The Decay of American Politics: Pseudo-Election 2016

By Andrew J. Bacevich | (Tomdispatch.com) | – –

My earliest recollection of national politics dates back exactly 60 years to the moment, in the summer of 1956, when I watched the political conventions in the company of that wondrous new addition to our family, television.  My parents were supporting President Dwight D. Eisenhower for a second term and that was good enough for me.  Even as a youngster, I sensed that Ike, the former supreme commander of allied forces in Europe in World War II, was someone of real stature.  In a troubled time, he exuded authority and self-confidence.  By comparison, Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson came across as vaguely suspect.  Next to the five-star incumbent, he seemed soft, even foppish, and therefore not up to the job.  So at least it appeared to a nine-year-old living in Chicagoland.

Of the seamy underside of politics I knew nothing, of course.  On the surface, all seemed reassuring.  As if by divine mandate, two parties vied for power.  The views they represented defined the allowable range of opinion.  The outcome of any election expressed the collective will of the people and was to be accepted as such.  That I was growing up in the best democracy the world had ever known — its very existence a daily rebuke to the enemies of freedom — was beyond question.

Naïve?  Embarrassingly so.  Yet how I wish that Election Day in November 2016 might present Americans with something even loosely approximating the alternatives available to them in November 1956.  Oh, to choose once more between an Ike and an Adlai.

Don’t for a second think that this is about nostalgia.  Today, Stevenson doesn’t qualify for anyone’s list of Great Americans.  If remembered at all, it’s for his sterling performance as President John F. Kennedy’s U.N. ambassador during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Interrogating his Soviet counterpart with cameras rolling, Stevenson barked that he was prepared to wait “until hell freezes over” to get his questions answered about Soviet military activities in Cuba. When the chips were down, Adlai proved anything but soft.  Yet in aspiring to the highest office in the land, he had come up well short.  In 1952, he came nowhere close to winning and in 1956 he proved no more successful.  Stevenson was to the Democratic Party what Thomas Dewey had been to the Republicans: a luckless two-time loser.

As for Eisenhower, although there is much in his presidency to admire, his errors of omission and commission were legion.  During his two terms, from Guatemala to Iran, the CIA overthrew governments, plotted assassinations, and embraced unsavory right-wing dictators — in effect, planting a series of IEDs destined eventually to blow up in the face of Ike’s various successors.  Meanwhile, binging on nuclear weapons, the Pentagon accumulated an arsenal far beyond what even Eisenhower as commander-in-chief considered prudent or necessary. 

In addition, during his tenure in office, the military-industrial complex became a rapacious juggernaut, an entity unto itself as Ike himself belatedly acknowledged.  By no means least of all, Eisenhower fecklessly committed the United States to an ill-fated project of nation-building in a country that just about no American had heard of at the time: South Vietnam.  Ike did give the nation eight years of relative peace and prosperity, but at a high price — most of the bills coming due long after he left office.

The Pathology of American Politics

And yet, and yet…

To contrast the virtues and shortcomings of Stevenson and Eisenhower with those of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump is both instructive and profoundly depressing.  Comparing the adversaries of 1956 with their 2016 counterparts reveals with startling clarity what the decades-long decay of American politics has wrought.

In 1956, each of the major political parties nominated a grown-up for the highest office in the land.  In 2016, only one has.

In 1956, both parties nominated likeable individuals who conveyed a basic sense of trustworthiness.  In 2016, neither party has done so.

In 1956, Americans could count on the election to render a definitive verdict, the vote count affirming the legitimacy of the system itself and allowing the business of governance to resume.  In 2016, that is unlikely to be the case.  Whether Trump or Clinton ultimately prevails, large numbers of Americans will view the result as further proof of “rigged” and irredeemably corrupt political arrangements.  Rather than inducing some semblance of reconciliation, the outcome is likely to deepen divisions.

How in the name of all that is holy did we get into such a mess?

How did the party of Eisenhower, an architect of victory in World War II, choose as its nominee a narcissistic TV celebrity who, with each successive Tweet and verbal outburst, offers further evidence that he is totally unequipped for high office?  Yes, the establishment media are ganging up on Trump, blatantly displaying the sort of bias normally kept at least nominally under wraps.  Yet never have such expressions of journalistic hostility toward a particular candidate been more justified.  Trump is a bozo of such monumental proportions as to tax the abilities of our most talented satirists.  Were he alive today, Mark Twain at his most scathing would be hard-pressed to do justice to The Donald’s blowhard pomposity.

Similarly, how did the party of Adlai Stevenson, but also of Stevenson’s hero Franklin Roosevelt, select as its candidate someone so widely disliked and mistrusted even by many of her fellow Democrats?  True, antipathy directed toward Hillary Clinton draws some of its energy from incorrigible sexists along with the “vast right wing conspiracy” whose members thoroughly loathe both Clintons.  Yet the antipathy is not without basis in fact.

Even by Washington standards, Secretary Clinton exudes a striking sense of entitlement combined with a nearly complete absence of accountability.  She shrugs off her misguided vote in support of invading Iraq back in 2003, while serving as senator from New York.  She neither explains nor apologizes for pressing to depose Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, her most notable “accomplishment” as secretary of state.  “We came, we saw, he died,” she bragged back then, somewhat prematurely given that Libya has since fallen into anarchy and become a haven for ISIS.

She clings to the demonstrably false claim that her use of a private server for State Department business compromised no classified information.  Now opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) that she once described as the “gold standard in trade agreements,” Clinton rejects charges of political opportunism.  That her change of heart occurred when attacking the TPP was helping Bernie Sanders win one Democratic primary after another is merely coincidental.  Oh, and the big money accepted from banks and Wall Street as well as the tech sector for minimal work and the bigger money still from leading figures in the Israel lobby?  Rest assured that her acceptance of such largesse won’t reduce by one iota her support for “working class families” or her commitment to a just peace settlement in the Middle East.

Let me be clear: none of these offer the slightest reason to vote for Donald Trump.  Yet together they make the point that Hillary Clinton is a deeply flawed candidate, notably so in matters related to national security.  Clinton is surely correct that allowing Trump to make decisions related to war and peace would be the height of folly.  Yet her record in that regard does not exactly inspire confidence.

When it comes to foreign policy, Trump’s preference for off-the-cuff utterances finds him committing astonishing gaffes with metronomic regularity.  Spontaneity serves chiefly to expose his staggering ignorance.


By comparison, the carefully scripted Clinton commits few missteps, as she recites with practiced ease the pabulum that passes for right thinking in establishment circles. But fluency does not necessarily connote soundness.  Clinton, after all, adheres resolutely to the highly militarized “Washington playbook” that President Obama himself has disparaged — a faith-based belief in American global primacy to be pursued regardless of how the world may be changing and heedless of costs.

On the latter point, note that Clinton’s acceptance speech in Philadelphia included not a single mention of Afghanistan.  By Election Day, the war there will have passed its 15th anniversary.  One might think that a prospective commander-in-chief would have something to say about the longest conflict in American history, one that continues with no end in sight.  Yet, with the Washington playbook offering few answers, Mrs. Clinton chooses to remain silent on the subject.

So while a Trump presidency holds the prospect of the United States driving off a cliff, a Clinton presidency promises to be the equivalent of banging one’s head against a brick wall without evident effect, wondering all the while why it hurts so much. 

Pseudo-Politics for an Ersatz Era

But let’s not just blame the candidates.  Trump and Clinton are also the product of circumstances that neither created.  As candidates, they are merely exploiting a situation — one relying on intuition and vast stores of brashness, the other putting to work skills gained during a life spent studying how to acquire and employ power.  The success both have achieved in securing the nominations of their parties is evidence of far more fundamental forces at work.

In the pairing of Trump and Clinton, we confront symptoms of something pathological.  Unless Americans identify the sources of this disease, it will inevitably worsen, with dire consequences in the realm of national security.  After all, back in Eisenhower’s day, the IEDs planted thanks to reckless presidential decisions tended to blow up only years — or even decades — later.  For example, between the 1953 U.S.-engineered coup that restored the Shah to his throne and the 1979 revolution that converted Iran overnight from ally to adversary, more than a quarter of a century elapsed.  In our own day, however, detonation occurs so much more quickly — witness the almost instantaneous and explosively unhappy consequences of Washington’s post-9/11 military interventions in the Greater Middle East.

So here’s a matter worth pondering: How is it that all the months of intensive fundraising, the debates and speeches, the caucuses and primaries, the avalanche of TV ads and annoying robocalls have produced two presidential candidates who tend to elicit from a surprisingly large number of rank-and-file citizens disdain, indifference, or at best hold-your-nose-and-pull-the-lever acquiescence?

Here, then, is a preliminary diagnosis of three of the factors contributing to the erosion of American politics, offered from the conviction that, for Americans to have better choices next time around, fundamental change must occur — and soon.

First, and most important, the evil effects of money: Need chapter and verse?  For a tutorial, see this essential 2015 book by Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard: Republic Lost, Version 2.0.  Those with no time for books might spare 18 minutes for Lessig’s brilliant and deeply disturbing TED talk.  Professor Lessig argues persuasively that unless the United States radically changes the way it finances political campaigns, we’re pretty much doomed to see our democracy wither and die.

Needless to say, moneyed interests and incumbents who benefit from existing arrangements take a different view and collaborate to maintain the status quo.  As a result, political life has increasingly become a pursuit reserved for those like Trump who possess vast personal wealth or for those like Clinton who display an aptitude for persuading the well to do to open their purses, with all that implies by way of compromise, accommodation, and the subsequent repayment of favors.

Second, the perverse impact of identity politics on policy:  Observers make much of the fact that, in capturing the presidential nomination of a major party, Hillary Clinton has shattered yet another glass ceiling.  They are right to do so.  Yet the novelty of her candidacy starts and ends with gender.  When it comes to fresh thinking, Donald Trump has far more to offer than Clinton — even if his version of “fresh” tends to be synonymous with wacky, off-the-wall, ridiculous, or altogether hair-raising.

The essential point here is that, in the realm of national security, Hillary Clinton is utterly conventional.  She subscribes to a worldview (and view of America’s role in the world) that originated during the Cold War, reached its zenith in the 1990s when the United States proclaimed itself the planet’s “sole superpower,” and persists today remarkably unaffected by actual events.  On the campaign trail, Clinton attests to her bona fides by routinely reaffirming her belief in American exceptionalism, paying fervent tribute to “the world’s greatest military,” swearing that she’ll be “listening to our generals and admirals,” and vowing to get tough on America’s adversaries.  These are, of course, the mandatory rituals of the contemporary Washington stump speech, amplified if anything by the perceived need for the first female candidate for president to emphasize her pugnacity.

A Clinton presidency, therefore, offers the prospect of more of the same — muscle-flexing and armed intervention to demonstrate American global leadership — albeit marketed with a garnish of diversity.  Instead of different policies, Clinton will offer an administration that has a different look, touting this as evidence of positive change.

Yet while diversity may be a good thing, we should not confuse it with effectiveness.  A national security team that “looks like America” (to use the phrase originally coined by Bill Clinton) does not necessarily govern more effectively than one that looks like President Eisenhower’s.  What matters is getting the job done.

Since the 1990s women have found plentiful opportunities to fill positions in the upper echelons of the national security apparatus.  Although we have not yet had a female commander-in-chief, three women have served as secretary of state and two as national security adviser.  Several have filled Adlai Stevenson’s old post at the United Nations.  Undersecretaries, deputy undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries of like gender abound, along with a passel of female admirals and generals. 

So the question needs be asked: Has the quality of national security policy improved compared to the bad old days when men exclusively called the shots?  Using as criteria the promotion of stability and the avoidance of armed conflict (along with the successful prosecution of wars deemed unavoidable), the answer would, of course, have to be no.  Although Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Clinton herself might entertain a different view, actually existing conditions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and other countries across the Greater Middle East and significant parts of Africa tell a different story. 

The abysmal record of American statecraft in recent years is not remotely the fault of women; yet neither have women made a perceptibly positive difference.  It turns out that identity does not necessarily signify wisdom or assure insight.  Allocating positions of influence in the State Department or the Pentagon based on gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation — as Clinton will assuredly do — may well gratify previously disenfranchised groups.  Little evidence exists to suggest that doing so will produce more enlightened approaches to statecraft, at least not so long as adherence to the Washington playbook figures as a precondition to employment. (Should Clinton win in November, don’t expect the redoubtable ladies of Code Pink to be tapped for jobs at the Pentagon and State Department.)

In the end, it’s not identity that matters but ideas and their implementation.  To contemplate the ideas that might guide a President Trump along with those he will recruit to act on them — Ivanka as national security adviser? — is enough to elicit shudders from any sane person.  Yet the prospect of Madam President surrounding herself with an impeccably diverse team of advisers who share her own outmoded views is hardly cause for celebration. 

Putting a woman in charge of national security policy will not in itself amend the defects exhibited in recent years.  For that, the obsolete principles with which Clinton along with the rest of Washington remains enamored will have to be jettisoned.  In his own bizarre way (albeit without a clue as to a plausible alternative), Donald Trump seems to get that; Hillary Clinton does not.

Third, the substitution of “reality” for reality: Back in 1962, a young historian by the name of Daniel Boorstin published The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in AmericaIn an age in which Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton vie to determine the nation’s destiny, it should be mandatory reading.  The Image remains, as when it first appeared, a fire bell ringing in the night.

According to Boorstin, more than five decades ago the American people were already living in a “thicket of unreality.”  By relentlessly indulging in ever more “extravagant expectations,” they were forfeiting their capacity to distinguish between what was real and what was illusory.  Indeed, Boorstin wrote, “We have become so accustomed to our illusions that we mistake them for reality.” 

While ad agencies and PR firms had indeed vigorously promoted a world of illusions, Americans themselves had become willing accomplices in the process.

“The American citizen lives in a world where fantasy is more real than reality, where the image has more dignity than its original.  We hardly dare to face our bewilderment, because our ambiguous experience is so pleasantly iridescent, and the solace of belief in contrived reality is so thoroughly real.  We have become eager accessories to the great hoaxes of the age.  These are the hoaxes we play on ourselves.”

This, of course, was decades before the nation succumbed to the iridescent allure of Facebook, Google, fantasy football, “Real Housewives of _________,” selfies, smartphone apps, Game of Thrones, Pokémon GO — and, yes, the vehicle that vaulted Donald Trump to stardom, The Apprentice.

“The making of the illusions which flood our experience has become the business of America,” wrote Boorstin.  It’s also become the essence of American politics, long since transformed into theater, or rather into some sort of (un)reality show.

Presidential campaigns today are themselves, to use Boorstin’s famous term, “pseudo-events” that stretch from months into years.  By now, most Americans know better than to take at face value anything candidates say or promise along the way.  We’re in on the joke — or at least we think we are.  Reinforcing that perception on a daily basis are media outlets that have abandoned mere reporting in favor of enhancing the spectacle of the moment.  This is especially true of the cable news networks, where talking heads serve up a snide and cynical complement to the smarmy fakery that is the office-seeker’s stock in trade.  And we lap it up.  It matters little that we know it’s all staged and contrived, as long as — a preening Megyn Kelly getting under Trump’s skin, Trump himself denouncing “lyin’ Ted” Cruz, etc., etc. — it’s entertaining.

This emphasis on spectacle has drained national politics of whatever substance it still had back when Ike and Adlai commanded the scene.  It hardly need be said that Donald Trump has demonstrated an extraordinary knack — a sort of post-modern genius — for turning this phenomenon to his advantage.  Yet in her own way Clinton plays the same game.  How else to explain a national convention organized around the idea of “reintroducing to the American people” someone who served eight years as First Lady, was elected to the Senate, failed in a previous high-profile run for the presidency, and completed a term as secretary of state?  The just-ended conclave in Philadelphia was, like the Republican one that preceded it, a pseudo-event par excellence, the object of the exercise being to fashion a new “image” for the Democratic candidate.

The thicket of unreality that is American politics has now become all-enveloping.  The problem is not Trump and Clinton, per se.  It’s an identifiable set of arrangements  — laws, habits, cultural predispositions — that have evolved over time and promoted the rot that now pervades American politics.  As a direct consequence, the very concept of self-government is increasingly a fantasy, even if surprisingly few Americans seem to mind.

At an earlier juncture back in 1956, out of a population of 168 million, we got Ike and Adlai.  Today, with almost double the population, we get — well, we get what we’ve got.  This does not represent progress.  And don’t kid yourself that things really can’t get much worse.  Unless Americans rouse themselves to act, count on it, they will.

Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is the author most recently of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 Andrew J. Bacevich

Via Tomdispatch.com

Posted in US politics | 17 Responses | Print |

17 Responses

  1. William Domoney

    the other half of the sentence “fresh” tends to be synonymous with wacky, off-the-wall, ridiculous, or altogether hair-raising.

  2. Sound and fury, but with limited significance and flawed parallels.

    Near as I can tell the author is wishing for a time when candidates had fewer negatives, regardless of the underlying issues or the even the whims of polls.

    Clinton had a 60%+ favorability while Secretary of State as well as a 60%+ in the late 1990s. Every time she runs for office her favorability bottoms out before climbing again as she moves away from the election.

    The author even alludes to this with a discussion of image. Trump, of course, is all image all the time. Clinton, however, has a apathy/hate relationship with the image makers She is a person of discussions and papers and small groups rather than a person of the glitter and spotlight. And by almost any measure she’s the one of the most honest politicians out there. This is backed up by politifact numbers and statements. Look to Jill Abramson’s piece on Clinton’s honesty and the related issues. Sanders was much more well-liked and trusted while he made incredible over-the-top promises regarding issues (incarceration, etc.) that a President had no control over.

    And even though most of the national security problems of today–if not all of them–are addressing bad choices made by previous administrations, we are left with ” Using as criteria the promotion of stability and the avoidance of armed conflict (along with the successful prosecution of wars deemed unavoidable), the answer would, of course, have to be no. ” I suppose we would be better off if they were arming the Taliban in Afghanistan or trading arms for hostages in Iran/Contra or assassinating world leaders? Or just generally picking the wrong players to back in most conflicts during the past 50 years? Or maybe just picking battles over a fit of pique from Cuba to Iraq.

    The author has a point with the emphasis on spectacle over substance, but this is not Clinton’s fault; the blame sits squarely on the media and the public.

    Carter was and is a about as likable person as could be President. But his Presidency was a failure. Obama really comes off as a cold fish, but he has been incredibly successful.

    • We’re poking into a deeper crisis here about America’s role as a global status-quo power at the very moment when Americans are all feeling that under the status quo they’ve been cheated by other Americans or other countries out of the lifestyle to which they’ve become indoctrinated.

      Now you see how that works against establishment Democrats. It seems that people who have violently different grievances against the status quo can form ad hoc alliances to overthrow it, like when the Nazis and Communists destabilized the Weimar Republic each confident that they would prevail in the deluge. The hardest, least glamorous political space to occupy is that of someone who recognizes that huge changes must be carried out using the very same institutions that have suppressed those changes. The greatest practitioners of such politics in America were Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, who in effect were gifted existential threats and the ground troops to carry out change in places where the Federal government had no past power. Each could play good cop to extort reforms from a weakened oligarch class while pointing to a very real and dangerous bad cop. Each drew on tremendous good will from a loyal public in having to experiment with radical changes, and fail, and try again.

      I’m not sure that country exists anymore. Once we succeeded the British Empire as the world’s status quo power in 1945, the clock started ticking on our own sense of self-entitlement. It also started ticking on the inevitable bureaucratization of the New Deal agenda, such that Big Government can now be blamed for things that it couldn’t be blamed for in 1929, even if they’re the same things. This puts the defenders of liberal capitalism in an awful corner. Reagan began a 35 year demolition of such defenders by creating a nostalgia for a mythical hybrid of past tribalist America and imperialist Britain, obviating the need to invest in our workers and minorities. That cut off the funds from taxing the rich needed to pay for liberal programs. Those tax savings were used by the rich to buy further extremist indoctrination in every media. But it also meant the country chained itself to the global crimes of the rich as its only means of economic growth.

      And Democrats have caved in and adopted all that as part of the cynically-revised status quo: we now have all the financial instability of the Gilded Age plus a hated Big Government that weakens the credibility of socialist solutions. This unstable giant can now justify all the wrong acts in the name of getting past each little obstacle because now all of them are existential crises. But the giantism itself is the one obstacle that’s a taboo subject.

      This is what people want blown up, for an infinitude of selfish reasons. They sense it’s all going to blow anyway but they want it on their favorable terms, like the Roman landowners yanking out the last supports for their civilization because they think their little fiefdoms will come out ahead on taxes. How many died from this?

      This is why it’s very difficult for a declining status-quo empire to dismantle itself without collapsing. The Democrats of today are not up to the task, including Sanders. The Republicans, God help us, are cheering for the explosion and arming to butcher the survivors.

      • Sanders was being very polite. The thing about left-wingers is, they insist that you try all the peaceful options before trying the really destructive options.

        But when they go to war, right-wingers beware. Left-wingers are much, much more ruthless. Ask the Confederates about General Sherman.

        Given the demographics — the right wing is almost all really old now — the left wing is *going to* win. We’re going to dismantle the US empire as thoroughly as Atlee dismantled Britain’s empire.

        The only question is how much of a mess it’s going to be. The longer it takes the left to overthrow the demented forces of the status quo, the less of a mess it will be.

    • Darren,
      I want to personally thank you for your help with my campaign.
      Every time those motherlovin’ lefties have told the truth about me you’ve been there trying to misdirect and obfuscate!

      Now, I know 10¢/post isn’t much, so your ability to baffle ’em with boosh hit has me in awe of your loyalty.

      Together we will enter a new era of more-of-the-same: more for me and more-of-the-same for you!

      All the best,
      HRC

  3. As usual, I find myself almost completely in agreement with Bacevich.

    Hillary’s signs should read NBC: Not Batcrap Crazy. Because Donald most definitely IS. I can take conventional political frustration over insanity.

  4. I was fourteen years old in 1956. Like every other student at my high school, I followed the conventions closely.

    I don’t have grandchildren, so I don’t know whether high schools still hold mock elections. Do today’s teenagers even care about elections? We definitely did. Mine may very well have been the last generation of Americans to take elections seriously, and believe they made a difference. That’s why we threw ourselves into our school’s mock election with passion. And of course, having educated ourselves about the candidates and their positions on the issues, we voted overwhelmingly for Stevenson.

    I was shocked when our elders voted overwhelmingly for Eisenhower. But it was the last time an election result surprised me. Ever since then, I’ve assumed that the majority of my fellow Americans will always vote for the less qualified candidate. As I result, I’ve been able to accurately predict the winner of every single presidential election.

  5. All of the main stream media fear mongering about Trump and the nuclear code is ridiculous. Ok I get it he is unpredictable. However if past decisions are any indication of what Hillary might do as commander in chief we are in for more death and destruction in the middle east.

    She is a proven and deadly war hawk

    • Jesus, take a break from your soap-box about the Middle East. Do you honestly think Trump would support the Palestinians? Or anything he says? You are defeatist, like a lot of others who are against Hillary’s hawkishness. Sanders initiated a movement largely based in the left anti-war wing. They’re not going to keep quiet in a Clinton Administration. Deal with the way things are.

      • Your response creates some questions. When referring to the Palestinians, do you think Hillary Clinton would support them?
        Neither Clinton nor Trump would have much influence on Israel, Fata or Hamas. The “two state solution” died years ago when Israel decided to move into the West Bank and occupy the land and take the resources. There is very little chance anyone could influence Israel to move back to the 1967 lines, give up control of that most crucial resource, water, control of land, and to relinquish control of Eretz Israel in face of the current overwhelming religious currents in Israel. Not even to get into the issue of Jerusalem.

        As to the Middle East, would greater military response or some other approach be more effective? The US won’t
        know until action is taken. Neither Clinton nor Trump has really proposed anything and I’ll bet neither do before the election. What we win hear is the usual words without meaning, and the usual words to mollify the voters who support Israel.

        My opinion-Clinton, if elected, will be inclined toward military force.

        • No, I don’t think Hillary will support the Palestinians: she has and will maintain the AIPAC line. My comment was directed at what I perceived as the original comments naive view of Trump

      • It’s not really a question of supporting Palestinians or anyone else but of not inflaming issues by restraining and undermining the institutions and processes that have been put in place to handle such matters. US Exceptionalism is to all intents a religion, and as dangerous as any other in the hands of fanatics. The US has no longer has the national cohesion it had in ’56. Historically such a loss occurs when the people lose a sense of security, and the principal cause of a such a loss has usually been excessive fiscal inequality engendering insecurity and the constant attendant concerns which detract people from the proper enjoyment of the ‘simple things of life’. Cohesion would mean agreement on the issues, not on how to deal with them. The current dangerous financial inequality is not even on the agenda, let alone top of it where it should be.

      • rbtll….So are you saying ignore her war record? That is what is “naive” and dangerous. The media is stirring up fear about Trump based on things we don’t know.

        While his unpredictability is dangerous…so is her proven war record. Her threats made against Iran some years back. She is not a level headed foreign policy strategist at all

        Plenty out there to confirm those facts. Including Bacevich’s latest:

        Scott Ritter, Seymour Hersh, The Leveretts etc have all written factual pieces having to do with her war aggressive stances and push for military action in the middle east

    • If Clinton threatened to personally barge into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to berate Moslems, would you call that proof she is a proven and deadly war hawk? Yet Trump ACTUALLY DID THAT. Last year, his threat to visit so scared the psychotic Netanyahu regime that it had to talk him into canceling. Even it was afraid of what Trump might unleash with nothing more than his big mouth and tiny fingers and infinite hatred of anyone who gets in his way.

      I’ve been going through responses like yours to figure out the antiwar “left’s” insane blindness to Trump’s outright insanity. And all I can figure is, you hate the American government and everyone who’s been in it. So Trump is automatically judged innocent, because he’s never held a damn elected position in his life. What should disqualify him a hundred times over for the Presidency is a virtue in your eyes. You don’t want to vote for someone to run the Federal government, you want to vote for someone who will magically destroy it, while your hands stay clean of the fallout. You probably call yourself an anti-Zionist, but by your reckoning Kahane and the other settler extremists are less bad than Netanyahu because they never held the executive power to commit mass killings of Palestinians. But that’s bullshit, because they laid the groundwork for the conversion of Israeli Jews into a tribe of racists heavily in favor of Netanyahu’s Apartheid state. Trump is playing that role in America today against all minorities. The great evil in the world today is not big government, but the forces both elite and popular grabbing at the reins of power to restore a zombie parody of our very bloody past. That sort of megalomania will not obey your simplistic notions of who is isolationist and who is interventionist.

  6. Vote for the green party and the hell with where the chips may fall. This lesser evil, vote for Hillary is not productive. If Trump becomes president, maybe we will take a harder look at our broken political system and attempt to change it. I rather deal with a wolf in wolf clothing than a sheep in wolf clothing.

  7. So much talk about nothing of importance.

    Wake up Americans!

    You are being brained washed and kept unconscious for control by the corrupt multiple millionaires and billionaires, their corporations and their corrupt millionaire puppets.

    1. Get money, lies and misleading information without context out of politics and the news media.

    Prohibit multiple millionaires from holding any public office, federal, state, county and city, elected or appointed.

    Amend Citizen’s United. Stop money control of elections.

    Establish a government office to expose lies, half truths and misleading information without context by major news media, politicians, talk shows etc. Freedom of speech does not include using lies and half truths on national or local shows for brain washing for control of the masses.

    Send bankers and others responsible for the mortgage fiasco to prison.

    2. Close down the Military Industrial Complex.

    3. Carefully replace the Federal Reserve, a private corporation with a US government department. The Federal Reserve Act was slipped through and approved by Congress during the Christmas Holidays in 1913 which gave control of money to the corrupt millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires. The Fed is not in the government pages of any phone book.

    4. Free education for associate and bachelor degrees. Financial support for those that choose a trade with work study programs. Higher and professional degrees to be based on fix interests on family’s gross income, wealth and fixed assets so that all children have a chance to do their best.

    Close to a half of all college students never complete their degrees but are stuck with loans of high interest rates. Yes, our educational system needs to teach students how to learn.

  8. This is nothing new. The US experienced a very similar dysfunctional political situation in the 1850s. The brand-new Free Soil and Republican Parties cut through the crap. Then we had the Civil War.

    The US experienced another very similar dysfunctional political situation in the 1890s. Third parties started rising. Teddy Roosevelt partly corrected it, and finally Woodrow Wilson adopted the platforms of several third-parties wholesale.

    10 years later, the political situation was as bad as ever, and the Great Crash happened. This time, the US ordered troops to fire on the Bonus Army; FDR was elected and promptly told Congress and the Supreme Court that they were going to accept the New Deal or watch themselves be bypassed.

    Our political system has almost completely failed at least five times so far (first was Jefferson destroying the original planned system, second was Andrew Jackson’s dictatorship) and it has subsequently been sort of revived, but with massive changes. This will happen again very soon. This one is looking particularly bad, as the existing system seems remarkably unable to adapt; it may be Civil War level, though I’m hoping for New Deal level.

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