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Hill and Don in Lyrics and in Numbers

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We all want to make sense of the toxic tea leaves, overturned in the craziest of modern mugs, from a year of daily dissings by our would-be political masters to the seemingly endless ongoing violence around the world. Okay, it’s hard to agree with anyone these days in the overly aggressive blogverse, our shrinking global village now one big virtual graffiti dump and dog lamp post. In the words of Harry Nilsson (via Fred Neil) “Everybody’s talkin’ at me, I don’t hear a word they’re saying, Only the echoes of my mind.”

It should at least be clear now for all to see the nakedness of the Clintons and that the Democratic Party makes systems from the top down, rather than build communities and towns and cities and countries from the bottom up. As if people mattered. Virtual reality politicking. Did anyone go knock, knock, knockin’ on any real doors?

Sadly, life in the air age isn’t all the brochures say: inequality (62 = 3.5 billion), tax avoidance (Apple has more than $200 billion parked abroad), inversions (another unfunny Laffer curve), politicians running insider info (see John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Spencer Bachus), a rigged economy that makes the rich richer (isn’t one yacht per tycoon enough?), bank frauds, corporate malfeasance, a grossly over-monetized society, never-ending Middle East wars, refugee crises, global warming, pollution. Nothing’s gonna change my world.

I know, we all thought the world would be fairer with jive-talkin’ Barry. We were dancing in the streets. But his sugary “Yes we can” soon crusted to “Sorry, we never tried,” faster than a speeding drone as he let Wall Street off the hook for the financial crisis that got him elected. His legacy: a record-setting Dow Jones (7,949 the day he took office to over 18,500 and counting, more than doubling in less than 8 years) instead of relief for the rest (43 million Americans in poverty). If you want to blame someone, blame the Smooth-talker-in-Chief. Civil to the end. The best his female clone could come up with was “I’m with her, the woman who isn’t Donald.” Clowns, jokers, all stuck in the middle. How can anyone trust such empty-headed nonsense?

Is this really “a moment of reckoning?” If you subscribe to the fear mongering. If you are a tad spiritual (with or without the knowledge of any relevant biblical passages, chapter and verse) you care about this world and your neighbours, rather than pretending others don’t count in the grand scheme of things. We have to break down the obvious assumptions. Venality is at an all-time high, and with no punishment there is no deterrent. Time to turn and face the strange changes.

Indeed, the Donald will put an end to all that ails: phony reality TV moments, fake web reviews, meritless authority, vitamin supplements, actor perfumes, athletes who say they eat Wheaties and drink Coke, the annual Meryl Streep Oscar nomination (19 and counting!), opioids, robot callers, 50% off sales (off what?). The new Don is here to remake the American world, and presumably by extension the free world. Keep on rockin’. They say we get the politicians we deserve, but does that apply to non-politician, citizen-farmer politicians whose net operating losses in one year total $916 million? Dream on. Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away.

Let’s face it. DT was city-slicker click bait for all to see and read the latest muck, few having ventured into the real muck themselves. He became the story, schmoozing the left and right as needed, rubbing up against the Lindsay Lohan / Kristen Stewart sexuality confessions/revelations in his only major editorial endorsement, creating a cyclonic positive feedback loop that made millions for the click and bean counters. Rubber necking for those who can’t spell NASCAR but follow the uber cool F1, man, where no one ever passes but the champagne is Charlie. Nectar for the intelligentsia. No little red corvettes in them there red states. What defines a red state anyway?

They all thought Mr Potato(e) Head was missing a few pieces, left out in the sun too long, a couple hundred volts short of a renewable kilovolt. After excluding so many with his thorny mouth: women (pigs), Mexicans (rapists), soldiers (I like heroes who weren’t captured), yadda, yadda, yadda, he wondered how they (as in They) were going to steal the election. But a funny thing happened on the way to the rust belt. At least he didn’t have to take his ball home after he lost, inciting more violence in the rural routes. Big Ball’s in cow town now. “Make America Great” tattoos optional (for now).

Or maybe the self-professed winner just wanted to cut out the middle man and buy real hands-on access to economic policy and pay even less unknown taxes, not just badly groped lobbying from afar. Having given so much money (so so much) to the chumps who kept losing, he figured he would go it alone and spend his money on himself (between 50 and 100 million, a spit or two relatively speaking). Insiders versus outsiders, public sector versus private industry, law and order, all faux buzzwords for anti-establishment, laissez-faire, authoritarianism. Same as it ever was. Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool.

That the 16 GOP primary wannabees couldn’t dent a serially lying, multi-billionaire (pick a number, any number, between 0 and 10), champion of the working class is the stuff of future CNN debates. A billionaire working-class hero (“I alone can fix this” / “What have you got to lose?”) is something to be. But come on guys, a free 2,000-mile wall and cheap American manufacturing. Do you think an American worker can make a 6-piece precision screw driver set for $1.99? How can anyone, other than with slave wages as in China, the TPP world, or in an unregulated American past? Building walls will topple Wal-Mart.

Can we correlate Trump voters to NASCAR, The Enquirer, and Alex Jones? Presumably, otherwise how did the MSM not see the soufflé rising. Red-blue-purple. But don’t let them tell you Ralph Nader did in Al Gore in Florida. Or that Jill Stein scuppered Hill not Jill’s chances. Mind you, Ross Perot did create Bill Clinton, and in true domino fashion brought down that big bad mansion because of an over-huffed NAFTA folly. Tent towns on the border, yes, but built for the 1 percent American elite, not for hard-working Mexican dreamers. Roll me over Romeo. Citizens are more than strategic levers.

True, Hill scored more votes than Don (roughly 600,000 out of 120 million), but the electorate wasn’t atomized as much as it was blasted into submission. Not the seismic shift the urbane pundits-in-residence would have us believe. The Electoral College favors red states by design: you get at least two for every state regardless of size.

Whoever thought the wife of a president was a bona fide contender for the top job in the first place? That was the question everyone thought but rarely asked. Meritocracy melt down. Politically correct style over substance. Time to rip up that playbook. Politics is a lightning rod for disaffection.

Hopefully, we can forget the childish “he said she said” stuff now and get on to the issues (real jobs, inequality, climate change) and click our collective mouses on a putrid past. The world is waiting and hoping to end the insane wars (with or without a peace-prize leader at the front), a return to fair wages, and fair trade. True, they (as in They) get to remake America now behind closed doors and rebrand a country in His fabulous winning image, though short on detail. Same as it ever was.

What did we think? Goodbye to the poor, tired, and huddled. Goodbye Dodd-Frank, turning the heat up an already over-heated market. Goodbye Clean Power Plan, raising the heat even more. More coal, more fracking, more oil exploration. Get the cameras rollin’, get the action goin’. But how many crocodiles will he step on to drain the swamp?

Time to slow the world to a human pace. You teach war you get war. You praise sadism you get sadists. You prioritize money you get a Fund-manager-in-Chief and the United States of Money. It’s a gas.

The Navajo saying about walking a mile in another’s moccasins still makes sense in our new virtual shoe world, though sadly leaders aren’t walkers anymore. They take the fast forex morning express train, tinkering from above. House of Representatives? Representatives of what?

It’s up to us to lead the way. Action by the masses not mass action (to paraphrase Gandhi). Cutting down excess is the future: reducing our carbon footprint, our sofa footprint, our in-your-face footprint. Time to raise ourselves up, see the other in our midst, and build a real future.

With thanks to Nilsson, the latest surprise Nobel laureate Bob Dylan, Bill Nelson, John Lennon, the Bee Gees, Martha and the Vandellas, Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, Bowie (RIP), Neil Young, Arrowsmith, Prince (RIP), George Strait, Mary McGregor, Van the Man, Talking Heads, Andrea True Connection, and Pink Floyd. And apologies to Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, …. There will be another Hill and Don show coming in about 3 years. A blink of an eye.

John K. White, an adjunct lecturer in the School of Physics, University College Dublin, and author of Do The Math!: On Growth, Greed, and Strategic Thinking (Sage, 2013). Do The Math! is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at: john.white@ucd.ie.

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