Shackled! Only in America can a man martyr himself on a cross of pussy.
There’s an old Slavic saying about corruption: One thief sits atop another thief, using a third thief for a whip. The campaign trail is similarly a stack of deceptions, with each implicit lie of the horse race driving the next.
Lie No. 1 is that there are only two political ideas in the world, Republican and Democrat. Lie No. 2 is that the parties are violent ideological opposites, and that during campaign season we can only speak about the areas where they differ (abortion, guns, etc.) and never the areas where there’s typically consensus (defense spending, surveillance, torture, trade, and so on). Lie No. 3, a corollary to No. 2, is that all problems are the fault of one party or the other, and never both. Assuming you watch the right channels, everything is always someone else’s fault. Lie No. 4, the reason America in campaign seasons looks like a place where everyone has great teeth and $1,000 haircuts, is that elections are about political personalities, not voters.
These are the rules of the Campaign Reality Show as it has evolved over the years. The program is designed to reduce political thought to a simple binary choice and force more than 100 million adults to commit to one or the other. Like every TV contest, it discourages subtlety, reflection and reconciliation, and encourages belligerence, action and conflict.
Trump was the ultimate contestant in this show. It’s no accident that his first debate with Hillary Clinton turned into the Ali-Frazier of political events, with a breathtaking 84 million people tuning in, making it the most watched political program in American history.
Anyone who takes a close-enough look at how we run elections in this country will conclude that the process is designed to be regressive. It distracts us with trivialities and drives us apart during two years of furious arguments. It’s a divide-and-conquer mechanism that keeps us from communicating with one another, and prevents us from examining the broader, systemic problems we all face together.
Trump, ironically, was originally a rebel against this process, the first-ever party-crasher to bulldoze his way past the oligarchical triad of donors, party leaders and gatekeeping media. But once he got in, he became the ultimate servant of the horse race, simultaneously creating the most-watched and most regressive election ever.
He was unable to stop being a reality star. Trump from the start had been playing a part, but his acting got worse and worse as time went on, until finally he couldn’t keep track: Was he supposed to be a genuine traitor to his class and the savior of the common man, or just be himself, i.e., a bellicose pervert with too much time on his hands? Or were the two things the same thing? He was too dumb to figure it out, and that paralysis played itself out on the Super Bowl of political stages. It was great television. It was also the worst thing that ever happened to our electoral system.
Trump’s shocking rise and spectacular fall have been a singular disaster for U.S. politics. Built up in the press as the American Hitler, he was unmasked in the end as a pathetic little prankster who ruined himself, his family and half of America’s two-party political system for what was probably a half-assed ego trip all along, adventure tourism for the idiot rich.”