Colson: A few thoughts before the Big Face-Off
Hit & Run
What might it take to send this country completely off the rails, politically or in other ways?
If I’d been asked that question a few years ago, I never ever would have answered, “A presidential bid by an anti-intellectual, sociopathic narcissist who never met a lie he wouldn’t utter.”
And the name Donald Trump was not on my radar. Probably not on yours, either; at least, not until quite recently.
But in the wink of a political eye, we can see a little bit of what it might take to turn the U.S. of A. inside out and, perhaps, set in motion that feared revolution so many people think about, talk about, but never truly contemplate.
We’ve all heard the warnings issued by Hillary Clinton’s campaign about how bad things have gotten in the current election cycle, not to mention the thundering rejection of the Republican front-runner by mainstream political figures from the left and the right.
But that really has not done much to alter the seeming acceptance of Trumpism by a vast portion of the electorate. People still say they’re going to vote for him in November, apparently no matter what he says and does, because they’re pissed off, fed up and looking for answers that they know deep down are not available from anyone.
All of this is complicated by the fact that the radical right and its political henchmen have been fighting for years to undermine our national education system, with the result that we have become less intellectual, less compassionate and less measured in our views of and reactions to the world. Instead, we are more instinctual, more reactionary, and more intolerant of anything different from ourselves.
So it should not be surprising that an uncomfortable portion of the electorate is planning to vote out of anger rather than reason, and Trump is the immoderate, unmitigated symbol of that anger.
One important reflection of all that anger is a growing wave of misogyny, coming both from men and from women, in a perverse reaction to the candidacy of Clinton.
Republicans, of course, have been directing their poisoned arrows at Hillary since her husband, Bill Clinton, had the temerity to defeat George Bush the First (I’ve always been partial to the title King George I) and move into the White House.
Bill put Hillary in charge of reforming our national health care system at a time when there was real momentum for switching to a single-payer system kind of like Medicare for all citizens, and that is when the misogyny kicked into high gear. Even Republicans had previously been inching toward acceptance of single-payer health care, but as soon as Hillary was put in charge, the knives came out and both Republicans and Democrats illogically and instantly switched their allegiance and trashed the Clintons’ proposals.
A couple of years later, Hillary was singing “stand by your man” during Monicagate, and rather than praise her for her loyalty, she was pilloried for not ending the marriage and (Republicans hoped) the Clinton presidency.
Then she got herself elected to the U.S. Senate from New York state, which even further pissed off the Republican women-haters, and had the chutzpah to run for president in 2008. In what future historians surely will view as the most bizarre electoral irony and schizophrenia we’ve yet seen, U.S. voters chose a black man over a white woman for the top political job in the country.
Which gets us to today, the date of the first formal debate between Trump and Clinton, when the misogyny undoubtedly will be in full flower.
It’s hard to imagine what Trump and his supporters might come up with to top their previous lows at the Republican National Convention, such as a black T-shirt showing Trump as a biker and Clinton falling off the back, over the words, “If you can read this, the bitch fell off,” or the screams of “Lock her up!” that echoed through the halls, or the white T-shirt that read, “Hillary sucks, but not like Monica.”
But the negative feelings toward Clinton are broader than mere political posing. According to an article in the October 2016 Atlantic magazine, more than half of white men have a “very unfavorable” view of her and question her honesty, apparently even in comparison to a man who is acknowledged to be lying every way from Sunday any time he opens his mouth. The news media has been reduced to a quivering mass of jelly by the sheer weight of Trump’s serial lies about everything from international politics to his own financial standing, to the point where reporters simply can’t keep up and have basically given up.
Of course, the Republican myth-making machine has been badmouthing Hillary consistently and crudely for years, and the electorate seems to have swallowed the bait.
The fact is, though, that Hillary has done some pretty fine things in her career as a public servant, though she is a politician through and through, with all the nasty undertones implied by that statement.
And undoubtedly she will be in good form tonight, laying out her plans, pledging her pledges and doing all the things that politicians have been doing for the past couple of centuries to win the voters’ support.
But female politicians have never been all that popular in a male-dominated world, and I guess one reason Hillary has run into this nonsensical wall of women-baiting is the fact that women have been making considerable inroads in the job market, education and politics in recent decades.
So men (and even some women) feel threatened by everything Hillary stands for, so much so that they will hold their nose and throw their support to a self-centered, lying, politically infantile fool who hides his personal and business failures and uses bluster and insults as his most potent offensive (in every sense of the word) tools.
None of it makes any sense at all, in a normal political way, and I guess that’s what we should keep in mind tonight, as we watch Hillary and Donald face off for the first time on the same stage.
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