A Realist's View Of The US Presidential Contest

Submitted by Eric Zuesse via Strategic-Culture.org,

Because the viewpoint expressed here will be a controversial one not frequently expressed or encountered, links are provided in order to enable the reader quickly to access the documentation wherever a particular allegation might seem to be dubious on the basis of false assertions that any particular reader might have read elsewhere; but, otherwise, the links that are provided here are intended to be simply ignored, especially because so many of the allegations here are highly contentious and therefore require providing ready access to the documentation (and because no reader should waste his time to read documentation at a linked item that the reader already believes to be true):

The rape-allegations that have been raised recently against Donald Trump, turned the US Presidential contest so drastically, that a Hillary Clinton victory now appears to be all but certain. Morning Consult headlined on October 18th“Donald Trump Has a Growing Problem With Men”, and reported: “Before the first debate, Trump led his Democratic counterpart, Hillary Clinton, by 8 points among men in a Morning Consult survey of likely voters. After the second debate and nine women making sexual assault allegations against Trump, those numbers have nearly flipped: Clinton now leads Trump among men by 6 points.”

That’s a 14% swing away from Trump, among half of the electorate, during a time-interval extending from 24 September to 15 October — 21 days — with only 22 days left until voting ends (hardly enough time to reverse that plunge and then to rise into the lead). Rape allegations couldn’t get Bill Clinton forced out of office, but they likely will force Hillary Clinton into office. Future historians might say that the biggest issue in the 2016 US Presidential contest was rape — more important to voters than the economy, the wars, the income-stagnation of the bottom 99%, trade-policy, criminal-justice reform, or any other public-policy issue. But, if this turns out to be so, then is America at all a functioning democracy? Might it instead be a sick society, whose values are so out-of-kilter, so plainly stupid, that it fits more the stereotype of a backward culture, than of a successful and forward-looking one?

Some of the issues that are actually at stake in this election — especially nuclear war — could quickly end all civilization as we know it; but the voters’ main issue seems instead to be rape. Does this reflect democracy, or rather a lack of democracy, or a manipulation of democracy? Should a personal crime, which isn’t a crime of government, actually be an issue in elective politics? Should it be an issue even if there has been no court-ruling and conviction in the case? And, if it should, then should it dominate an election, such as it is in 2016 America? If it should be an issue at all, then, given the enormous stakes in the current US election, it should be an extremely minor one, notwithstanding how repulsive any rapist is, but especially because there hasn’t even been legal process about any of the allegations, and because even a Presidential candidate who is publicly accused of a personal crime is supposed to be innocent until a court rules “guilty.”

Joachim Hagopian is correct to report, at Global Research, on October 18th, that, “The current threat level to every human life on this planet even surpasses the October Cuban Missile Crisis of 54 years ago as the earth today is in more peril by manmade [nuclear] destruction than any previous time in human history.” However, even if that outcome will fortunately be avoided, the sheer war-stakes in this Presidential election are enormous, and they appear to have little impact upon the voters, other than for them perhaps to fear placing a possible rapist (such as Bill Clinton also was) in charge of US (if not also of other nations’) national security.

Micah Zenko, of the overwhelmingly pro-Hillary-Clinton, neoconservative (pro-invasion)Council on Foreign Relations, headlined, on 29 July 2016, in the neoconservative Foreign Policy magazine (which denies that it’s neoconservative but cannot cite even a single article that it has published attacking neoconservatism), “Hillary the Hawk: A History”, and he documented that, “She has consistently endorsed starting new wars and expanding others.” He closed by saying: “Those who vote for her should know that she will approach such crises with a long track record of being generally supportive of initiating US military interventions and expanding them.”

I have independently reviewed her performance as the US Secretary of State, and have found nothing in her record that would contradict Zenko’s statement (other than his single false word there, ‘generally’), though I wrote clearly as a warning, and not merely (like Zenko did), to describe what her policies have been; I have (on many and diverse occasions) explicitly condemned those invasions as violations not only against the victim-nations but against the American public, whom the US Secretary of State is supposed to represent. International aggression does not represent the interests of the American public. If she becomes America’s President, then clearly there will be war, lots of it.

Hillary Clinton not only ardently championed George W. Bush’s kicking the U.N.’s weapons inspectors out of Iraq in 2003 so that we could invade, but as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration led in every aggressive policy, and her protégés in the State Department after she left, such as Victoria Nuland, oversaw the carrying-out of those acts of aggression, and her former boss President Obama even sometimes overrode his new Secretary of State John Kerry (as Obama never did to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) and approved the aggressive policies of Hillary’s (now Kerry’s) underlings (which humiliated Kerry). Whereas Obama is a quiet neoconservative, Hillary is a loud and proud one. Her support of invading Iraq in 2003 was no ‘mistake’ or ‘aberration’ on her part; it reflected her fundamental orientation toward foreign policy. That’s what her voters will be voting for, if they are intelligent and accurately informed (as opposed to “voting for the first woman President” or other irrelevancies); because that’s what America and the world will importantly get if she becomes the next US President. (After all: Margaret Thatcher was also a woman; gender is irrelevant.) This is clear.

Donald Trump has no record in public office; and, up against Hillary Clinton’s demonstrated catastrophic record in public office, that lack of governmental experience alone constitutes a major reason to prefer him over her in this Presidential election. Whether he would start wars is unknown, but he has spoken forcefully of the need for the US to improve its relations with Russia. Hillary Clinton (like all other neoconservatives) criticizes him for that. (And the US ‘Defense’ industry has poured money into Hillary’s campaign but given almost nothing to Trump’s.

Perhaps the main reason why the main criticisms of Trump have concerned his private life, not his policy-record in public office, is because he has no policy-making record at all. The issues that have been raised in support of Hillary (since her positive achievements in public office have been virtually nil) have mainly focused on Trump’s personal affairs, and on his alleged acts of bigotry and even rape, because these are matters that distract voters from the real and urgent issues, which weigh so heavily and so substantially against her candidacy.

Rape has become the chief focus during the campaign’s closing days, because polls have indicated clearly that voters are more concerned about whether their President is a rapist than about whether he or she is a warmonger. Though they weren’t so concerned about such allegations when Bill Clinton was President, Trump’s often-crude speech makes such accusations against him far more credible than in Bill Clinton’s case — even though that ought not to be so.

No one except the women who have accused Bill Clinton and Donald Trump of rape can know, or can even think they know, whether a court would have convicted the alleged rapist if a court had been enabled to issue such a decision; but there can be no doubt whatsoever, that Hillary Clinton has been actively supporting the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US invasion of Libya in 2011, and is now supporting a far more aggressive US invasion of Syria (which would mean war against Russia) — supporting it consistently. She also has actively supported the 2009 coup in Honduras (which replaced the progressive democratically elected President there by a string of fascist tyrants and the world’s highest murder-rate), and the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 (which was immediately followed by a break-up of the country and a plunge into depression and soaring debt).

Each one of these invasions and coups produced even worse conditions in the invaded or overthrown country afterward; but, only in the single case, of the invasion of Iraq by George W. Bush, which subsequently became overwhelmingly condemned by the Democratic Party itself, did Hillary Clinton (with whatever sincerity an intelligent person can attribute to her, which is whatever the person thinks it to be) admit that she had made a ‘mistake’ on that one occasion. She doesn’t apologize for any of the other cases, because there is no such political requirement for her to do so. 

How many times does a high public official need to repeat essentially the same ‘mistake’ (actively as a public official pushing for horrific invasions), before the voters in that person’s political party (in this case, Democrats) come to recognize that they’ve been consistently lied-to by that person, and that they’ve been that politician’s suckers by voting for that catastrophically war-mongering person? After all, no sane voter wants America to go to war against Russia. But that’s the direction in which we’re currently heading. And Hillary Clinton wants to go farther there.

America’s Presidential choice will be either Hillary Clinton, a proven and repeated warmonger who has left a lengthy trail of death and destruction behind her as her blood-soaked clear and consistent record in public office (and Zenko made special note that “She also has developed close relations with retired military officers like Gen. Jack Keane, who has rarely seen a country that cannot be improved with US ground troops and airstrikes. As Bob Woodward wrote of a 2009 meeting between the two to discuss the Afghan surge: ‘Clinton greeted Keane with a bear hug, astonishing [US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard] Holbrooke because — and he should know — Hillary rarely bear-hugged anyone.” (Here is Jack Keane being praised by the prominent super-neocon Republican Paul Wolfowitz, who will vote for Hillary Clinton, against Donald Trump.)

Or else it will be a possible rapist, like her husband also was, who served two terms in the White House, but this time it would be a man of the opposite political party: Donald Trump. No matter how gross Mr. Trump is: he, unlike Hillary Clinton, cannot be intelligently evaluated by an abysmal record in public office, because he simply has no record at all in public office, nothing whatsoever; but he has only strings of public statements, most of which contradict each other. (As Zenko said: “Unlike Donald Trump, who has wildly shifting positions and alleged ‘secret’ plans to defeat the Islamic State, Clinton has an extensive track record upon which one can evaluate her likely positions.”) What Hillary Clinton’s public statements contradict is her actual record in public office, which is as far right-wing (pro-international-corporate), especially in foreign affairs and US trade policy (including NAFTA, TTIP, etc.) (and the common term for this in the military sphere is “neoconservative”), as any of her many financial backers on Wall Street could realistically hope for from any potential future US President — which is why she’s backed by almost all of America’s billionaires.

One of those two persons will be the next US President. Anyone else who alleges that he or she wants to be, and whose name will also appear on the Presidential ballot, is just a fake there, because, for example, Ralph Nader never ever won even so much as a single one of the 50 states in the Electoral College in any of his contests for the Presidency (not to mention a majority of all the EC votes, such as each of these spoilers lies, or lied, to claim to be his or her goal, but really just being a bad joke on that person’s voters). Nor will any of the current aspiring Presidential spoilers win even a single state. 

It’s going to be either the possible rapist, or else the definite and serial warmonger. The next US President will be one of those two people. On the one side is, maybe, a rapist. On the other side is certainly a warmonger.

Each voter must make his/her own choice: either drink possibly cyanide, or drink definitely arsenic. Those are the only two choices left in America’s ‘democracy’, and neither of them was the top choice of the most Americans during the primaries-season: the top choice was Bernie Sanders, and the second choice was John Kasich. In a truly democratic system, those two would be the final contestants. 

Each and every American voter in this existing contest will either select and drink his/her cup, or else simply allow all the other US voters in this contest collectively to select the cup that he/she and all other Americans will then be drinking during the next four years.

That’s a realistic view of this contest. But this is only one person’s analysis. Anyone who finds fault in it, is welcomed to provide and document a counter-argument below, as a reader-comment, or anywhere else this commentary is published.

Meanwhile, here is my answer to a person who, in a prior reader-comment, said that I am trying to ‘herd’ America’s voters into one or the other of America’s rotten political parties: I voted for Bernie Sanders, but I’m no such fool as to think that anyone like that still has a chance to win the US Presidency in 2016. I didn’t do the ‘herd’ing here; the US political system does it, when the political primary season ends and the general-election contest starts. If Jill Stein had wanted to reform the Democratic Party, she missed her chance to do that when she failed even to enter the Democratic primaries.

And, unlike the Whig Party, which had already become so widely rejected by the electorate by the time of 1860, so that a former Whig, Abraham Lincoln, was able virtually to start its successor, the Republican Party in 1860 (which got shot dead and taken over by the aristocracy when he was shot dead, in 1865), America’s voters haven’t yet reached the point where they’re willing to replace the Democratic Party with the Green Party or any other (much less to protect it if yet another assassination kills the progressive replacement-party like Lincoln’s Republican Party was). No matter what any third-party proponent might say, there’s no chance that 2016 is going to be some repeat of 1860. America is, and (like any nation that has a Presidential system) can only be, a two-party political system. The Founders didn’t know that, but we’ve now got hundreds of years all proving it to be so.

I mention that particular objection because it’s the one I most commonly have gotten in the past.

One final observation here: The reality of politics and governmental policymaking is incredibly ugly, and anyone who makes voting decisions on the basis of a politician’s mere private and personal life is a fool, because public policy really is, in the deepest sense, a very different and vastly more consequential and important moral sphere, having shockingly little to do with the person’s private behavior. The only intelligent way to judge any candidate is by that person’s past record of actual policy-decisions in public office, not at all by either the person’s mere words, or his private life (such as described in this example).

Even for Abraham Lincoln, who (along with FDR) is considered by historians to have been the greatest President, only his actions on policy made him that, and even his greatness as a rhetorician possesses relevance for historians only insofar as it was a part of that policy-record. Furthermore: both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned and ordered slaves, but neither man was a lesser President for having done that (even if historians do debate whether such Presidents were lesser persons for having done it).

To evaluate a politician by either his personal life or his mere rhetoric is not only foolish but petty. History proves this on thousands, if not millions, of occasions. Policy-actions are the only factor that’s important when evaluating a politician. It has been true throughout human history. A politician who has no record of policy-actions is thus a zero (like a mere coin-flip: presuming one side to be positive, the other negative); a politician who has a bad policy-record is thus a negative, and a politician who (like Bernie Sanders) has a positive policy-record is thus a positive. No intelligent estimation of America’s immediate political future can be positive; it’s either zero (like Trump) or else negative (like Hillary). That’s where we are (somewhere between zero and negative), and that’s the real choice we’ve been presented: either it’s Trump (zero), or else it’s Hillary (negative). I, a Sanders-voter, am choosing Trump, in preference to Clinton.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.