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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Campaign 2016, a Kamekaze dive into the abyss

Sayonara, motherfucker
On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. And as usual, a large portion of the country was ecstatic, and another large portion was despondent. There were parties and balls, there were protests and anarchistic vandalism. Democracy had either worked or failed, depending on which side of the battle lines you stood.

After suffering through a campaign season that resembled a drunken demolition derby more than a contest for one of the most prestigious offices in the world. A campaign in which everyone involved adopted a scorched-earth strategy of character assassination and nastiness in general, the results are a smoking dystopian landscape littered with the broken remains of two political parties.

The Republicans never quite coalesced behind any one candidate, and the one who survived the primaries was hardly the one they wanted. Many of them shunned him in an effort not to be sullied by his populist rhetoric. Some of them became belligerent and tried to stop his advancement. Those who stood by him looked uncomfortable, like they'd entered into an unholy alliance with a dangerous loose cannon. But, like the “Teflon Don”, none of it seemed to stick to him.

He became increasingly popular with a segment of America that had for too long suffered through the aftermath of policies like NAFTA. They felt irrelevant, watching manufacturing jobs leave them for other countries like a fickle girlfriend. These red-white-and-blue collar workers were disaffected and angry. Where once they could afford a middle-class life supported by factory jobs or labor jobs, they now were out of work and destitute. They were desperate for a change, anything that wasn’t the status quo.

Behold, dwellers in the heartland! Your champion has arrived! A plain-spoken man with bad hair, who is scrappy and pissed off. He said that he would “make America great again" and wore a red trucker’s cap to his rallies. He blurted out his plans to “do away with Obamacare” and “build a wall” between the U.S. and Mexico to stop the hordes of illegal immigrants. He said he would “drain the swamp.” Of course they loved him, he said everything they needed to hear.

Donald Trump came into the political arena through the side door, completely unexpected. He had mentioned entering politics several times over the years, but he had also body-slammed Vince McMahon and shaved his head at a WWE wrestling match. Who could take him seriously? He’s been in the public’s awareness for decades as a real estate mogul who inherited millions and turned it into billions. He comes across as a rapacious huckster who is obscene, and completely self-absorbed.

And who was his challenger? Hillary Clinton, one of the Washington elite and one-half of a political power couple who have been in office, in one form or another since before “millennials” were even born. The former First Lady. The wife of President Bill Clinton, who had sold America NAFTA and scandalized the White House with a young intern and a cigar. Hillary stood by Bill as he rode out the storm of impeachment and accusations of sexual assaults. They even managed to get a “body count” named after them, detailing all the people who were connected to them and then got violently and unwillingly shuffled off the mortal coil.

She served as a Senator for New York, and wound up as Secretary of State for the Obama administration. She was a powerhouse, a political juggernaut, the media favorite, or so the Democrats thought. Unfortunately, like politicians are known to do, she also played fast-and-loose with facts. Erroneous statements came back to haunt her. She may as well have had an albatross hanging from her neck.

Her tales of arriving under sniper fire in Bosnia withered under the weight of digital video evidence. Her flippant and dismissive attitude towards people whom she needed to win over, and calling Trump supporters “deplorables” cost her dearly. They embraced the Deplorables title and used it as a rallying cry. But worst of all, she splintered off a large group of liberals by edging out Bernie Sanders in the primary using underhanded methods. When the DNC’s emails were leaked to the public, it caused a rift among Democrats that may never heal.

So, now America has two political parties that are shattered and fragmented, and as divided as the country itself. Some viewed the inauguration as the beginning of a rejuvenation of America, the dawn of a rebuilding; some viewed it as the beginning of the end, convinced that the new administration will destroy everything good in the country and possibly the world. In any case, Donald Trump is the new President of the United States, and all that's left to do now is wait and see.

Copyright Keith Browning 2017

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