Stephanie McDowall asked:
Will you write something about this damn election ? Your clear headed articulate thinking is needed.Steph
Aw shucks Steph, you say the nicest things 🙂
The first thing to keep in mind is that US Presidents no longer have any role in making policy. The White House has become a PR agency for the establishment, and the President is the chief PR spokesperson. Real establishment power is wielded by an elite oligarchy, behind the scenes. The last president who tried to exert his constitutional authority, and dethrone the oligarchs, was JFK.
Thus it makes no sense to worry about what Trump or Hillary might do, based on our assessment of their personality. Neither one is going to go rogue (follow their own agenda), even though Trump presents himself as rogue. We might recall that Obama also claimed to be rogue – “The ground of politics has changed”. Rhetoric only. Whoever gets in will follow the agenda that has been laid down for them, just as Obama has done.
One purpose of campaigns and elections is to create the illusion that some kind of democratic process is operating, to give people the feeling that their views matter, and that they have some role in determining their future. In other words, the election process is a ritual that claims to confer democratic legitimacy on an elite oligarchy – like in the ritual where a priest claims to turn ordinary wine into the blood of Christ.
A more subtle purpose of the election process is to create a lesser-of-two-evils situation. If Hillary gets in, her supporters will accept whatever agenda emerges – because they believe Trump would have been an unimaginable disaster. Similarly Trump supporters see Hillary as the ultimate disaster. Whoever wins there will be a sizable faction that enjoys the illusion of empowerment, while the other faction focuses its energy on digging in and doing better in the next election. In this way both factions will be neutralized for the next four years, as regards asserting any political voice.
We must also keep in mind that the vote-counting process cannot be trusted, as revealed in Dorothy Fadiman’s documentary, STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote. Not only do the oligarchs decide government agendas, they also decide which puppet gets to play the PR role. For both reasons, it doesn’t matter who we vote for – if we bother to vote. George Carlin says it all very well in his video no choice, and he gives us another take in The End Of America is Near,
As observers of the election ritual we can interpret the campaign as theater, as circus. We have two actors, two clowns, and we might think about why we’re getting these particular clowns to choose from at this particular time. What does that reveal about the elite agendas that are in store for us? What has all the rhetoric been preparing us for?
If Hillary ‘wins’, the expectation will be for business as usual, along neocon/neoliberal lines, and Trump’s opposition to free-trade deals will have been repudiated, along with his ideas about working things out with the Russians. If Trump ‘wins’, the expectation will be for some kind of shakeup, some kind of new direction both domestically and internationally. But such expectations are not necessarily an indicator of what would follow in each case, as we learned with Obama, who gave us very clear expectations and then pursued the opposite agenda.
Perhaps we can learn something from the second debate. I divide what was said there into three categories. The biggest category was ‘personal attacks’, and that is very important, as it gives each candidate a chance to remind their followers what a disaster their opponent would be. A smaller category was what I call ‘noise’ – the meaningless promises that pop up, like ‘fixing our inner cities’, or ‘bringing back jobs’. Nobody seemed to be taking that noise seriously, not even the candidates. The third category of talk, and the only category that sounded a bit like a real debate, had to do with ‘the Russia question’.
And indeed, the Russia question is the central issue of the day. In Syria Russia has drawn a firm line in the sand against US power. While we were hearing talk in Washington about creating a no-fly zone, Russia responded by actually implementing a no-fly zone – of their own. They installed advanced air defense systems, and publicly announced that any plane threatening Syrian or Russian positions would be shot down. It’s like the Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse – this time it is Russia drawing the line and laying down the ultimatum.
Russia has taken the gloves off, saying in essence, “You’ve been the only one playing hardball, but now we’re playing hardball too”. What does a bully do when challenged? Either they trounce the upstart, or else their schoolyard status is fatally undermined. If the challenge stands, the door is opened for Russia to assert its interests more proactively, throughout its periphery. More generally, the door is opened to a multi-polar world, with regional hegemons, and a curtailment of US claims to geopolitical exceptionalism.
But will the challenge stand? Given the hawkish talk from Western officials, all the military bases surrounding Russia, and the ongoing propaganda campaign against Putin, we cannot rule out the real possibility of all-out war. The Western public has been conditioned to see Russia as ‘an evil enemy’, and many commentators, including yours truly, have pointed out the clear geopolitical parallels between today’s world, and the lead-up to World War 1. In both cases a long-time global hegemon faces an upstart challenger, and must choose to either start a major war, or lose its privileged status.
The stage has been set for dramatic changes, of one kind or another, in the world order. It may seem we’ve stumbled into this situation through ‘failed policies’, but that would be mistaking theater with reality, rhetoric with strategy. We are at this juncture precisely because the oligarchs want to bring about a shift in the world order. As to whether nuclear war is part of their transition plan, as a depopulation mechanism, we can only guess.
As for ‘this damn election’, it ‘just happens’ to come at the same time as the pivotal challenge from Russia. One of the two clowns will be the designated story teller for the coming shift. It would appear that Hillary would be suitable for war, and Trump for a multi-polar world, but what do I know.