as President might effect his empire was beyond ridiculous.
V: His taxes – His refusal to turn over his tax returns (breaking a 70 year old tradition among presidential candidates). Simple question; What does he have to hide from the American public?
VI thru IX: His lawsuits – The myriad of pending lawsuits against him including a number alleging sexual assault.
X: The infamous bus tape where he could be heard bragging about kissing and grabbing women by the ₽£$$¥ without their consent. This should have ended his political career.
XI: His cabinet picks – His extremely shady cannibal-cabinet picks, including at least one known white-supremacist and many other billionaires and CEOs who have every intention of dismantling the very organizations that he has tapped them to head. Their primary objectives; 1. To remove all government impediments to them all making lots more money. 2. To reform the tax code for business so they can keep almost all of this money.
XII: His massive 3,000,000 vote defeat regarding the popular vote – His unsubstantiated accusations regarding 3 million people illegally voting in California. One of his most worrying traits is his near reflex tendency to lie and make up his own facts and statistics.
XIII: His fascistic tendencies – His very public attacking of the press, union reps, comedians, musicians, actors, civil rights icons, Democrats, fellow Republicans, Corporations, Gold Star Veteran families, foreign heads of state, essentially all who criticize him. The fact that he frames these attacks in 140 character tweets from a private twitter account.
XIV: Cambridge Analytica – The London based internet audience targeting tech company, hired by both the Trump and pro Brexit campaigns to flood the media and social media with right-wing fake news stories about their opponents. Steve Bannon, white-supremacist and Trump campaign chief is on Cambridge Analytica’s board.
XV: The Russian dossier scandal.
XVI: His comments about John Lewis, after Lewis called him “an illegitimate President”.
Any one of these scandals would be enough to remove any other candidate from the presidential consideration, but Donald Trump managed to endure these, and so many more and somehow still slither his way into winning the election and becoming the President-elect. This was a truly amazing feat!
Besides all of this, Trump is completely unqualified for the job of President. He knows little to nothing about the federal government, how to run it, and as we have seen his disastrous appointments reflect just how green he is when it comes to governing.
So, to conclude, there never was an equivalency between Trump and Clinton.
II. “Hilary lost because she ignored the white working class vote, or Black people didn’t come out to vote, or Latinos voted for Trump, or Women voted for Trump, or any other variations thereof”.
Okay, even if some choose to ignore the fact that Hilary bested Trump in the popular vote by a difference of almost 3 million votes, and then also ignore the fact that Trump won the electoral college by a tiny fraction (ranking 46 out of the last 58 elections), just 50, 000 votes concentrated in three key swing states (one of the smallest electoral college victories in history), one should absolutely not ignore the effect that the absence of key portions the Voter Protection Act had on this election.
Republicans strategically began work on crippling this important piece of legislation long before the Presidential election, because they understood that it played a vital roll in preventing the success of a future Republican candidate. By doing away with key portions of the Voter Protection Act, Republican legislators effectively opened the door for all kinds of nefarious disenfranchisement practices which included; Gerrymandering, Voter Suppression via unconstitutional voter I.D laws, and massive voter roll purging via Crosscheck (more on this later).
Now, consumed by the present frenzy over the Russian hacking of the DNC, most have overlooked the biggest news stories related to the recent election; The Recount in WI, MI, and P.A spear headed by Jill Stein, the lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign in order to halt these recounts, and Crosscheck; A nationwide scheme designed to purge tens of thousands of minority voters names from voter rolls in many swing states, including WI, MI, and P.A.
Crosscheck is a scheme dreamt up by cunning Republican legislators to combat the “wide spread voter fraud”, specifically the same person voting multiple times (a non-issue according to most reputable studies done on the subject). This was just a cover for their real intentions; To disenfranchise people of color in order to tip the scales in their favor. Crosscheck matches persons in the same district who are registered to vote with the same first and last name, then automatically regards these registrations as fraudulent, and removes their names from the voter roll. Predictably, Crosscheck is not applied nationally against the entire electorate. It’s applied on a district by district basis, targeted specifically at minority neighborhoods in key swing states.
As if this were not enough, there’s the ballot scanner errors which resulted in “undervotes” (or ballots which were not counted because they were considered to be “incomplete” by faulty scanning machines). Again, predictably, most of these faulty machines and resulting undervotes were located within minority neighborhoods in key swing states.
Because of this, Jill Stein requested a hand recount (where humans re-examine all ballots). Though she raised over $9,000,000 in small public donations over just 4 days in order to pay the state fees for these recounts, the Trump campaign filed a litany of lawsuits in an effort to block these recounts from going forward. These states also refused to do hand recounts. This is because both the Trump campaign and state Republicans knew that Trump’s victory was hanging by the thinnest of threads.
In Detroit and Flint alone there were over 100,000 votes purged due to either Crosscheck or Under-voting. That’s twice the number of votes that decided the presidential election.
Put simply, without hobbling the Voter Protection Act, Crosscheck, bringing those last minute lawsuits to halt the recount, and all the other Republican voter disenfranchisement schemes, Donald Trump could not have won the last election and Hilary Clinton would be the one about to be inaugurated in four days. These are just some of the reasons why people such as John Lewis consider Donald Trump to be an illegitimate President. The election was far from fair and free.
III. “The people who voted for Trump were not racists”.
This is one of my least favorite misconceptions regarding the election, which stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what racism is and how it is implemented institutionally.
During the Second World War there were many people in Germany, throughout the rest of Europe, and even in America who were not Nazis, per se, or anti-Semitic, but who benefited greatly from the actions being carried out by the Nazis. These were ordinary people, owners of businesses and corporations such as Bosch, Siemens, Ford, General Motors, IBM, Standard Oil, Du Point, Telefunken, etc and even foreign politicians. Though these people were not Nazis, they supported the Nazi regime, continued trade, and even provided them with vital war materials, such as the gas used in the gas chambers or the punch card computing power required to keep the concentration camp bound trains running on time, which ultimately kept the gas chambers exterminating efficiently.
From my point of view, if a person supported the Nazis then this person was effectively a Nazi. He or she was partly responsible for the atmosphere which made Nazi Germany a possibility. Thus he or she bore a share of responsibility for the atrocities that the Nazis committed. For the sake of making money and business, many people at the end of the war chose to see it differently. Many of the aforementioned companies were never prosecuted. In fact, a good number of them were awarded damages after their German subsideries were destroyed in the allied bombing campaigns. However, the truth remains that they and their shareholders made millions of dollars by financing and supplying the Nazi war machine.
By the same token, if a person knowingly voted for a man that they knew to be a racist, then they were effectively supporting racism. America has a long history of institutionalized racism. In fact, at one point American industry relied heavily on racism, owing to the fact that half of the country was fueled, at first by slave labor and then later by cheap labor made possible by Jim Crow. This lead to racism being looked upon by a large sector of white American society as being perfectly normal behavior. The condemnation of racism is a fairly new concept.
Most racists have no idea that they are in fact racist. This is one of the reasons why the problem of racism has been so hard to irradiate from modern society. It doesn’t matter whether or not a person consciously identifies with or ascribes to racist ideology. They can still support and propagate racism. Many Trump supporters chose to support a man who was “probably racist” because they believed his racism would benefit them or their families, and they knew that they themselves would be shielded from his racist actions, due to their racial identity. It’s also a common belief amongst this group that the race card is over played, and whites are often unnecessarily persecuted for the sake of political correctness. Obviously, one does’t get to be a racist and define what racism is. This makes no sense, like a thief getting to define what is or isn’t theft.
At least some Nazis could say that somebody had a gun to their head at the time, so they had no choice but to go along with the regime’s agenda. Trump voters could say that they weren’t aware of Trump’s racist actions, but that would be a hard sell, owing to the fact that virtually every news network reported his well documented history of being a racist, which began in the 70s. In most cases allegiance towards Trump arose from genuine frustration, which for some became anger, then hate and eventually led to them placing consideration of their own futures before the threat of what a Trump Presidency might mean to the future of other Americans, nations, or even the planet.
In their defense, most Trump supporters were duped by an extremely well designed and oiled propaganda machine. But, this propaganda machine still appealed to their very old fears, xenophobia, and racial stereotypes, which in large part were based on many their known capacity to support racism or racist ideas. Trump and his team were well aware of this capacity, and played his base like a fiddle at his many events. He simply told many of them what they already believed about Mexican immigration, Black crime, etc, and then made up statistics to support this.
The idea that a 70 year old man, who has spent the vast majority of his life being a super-wealthy, self-centered, xenophobic, bigoted, misogynistic, racist is now going to become an inspiring leader, who equally considers the lives of all Americans, regardless of race, gender, religion, or class is beyond naive. If offered a choice between himself, his money, his business, or the American people Donald will always choose the first three. He’s done this his entire life. He’s doing this now. He will continue to do this once he becomes President. The best anybody can hope for is that his own selfish interests and their interests are aligned and mutually beneficial.
The real danger in Trump is not Trump. It is those who he is opening the door to. The people behind Trump are truly scary and quite perilous to the future of America, and the small planet that it sits on. These people are no fan of Trump. They quite rightly think he’s an idiot and merely a means to an end. Trump is not and never has been a fan of democracy. The people around him are even more extreme in their beliefs than he is. Their goal is to form a vast international right wing network, partnering with other right wing friendly governments, such as England and soon France to usher in “A New American Century” of corporate dominated-right wing-christian-white supremacy. This is essentially a New World Order and not so different from what Hitler was trying to do via WWII. Their goal is the exact opposite of people such as Bernie Sanders, Obama, or even people in the past such as JFK or MLK. They view socialists as the enemy.
I guess by now you’ve realized that Mike Pence is already one of the most outspoken and empowered Vice-Presidents in modern history. It’s almost as though he is the co-President. This is because he is the real career politician with a well defined and thought out agenda, and the know how, network and connections to make it happen. He’s also a Christian extremist. The only problem is that his plan is about as close to evil as plans get (and I use that word sparingly).
The last thing this world needs is eight years of trickle down Reaganomics and eighties style American imperialism. In a world on the precipice of irreversible climate change, the last thing we need are climate skeptic leaders intent on rolling back carbon emissions to the seventies. In a world where only eight men hold more wealth than fifty percent of the entire human race the, last thing we need is more sixties style right-wing wealth consolidation. In a world where women are finally beginning to enjoy close to the same freedoms and opportunities as men, the last thing we need is to go back to the fifties, when overzealous men told women what to do with their own bodies.
On the subject of making America Great Again; In some ways, Trump represents the last desperate throws of his dying generation’s empire, who desperately wish to roll back the clock to a time when now old white men ruled their wives, households, countries, controlled all the wealth and told the rest of the planet what to do. The only thing is, time unceasingly marches forwards, and try as anybody might, they simply cannot prevent change. The true demise of Trump’s generation lies in the promise of today’s youth, who openly reject everything that he or his peers represent. Like all their rhetoric and nonsensical sensationalist reasoning, the Trumps of this world will soon succumb to their own inevitable mortality, going the way of the T-Rex and Dodo.