So, here we are, a month away from electing the most powerful government official in the world and p*ssy is the focus of the campaign. Not to diminish the boorish behavior of the candidate whose remarks have inflamed this campaign, but it is perhaps symbolic that the 2016 presidential campaign has devolved into a mess of vulgarities. It is what we have created in the nation, competing visions of self-interest wrapped in newspaper with a fishy scent.
Watching this campaign has been like watching a new version of television’s frantic game show “Family Feud” with journalists playing the role of Richard Dawson mugging with the contestants. This is the “show” we have dialed up in America and the penalty we are paying for throwing our votes at candidates who have done little to improve the human condition, for being asleep at the switch as our campaign finance system has been corrupted by big money, and believing the false narrative that a two-party system offers something more than marginal choices.
For all the moral outrage over Donald Trump, he is a creation of the media and the public’s fascination with celebrity. Some of the same folks who are incensed over Trump’s latest insult had no problem watching his narcissistic “reality” television show “The Apprentice” or spending money in one of his garishly decorated casinos. Donald Trump hasn’t changed. He’s the same megalomaniacal capitalist he’s always been. He’s the same guy I criticized in 1993 when he insulted and denigrated a northern New Jersey American Indian community seeking federal tribal status because he feared they would apply for a gaming license and challenge his then monopoly on Atlantic City casinos.
Likewise, for all the attempts to create “Saint Hillary,” the media is equally complicit in dropping the ball during the Democratic primaries and treating her chief rival, Bernie Sanders, like an old kook. Had more robust reporting occurred, partisans could have had a serious debate over her coziness with Wall Street, past pronunciations on policy and record as Secretary of State. Instead, we were treated to the “he can’t win” rhetoric and sleight of hand reporting that discounted his tremendous support at the grassroots. It’s why Clinton, with all the negatives surrounding Donald Trump, is still struggling to break the magical 50% mark in support and millennial voters remain unconvinced of her claims to be a change maker. The doubt is not all rooted in gender bias either. While some may begrudge the idea of a woman president, the trail of collateral damage of four decades of Clintonism is evidence enough for many people to be turned off.
So, here we are, with two candidates that every reputable poll shows many Americans express wide dissatisfaction they have to choose between. One is only the candidate of his party because Republicans misread the anger of their base and allowed a demagogue to use hate as fuel to bully his way to the nomination. The other, the consummate insider, who benefited from anti-democratic party rules that crush insurgencies and a news media that invests more in entertainment value than civic education. What’s worse is that the field of pre-nomination candidates, for the most part, was so weak that the final choices of the two major parties was inevitable. At the same time, the rules of the game are so aligned against alternative choices and minor parties are so demonized that most voters believe the world will end if they pull the lever for a candidate other than a Republican or Democrat.
I have no doubt Hillary Clinton will defeat Donald Trump. The election will likely be closer than anyone imagined or polls predict, but barring some mega scandal, Clinton will become the nation’s 45th president. As an African-American that prospect gives me no reason to celebrate or feel overly optimistic about the prospects for my community. While a Trump presidency would be a governing challenge, the current hysteria around his candidacy dismisses a history of presidencies that put people in the White House who were far more sophisticated, devious, racist and politically capable, and had inner circles equally dangerous, than the infantile, p*ssy grabbing, Putin loving, heathen Trump.
The aesthetic value of politics that has better looking optics has long lost its significance for me. Over the last four decades, partisan politics, in its current construction has yielded minimal gains for Blacks in America. No doubt, some bad stuff has been prevented but on just about every social index we remain at a significant disadvantage in 2016 despite some illusory success. What has always troubled me is that when we had only a handful of Blacks in Congress, no more than 5 and the Congressional Black Caucus did not exist, and no Blacks as mayors of large cities, and you could count the number of Black elected officials in the country on both hands – we managed through a grassroots movement to achieve significant policy victories. And for the record, that era was more racially hostile than present day. It just wasn’t chronicled on video.
We need to be ready for November 9 and the days after. What we are witnessing in this election is the ugly truth of America and the limitations of our present democratic institutions to elevate humanity. For all its power on parchment, the modern day presidency is limited in its ability to alter the course of lives on the ground. Yes, it is still a powerful platform but the complexities of our system of governance belies the faith we invest in the Oval Office to upend the worst elements of our society and create a more humane America. There is still a Congress to contend with, a body that itself has been warped by big money. Then there are governors, state legislatures, state courts, state attorneys generals, county prosecutors, local zoning boards and boards of education that will likely have more influence over your life than anyone who occupies the Oval Office.
In this version of “Family Feud” the Clintons from Arkansas will win but we need to make certain the regularly scheduled programming does not continue.
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com.