As I write this, the sun has just risen on the final week of the 2016 election and, strangely enough, there has not been a genuine effort on the part of some to break away and create their own Trumpocracy. That is not to say that such a movement will not develop in the near future but, for this moment, we seem to all remain Americans. These last 7 days, I suspect, will be full of the same idle speculation, hollow outrage and pretended shock as the preceding months, although there is the as yet unresolved matter of Hillary Clinton’s email practices, as well as Donald Trump’s continued tirades against things he neither understands nor considers important presidential information. Every election year many of us shake our heads in wonder as to how the system has remained so in-tact over the centuries. I can only imagine the harsh slogans, the insults, the character attacks of early elections, but they could not possibly match the rancor, the seething vitriol that has spewed forth from individuals of all political stripes. As has been the case for some time, concrete policy concepts have been replaced by abstract ideas intended to spark defiance and consolidate a candidate’s populist image. The statesmanship of American politics is no more as candidates scurry to portray themselves as alternatives to compromising establishment politicians while simultaneously acting like some sort of great unifying spirit.
Isolating anything useful from the torrent of hyperbole belched out of campaign speeches and the media supposedly helping clarify and authenticate the noise can seem to be an impossible task. Nowhere is it more clear that the same information can be parsed in an infinite number of ways than in American politics. Paid supporters (in the guise of journalists) and unofficial organs (masked as news channels) pretend to analyze and interrogate the candidates for our positions of authority, but too often they fail to pin down specific details and allow the candidate to ramble and evade. It is difficult to find meaning in oft recited statements and deliberately vague answers and we are, in many respects, alone. The borders between the real and the imagined, the truth and innuendo are crumbling daily as the American electorate becomes more tribal, less able to think critically and ever more dependent upon multi-national media conglomerates to inform us. This does not, as we have been led to believe, increase transparency or broaden the world view of the masses. What this does is narrow the scope for our understanding and ensures content providers and creators are kept close to their corporate and ideological masters and that those consuming the content remain so focused on hating the opposition that they cannot turn their suspicion to the actual villains.
This election has taken that dynamic and exacerbated it by pitting two wildly unpopular and unlikable figures against each other to succeed the popular and widely respected Barack Obama. This race to the bottom will produce a US president that enters office less popular than jock itch and Inauguration Day will be the first day on the job for either the terminally ill and untrustworthy Benghazi assassin or the misogynist egomaniac that will sell us out to Russia. Lesser of two evils my ass … they both reek of sulfur.