As a country with extreme uneven wealth distribution, a 53% voter turnout, a 43% illiteracy rate, soaring degrees of ignorance and misinformation, with no socialist opposition, US opinion formation was bound to get high-jacked by a mendacious idiocracy of imposters with media presence – a militant spread of idiot politicians, pundits and reporters with no formal merit other than a fraudulent narrative and a suit. The latest political pornographer is orange and he is rich. His name is Donald Trump – the American politopath.
By Cousin von Erich
Political history’s most decisive documents on modern liberal capitalist democracy is the body of constitutional documents of America and France. It invokes and articulates a vibrant capitalist liberalism that explicitly defies old world conservatism. So, how American politics ended up construing this unequivocal departure into a bipartisan systemic divide between conservatism and liberalism is a paradox. In American politics ‘conservative’ means very liberal! whereas ‘liberal’ – or ‛left’, means less or not liberal at all! By American standards, conservative means less taxes and government, less regulation and the preservation of perceived traditional American values. American Liberal entails an accepting stance on government, taxes, market regulation and progressive positions on ideal values. Compared to European orientations the term liberal covers the socio-liberal centre right parties, give and take. The term conservative … I have no clue.
Fair is fair, the phenomenon is not entirely unique. Regions and countries go through periods of redefining their ideological legacy. Conservatism in Sweden does not equal conservatism in China. In fact, the idea of a uniform ideological basis – the notion of an objective independent ideological starting point rarely fits the bill, if ever. Understanding individual political isms requires historical, regional and national contextualization to make sense. However, I would argue that nowhere like in America are the current political orientations so devoid of content to the extent that they are nonsensical. Assessing current takes on American liberalism at least there is a formal school of thought that allows for authoritative cross referencing and comparison. However, not having exerted any influence as an independent school of economy, has been a contributing factor for conservatism in lending itself at any exotic understanding – particularly in America.
In fact, you could make the case that the most defining feature about conservatism is an absence of a school of thought and independent philosophical property. Not only in American, conservatism in modern politics tends to cover the muddiest of agendas solely defined by a defence of any given status quo at a given point in time and country. This is how a Russian conservative can end up as the embodiment of the opposite of an American conservative. The sole original feature conservatism seems left with, is a regressive core of defensiveness; the defining negative – some opposing political agenda it can react against – a progressive political movement or trend that challenges status quo and supports structural change. By contrast, Liberalism or socialism starts by asserting a school of thought that at least in theory supersedes a random political reference point.
You would expect conservatism to signify an alternative to liberalism – a respectful prioritization and preservation of human heritage and collective traditional values anchored in a symbiotic respect of nature and regional context – a take on development based on mature deliberation and social equilibrium over transient regards of making a quick buck – an ideology that offers an alternative to a relativistic world view, global capitalism and transient individualistic self-fulfilment as valued by a liberal. Compared to this, American conservatism is … well … a complete perversion – an abomination.
A Dysfunctional and Symbolic Democracy
I believe these seemingly inconspicuous terminological distortions to have invited conflicts in American politics. As opposed to Europe, a class awareness never evolved as the obvious political reference in the American electorate. A working class movement never gained political momentum. Factual income and wealth distribution as the driving agent for voter behaviour never settled along a genuine socialist left or a liberal right axis. Americans were left with only degrees of liberalism and two – yes, liberal candidates – working from an assumption that the entire American population exclusively consisted of three hundred million business owners. Judged by voter turnout, the U.S. lags most of its peers, landing 31st among the 35 countries in the OECD most of whose members are highly developed, democratic states. Pew research center, August 2, 2016.
U.S. turnout in the 2012 presidential election was 53.6%, based on 129.1 million votes cast and an estimated voting-age population of just under 241 million people. However, measured, U.S. turnout rates have been fairly consistent over the past several decades, despite some election-to-election variation. Since 1980, voting-age turnout has varied within a 9-percentage-point range – from 48% in 1996, when Bill Clinton was re-elected, to 57% in 2008, when Barack Obama won the White House. Turnout, of course, varies considerably among different racial, ethnic and age groups. U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries. Pew research center, August 2, 2016.
As such, it remains highly debatable whether the American political system ever met the basic prerequisites for a fully functional modern democracy to the extent that the divides in political representation never reflected the factual distribution of wealth. Judged by what the average American actually makes, the vast majority is not politically represented. Marx was spot on as for his so called ideological smokescreen – the Americans invented it. It is a complex chain of causation that has created this catch 22 in which the overarching American dream plays an inextricable part. Perceiving yourself as a temporarily inconvenienced millionaire does incline you to vote in accordance with what you expect to make, rather than in accordance with your factual income and current situation. In other words, the American voter behaviour resembles that of someone with a gambling addiction rather than a behaviour guided by informed choice. In general, a winner, loser vernacular is a common American perspective on human existence.
That said, the emergence of Bernie Sanders has been a game changer. That an American democratic presidential candidate would even dare to take the word socialism in his mouth is well… revolutionary. It’s fair to assume that future political debates and with what vocabulary to address political issues have changed. However, it remains too soon to appreciate what lasting effects Bernie Sanders has left and what Roosevelt’s Keynesian expansionist policies has meant or for US opinion formation is difficult to assess.
The one percent
According to a much cited paper by the esteemed economists; Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 20625, Issued in October 2014, Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913, a single percent owns 40% of the nation’s wealth. Moreover, according to the article; Why do American Tolerate Extreme Wealth Inequality, by Steven Mazie published in Big Think (no date), numbers suggest that the Americans are blissfully unaware.
Tables below: Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 20625, Issued in October 2014.
Contrived political conceptions all based on capitalism as a tabooed narrative and a bipartisan election system with limited choice, have left millions of average Americans politically homeless. Multiply this departure by an exceptionally high degree of social inequality, jaw dropping low voter turnouts, staggering crime rates by western standards, a record low educational level and illiteracy and functional illiteracy rates at a combined 50-60% you are bound to invite systemic conflicts, uninformed political positioning and assertive power plays. Judging by the stats, The United States is in a minefield of highly explosive social incohesiveness.
What could have been an open-and-shut case for a viable socialist opposition degenerated into a motley, disgruntled and misguided electorate, a vast demographic residuum solely bound together by a most aggressive, phobic and regressive defensiveness. Anti-government, libertarians, second amendment retards, racism, creationists, warped Christianity and a delusional American dream – it is a negative rally with nowhere to go and nothing to offer but a headless protest.
Below Basic: no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills
Basic: can perform simple and everyday literacy activities
Intermediate: can perform moderately challenging literacy activities
Proficient: can perform complex and challenging literacy activities.
|Prose literacy, defined as the knowledge and skills needed to understand and use information from texts including editorials, news stories, brochures and instruction manuals.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
Above, the numbers on literacy in both absolute and relative numbers in the US in a comparative 1992, 2003 analysis from the American National Center for Education Statistics. The comparison is of less consequence as opposed to the overall alarming results. Noticeable is the race disparity in strong disfavour of blacks and Hispanics. According to a more recent study from 2013 carried out by the Program for International Student Assessment, the average reading literacy score for U.S. fifteen-year old students is 498 (out of 1000 possible points). That is enough to make the United States rank twenty-fourth out of sixty-five educational systems ranked in that category. Shangai, China, ranked first, with a score of 570. Source: rankingamericaworpress.com – literacy.
The U.S. ranks 2nd in ignorance
According to the research firm IPSOS Mori, the United States ranks second out of fourteen countries in general ignorance about social statistics such as teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. Italy is the most ignorant of the fourteen countries.
Source: UK research company Ipsos Mori, 2014.
Ignorance in America is well documented by countless surveys, whether it pertains to beliefs on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, public health care, or ludicrous assumptions about the Iranians having abetted and conspired with Al Qaida. Having a laugh on an unsuspecting American voter amply demonstrating his unfathomable ignorance is a common segment on any respectable late night show or You tube. The average American voter is consistently ill informed, ignorant and utterly uneducated. It is ludicrous to assume that serious and informed discussions and debates would ensue from these dynamics. A fully functional democracy requires a certain degree of socio-economic homogeneity and an informed electorate. This is a prerequisite to position yourself on an informed basis, it is a prerequisite to have an informed debate between two or more opposing views.
The proud to be stupid movement
To me, previous presidential candidate McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate signified an important shift in the republican strategy. Apart from poor judgement, choosing someone so blatantly unqualified sent a most concerning signal to the proletariat – it’s noble to be stupid. Your leader is just as stupid as you – that’s why you can trust your leader! As opposed to getting played, this segment was now actively mobilized and defining the republican party by the lowest denominator.
As such, McCain’s legacy consisted in taking the first steps in validating stupidity, ignorance and misinformation. Stupidity and ignorance in a leader was no longer an impediment but to republicans the standard bearer of integrity, the hall mark of something positive, something good, truthful and valuable. Sarah Palin meant an important boost to a new political class – the idiocrats – pseudo politicians, pseudo pundits, pseudo news reporters and hosts with no formal merit masquerading as authorities in a reality show. A gang-banging musical that perpetuates an overall fraudulent, disingenuous and manipulative discourse that is in either complete denial or still discussing commonly recognized and indisputable facts on socio-economic dynamics.
As a consequence, American campaigning reminds you of childish distractions, birthday clowns and crowds going: “He’s right behind you!” It should not raise any eyebrows that the average American voter neither has any idea of what objectively serves his own self-interest – that he actively supports and vote for political agendas that are strongly disfavourable to his own self-interest – the reluctance to a universal health care among the millions of uninsured low income groups, gun control or crime fighting, are the most blatant examples of American mass idiocy.
Instead of a preemptive focus on extreme uneven wealth distribution as the indisputable main cause of crime, an almost religious narrative distorts the obvious underlying cause into a focus on punishment as the principal remedy. Legislator has absconded his social responsibility by letting the judicial system clean up the effects of a failed policy. As such, the penal courts have been tuned into policy makers by default.
A plethora of Hollywood vigilante and revenge flicks churns out this take on crime and penal policy – the ongoing epic between up standing citizens that are let down by a seemingly dysfunctional justice system in their struggle against a constant threat of innately evil individuals. And as for dysfunctional law – it’s not dysfunctional – in fact it’s in complete accordance with American law. What allows for the offensive rulings is that American penal process is based on a school of thought of formal juris prudence as opposed to material justice as in Europe. This is a political choice – if you are unhappy with it then get rid of it.
Even though positions have changed on public health care – among gun control, extreme crime rates and extreme social inequality, these issues still make up what separate America from other western countries. Summing up US conservatism it would appear that there is an obstructive departure of not acknowledging independent societal systemic dynamics – even the construct ‘society’ in itself seems hard to swallow – why not just say ‘a lot of people’ – agents randomly bound by random contracts.
The bubble – the echo chamber
The previous republican Bruce Bartlett left, is a prolific writer on politics and economics. Bartlett worked for Republican President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Ron Paul and Jack Kemp. Bartlett broke with his party a decade ago with his book Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy. In June 3, 2015, Bartlett published the paper: How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics, Social Science Network – a much cited work on the unholy alliance between FOX news and the republican party.
Bartlett quotes Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald for saying about FOX news:
It has come to seem normal that a major news organization functions as the propaganda arm of an extremist political ideology, that it spews a constant stream of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, paranoia and manufactured outrage, and that it does so with brazen disregard for what is factual, what is right, what is fair, what is balanced — virtues that are supposed to be the sine qua non of anything calling itself a newsroom.
In How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics, Bruce Bartlett left, writes on top-page 21:
Of course, Fox’s sins are not its alone. Fox is part of a conservative universe in which many conservatives now live, getting all of their information from conservative sources – Fox News, talk radio, conservative publications and web sites. This is often called a “bubble” or “echo chamber” that reinforces marginally held views until they become doctrinaire and impose false views on those exposed to no other viewpoint. In effect, conservatives engage in self brainwashing, where certain ideas are repeated so often and with no contrary or alternative point of view, it fulfils the classic definition of brainwashing.
In his characterization of FOX news, a tenet of Bartlett’s is that a change took place from nine 9/11. FOX news turns from news reporting from conservative perspective to an unabashed propagandist media outlet. Secondly, and to my mind, the failed McCain and Palin campaign furthered an even more aggressive, revanchist and mendacious Obama bashing.
Maybe two trends are emerging. On one hand the Obama period and Bernie Sanders seem to carry a widening willingness in the American public to debate tabooed issues. On the other hand, the Obama period has radicalized the republican base which has been taken over by political pornographers run by FOX news, although it is questionable how reflective of the American electorate it really is. The fact that Trump finally prevailed in spite of a dubious republican affiliation bears witness to the division of the republican party.
Trump the politopat
No doubt, Trump saw the fatigue and dissolution in the republican party. In an apprehensive void of republican leadership, Trump is the inevitable consequence of an unqualified class of republican idiocrats and political pornographers who were handed the keys to consolidate a political tradition of disregard for factual veracity and manipulative narratives in the republican party.
The class of conservative idiocrats created the Trump, the Donald, the phenomenon Trump, Trump the politopat – a pathological aberration in the body politic – a Paris Hilton, Berlusconi hybrid – a vulgar and conceited – a narcissistic and sociopathic billionaire with nothing to offer but great media presence, outrageous one liners and a comic book take on the presidency.
Armed with the language of a six grader, Trump so amply demonstrates the bully’s innate understanding of turning any criticism into a crowd pleasing personal attack. How and from where did Trump develop the idea that veracity and correctness was not an asset in political debate? The political tradition in the republican party and the medialized zeitgeist have cleared the way for an entirely different approach in American politics where seriousness, truthfulness and qualifications is frowned upon as patronizing or lecturing at best.
Like another megalomaniac Kanye West with deluded political ambitions, Trump instinctively knows it is all about entertainment, ratings and good television. There is no such thing as bad publicity – no publicity is bad. Media presence and entertainment precedes above all – these are all the hallmark of the skilled politopat.
The politopat was never really a political animal as such. His motivation is his self-interests, self-promotion, and love for himself. Which stage to further his personal ends is of less consequence. The political stage is instrumental. He has an infantile and reductionist understanding of human existence, his lack of empathy is monumental and formally speaking his educational background and business record is dubious. It’s hard to see how his response pattern and decision making would not in some form mirror the simple minded psychology of a spoiled, vain and arrogant teenager – him … commander in chief? If you have any doubt as to the understanding of temperamentally unfit – Trump meets all the requirements. Lately the eulogy from his Mexican visit spells his divisive effect from even an uncomplicated courteous meeting. Mexico’s Finance Minister Luis Videgaray was fired as responsible for the mere inviting Trump – imagine Trump in complex and tense negotiations in the Middle-east!
Although from an economically privileged background, no doubt Trump is the most vulgar epitome of demonstrative, tasteless and boastful display of money bluster. Has spent a life making the proletarian take on class and style his proudest personal trademark. Trump shows no signs of empathic capabilities or genuine understanding of human relations or of people with different priorities and backgrounds – no nuances. The sole sign of old money is his spoiled teenage arrogance that comes into play whenever confronted with either intelligence, documented expertise or unassuming nobility in any form.
The republican winter of discontent
The takeover by Trump and the likely defeat in the presidentials probably spells a long term exile from the oval office, ceteris paribus. As far as I see it, the republican party demonstrated a resounding absence of viable candidates, vision and issues in the primaries. The great irony is that the basic problem in the republican party consists of the resounding absence of conservative values of respectability, truth, honesty and genuine expertise of good men. Whichever political views to pursue, a fraudulent, mendacious and propagandistic political platform should never be accepted by any viable political leadership.