1984=2016

1984

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P. T. Trump

No humbug: Striking similarities between Trump and P.T. Barnum

 By Thomas Bender/ Reuters/ April 3, 2016

(article requested by edray)

barnum-trump

Donald Trump is a phenomenon. What kind? He seems to think that he is “The Greatest Show on Earth.” And many of his supporters likely agree. That slogan, long identified with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, rings true. Trump may be the P.T. Barnum of current U.S. politics.

A century and a half separates these men, but they are equally big personalities for their times. Barnum and Trump both skillfully leveraged their audacious business methods to become “celebrities.” Barnum, a master showman, also went into politics and even tried his hand at land development.

Barnum and Trump each developed reputations as sharp dealers. They assume a world of caveat emptor, or buyer beware, and are boastful yet skillful debaters. They avoid outright lies — but structured misunderstandings stand as their métier.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) afternoon general session in Washington March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

They both dealt in landmark curiosities: Barnum in his famous American Museum on Broadway, just south of City Hall in New York City; Trump, farther uptown, at his lavish Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, as well as many other exuberant buildings and developments around the globe. Just as Trump Tower is a tourist destination, so was Barnum’s museum and, later, circus. He played to the common folk. Trump’s establishments cater to the rich, yet also evoke the fascination of those without money.

Barnum prided himself in never directly lying. In fact, he made money with ambiguous claims about the truth of his exhibits. He relished controversy about his claims to truth — much as Trump thrives on controversy surrounding his truth claims and verbal abusiveness. (Though a recent Politico report counted five dozen statements deemed “mischaracterizations, exaggerations, or simply false” in one week.)

Both achieved celebrity as masters of “humbug.” Humbug is not a word we hear often today. But “humbugging” was a way of life for Barnum — who thrived on exaggeration and misinformation. It typically fell short of lying, however. People by the thousands patronized his museum, delighting in being tricked.

Barnum, for example, achieved notoriety — and ticket sales — with his widely advertised presentation of a 161 year-old slave named Joice Heth. He claimed she had been George Washington’s nurse. Neil Harris, in his book, Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum, captured Barnum’s genius: The showman realized with Heth that “an exhibitor did not have to guarantee truthfulness; all he had to do was possess probability and invite doubt. The public would be more excited by controversy than conclusiveness.”

With that foundational idea and a great deal of advertising, Barnum invited the public to judge for itself. This is similar to the logic of Trump’s appeal. If Barnum used this technique to gather in considerable sums of money, Trump has used it to gather up a variety of partners for his projects. Now he is seeking to gather up many supporters and their votes — just as Barnum drew huge numbers of paying visitors to his museum.

George Templeton Strong, the remarkable 19th century New York City diarist, might as well have been describing Trump when he wrote about Barnum: It is “a pleasure to see humbug so consistently, extensively and cleverly applied.”

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Barnum later became a celebrated promoter of talent. As a theatrical impresario, his most successful production was bringing Jenny Lind, “the Swedish Nightingale,” to the United States, where she performed 95 concerts across the nation. Only later did Barnum create his circus, “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Trump, however, rather than making other stars, has built a successful career making himself a star with his reality-TV show, The Apprentice.

Both men had their financial ups and downs. Barnum, for example, moved his base of operations to Bridgeport, Conn., at one point, and went into land development. Thirty trains stopped at Bridgeport every day, guaranteeing ready access either south to New York and north to Boston. Alas, the project drove him into bankruptcy and a series of court fights. It turned out that the master deceiver had been deceived — somewhat like Trump’s checkered career in Atlantic City and several other places.

Barnum also built a lavish home in Bridgeport that he called “Iranistan.” It epitomized his views of oriental magnificence. He spent the then-enormous sum of $150,000 building it, but Iranistan burned down and the financial whiz had only $28,000 of insurance coverage. But he then tried capitalizing on his failure, proposing a lecture tour on “The Art of Money-Losing.”

Like Trump, Barnum recovered financially — and some years later linked up with James Bailey to create the Barnum and Bailey Circus that would long outlive him. More to the point, in the 1860s and 1870s he went into politics, and served two terms in the Connecticut legislature as an anti-slavery Republican. He was also elected mayor of Bridgeport, where he proved adept at urban management as well as continuing his promotion of temperance and religion.

Of course, Barnum continued to promote amusements. One of his most spectacular events was the 1863 wedding of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren (both “midgets”) in fashionable Grace Church on Broadway and 10th Street. Five years later, though, his American Museum burned down. Its collections were banished to Coney Island as “curiosities,” just as the meaning of museum was transformed in New York City with the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History.

Though Barnum did well in local elections, the national political stage eluded him. He ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress on the Republican ticket in 1867. His candidacy was widely ridiculed, however, and he lost that race.

Strong, the New York diarist, was pleased. He thought the Republicans erred in nominating the “prince of humbugs.” He asked: What is happening to the party of Lincoln?

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Mussolini: Democracy is a Fallacy

BPR Quote of the Day

quote-democracy-is-talking-itself-to-death-the-people-do-not-know-what-they-want-they-do-not-benito-mussolini-90-62-07

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The End of Identity Liberalism

 

CreditDan Gluibizzi 

It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.

But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.

The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects. Affirmative action has reshaped and improved corporate life. Black Lives Matter has delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.

But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. In large part this is because of high school history curriculums, which anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country. (The achievements of women’s rights movements, for instance, were real and important, but you cannot understand them if you do not first understand the founding fathers’ achievement in establishing a system of government based on the guarantee of rights.)

When young people arrive at college they are encouraged to keep this focus on themselves by student groups, faculty members and also administrators whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — “diversity issues.” Fox News and other conservative media outlets make great sport of mocking the “campus craziness” that surrounds such issues, and more often than not they are right to. Which only plays into the hands of populist demagogues who want to delegitimize learning in the eyes of those who have never set foot on a campus. How to explain to the average voter the supposed moral urgency of giving college students the right to choose the designated gender pronouns to be used when addressing them? How not to laugh along with those voters at the story of a University of Michigan prankster who wrote in “His Majesty”?

This campus-diversity consciousness has over the years filtered into the liberal media, and not subtly. Affirmative action for women and minorities at America’s newspapers and broadcasters has been an extraordinary social achievement — and has even changed, quite literally, the face of right-wing media, as journalists like Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham have gained prominence. But it also appears to have encouraged the assumption, especially among younger journalists and editors, that simply by focusing on identity they have done their jobs.

Recently I performed a little experiment during a sabbatical in France: For a full year I read only European publications, not American ones. My thought was to try seeing the world as European readers did. But it was far more instructive to return home and realize how the lens of identity has transformed American reporting in recent years. How often, for example, the laziest story in American journalism — about the “first X to do Y” — is told and retold. Fascination with the identity drama has even affected foreign reporting, which is in distressingly short supply. However interesting it may be to read, say, about the fate of transgender people in Egypt, it contributes nothing to educating Americans about the powerful political and religious currents that will determine Egypt’s future, and indirectly, our own. No major news outlet in Europe would think of adopting such a focus.

But it is at the level of electoral politics that identity liberalism has failed most spectacularly, as we have just seen. National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny. Ronald Reagan did that very skillfully, whatever one may think of his vision. So did Bill Clinton, who took a page from Reagan’s playbook. He seized the Democratic Party away from its identity-conscious wing, concentrated his energies on domestic programs that would benefit everyone (like national health insurance) and defined America’s role in the post-1989 world. By remaining in office for two terms, he was then able to accomplish much for different groups in the Democratic coalition. Identity politics, by contrast, is largely expressive, not persuasive. Which is why it never wins elections — but can lose them.

The media’s newfound, almost anthropological, interest in the angry white male reveals as much about the state of our liberalism as it does about this much maligned, and previously ignored, figure. A convenient liberal interpretation of the recent presidential election would have it that Mr. Trump won in large part because he managed to transform economic disadvantage into racial rage — the “whitelash” thesis. This is convenient because it sanctions a conviction of moral superiority and allows liberals to ignore what those voters said were their overriding concerns. It also encourages the fantasy that the Republican right is doomed to demographic extinction in the long run — which means liberals have only to wait for the country to fall into their laps. The surprisingly high percentage of the Latino vote that went to Mr. Trump should remind us that the longer ethnic groups are here in this country, the more politically diverse they become.

Finally, the whitelash thesis is convenient because it absolves liberals of not recognizing how their own obsession with diversity has encouraged white, rural, religious Americans to think of themselves as a disadvantaged group whose identity is being threatened or ignored. Such people are not actually reacting against the reality of our diverse America (they tend, after all, to live in homogeneous areas of the country). But they are reacting against the omnipresent rhetoric of identity, which is what they mean by “political correctness.” Liberals should bear in mind that the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists. Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it.

We need a post-identity liberalism, and it should draw from the past successes of pre-identity liberalism. Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them. It would speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who are in this together and must help one another. As for narrower issues that are highly charged symbolically and can drive potential allies away, especially those touching on sexuality and religion, such a liberalism would work quietly, sensitively and with a proper sense of scale. (To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, America is sick and tired of hearing about liberals’ damn bathrooms.)

Teachers committed to such a liberalism would refocus attention on their main political responsibility in a democracy: to form committed citizens aware of their system of government and the major forces and events in our history. A post-identity liberalism would also emphasize that democracy is not only about rights; it also confers duties on its citizens, such as the duties to keep informed and vote. A post-identity liberal press would begin educating itself about parts of the country that have been ignored, and about what matters there, especially religion. And it would take seriously its responsibility to educate Americans about the major forces shaping world politics, especially their historical dimension.

Some years ago I was invited to a union convention in Florida to speak on a panel about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous Four Freedoms speech of 1941. The hall was full of representatives from local chapters — men, women, blacks, whites, Latinos. We began by singing the national anthem, and then sat down to listen to a recording of Roosevelt’s speech. As I looked out into the crowd, and saw the array of different faces, I was struck by how focused they were on what they shared. And listening to Roosevelt’s stirring voice as he invoked the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want and the freedom from fear — freedoms that Roosevelt demanded for “everyone in the world” — I was reminded of what the real foundations of modern American liberalism are.

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Fear Trumps Love

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What We Are Afraid Of

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The Election was Stolen – Here’s How…

By Greg Palast/ gregpalast.com/ November 11, 2016

 

Before a single vote was cast, the election was fixed by GOP and Trump operatives.

Starting in 2013 – just as the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act – a coterie of Trump operatives, under the direction of Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, created a system to purge 1.1 million Americans of color from the voter rolls of GOP–controlled states.

The system, called Crosscheck, is detailed in my Rolling Stone report,
The GOP’s Stealth War on Voters,” 8/24/2016.

Crosscheck in action:  
Trump victory margin in Michigan:                    13,107
Michigan Crosscheck purge list:                       449,922

Trump victory margin in Arizona:                       85,257
Arizona Crosscheck purge list:                           270,824

Trump victory margin in North Carolina:        177,008
North Carolina Crosscheck purge list:              589,393

On Tuesday, we saw Crosscheck elect a Republican Senate and as President, Donald Trump.  The electoral putsch was aided by nine other methods of attacking the right to vote of Black, Latino and Asian-American voters, methods detailed in my book and film, including “Caging,” “purging,” blocking legitimate registrations, and wrongly shunting millions to “provisional” ballots that will never be counted.

Trump signaled the use of “Crosscheck” when he claimed the election is “rigged” because “people are voting many, many times.”  His operative Kobach, who also advised Trump on building a wall on the southern border, devised a list of 7.2 million “potential” double voters—1.1 million of which were removed from the voter rolls by Tuesday. The list is loaded overwhelmingly with voters of color and the poor. Here’s a sample of the list

Those accused of criminal double voting include, for example, Donald Alexander Webster Jr. of Ohio who is accused of voting a second time in Virginia as Donald EUGENE Webster SR.


Note: Watch the four-minute video summary of Crosscheck. The investigation and explanation of these methods of fixing the vote can be found in my book and filmThe Best Democracy Money Can Buy: a Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits (2016).


No, not everyone on the list loses their vote.  But this was not the only racially poisonous tactic that accounted for this purloined victory by Trump and GOP candidates.

For example, in the swing state of North Carolina, it was reported that 6,700 Black folk lost their registrations because their registrations had been challenged by a group called Voter Integrity Project (VIP). VIP sent letters to households in Black communities “do not forward.”  If the voter had moved within the same building, or somehow did not get their mail (e.g. if their name was not on a mail box), they were challenged as “ghost” voters.  GOP voting officials happily complied with VIP with instant cancellation of registrations.

The 6,700 identified in two counties were returned to the rolls through a lawsuit.  However, there was not one mention in the press that VIP was also behind Crosscheck in North Carolina; nor that its leader, Col. Jay Delancy, whom I’ve tracked for years has previously used this vote thievery, known as “caging,” for years.  Doubtless the caging game was wider and deeper than reported.  And by the way, caging, as my Rolling Stone co-author, attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., tells me, is “a felony, it’s illegal, and punishable by high fines and even jail time.”

There is still much investigation to do.  For example, there are millions of “provisional” ballots, “spoiled” (invalidated) ballots and ballots rejected from the approximately 30 million mailed in.  Unlike reporting in Britain, US media does not report the ballots that are rejected and tossed out—because, after all, as Joe Biden says, “Our elections are the envy of the world.”  Only in Kazakhstan, Joe.

While there is a great deal of work to do, much documentation still to analyze, we’ll have to pry it from partisan voting chiefs who stamp the scrub lists, Crosscheck lists and ballot records, “confidential.”

But, the evidence already in our hands makes me sadly confident in saying, Jim Crow, not the voters, elected Mr. Trump.

What about those exit polls?

Exit polls are the standard by which the US State Department measures the honesty of foreign elections.  Exit polling is, historically, deadly accurate. The bane of pre-election polling is that pollsters must adjust for the likelihood of a person voting.  Exit polls solve the problem.

But three times in US history, pollsters have had to publicly flagellate themselves for their “errors.”  In 2000, exit polls gave Al Gore the win in Florida; in 2004, exit polls gave Kerry the win in Ohio, and now, in swing states, exit polls gave the presidency to Hillary Clinton.

So how could these multi-million-dollar Ph.d-directed statisticians with decades of experience get exit polls so wrong?

Answer:  they didn’t.  The polls in Florida in 2000 were accurate.  That’s because exit pollsters can only ask, “How did you vote?”  What they don’t ask, and can’t, is, “Was your vote counted.”

In 2000, in Florida, GOP Secretary of State Katherine Harris officially rejected 181,173 ballots, as “spoiled” because their chads were hung and other nonsense excuses.  Those ballots overwhelmingly were marked for Al Gore.  The exit polls included those 181,173 people who thought they had voted – but their vote didn’t count.  In other words, the exit polls accurately reflected whom the voters chose, not what Katherine Harris chose.

In 2004, a similar number of votes were invalidated (including an enormous pile of “provisional” ballots) by Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.  Again, the polls reflected that Kerry was the choice of 51% of the voters.  But the exit polls were “wrong” because they didn’t reflect the ballots invalidated by Blackwell.

Notably, two weeks after the 2004 US election, the US State Department refused the recognize the Ukraine election results because the official polls contradicted the exit polls.

And here we go again. 2016: Hillary wins among those queried as they exit the polling station—yet Trump is declared winner in GOP-controlled swings states. And, once again, the expert pollsters are forced to apologize—when they should be screaming, “Fraud!  Here’s the evidence the vote was fixed!”

Now there’s a new trope to explain away the exit polls that gave Clinton the win.  Supposedly, Trump voters were ashamed to say they voted for Trump.  Really?  ON WHAT PLANET?  For Democracy Now!and Rolling Stone I was out in several swing states.  In Ohio, yes, a Black voter may have been reluctant to state support for Trump. But a white voter in the exurbs of Dayton, where the Trump signs grew on lawns like weeds, and the pews of the evangelical mega churches were slathered with Trump and GOP brochures, risked getting spat on if they even whispered, “Hillary.”

This country is violently divided, but in the end, there simply aren’t enough white guys to elect Trump nor a Republican Senate.  The only way they could win was to eliminate the votes of non-white guys—and they did so by tossing Black provisional ballots into the dumpster, ID laws that turn away students—the list goes on.  It’s a web of complex obstacles to voting by citizens of color topped by that lying spider, Crosscheck.

*****

Rent it or buy Greg Palast’s movie from Amazon or Vimeo.

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, now out as major motion non-fiction movie.

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The Good News About the 2016 Election

By Arlen Grossman

Really. There is at least one positive outcome of the 2016 election. Now that the Republicans have won the presidency, both houses of Congress, and soon the Supreme Court, they actually have to govern and attempt to solve all the problems they’ve been blaming on Democrats and liberals for years.

And if they can’t, that will open the door to the possibility of big Democratic gains in 2018 and 2020. It’s put up or shut up time. The Democrats are out of power and can no longer be justifiably blamed for what goes wrong in the next four years. Republicans now own the government and are responsible for fixing it.

They say Obamacare is a disaster and must be destroyed? Fine, come up with a better plan. Flooding, drought, heatwaves, etc. resulting from man-made climate change continue to worsen? You can’t blame liberals, so find a solution. The nuclear arms treaty with Iran is the worst treaty ever? Okay, repeal it and find a way to stop them from rebuilding their nuclear program.

Unemployment starts to creep up? Don’t blame Democrats, find a way to produce more jobs. More mass shootings? Nobody’s taking anybody’s guns away, so you can’t blame Obama. More terrorist attacks? Any new wars will be Donald Trump wars.

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Inevitably, Donald Trump and the Republicans will fail because their solutions are doomed to fail. Trickle-down economics has never worked, lowering taxes for the rich causes large budget deficits, and eliminating  regulations causes health and environmental problems. Foreign policy is more than just talking tough. They’ll find that out quickly enough.

The GOP has always encountered resistance to their solutions, now they’ll have minimal opposition and nobody to blame.When the failure becomes obvious, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party will have its best opportunity to make its case to the American people. Bernie Sanders showed what was possible but he never had much of a chance against the pro-corporate establishment that owns the Democratic Party. But after this election, that brand is tainted.

If ever there were a chance to promote the progressive agenda, these next four years will be that time.

So look on the bright side, Democrats, liberals and progressives. This is our best possible opportunity to shine. President Trump and the GOP will likely make things a lot worse.  But they will have nobody to blame. And if we play it right, it will be our turn to show what we can do.

 

Also published at OpEdNews.com

 

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More Lessons To Be Learned

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Lessons to Learn

Trump’s Three Enablers

by Robert Reich/ robertreich.org/ November 6, 2016

 

Even if he loses (and I believe he will), Donald Trump has done incalculable damage to America – eroding the trust and social cohesion the nation depends on.  

But he couldn’t have accomplished this without three sets of enablers. They must he held accountable, too.

The first is the Republican Party.

For years the GOP has nurtured the xenophobia, racism, fact-free allegations, and wanton disregard for democratic institutions that Trump has fed on. 

Republican fear-mongering over immigrants predated Trump. It forced Marco Rubio to abandon his immigration legislation, and, in 2012, pushed Mitt Romney to ludicrously recommend “self-deportation.”

During this year’s Republican primaries, Ben Carson opined that no Muslim should be president of the United States, and Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz suggested Syrian refugees be divided into Christians and Muslims, with only the former allowed entry.

Trump’s racism is nothing new, either. Republicans have long played the race card – charging Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens” and being soft on black crime (remember “Willie Horton”).

Trump’s disdain of facts is also preceded by a long Republican tradition  – denying, for example, that carbon emissions cause climate change, and tax cuts increase budget deficits.

And Trump’s threats not to be bound by the outcome of the election are consistent with the GOP’s persistent threats to shut down the government over policy disagreements, and oft-repeated calls for nullification of Supreme Court decisions.

The second set of Trump enablers is the media. 

“Trump is arguably the first bona fide media-created presidential nominee,” concluded a study by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy. 

By mid-March, 2016, the New York Times reported that Trump had received almost $1.9 billion of free attention from media of all types – more than twice what Hillary Clinton received and six times that of Ted Cruz, Trump’s nearest Republican rival.

The explanation for this is easy. Trump was already a media personality, and his outrageousness generated an audience – which, in turn, created big profits for the media.  

Media columnist Jim Rutenberg reported CNN president Jeff Zucker gushing over the Trump-induced ratings. “These numbers are crazy — crazy.” CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves said, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS. The money’s rolling in and this is fun.”

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Not only did the media fawn over Trump but it also failed to subject his assertions, policy proposals, and biography to the scrutiny normal candidates receive.

Fox News, in particular, became Trump’s amplifier – and Fox host Sean Hannity, Trump’s daily on-air surrogate.

Trump also used his own unceasing tweets as a direct, unfiltered, unchecked route into the minds of millions of voters. The term “media” comes from “mediate” between the news and the public. Trump removed the mediators.

The third set of Trump enablers is at the helm of the Democratic Party. 

Democrats once represented the working class. But over the last three decades the party has been taken over by Washington-based fundraisers, bundlers, analysts, and pollsters who have focused instead on raising big money from corporate and Wall Street executives, and getting votes from upper middle-class households in “swing” suburbs.

While Republicans played the race card to get the working class to abandon the Democratic Party, the Democrats simultaneously abandoned the working class – clearing the way for Trump. 

Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and for four of those years had control of both houses of congress. But in that time they failed to reverse the decline in working-class wages and jobs.

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements without providing millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

They stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class – failing to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violate them, or help workers form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.

Partly as a result, union membership sank from 22 percent of all workers when Bill Clinton was elected president to fewer than 12 percent today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.

Both Clinton and Obama also allowed antitrust enforcement to ossify – with the result that large corporations have grown far larger, and major industries more concentrated.

The unsurprisng result has been to shift political and economic power to big corporations and the wealthy, and to shaft the working class. That created an opening for demagoguery, in the form of Trump. 

Donald Trump has poisoned America, but he didn’t do it alone. He had help from opportunists in the GOP, the media, and the Democratic Party.

The pertinent question now is: What, if anything, have these enablers learned?

 

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