Make America Sane Again

Last night was a spectacle to see unravel. Flipping through channel to channel, I watched as the mainstream media imploded attempting to reconcile their polling data with reality. In just a matter of hours the narrative had changed completely. The narrow path for Donald Trump to claim victory had mutated into Hillary Clinton needing a miracle. And then in a single moment it was over: Donald Trump became the 45th president elect of the United States.

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the course of this election cycle, it is this: Never underestimate the ignorance of the American people. This will no doubt be remembered as an absurd climax in American politics, but it was something that had become gradually inevitable for the wildest year in my lifetime. Indeed, 2016 included the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, massive vehicular terrorist attacks, the Panama Paper leaks, and a Chicago Cubs World series win. Still, the question everyone will be asking today and for many years to come: How?

I believe the biggest reason that Donald Trump was victorious was because of the extreme resentment for Hillary Clinton. It was blatantly obvious to anyone outside of the Hollywood, Wall Street and mainstream media bubble that she was a terrible candidate. She represented the essence of the status quo when the country was screaming for something new. Her campaign was shallow and unexciting to get behind. The Democrats failure to elect Bernie Sanders as their nominee was their biggest mistake.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that at the time of writing this piece that Clinton will win the popular vote and I suspect that she will do so overwhelming as the votes continue to come in. The majority of the country didn’t get swayed by a demagogue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter now. Perhaps there is something to be said about an outdated electoral college system, but I digress and will leave that to the hundreds of Op-Ed pieces that will surely be coming.

Finally, a third point: Leftists have rightly highlighted the sexism, racism and bigotry throughout Trumps campaign, but have also failed to engage in these conversations honestly. Being critical of Black Lives Matter doesn’t make a person racist. Being critical of Third Wave Feminism doesn’t make a person sexist. Being critical of Islamic Terrorism doesn’t make a person an Islamophobe. The failure to distinguish and separate steel man arguments from true bigotry is a key factor in the rise of Trump and the platform he now has. We should never begin by assuming the worst intentions of our political opponents when thoughtful disagreement is possible. It’s simply lazy thinking and it’s completely ineffective for changing minds.

Emotions are high as this two year long bitter campaign comes to a close, but Leftists and Liberals now more than ever need to be rational and champions of reason. The election of Donald Trump in addition to Republican control of the House, Senate and Congress leaves the door wide open to massively regressive changes these next several years.

The silver lining in all of this, ironically, is that Donald Trump is not a traditional republican. The man has no ideology and his policies have been all over the map from the beginning. There’s much reason to believe that his ideas will continue to evolve as the realities of world politics finally settles in. In this regard, I’m hopeful that the presidency can humble the narcissistic egomaniac and make for a survivable 4 years. Don’t hold your breath.

The Lesser of Two Evils

If Christopher Hitchens was alive today, what would he think about the current U.S. presidential election? I can only imagine the colorful and articulate insight he would have provided us- shredding apart both candidates with their blatant hypocrisy. Hitchens unwavering moral compass in combination with his contrarian love for debate allowed him to call bullshit where no one else would. Nothing exemplified this more than his 1999 book No One Left To Lie to a damning polemic of President Bill Clinton.

At the core of the book, Hitchens describes the Clinton’s strategy of triangulation. Put simply, triangulation is the practice of promising to The Left, while delivering to The Right. Bill Clinton promised change in his campaign, yet actively fought against his own constituents the years following his election and reelection (ex: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Healthcare reform, Welfare degradation). The most depressing, yet successful part of this strategy was that even after duping his supporters, they actively defended him and rationalized his broken promises.

With the 2016 election less then a month away, I can’t help but consider Hillary Clinton’s own triangulation, particularly the compromises she’s made with Bernie Sanders during the primaries. Some of these compromises include: Adopting an Anti-TPP stance, supporting an updated Glass Steagall, and ending the era of mass incarcerations. If elected, will she even attempt to push these proposals as promised? Or will she be the mirror image of her husband, continuing the cycle of dishonesty that has plagued American politics and embedded cynicism in our democracy?

In addition to Clinton’s notorious issue of trustworthiness, is the other elephant in the room: The Clinton Machine- a vast network of allies that is loyal to the Clinton family. At the highest level this includes Hollywood celebrities, major media pundits, world leaders and Super-PAC operatives. Their political power is incredibly difficult to fathom and is quite frankly, terrifying.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if Clinton wasn’t involved in scandal after scandal throughout her career. And because of the recent Wikileaks revelations, many of the otherwise conspiratorial allegations made against her have either been confirmed or, at the very least, raised skepticism about high levels of corruption Clinton is involved with. It’s not a joke to suggest that The Democratic Party should consider changing their name to Clinton Incorporated®

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) Mrs. Clinton is running against Donald Trump- one of the most transparent narcissists that has walked the earth. Unlike Mrs. Clinton who cleverly hides her dishonesty behind obfuscations, Trump openly boasts about “facts” that can be contradicted with a 10 second google search. The man takes pride in ignorance with a blatant disregard for physical reality.

Perhaps even worse than his narcissism and slippery relationship to the truth, is his inability to concede or apologize any point. He downplays his comments about sexually assaulting women, scoffs at criticisms of his business practices and deflects everything directed at him as a mass conspiracy. Donald Trump resembles a child who never learned any mannerisms. He screams and pouts every time something doesn’t go his way. It’s appalling to see this behavior in any adult, let alone a candidate for the highest office in the world.

Policy wise, Donald Trump is one of the worst candidates in modern history. He believes climate change is a hoax, has endorsed torture and killing terrorists families, and thinks the United States should default on its national debt. These views are actually insane and dangerous. Of course that’s assuming he’s not bullshitting like usual. Trump is the antithesis of Christopher Hitchens- a man with a hallow moral compass, volatile values and a plain lack of curiosity.

I still have trouble wrapping my mind around how out of the 300 million+ potential candidates, we somehow ended up with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But here we are, and one of them will be president of the United States of America. If you alone had to decide who would become president of the United States, who would you pick?

In philosophy there is something known as The Lesser of Two Evils principle. Put simply, when faced with selecting from two unpleasant options, the one which is least harmful should be chosen. As a utilitarian, this principle is what it used in order to make incredibly difficult decisions in things like the Trolley Problem. So who is the lesser of two evils in this case?

When answering this question it becomes apparent that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represent two very different kinds of evil, which makes them very difficult to compare side by side. Hillary Clinton represents the vices of massive power and consolidation, stagnated thinking, deception and oligarchy. Donald Trump represents the vices of irrationality, chauvinism, hatred and fear.

More than anything however, I think this election is between a demagogue and a crook. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, I think he happens to be both. That makes this fairly easy..

I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton in November.