Distractions, U.S. Style

Well, the three-ring circus commonly referred to as the United States presidential primary season is well underway. ‘Super Tuesday’, one of the highlights of this ongoing event, is now behind us, and it appears that former reality-show star Donald Trump, he of the multiple wives and bad toupee, will head the ticket for the Republicans in November. Hillary Clinton, a woman with a very impressive resume, but not much to back it up (many things look good on paper, but don’t hold up under the most superficial scrutiny), is the likely Democratic nominee.

Mr. Trump, it appears, is more than simply a joke, someone to be tolerated as he spends his way through the early primaries, after which his enormous ego would cause him to self-destruct. It appears that Republican Party ‘elders’ (whoever they might be), are now concerned that he will be the nominee, thus bringing the party yet another defeat in the race for the White House. They also fear that he will have a negative impact on races for the Senate and House of Representatives. After all, they seem to acknowledge, outside of the extreme right wing, not everyone hates Muslims, immigrants, gay people, blacks, poor people, etc., etc.

So for the third time since 2008, an extremely rich, old, white man is seeking the Republican presidential nomination: John McCain in 2008 (actually, it is his wife who has the money, but let’s not split hairs here), Mitt Romney, and now Mr. Trump. One of the issues that dogged Mr. Romney during the campaign was his refusal to release his tax returns. He has weighed in on Mr. Trumps refusal to do the same: “I think there’s something there. Either he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn’t been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay.” What a difference four years makes!

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Mr. McCain has been more receptive, not confronting the obnoxious Mr. Trump on even his most outrageous statements.

And the Democrats may, indeed, be headed for their third consecutive victory, despite Mrs. Clinton’s shady background, and secrecy around her private, very lucrative speeches. The baggage she is dragging along the campaign trail takes an army to carry, but she is banking on her name recognition (a mixed bag if ever there was one), and the mysterious, inexplicable popularity of her husband, to overcome the basest feelings of the extreme right wing and, perhaps not propel her into the White House, but enable her to crawl in through an unguarded back door.

So, while Mrs. Clinton assures a skeptical populace that it can trust her, and that she said nothing inappropriate to Goldman-Sachs audiences as they shoveled money into her bank account in exchange for her pearls of wisdom, and Mr. Trump runs around the country insulting every possible minority group to the delight of his white audiences, one may forget that there are many real problems facing the country and the world, and many of those problems have been caused by the U.S. Why, one wonders, do neither Mr. Trump nor Mrs. Clinton provide any substantive information on the following:

*The U.S. role in creating and supporting ISIS, even as it purports to try to defeat it;

*The growing hatred of the U.S. by much of the Middle East;

*The refugee crisis, caused in large part by the U.S. bombing of countries from which refugees are fleeing, and

*Human rights violations by Israel.

And, domestically:

*Skyrocketing tuition costs, and corresponding, crippling debt;

*Crumbling infrastructure;

*Growing divide between the very rich and the very poor;

*Jobs moving overseas, and

*Ever-increasing gun violence.

So, while Mr. Trump talks about how much one of his rivals, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, sweats, and Mrs. Clinton proclaims her great love of Apartheid Israel at every possible chance, people around the world are suffering, the U.S. is in a position to alleviate much of it, and no one seems to care. Least of all the people who would be president.

And why should they? Why should two extremely rich people want to do anything that might negatively impact their incomes? Think of Mr. Trump: without the refugee crisis, how could he bash Muslims and others trying to come into the U.S? As long as the bombing continues, beleaguered people will attempt to flee their countries, and try to reach distant shores where, they hope, safety and opportunity might be offered. And thus, Mr. Trump will have something to criticize.

And why on God’s green earth would Mrs. Clinton, of all people, care about unspeakable Israeli human rights violations? What are a few thousand slaughtered Palestinian men, women and children, when her worship of Israel translates into so much money for her campaigns, past and present, from the Israeli lobby and wealthy supporters of Israel?

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the U.S. is an oligarchy: the rich run the show, and the rest of us are just here to do as we are told. So what if the job we are trained and qualified to do has been shipped overseas, where our now-former employer can pay pennies for the same work; does this not mean higher profits for the company? And what will the management of the company do with those increased profits? Donate to the campaigns of candidates who will further allow them to move work overseas, of course.

Gun violence? Let’s not dare anger the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), with its deep pockets. What’s a few thousand dead U.S. citizens, after all?

And tuition! It has to be expensive, and student loans costly, to keep those uppity college graduates in their place; work hard to pay off your loans, and don’t make any waves while doing so. Remember, even personal bankruptcy doesn’t wash away student debt.

This is the United States, the land of the free (except the press, owned by the corporate elite; speech, if you want to criticize Israel: assembly, if you attend a political rally and happen to be the wrong color; the list goes on), and the home of the brave (if you are rich, you can bravely say anything you want, as demonstrated by Mr. Trump).

The U.S.’s periodic demonstration of its peculiar brand of democracy approaches in November, when some small percentage of the eligible-to-vote populace casts its ballot for one of two rich, out-of-touch One Percenters. Third party candidates, regardless of how much sense they make, need not apply. Money talks in the U.S., and it positively shouts during an election year.

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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