Sweet Revenge…. It was seven or eight years ago, and a fair distance from home, that Mr. Gripes experienced the moment when a victory by a persona like Donald Trump became inevitable.
Reminiscing a bit, in those days I had a lot of free time, so I’d travel down South or into the Midwest to tour minor league baseball parks: for six or seven days, I’d drive from one city to another – usually small obscure towns – to attend one game per day, typically at night. A lot of driving ensued: I opted to travel on roads no longer used much, essentially devoid of automobiles, as newer, brawnier federal highways had superseded the older, crumbling thoroughfares.
I was on one of these sojourns, probably in 2010 or 2011, motoring one early evening from South Carolina to Augusta. It was a typically beautiful Carolina summer night, with a full moon dramatically looming through my windshield, amidst gorgeous pines lining the road. Suddenly, I noticed through a thicket of brush and tall grass, a completely empty building – a factory, for sure – on the side of the highway. Nothing stirred, just that imposing structure – and an enormous deserted parking lot adjoining the plant. It was deathly quiet -- I parked and took it all in for several minutes.
It was a very somber, sad sight: the formerly frenetic business of the factory – it had been a ‘textile’ manufacturing plant – must have formerly employed hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. Now? Nothing but a relic. It resembled a tomb.
Fifteen miles later, another empty factory, vines growing up its walls. I counted about ten or so factories along that road, within 50 miles, all idle.
And, then, in an instant, I was struck, as if I were slapped across my face, by an epiphany: these low-to- middle-income workers, undoubtedly loyal employees for years, after the decision was made to move the plants overseas, were discarded and cast aside as if they were used Kleenex. Bill Clinton with his misconceived NAFTA mess, the large corporations backing the free-trade pacts, and the uncaring political/plutocratic classes, didn’t give one sh_t about these people. Once their employers closed the plants, the laid-off workers were stranded and abandoned, as if they were road-kill. They were betrayed.
Yes, at that moment, I just felt in my gut – I knew! –someday these furious workers, and others in similar circumstances all over the country, eviscerated by very powerful, implacable forces aligned against them, would one day exact a harsh punishment on the perpetrators. It took a long time, and I had no idea in what form it would take, but Donald Trump’s victory last week surely must have been sweet, sweet revenge to those forgotten workers.
Now allow me to relate to you, my readers, some of my post-election impressions:
Mr. Gripes understands perfectly well you’re as fatigued as I am regarding the length, idiocy and vituperation of this past Presidential campaign, but there’s no way in hell it’s going to change: the networks, i.e., CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, MSNBC, every one of them, benefit financially so extravagantly from an elongated campaign cycle, and because the networks are the main disseminators, by far, of political news to citizens, they will never advocate anything shorter. The manner in which our political campaigns play out is a disgrace to the American democratic process, but we’re stuck with it for a long, long time.
Donald Trump, early in the cycle, complained after a 2-1/2 hour Republican debate that CNN should have shared in the advertising profits coming out of that network telecast. He was absolutely right: CNN broadcast that ridiculously long debate, for one reason: to boost its advertising dollars, knowing that Donald Trump was a ratings bonanza. Overall, CNN, incredibly, made an additional $100 million during the 2016 election cycle, compared to a non-Presidential cycle. It would serve a network like CNN no fiduciary purpose to shorten campaigns, even though it would serve the national interest to in fact truncate the whole process; but it just isn’t going to happen. As always in this country, the harsh realities of the markets rule.
Now to the actual campaign:
The most trenchant analysis post-election that Mr. Gripes ran across? ‘Hillary Clinton forgot that 70% of this country is still white.’ What the hell were Ms. Clinton and her acolytes thinking? Why did the Clinton campaign spend so much time beseeching voting blocs she already had locked up? For example, going around and speaking to women’s groups about shattering the ‘glass ceiling’ must have seemed like gorgeous music to her female supporters, but let’s face it, not one of those affluent, educated, upper-class ladies was ever going to vote for Donald Trump. Hillary was invariably treated as if the coronation were only days away. Singing sisterhood encomiums to adoring female audiences turned out to be a gigantic waste of time. She should have been in Wisconsin or Michigan, communicating with disappointed and angry residents. Sure, everything looked swell for her right up until Election Day: then we were treated to a rendition of the fairy tale, ‘The Emperor – in this case, The Empress – Wears No Clothes.’
The media – and I include every one of the most prominent newspapers and networks [except Fox] – were victims of wishful thinking. Their fervent hope was that Ms. Clinton would win, and their advocacy coverage, often without a shred of impartiality, led them to presume some notions that turned out not at all to be true: what about, for instance, the huge ‘get-out-the-vote’ advantage that Ms. Clinton would unleash on Election Day? That didn’t happen. The huge advantage of Hillary’s advertising ad ‘spend’ over Trump’s? All those dollars didn’t help in the end. [Mr. Gripes’ take on political ads? Viewers either ignore them or tune them out very, very quickly.]
A tsunami of Hispanic voters for Ms. Clinton would guarantee victories in some of the swing states? Again, an overstatement: in Florida, 30% of Hispanics supported Trump, giving him the state. I suspect the media was not out in the field actually talking to prospective voters, but basically chatting with only Democratic operatives, who knew the press wished for a Clinton win, and so suckered them with overly optimistic projections that were treated as the Gospel truth.
And let’s not forget the damage that Bill Clinton inflicted: the tape revealing Mr. Trump bragging about his predations on women hurt him certainly, but the Republican ploy to bring back before the 2nd debate all the women that Mr. Clinton had preyed upon was a brilliant counter-punch to the gut: after all, Hillary, to save her husband’s and her own political careers, had savaged these same women back in 1992. A lot of undecided women leaning to Trump but upset with the tape revelations and consequently more open-minded about Hillary, might have reasoned, ‘Yeah, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are pigs, but is Hillary really that much better?; she was her husband’s enabler. It’s a wash. I’m voting for Trump.’
The campaign was just one misstep after another after another….what a colossal screw-up.
And, finally just before I ride off to a Thanksgiving feast in northern New Jersey, a few words on what a Trump presidency might look like: first of all, I’m not going to prejudge Mr. Trump; let’s see what he’s got to offer. A couple of things are in his favor: he’s a pragmatist, not a prisoner of ideology; I think he’s an adaptive person. Second, he’s appears not to be another double-talking, dissembling, devious, pusillanimous politician the likes of which we all are sick of. He’s a builder, so he revels in ‘big’ works; that spirit of audacity is something this country needs desperately in its leaders. So, we’ll just have to see what transpires.
Now to some of Mr. Gripes’ doubts and fears: Mr. Trump apparently is going to proceed with a ‘trickle-down’ stimulus to the economy – you know the drill: huge tax reductions will lead to increased business profits, which will lead to increased tax revenues, and, voila, lower deficits. It doesn’t work: Reagan tried it, and deficits soared. George Bush 2nd tried it, it failed then, too, and we were saddled with huge deficits again. And, Trump is going to try for a third time? Moronic.
Mr. Gripes prays that Donald Trump does not take the muscular interventionist approach to international disputes. Again, we’ve tried this, in the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and it’s been a complete failure: not only has America lost prestige and power across the world, but, maybe worse, its own citizens have lost faith in the American system as well. All of us have been beaten up by asinine and wrong-headed Presidential presumptions about the world. President Trump, please show some forbearance, judiciousness and caution before you meddle and bomb.
Jim Israel, aka ‘Mr. Gripes’
November 24, 2016