Saturday, November 5, 2016

Scary story

The most remarkable totally scary thing is happening right before my eyes.

It's one of those massive fog-bound freeway pile ups in slow motion. It's a system with the rules tossed out the window. None of the usual strategies like steering or braking apply to ward off disaster.

Except it's not traffic that has me mesmerized like a King Cobra's afternoon snack.

It's American politics.

None of the traditional rules apply to the evolution of the presidential campaign. Rules like candidates vying for the position on the basis of a steadfast career in public service, intelligence, truthfulness, integrity, democratic vision, belief in and respect for the constitution, or a deep and abiding desire to serve the people of the United States in the best interest of all Americans.

I am witnessing the rise of a tyrant, a dictator, a demagogue, a fascist in the true meaning of the word. The narrative that is working this dark and disturbing magic is, at its core, reactionary white suppremacy. Donald Trump is a rabble rouser. For the first time in my life, I have come to truly understand that phrase.

The problem with this, is the same problem with the rise of all tyrants and demaguogues. The process that elevates them and by which they seize power has nothing to do with political process as Americans have come to know it. It's not about the constitution, the separation of powers, justice, or due process. It's not about polls, pundits, columnists, the free press, or fact checkers. It's about raw emotion and nothing more.

Anyone who doubts the power of emotion as a political force capable of setting aside the normal rules of political process should consider this. When Donald Trump said he would one day run for President no one believed him, yet he did. When they said he would never win a primary, they were wrong. He won a number of them, handily. They said he would never get the nomination, but he did. Until last week the smart people were saying that he would never get the Electoral College votes needed to assume the office of President. Well folks, that fire wall is looking mighty frail just days before the vote.

Just as Donald Trump has defied all odds and is heading to the Oval Office riding a wave that defies rational understanding, if he succeeds, he will run the country his way. That means more outrageous lies and rhetoric. Once that final threshold is passed, all that bluster and invective will be backed up with the steely might of the Office of the President. Grim virtually unfettered executive power will be unleashed against the new enemies of the state. ISIS and their ilk to be sure. But not only real enemies, imagined enemies as well. Illegal immigrants, migrant workers, inner city people, political adversaries, trading partners, allies in military alliances, and neighboring states. Much of the mayhem will occur with a nod and a wink, protected by a thin veil of plausible deniability and cloaked by gargantuan lies. None or little of it will happen as a result of laws debated and passed by the legislature, and none of it will yield to the oversight of the judiciary. Those are the old rules. They will be quaint notions of a naive past, to be paid lip service to, and completely ignored.

This is the way of the tyrant, of the demagogue. The bitter lessons of the 20th century are now so lost in the fog of time and poorly taught history that the monster can emerge from the swamp and slither towards the village in plain sight without causing alarm.

I hope none of this comes to pass. But it's now feeling like faint hope.

I wouldn't feel right having seen the drooling beast and not having spoken up.


SonjaM said...

David, I also worry about what will come in the wake of the election. In the 30's of the previous century my people, so desperate, frustrated, and disappointed by previous governments, fell under the spell of a great (yuuuge?) demagogue promising them work and wealth by making the country great again. And we all know the outcome. "It happened, therefore it can happen again." I hope Primo Levi isn't right after all.

Unknown said...

Yes, Sonja... " those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it" is particularly apt here. people tend to forget that most fascists, historically, were voted into power or rose through popular accord. :-(

David Masse said...

Andrew please don't hold your move to the USA against me, even though the political environment in Ottawa seems infinitely better than where you live now. I still think it was a good move, probably.

David Masse said...

Sonja it can happen as soon as we forget.

I had never heard about Primo Levi.

Now I know his story. Learning about the Holocaust is like an inoculation against the disease that now threatens our American cousins. The problem is, I fear that those most in need of the vaccine aren't inclined to read anything.

Unknown said...

It's terrifying. I'm in NC and for several years had wanted to do a months-long scooter trip for the travel of it.
Currently, I'm wondering if if going full-time traveler might be a way to survive.

On a happier note, found your blog by way of Stephanie's. I ride a 2013 GTS300, currently 17k miles.
Keep up the good work! :)

David Masse said...

Thanks for the kind words Cheshire.

Stephanie Yue is an amazing woman and an inspiring adventurer. I hope our paths will cross again some day.

The Vespa GTS 300 is a great bike. Here's wishing you another 100k miles more fun.

The City Mouse in the Country said...

As a self described "political wonk" I'm happy to tell you that your not the only person that is concerned by this dumpster fire that is American politics.

It's the first time we've ever flirted with the idea of a "strong man" in politics. We are watching the disintegration of the Republican party occur before our eyes (and they have done it to themselves). We are watching the Democratic party became the new Republican party as they have moved fully to the center right; creating a vacuum on the left - which is yet to be filled or even discussed in the mainstream media.

There is the possibility of real violence after the election, which I don't believe will happen, but again, this is the first time in American history that the possibility is even being discussed.

I'm not a fan of Clinton, nor do I intend to vote for her. I am voting Green Party because I don't believe this woman is qualified to be President. Nor do I believe that the POTUS is something that should be passed from Father to Son or from Husband to Wife.

The blame if she loses is clearly on her. If she loses she will blame the Russians, the people that voted for a 3rd party, misogyny and sexism. If you can not accept blame for your own mistakes you should not be leading the country.

Do you have a spare bedroom? I may need it no matter which of these two idiots win!

Trobairitz said...

it is times like these that I am sad to be an American. One can hope that Trump will not win, but there are a lot of idiots out there that will vote for him.

I am with Hillary as I think that is our best bet for Trump not getting in. I'd rather it be Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but it is what it is.

I don't think Trump realizes that the President has certain powers, but they are limited because of the House and Senate. That is why Obama couldn't get done as much as he wanted, because he was stymied at every turn. We can hope if Trump gets in that the Democrats will take the house and limit his madness.

David Masse said...

Rob I sincerely hope this works out OK for everyone.

David Masse said...

Brandy my thoughts are with you and Brad in Oregon, Rob and my family and friends in Florida, Dom and Martha in Colorado, Richard and Bridget in Alaska, Andrew and Bonnie and my family in California, Steve and Kim in Pennsylvania, dear friends in New York, and Doug and his family in Minnesota.

David Masse said...

If it's any consolation, the last time I was very apprehensive about the outcome of an election, the results were excellent, far better than I could have hoped for.

Dar said...

I have been following this trainwreck fairly closely and the potential outcome scares the hell out of me. The vitriol that has been spewed with such invective has never been seen before, and it creates a very worrisome narrative for the path of the US no matter who wins. This election has pitted American against American and the proverbial pot is about to boil over and I fear that there is going to be violence and chaos regardless of the result. I think the GOP candidate revels in chaos because that means the level of accountability is diminished for him and there will always be a scapegoat instead of accountability. There is huge potential for civil unrest and that worries me. Racism and misogyny are rampant in Trump's campaign and his narrative on sexual assault has changed to where women will not be believed and troublesome deviant behaviour normalized because of his rhetoric. The overarching theme seems to be punish women and minorities and a complete lack of basic respect for everyone as evidenced by the way he characterizes people with derogatory verbiage. There is so much wrong with this election cycle, rhetoric has overtaken issues. Hillary has her problems, but on the balance I would rather take my chance with her, she will probably win, but the house will more than likely still be dominated by republicans, so she probably won't get much done, just as the current POTUS is stymied by the branches of government. I think at the end of the day politicians from both parties need re-evaluate things and to stop thinking about themselves and their parties and start thinking about every American citizen and working for the growth of their country, the partisan bickering needs to stop and they really need to objectively work on finding commonality and solutions to their problems, rather than trying to stick it to each other. The result of this election is going to have a world wide ripple effect and we could be in for a very bumpy ride no matter the outcome. I am holding my breath and hoping for the best.

The City Mouse in the Country said...

So...No to the spare bedroom?

David Masse said...

Dar you are 100% right. But then again, that's because you are a smart well-informed compassionate Canadian.

I was discussing the morning's news with Susan. Trump complains of 'rigging' of the electoral process in the States. There is certainly rigging going on, but it's by republican state governments. Closing polling stations and drivers' license offices in black neighborhoods, running polling operations in locations that by Canadian electoral standards are baffling, having interminable queues for voting like over an hour. I have voted in every election for as long as I can remember, and don't recall waiting long enough to have more than a friendly chat with a neighbor. And we use good old paper ballots and pencils. They use a weird assortment of voting machines. I just don't get it.

And then came Trump. It's odd that he is the one most guilty of the things he accuses others of. Hillary guilty of crimes? No, there's no evidence to support that. Trump guilty of crimes? He's a serial sexual assaulter. Imagine the sentence. 12 separate charges of sexual assault. It boggles the mind.

But compare Trump's behaviour to known dictators. He's kind of a textbook case. It's hard to believe that he didn't study hard to cook up his electoral strategy.

Hopefully this ends with a whimper, but only time will tell.

David Masse said...

Sure we have a spare bedroom for you. I should warn you though, there's a waiting list already :)

Dar said...

It is ridiculous about the dialogue that went on in both primary and general election, in both instances when it looked as if he wasn't going to make it he stepped up the bullying and talk of everything being 'rigged'. He is setting the scene to give factions an excuse to act out and again he can wash his hands of it and say "they did it not me" - goes to my point of accountability. Again chaos enters here and that is what he thrives on. Time will tell.

I agree good old paper and pencil ballots. I waited 20 minutes the last time to vote and that was with heavy viter turn-out.

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