The Political Circus of 2016

The emergence of Donald Trump as the front-runner for the Republican nomination for President indicates to me the nadir in national politics in the United States of America. Just a brief perusal of this man’s personal and professional life indicates an individual who is not only narcissistic, but also sociopathic. The manner in which he treated his first two wives, the mothers of his children, is a case in point. How he threw over his first wife, Ivana for a younger model (Marla Maples) was fodder for the tabloid press. When I refer to “model” I don’t mean one who works in the fashion industry, rather I refer to something like a car. When the old model no longer fits your needs, you trade it in for a new model. This is exactly what Donald Trump did to his first wife. He traded her in for a new model.

Enter Marla Maples. How Trump treated this woman should be a cautionary tale to any woman who enters into a relationship with a married man. By Ms. Maples, he fathered a daughter named Tiffany.  In less than five years, Trump kicked this woman to the curb. If a man will discard one woman for another in such a casual manner, how can you not expect him to treat you in the same manner?  This kind of behavior is not gender specific. I’ve seen women treat men in the same way.  The point I am trying to make is that Donald Trump has no conscience, no moral compass. He sees other human beings merely as tools, instruments to be used for specific purposes: (1) to prop up his ego; (2) to enhance his public profile; (3) to exploit for financial gain.  I will elaborate on the third point in a later post.

Trump

As a dedicated member of the Democratic Party, I could not be more pleased with the ascendancy of Donald Trump.  Single-handedly he is dismembering the Republican Party.  In the media, what have been described as “establishment” Republicans are recoiling at Trumps success in the primaries.  To me it is telling that the first of these “establishment” Republicans to endorse Trump was Governor Christie of New Jersey- another blow-hard bully.  Let’s consider why Christie endorsed Trump. Clearly he did so because he wants to cater to the ignorant masses who love Trump and perhaps get a nod as his running-mate in the general election. Christie’s political history is another example of a sociopath who has succeeded in the political arena using tactics that are reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s career. Again, that’s the subject of another post for another day.

Let me digress for a moment now.  As I mentioned before, I am a dedicated member of the Democratic Party.  I believe that the Democratic Party champions the needs of America’s working class, under-privileged, marginalized members of our society and the rank-and-file workers of this nation.  Sadly, since the ascendancy of the Clinton’s, this record has been tainted by the adoption by the Clintons of the same tactics used by the Republicans. The Clintons are sell-outs.  They take money from the same multinational corporate interests who are responsible for the decline of America’s middle-class.  I voted for Bill Clinton in both presidential elections.  Overall- I think he was a decent man, despite his appalling record of maltreatment to his wife, and any woman under the age of fifty years who was unfortunate enough to cross his path. The fact that in his first days in office, he cobbled together a coalition of Republicans and right-leaning Democrats to push NAFTA through Congress should have been a red flag to me.  According to an article on the Huffington Post from two years ago regarding the consequences of NAFTA, one million Americans have lost their jobs and our trade deficit to NAFTA members has sky-rocketed (Consequences of NAFTA).

As for President Obama, I must say that he has turned out to be a disappointment in every aspect of the promises that he made to the American people.  Did he, or did he not promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay?  Yet, there it remains as an international symbol of American tyranny over the rest of the world.  President Obama has said repeatedly that closing “Gitmo” is just too complicated, but the truth is that all it would take is his signature on a single document, and all of those human beings who have been imprisoned there would be free to go.  His supposed “big-a-boo” is where to send them?  That argument is specious.  Simply return them to the countries from which they were extracted.  These are human beings who have been subjected to treatment that violates basic tenants of the Geneva Convention.  To those of you who are Islamophobes, I say, “Get over it!”  Nobody deserves to be imprisoned without due process under law, and that is the situation in Gitmo.  If the authorities can do that to these people, it’s a thin wedge before they can do the same to you.

Another serious problem that I have with President Obama is the expansion of the domestic spying program.  President Obama promised to dismantle this program upon election; however, since taking office, the powers of the National Security Administration, and the ever-expanding umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security has intruded into every aspect of every American citizen’s life. So many people are quick to condemn Edward Snowden for betraying state secrets, for betraying his oath of secrecy and for putting the lives of secret agents in the field at risk.  To those people, I have this to say.  If not for Snowden, the American public would have no idea of the extent of our government’s intrusion into the privacy of every citizen’s right to privacy. The very scope of the domestic spying program boggles the mind, and many abuses of this power have been documented in the press.  Who knows how deep this intrusion goes?  When I found out that the NSA has programs that can use the camera on your computer to look at you, I covered the lense with a band aid. Call me paranoid, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

As for President Obama’s healthcare reform, I think it is a disgrace.  His proponents claim that he has expanded healthcare coverage to millions of Americans who before were without any healthcare benefits.  Maybe this is true, but from my perspective, Obamacare is a failure.  There are still millions of Americans who are not covered because the process of getting coverage is exceedingly complicated, requires access to the Internet, and puts billions of dollars into the pockets of the insurance companies who are responsible for the crisis in healthcare in this country in the first place.  During his first two years in office, Obama had a majority in Congress and could have pushed through any legislation that he wanted.  How much simpler it would have been just to give all Americans a buy-in to Medicare?  As a beneficiary of Medicare, I can tell you from personal experience that it is a well-run program that has given me access to lifesaving healthcare. That people who can’t prove insurance coverage are penalized financially during tax-filing season makes me sick to my stomach.

Many Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for Obama’s failure as a President.  I agree that there is an element of racism among members of Congress that has caused them to block any and everything that he tries to do.  On the other hand, Bill Clinton had to deal with a hostile Congress.  In fact, they even impeached him.  Despite that, Bill Clinton had the social skills and political savvy to work with a hostile Congress to push through legislation.  He had the balls to stand up against them and let them hang themselves with their own rope. (In this case, I refer to the notorious government shutdowns that made the Republicans look like the obstructionist, partisan creeps that they were.) Obama, on the other hand, has dealt with his Republican opponents with an appalling lack of understanding of how Capital Hill works.  A successful executive, whether his is a King or a President, must learn how to glad hand the nobles, or power-players that control the levers of power in his nation. He must have charisma and a certain quality that inspires confidence and trust in his abilities. Also, he must be a bit duplicitous, and learn how to play his enemies against each other.  President Obama has failed on every front.  In both general elections, I voted for him.  Honestly, I feel duped.

Bernie

So what does the future hold? God only knows. To me, the worst-case scenario ends with a Trump presidency.  The best case scenario ends with a Bernie Sanders presidency.  As a long term member of the Senate, Sanders has built relationships on both sides of the aisle that I think would make him an effective leader who could negotiate with Congress.  As for Hillary Clinton, God forbid she gets the Democratic nomination.  She is a divisive personality who has led a path of political corpses in the wake of her obsessive desire to become America’s first woman president.  Not only that, I find her sense of entitlement to the office of President repugnant. Yes, a backwater state like Alabama elected a former governor’s wife to their highest office.  That example should be a cautionary tale. Lurleen Wallace was elected to the governorship of Alabama because her husband, George, could not run for office twice in a row.  What the electorate didn’t know was that she was suffering from terminal cancer. For more about the life and death of poor Lurleen Wallace, I recommend this Wikipedia link: Lurleen Wallace. George Wallace would later engineer the repeal of the state prohibition against consecutive terms, serve in office for two more terms and provide a cautionary tale on the consequences of pursuing a political career based on the dynamics of hate.

Lurleen Wallace

Lurleen Wallace Addresses Alabama State Legislature (1967)

That leads us full-circle back to Donald Trump- a demagogue who is catering to the basest instincts of the American electorate.  His stances on immigration, feminism, civil rights and gun-control are a matter of public record.  He is coopting the fragile coalition built by the Republican Party of racists, gun-nuts, and religious bigots in order to win the Republican nomination.  All of the GOP elites, while decrying his rise, have also spoken on the other sides of their mouths to say that if he does win the nomination, they will support him.  “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott, from the poem Marmion).

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About Russell Smith

I was born at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. I find inspiration in the lives of so many people from Joan of Arc to Oscar Wilde. While my primary avocation is photography, I also enjoy philosophy, theology and most of all, history. My beloved wife, Robin Anne Smith, who passed away in 2013 is also an inspiration to me. My beloved partner, Dana is also a great support and inspiration to me. I'd be remiss if I did not mention my cats: Natasha, Maxwell, Tigger and Nigel.
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