Democrats have to focus on the threat of Trump to beat him
When you look at the election rationally, it is impossible for a candidate who has no political experience, is a serial philanderer, has bankrupted several companies, has a fourth-grade vocabulary and has a history of shady business practices to even make it through the primary process.
Yet, today we have that very man as the presumptive GOP candidate.
When you look at the election rationally, a progressive candidate, running on the heels of a two-term president from the same party who turned the economy around from one of the worst economic slides since the Great Depression should be a shoe-in.
But she is not.
Why are we in this crazy, topsy-turvy situation? Well, the answer is less complex than you might expect: Emotion.
Emotion is one of the most powerful motivators I know. It drives people to do irrational things all the time. Just visit any local gay bar and watch who goes home with whom, and you will understand.
For years the progressives in this country (aka liberals) have continued to believe in the ideal that our founding fathers based this democracy on: “Enlightenment.”
Those intelligent founders believed in the principals of liberty, tolerance, fraternity and progress. They thought that science, empiricism and reductionism could guide a new nation into greatness.
The fingerprints of the Great Enlightenment are all over our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. They created a social contract between the citizens and the government that they felt was necessary for a civilized society. In it is established the principal of the “consent of the governed,” in which citizens consent to be governed by officials of their own choosing. Anyone who took civics or government classes in high school knows this.
(Do they teach civics or government anymore?)
So how is it that we have a man who seems to believe in the exact opposite of these principals polling so well before the general election?
I sincerely believe it starts with ignorance. We have a country that is, by and large, under-schooled and intellectually incurious. We have become this way both by happenstance and by design.
It is easy to go through life without asking questions, and considering how difficult many folks’ lives are just trying to make ends meet, it’s understandable that they don’t spend their spare time educating themselves on the issues of the day.
Then comes the “design” part. Our education system has been systematically gutted, creating, in effect, a two-tiered system: Those who are wealthy send their children to private schools where real education happens; those who are not wealthy send their children to public schools that have been selectively dumbed down to the lowest common denominators.
These schools have curriculum that are driven by standard tests and textbooks that are filled with inaccuracies and fiction. Teachers do as well as can be expected, but they are crippled by state and local governments whose agendas are not about education, but politics.
Now at the risk of being called a conspiracy nut, I will tell you that the right-wing is firmly behind the gutting of public schools.
First, because they see it as a way to siphon money off to private ventures. The “school voucher” idea makes this abundantly clear. Funds that could be used to improve public schools are instead given to parents so they can subsidize private ones.
Second, dumbing down the populace makes them easier to manipulate. Watch one hour of FOX News if you don’t believe me. We have a populace that actually believes that the unending stream of blatant propaganda is “news,” and that “reality TV” is real.
That brings me to the last part of the equation that gives us our current election cycle: “Reality TV.”
This format pretends to be something akin to the documentary form of “cinema veritè,” where life unfolds before a camera with no interference on the part of the filmmaker. This is the illusion, but one look at the credits for any reality TV show and you see a staff of writers. These people script, edit and manipulate the action to make it entertainment worthy.
At the bottom of the reality TV hole is “Celebrity Apprentice,” a show that is designed to pit people against each other to get a fake job with Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the entire show is a platform for Trump to pontificate and expound on his virtues. He is actually building his brand, and branding is something America responds to very well.
The end result of all this is a populace that responds to known “brands” like Pavlov’s dog. Just mention any famous brand — like Frito-Lay or Budweiser — and we automatically salivate.
That’s why Trump is having so much success. People have no idea what he is about other than the television personality he projects. People have been conditioned to believe he has some kind of “business acumen,” when in reality he is just a con man.
So what have we learned? Well, we know that the GOP is now riding the Trump Brand as far as it will take them because their own brand is bankrupt. They squandered it pandering to religious fundamentalists and bigots.
Lucky for the Republicans, we have a country full of people who have now identified with the orange-faced despot with bad hair. Why? Most couldn’t tell you, but they just think he speaks his mind and knows business, so therefore he understands the economy. He “feels” right to them.
Emotion trumps intelligence!
Meanwhile, the Democrats are still trying to run on the high ideals of enlightenment, and unless we want to live in a country with a Trump presidency, that has to end.
It’s time to talk about the real threat Trump represents. Time to speak of him and his campaign as what they are — “fascists.” Time to start playing the “fear card” as well as the “hope card.”
Without that, Hillary Clinton will go down as a smart woman who failed to motivate voters because she and her party were too busy trying to educate America.
That boat has sailed.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2016.