Monday, October 17, 2016
Politico notes that the Trump strategy could have serious repercussions for American democracy after the election, especially if Republican leaders keep the same silence on the result that they've been keeping about the campaign itself. Trump cites media coverage as his main "evidence", but let's just consider for a moment the other case - that the election is rigged against Hillary Clinton.
If you were Hillary, and you had the same political nihilism as Trump, you could cite the following:
1. The consistent hacking of Democrat emails by Wikileaks and possible (though only alleged) Russian agencies. Wikileaks has emerged firmly in the Trump camp, and hasn't undertaken any leaks against Trump and his associates at all. The leaks, no matter how innocuous or explainable, consistently hurt Hillary.
2. The mainstream media insistence on "equivalence" between Hillary and Trump. Trump is arguably the worst candidate in American history, lies consistently, has failed to pay income tax or declare his tax returns, is a four-time bankrupt, has sexually assaulted women, uses dangerous rhetoric against minority groups, has run businesses that have destroyed the livelihoods of small workers, cosies up to one of America's biggest foreign foes. Hillary's record doesn't even begin to touch all of this, yet is portrayed in the media as being somehow equivalent. This campaign is indeed destroying American democracy, but the destructive impetus comes from one side only.
3. The Republicans have history in rigged elections, as witness the "Gore v Bush" 2000 one. Al Gore won the popular vote, and a predominantly Republican appointed Supreme Court decided in favour of the Republican nominee in the highly disputed Florida count. The Democratic nominee, Gore, conceded as soon as the decision was made.
4. Election machinery in each state is in the hands of state governance. 31 states have Republican governors, only 18 have Democratic governors. It was a Republican governor's administration in Florida in 2000 which determined the Republican outcome of that state's vote.
5. Mainstream media may lean towards Clinton (but see point 2 above), but much other media leans heavily towards Trump, including Talk Radio and the still much watched Fox News, who present Trump's outlandish and palpably false claims uncritically.
6. The Trump campaign is the culmination of more than two decades of well-funded, committed and consistent denigration of the Clintons by Republican right-wingers. From the millions poured in by Richard Mellon Scaife to things such as the Arkansas Project in the 90s, through the special prosecution of Bill Clinton by Republican activist judge Kenneth Starr, to the present day, the Clintons in particular have been the target of unrelenting abuse. There is a whole Republican industry dedicated simply to destroying the Clintons and reversing their and President Obama's liberal agenda. Nothing similar exists on the Democratic side.
7. The last boundary changes for the House of Representatives saw one of the most audacious gerrymanders in modern representative politics (detailed in a book by Salon's David Daley). While the Senate could change hands, there is virtually no possibility of the House doing so - it will stay Republican.
Donald Trump is the Republican Party's Frankenstein, and his claims of election rigging would have more resonance if they were spouted by a Democrat. At the moment, though, Democrats still believe in the American system and refuse to denigrate it. When media outlets talk of a "dirty election" and how it threaten American democracy, it's worth remembering that their false attempts at equivalence hide the fact that only one party, and its atrocious nominee, are engaged in that work.
Monday, October 10, 2016
1. Hillary Clinton is not great at being able to take down a great hulking target standing right next to her. Perhaps she's wary because of the various scandals attached to her own person, but such scandals are in no way equivalent to the host of issues suggesting Trump is unfit for high office.
2. Trump really has no use for his vice-presidential running mate. Rarely has a No 2 been so publicly humiliated as Mike Pence was tonight when Trump dismissed his views with the words "He and I haven't spoken and I disagree". If Pence had any dignity left he would leave the ticket. He hasn't and he won't.
3. Trump could have been a nightclub bouncer; his body language was tense and uneasy throughout and he wouldn't sit down, preferring to loom ominously over the set.
4. Trump got off lightly over the video of his sexist comments - or virtual endorsement of sexual harassment - and shoudn't have done.
5. Trump wants to put in place criminal proceedings against his opponent if he wins, with the intention of seeing her jailed. He would do well in an authoritarian banana republic.
6. Hillary is far more comfortable talking policy than debating, and it showed. She allowed Trump to lead the debate several times. She's not an instinctive politician in the way her husband or Obama are.
7. This debate will have changed few minds, but it may well have entrenched their respective supporters behind the two candidates.
8. Trump is awful. He is grotesque, lies congenitally, has few ideas about the policies he name-checks, is brutalistic and should never have been a contender. But you get the democracy you vote for.