Monday, July 10, 2017

Behind the Curtain

Like most people on the Left, I was despondent on Election Night. Head in hands, I tried to make sense of it all, tried to convince myself that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I tried to believe that our country hadn’t been taken over by Fascists. It took a few days, but I eventually snapped out of it.

The weekend after the election I went on Twitter to try and help build a new Democratic Party. I replied to a few Hillary supporters (whom I will hereafter refer to as “Liberals”), saying that we needed a party that actually stood for something and wasn’t just Republican Lite. Their responses were instructive. One said I was “clearly delusional.” Another said my comment was a sign of “latent misogyny.”

So, to recap, my substantive critique of Hillary’s candidacy was brushed aside as either sexist or totally out-to-lunch. I quickly realized what should’ve been obvious beforehand: Social media platforms aren’t the ideal venue for constructive political debate. But, in defense of my opponents, they appeared to be women, and I am a white, middle-class man. They had much more to fear from a Trump presidency than I did.

Trump quickly justified their fears by adopting the misogynist policies of a typical Republican administration, limiting access to abortion at home and abroad and showing zero interest in addressing the gender wage gap. He has even outdone the GOP establishment in terms of racism and xenophobia by issuing a travel ban against seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East. Once again, two traditionally marginalized groups, women and people of color (POC), are being sacrificed to “make America great again.”

But the mainstream media’s (MSM) response to this has been far more hostile than their reaction to similar policies instituted by George W. Bush and Barack Obama during their presidencies. And Liberals’ immediate loathing of President Trump outstripped even their disdain of Dubya following the 2000 election debacle. There’s plenty of criticism of his policies, but this is nearly drowned out by the chorus of outrage at his behavior. What really seems to have people up in arms is Trump’s boorishness, which is considered “unbecoming of the Office of the President of the United States of America.”

For this reason, it’s been hard for me to take much of the “Resistance” seriously. The main criticism of Trump is a matter of style, not substance. Beneath the crass surface, there remains significant continuity between the Trump and Obama Administrations (just as there was significant continuity between Obama and his predecessor).

Trump has merely escalated Obama’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, most of which he inherited from Dubya and did little to nothing in eight years to end or diminish. Denying entry to the Homeland to dozens or hundreds of people from these countries seems like small potatoes compared to killing thousands of their countrymen and -women each year.

Trump has also continued the tradition of handing control of the economy to the Captains of Wall Street, especially those from Goldman Sachs. We can surely expect a positively Obama-like deference to the High Priests of Finance, whom the previous administration spared from prosecution for the egregious acts of fraud and malfeasance that precipitated the Great Recession.

Given her record, there was every reason to believe that Hillary would sustain these policies. At least with Trump there’s a chance (albeit tiny and shrinking by the day) he’ll chart a different course for the country. Even if you’re a woman or POC, the issues on which mainstream Democrats and Republicans actually differ (abortion, LGBTQ rights) are minor compared to those on which they agree (economics, foreign policy).

As much as the MSM would like us to believe that everything was fine until Trump came along, things haven’t changed that much since he took office. We haven’t been taken over by Fascists. Trump has spouted a lot of vile invective reminiscent of Hitler and Mussolini, but he bears a much closer resemblance to the Wizard of Oz, a seasoned showman who draws our attention away from the real action. If you pull back the curtain, you’ll find the same Wizards of Wall Street who got us into this mess in the first place.

No comments: