Thursday, 29 September 2016

The winners and losers of the Trump/Clinton debate

What’s fascinating is that people in New Zealand are actually talking about the US election. It has nothing to do with our politics. We can’t vote. Almost no one who comments understands the US government. And it saps precious energy and time for most people with absolutely no tangible benefit.

I know the US electorate is being conned by Trump, because they think he represents change or a body-blow to the political establishment. But the mere fact he turned up to the debate proves he only wants to be part of the system (in control of it) and leave the entire thing pretty much alone. He may not know he can’t change Washington, yet I don’t think he cares. He just wants to say he is president because that’s what his American narcissism promised (“you can be anything you want”). He campaigns and debates on the idea of change (where did we hear that before?) but just like Obama, who actually DID naively think he could alter Washington, Trump doesn’t care. He just wants in. A crowd-sourced super-ego.

But I also get the suspicion we’re being conned, all the way down here. The point about not understanding the US government, and the one this author made about the rumour Clinton will “sign TPP shortly after coming into office,” are the same. Figuring out the short con (Trump is catering to his super-ego demands) is part of the long con (the US actually has democracy). Trump and Clinton are distractions so no one notices how the executive branch is the least powerful part of government, yet the most “amenable” to voters. Congress and the Senate organise the form and function of Washington, while the ultimate sovereign power rests with the Supreme Court. The voter has zero access to influence those. Yet nothing about this is considered strange or unnerving to people who believe in democracy. Instead, everyone expends their limited grumbling energy on hating Clinton and Trump, leaving only fumes remaining to attack the other two branches.

And it digs deeper. The election framing offers New Zealand media a playbook for the same distraction next year. It shows, once again, how easy it is to focus attention on PEOPLE rather than the system. You gotta remember, propaganda doesn’t teach you what to think, it teaches you how to act. And setting the frame this way dispels frustration away from the powerful, nameless few in parliament and the courts creating the rules we all have to follow. The propaganda stirred to final release at the climax of election day isn’t about picking your pocket, it’s about making you into a battery. All you’re good for, according to this structure, is what you can do FOR the structure. And the message from the media is to do nothing. No change needed, please. Move along.

I think if Trump was really the revolutionary his people want him to be, he would have refused to do the debate at all. “Oh, these are your rules? I don’t care. Politics is the problem, and I don’t want anything to do with it.” He should then use whatever time and media coverage he has available before he gets dragged off by the soldiers to implore his voters not to vote AT ALL and for all Republican Senators to step down and for the party to disband. The result would be a Clinton victory and a single-party state, exposing the true nature of the regime AS IT ALREADY IS. The Republican Party is a pretend opposition anyway. It allows the Democrats – of which 90% of the civil service is – to run a theatre of politics without any real danger. It LOOKS like there’s opposition, but there is effectively NONE. If Trump cared less about his identity, he would try to expose it, even though he lacks the power to do anything about it. That’s the point of revolution: to expose the evil of a system and spur a critical mass of people to resist and rise up.

Instead, there was a debate. A vanilla, unreal, media-channelled circus. Both candidates reinforced the system (only one of which knew actually exists), while every viewer believes it now moves to the final denouement in November. But it is a lie. There is no denouement. Nothing will change in November. The world won’t end, either. The candidates don't run the risk of moving the money, let alone the power. They couldn't be less irrelevant - for the US populace and New Zealand.

The only losers this week were those who thought they were watching the machinery of democracy. Which looks like everybody, from my viewpoint.


Jeff Mitchell said...

You're right about the debate being about "people". The personalities don't matter. As with Ron Paul, he helped to create a movement that still exists today. It will be the same with Trump. Even if he's dead there will be a movement left behind. Trump mobilises the people, even if they were already mobilised against the government in some form.

Andy Thomas said...

'The President is very much a figurehead - he wields no real power whatsoever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it.'