The Empire Has No Clothes

A grumpy American election day retrospective

Watching the 2016 American presidential debates was like seeing a play you’ve already read. You can watch it unfold and be absolutely entertained, but you already know what the messaging and themes are going to be. It’s the perfect situation for Hillary Clinton. Who could be a better opponent than Donald Trump, a foul, xenophobic narcissist who roast-battled his way to the Republican National Committee nomination, relying heavily on bullying and self-contradiction?

Donald Trump is the opponent Hillary Clinton needed to win. The Democratic National Convention ‘fix’ is in the books. Two DNC Chairs resigned for what was, at best, election interference and, at worst, voter fraud.

First, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as DNC Chair for her statements that Bernie Sanders won’t win the nomination. Then Donna Brazille for providing a debate question to the Clinton campaign, where Wasserman Schultz is now employed. Party Chairperson is one of the highest positions in American politics. It’s supposed to serve an objective role in election oversight.

During last year’s Canadian election, Elizabeth May played a critical role in the national televised debates, forcing the other leaders to anchor their discourse further to the left (like Bernie Sanders forced Hillary’s rhetoric during the DNC primaries). May put environmental policy on the table every chance she could, forcing the other candidates to respond in front of a national audience.

 This opportunity was not available to Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Without fair access to corporate news networks and the debates, environmental issues are left out of the election conversation.

The privilege to participate in debates can make a massive difference in the political arena. Take, for example, Jesse Ventura’s path to becoming Governor of Minnesota; he clocked barely double-digit polling numbers prior to the debate, but enough to enter. Once given the opportunity to express his positions at the state debates, he disrupted the political process and was elected as a Reform Party Candidate.

At least Canada gave our Green Party a fighting chance.

Jill Stein can’t get media time anywhere but C-SPAN, Democracy Now! and RT. She and Gary Johnson were left out of the debates due to the rules of the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Climate change was not an American debate issue, nor will it be a priority for President Hillary Clinton, who’s already on the bullet train to the White House, unless she loses (against all conceivable odds) Arizona, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania, along with the Democratic-leaning swing states, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Virginia. Donald Trump, not that he has an actuary’s chance at winning, would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of all but title.

America’s corporate media model has no time for what can’t get ratings. Why would CNN cover Jill Stein when its list of paid pundits is also a list of Democratic Party strategists? Why would a business model centred on maximizing viewership give voice to anything but Clinton campaign softballs to maintain insider access, only to be compared with the absurdity of Donald Trump’s ‘yuge’, pussy-grabbing, ‘bigly’ fiasco of a presidential campaign?

Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric on a number of issues is going to be just that. Where is she on progressive issues? She came around on marriage equality in 2013 when it became politically convenient. At present, she is silent on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the fate of Native American water protectors. We know she’s hawkish on foreign policy, particularly during her stint as Secretary of State when she oversaw the expansion of a global network of US military bases and “humanitarian” intervention in Libya. We also know about her Goldman Sachs sugar daddies; we know they play for keeps. We can expect the unsavoury and undemocratic “Citizens United” ruling to stand, and likewise the CPD. Just as Barack Obama ignored whistleblower protections and his promise to close Guantanamo Bay, Hillary will leave a legacy of shattered dreams as long as Trump’s trail of hurt feelings. We will be lucky if Hillary falls as short of expectations as Obama.

The empire has no clothes. The American media model and political process has slowly been exposed to the point where the horror of the mainstream media’s refusal to cover the corruption of one candidate is overshadowed only by the absurdity of the other candidate, who felt the need during an election campaign to fight being given the nickname “Fuckface Von Clownstick”. With the help of mainstream corporate media, the CPD and Trump, Hillary will no doubt be elected, and for strategic reasons we can let out a sigh (of relief). For women, especially elderly suffragette voters, we can take appreciative pause for a female President of the United States, which is important in ways far beyond symbolism. But it would be foolish to forget Hillary Clinton’s digital footprint to the White House while she serves as POTUS and Commander in Chief.

Sam Swanson is back from the dead.