A Pragmatic Nightmare:  on the Deplorables and Imbeciles Amongst Us

“Imbecilic” progressives should be ashamed and embarrassed, or so I’ve recently heard from unrevealed sources.

Amid the protests that have broken out across America, a curious stasis has also set in among folks still feeling the pain of Hillary Clinton’s defeat.  She lost, at least in part, because some progressives “bashed” her.  So goes a popular sentiment.

The mourners begin and end with the pragmatic view that Clinton would have been a better choice than Trump. That is a debatable assertion, but let’s gives it a nod, and attempt to digest what the grousing might mean to the rest of us as the Republicans goose step onward like Christian soldiers.

Had there been an actual “lesser-evil” in the show, it might have won.

All the leftists—I use that word rather than “progressive” because I’m not sure anymore what qualifies as progressive—whom I study couldn’t have had a significant impact on the election’s outcome.  In the main people don’t take them seriously enough to create the ripple effect Clinton-liberals insist happened—though I must hopefully admit more young people seem to be noticing of late.  Some in the “resistance” are beginning to feel it.

The most disinterested are old-guard liberals themselves, particularly socially-liberal technocrats with a vested interest in the status quo.


As lesser lights devote themselves to the next old-guard Democrat with a liberal social agenda and a copy of “The Project for the New American Century” manifesto secretly stuffed in his/her back pocket, should we accept pragmatism as the end all?  What have pragmatists done for us lately?  For that matter, what have elections done for us except give us a clear-cut non-choice time and again?

The ultra-pragmatic Obama was a stone-cold killer, after all, and a wet dream to the armaments industry.  Clinton would have been Obama 2.0, honestly—cerebrally deflective, yet similarly destructive—not quite as sweet of a talker, but a real illusionist nonetheless.

It is an unassailable fact.  U.S. militarism is a disaster. Lip service paid to humanitarian and neoliberal causes in the face of that is simply highly-refined warmongering, a perfect teat for profiteering, to paraphrase Gen. Smedley Butler and Eisenhower.

Is it about lesser-evilness or is it about propaganda and marketing?

Shouldn’t culture warriors mind ordnance drops with the same fervor they have for refugees?  After all, who started this mess long ago?  Some of them would be hard-pressed to describe the PNAC manifesto or link it to the Iraq War or name its authors. (In an expanded history quiz, could they describe the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution’s ramifications on the American War in Vietnam?)

Others, not necessarily the politically correct, inside the Democratic Party are unrepentant cheerleaders for empire with their livelihoods/portfolios on the line, of course. (Like rooting for Tom Brady, they’ll take the over-dog every time.)  Hillary was one—what percentage even knows that much?

What is wrong with this picture aside from its insufferable rudeness and Clintonesque arrogance?

Beyond the insult, the intent apparently is to place a segment of the blame for Trump’s rise on the shoulders of leftists.  It is time to jog memories. Around the time the Sanders’ campaign gained steam, anyone who cared to notice could see that the mainstream media and the Democratic Party were colluding to marginalize Sanders, not to mention Jill Stein.  Things became heated between Sanders and Clinton as the former pressed his populist economic agenda.

Their camps followed suit, and long-brewing differences arose.

My input about any of this has been minor, but I wouldn’t have said I bashed Clinton during the hostilities, but rather attempted, like others, to “expose” her, point to her inconsistencies, lies, and imperial sensibilities. Not once did I claim HRC wasn’t a decent cultural liberal, despite the obvious fact that she could give a damn about America’s poor  (Incidentally, I don’t consider myself an imbecile, but I could be wrong; if I had one my Twitter hashtag would read: #anti-imperialistdude; I also have a little cultural warrior in me).

The woman had flaws that her cheerleaders ignored.  They’ve been well-documented from her crush on Wall Street to her aloof coldness.  Plainly she wasn’t listening to anyone but her sycophants and inner-self describing her wonderfulness.

She wanted a hug without hugging back.

We should recall that Clinton came to LBGTQ rights slowly, methodically, had to in order to stay legitimate, would rather have not but finally did.  She probably didn’t have a problem with African-Americans (as far as we know; however she likely supported her husband’s successful plans to incarcerate blacks by the thousands while cutting the welfare safety net for good measure) or Mexicans—well except for the extreme deplorables among them.

She was after all a big fan of deportation, if not The Wall; though I never heard her explicitly call that philosophical edifice a good or bad idea—rather a lot of “thought” was going into it, as with everything except her plans for the Middle East and Russia.  She remained as neutral as possible at all times, hiding behind her brand of exceptionalism.

She was no ordinary Republican, er, Democrat…

The TPP was off and on and off.  (Her pillow talk with Bill in the good old days had resulted in NAFTA.) How about fracking vs. the environment?   Without saying “drill baby, drill” she was as enlightened as Palin. She clearly believed that what was good for big business, exclusive of Standing Rock and the indigenous peoples of the United States of America, was peachy.

Let’s see, what else did she have in store?  Oh, “Well, maybe $12 an hour, but not $15!”  It took a lot of grassroots work to get her to go that far, the kind of hard work that she couldn’t have appreciated very much.  Even then the CEO of Carl’s Jr., whom she had a lot in common with, said to hell with it and committed to Trump. Is it any wonder her own pragmatism got the best of her?

How about this: “Single-payer?  Never!  This is not Scandinavia!”  Or some such rot.  (Once she accepted the DNC’s gift of a stolen primary, “America is already great!” is the best she could muster to counter “Make America Great Again!”  Why didn’t she think to trademark it and sew it on a baseball cap?)

On and on— the point being there was plenty to dislike about the candidate, unimpeachable (now there’s a word that clearly doesn’t apply to Trump) evidence of her support for more corporate-led colonization at home and gun-blazing battles in the Middle East, or anywhere else she deemed ready for it and needed it good.

Which, it is plain to see, didn’t bother the hardcore and insufferably arrogant Clintonites, the ultra-pragmatists.


So how does this blame game work anyway?  How did progressives contribute to Hillary’s demise and the rise of Trump?

Even though the artist I’ve cited asserts that progressives ought to feel foolish, should any writer really be embarrassed for not supporting Clinton?  Is silencing the pen ever a good idea, especially in the face of such a reward?

What would such an ideal have accomplished—beyond granting many writers too much idle time with beers, crossword puzzles and guilt complexes?

Perhaps if a few of the writers who publish at CounterPunch had pulled for Clinton rather than critiqued her—had they “shut up” as Steve Bannon might say—she’d have won?

Apparently it wasn’t enough to simply vote for her, as would be expected to happen and likely did among at least some of CP’s contributors—the progressives.

I volunteered who I voted for in Oregon, where Trump was stomped by HRC.  I admittedly didn’t vote for her, but I wouldn’t expect to know how others voted unless they announced it like Noam Chomsky and Robert Reich did as they turned for Clinton and implored others to.

Of course we should not forget Bernie mistakenly did the same thing; many of his supporters listened and did vote, but not in the numbers in the right districts needed to elect Clinton. And of course, the usual suspects stayed home, feeling abandoned, hopeless, depressed and disinterested by-and-large.


Imbeciles! Deplorables!—the two best words to emerge from Election 2016.

Now, this writer I have alluded to, perhaps unlike many of the protesters in his comfort zone—the weekend radical types—certainly can tell you about Vietnam and spies amid the Cold War.

Spying was big back then.  Still is, obviously.  Though it didn’t take a spy or hacker to hear Clinton call Putin a “thug” from the stage during what were euphemistically called “debates” in the run up to the election.  Some did argue she showed off her enormous oratory skills and crushed Trump, while I deemed the candidates equally awful.

Anyway, what happened in the debates was a prime example of American imperial diplomacy/tough-talk working its way down the deplorable nervous systems of damn near everybody—except the most highly vetted upper-crust in American society, beginning with the corporate media, followed by high-level bureaucrats, militarists, and the robotized bean-counters of the major corporations that dominate our lives.

Pick your demonic Others from the lists showcased during the debates:  Russians, Muslims, or Mexicans.  They would all have hell to pay from somebody or another eventually; there was no winning to be had.


So here we are.

Spying and hacking and eavesdropping stereotyping and using the art of regime change and cyberwar and drawing lines in the sand and sanctioning everything and creating no-fly zones and dropping bombs in a new cold war playing out as yet new proxy wars proliferate—it’s all gruesome, yet so well designed that it is purely American.  Is it great already, to be great again—who knows?

Are we ready to ask once again: can we avoid a nuclear war?

People better get to work, forget about Clinton and her poor theatrics.  It’s long past time to abandon the narrative some Clinton-side Democrats would have you believe—that those who opposed Clinton gave America Trump.  It was never true to begin with.

I know a lot of people who voted for Trump and Clinton.  There was your battle, the one the elites chose to fight because it was anti-democratic, necessary to maintain control.  Hillary could have easily won had she a clue.

Not a progressive or anti-imperialist imbecile in the world could have helped her—or harmed her.

Evidently the deplorables won, while we all lost.

Terry Simons is the founder of Round Bend Press Books in Portland, Oregon.  This story is excerpted from his memoir of growing up in Oregon, A Marvelous Paranoia.