2016 was certainly the most instructive year in my personal political history. Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the 2016 presidential election.
1) The Media is Not Interested in Reporting Actual News
Remember the awkward Megan Kelly and Trump interview?
Trump: They say that I’ve has at leas 2 billion dollars worth of free air time.
Kelly: The free air time comes in some part because of the controversies that you’ve generated.
Kelly: Is that why you did it?
Trump: Well, I guess it might be a little bit…
Nuff said!? Trump is telling the media that you [the media] seem to be attractive to garbage. I’m [Trump] a pile of garbage on fire. Let’s dance!
2) Facts Are Not Important in a Democracy
The Daily Show did several skits named “Jordan Klepper Fingers the Pulse”. In one of these skits there is a very revealing moment when a Trump supporter is brutally honest with Keppler. Keppler asked the Trump supporters about Clinton’s health. They all seemed to think that she suffered from a serious, life-threathning illness.
Trump Supporter: Do I have proof? No. Do I have articles. No.
Klepper: But your mind is made up without information!?
Trump Supporter: My mind is made up.
Obviously, the comments of a few supporters do not represent the view of everyone who voted for Trump. I bring up this example because it confirms for us the flaws of a democracy by birthright.
Most person’s seeking election will exploit our desire for easy answers, regardless of the facts. Consider this: PolitiFact documented Trump’s statements in their Truth-O-Meter, where they’ve rated 76 percent of them Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire, out of 77 statements checked. No other politician compares.
Go back to Trumps response to Megan Kelley’s question on why he says what he says. Trump knows that facts don’t matter all that much. His supporters also share the same view.
Who needs facts when you have bombastic claims! It’s no wonder that Politics and Religion make a perfect couple.
3) Money Rules All Politics!
I thought this was a great moment in politics. On nationally televised RNC debate, Trump uttered the following statement:
“I will tell you that our system is broken, I gave to many people before this — before two months ago I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me. That’s a broken system.”
“He [Bush] raises $100 million, so what does $100 million mean? $100 million means he’s doing favors for so many people, it means lobbyists, it means special interests, it means donors,” Trump said in New Hampshire last month. “Who knows it better than me? I give to everybody. They do whatever I want. It’s true.”
Here’s a very wealthy individual telling the world how business is conducted in Washington. You have to admire the honesty in his words. Trump said to the world what we all wanted to hear. Love him or hate him, he’s right. It’s powerful for a candidate to expose our campaign finance system so completely.
Now, I don’t for a minute believe (nor should you) that Trump is immune from the corruptible properties of the finance system. If anything, he stands to profit greatly from his Presidential win.
But for once, at least in my lifetime, a candidate uttered what even the most cynical among us wanted to hear: The system is rigged. Deal with it!
4) Parties Don’t Care About Ideology. They Only Care About Power!
Trump confirmed for us what we have always known to be true: Political parties don’t actually have core ideologies or convictions. They are all about opportunity and power. Both parties are guilty of this; however, 2016 was the most revealing year to date.
Trump isn’t just a walking blasphemer [multiple divorces, infidelity, sexual assault, worshiping money, etc.], he went as far as violating the great Godfather of the modern GOP, Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment – “thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” — with relish.
He didn’t just speak ill of them. He went after them like a 12-year-old bully in the lunchroom.
- Of Carly Fiorina he said “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
- He laughed at Chris Christie saying he “acted like a little child” when President Obama came to help with Hurricane Sandy.
- He called Marco Rubio “little Marco” and Jeb Bush “low-energy.”
- He claimed that Ben Carson had a pathological temper and compared him to child molesters.
- He called Rand Paul ugly and said that he didn’t get his father’s appealing genes.
- At one of his rallies he claimed Lindsey Graham was “one of the dumbest human beings I have ever seen” and sent a tweet demanding that Graham “respect” him.
- He said Rick Perry should have to take an IQ test before being allowed into the debates.
- He said the way John Kasich eats is “disgusting,” and wondered whether people wanted that in a president.
And then there was Ted Cruz, the man who kept Trump close to him throughout the early primaries, under the assumption that when Trump flamed out he would inherit his voters. It didn’t work out that way and when it came down to the two of them, Trump turned on him so hard it left him sputtering. He called him “Lyin’ Ted” and tweeted out an insulting image of Cruz’s wife, comparing her unfavorably to his own wife, Melania the former model. Trump even accused Cruz’s beloved father, a Cuban immigrant, of being involved in the Kennedy assassination.
One would have thought that between his rude personal insults and his conservative apostasy on issues like Social Security and foreign policy, it would have been difficult for these GOP officials to forgive and forget, much less jump on board the Trump train. After all, for years they have made a fetish out of being men and women of “principle” who simply could not compromise their deeply held beliefs even if it brought the country to its knees. But lo and behold, they have suddenly found their inner pragmatists.
Marco Rubio, safely ensconced back in his Senate seat, has made his peace with his former tormentor. So has Jeb Bush, who recently penned an op-ed backing Trump’s controversial choice for the EPA. Poor Chris Christie prostrated himself before Trump for months only to be ignominiously fired from his job as head of the transition.
And others who either distanced themselves from the Donald’s crudest behaviors during the campaign or even outright condemned him are now groveling before him. Paul Ryan slickly tried to have it both ways and now the two are BFFs, appearing together before audiences where Trump makes it clear that he expects Ryan to toe the line and Ryan, the leader of one house of Congress in an equal branch of government, gamely grins and goes along. Poor old Mitt Romney tried to patch things up by agreeing to a humiliating public ritual in which Trump pretended to consider him for secretary of state, only to reject him after he’d issued a laudatory statement.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has been insinuating himself into the inner circle for some time and is usually quite careful about flattering the boss. But he made a mistake the other day by saying that Trump told him “drain the swamp” was just a “cute” campaign slogan and was forced to publicly admit that he “made a big boo-boo.”
But the saddest of all the Republican supplicants is Cruz, the man who actually took a brave stand before the whole country when he appeared at the Republican National Convention and refused to endorse the nominee. That took guts and many of us thought it showed that Cruz either had more integrity than we thought or that he had wisely surmised that Trump was going to destroy the party and he would be there to revive it as the one true conservative.
But Cruz bailed along with the rest of them. He eventually endorsed Trump and is back to trolling as only he can. The man who nearly single-handedly shut down the government is warning that Democrats will become “obstructionists at a level we’ve never seen” because they’ve been “radicalized.” He is positioning himself as Trump’s Senate defender, the man who will fight the crazy lefties on his behalf. If he plays his cards right, the talk is that he might even get the nod for a Supreme Court appointment!
Let’s not forget some memorable goodies like the feud with the gold-star parents, insinuating that gun activist assassinate Hillary Clinton and encouraged Russian to hack the emails of an American presidential candidate!
What convictions? What principles? 2016 was all too confirming!
5) Racism Still Works!
Republicans are notorious for using the issue of race to get votes. They have already confirmed to the public that “States Rights” = “Nigger, Nigger, Nigger”, that the war on drugs was designed to target African Americans, and restricting voter turn-out is instrumental to their electoral success.
There’s really nothing new here. The only takeaway is that not only does the strategy still work, it can perfected.
Here’s my favorite example:
Three times in a row on Feb. 28, Trump sidestepped opportunities to renounce white nationalist and former KKK leader David Duke, who’d recently told his radio audience that voting for any candidate other than Trump would be “treason to your heritage.”
When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he would condemn Duke and say he didn’t want a vote from him or any other white supremacists, Trump claimed that he didn’t know anything about white supremacists or about Duke himself. When Tapper pressed him twice more, Trump said he couldn’t condemn a group he hadn’t yet researched.
Strangely enough, there’s plenty of footage on YouTube where Trump calls David Duke a “racist, a bigot, a problem”.
Trump didn’t forget who David Duke was. He just knows that he needs the Nazi vote.
A leader of the Virginia KKK who backed Trump told a local TV reporter in May of 2016, “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.”
His white supremacist fan club includes The Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi news site; Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, which aims to promote the “heritage, identity, and future of European people”; Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a Virginia-based white nationalist magazine; Michael Hill, head of the League of the South, an Alabama-based white supremacist secessionist group; and Brad Griffin, a member of Hill’s League of the South and author of the popular white supremacist blog Hunter Wallace.
Heck! After the election, Spencer’s National Policy Institute held a celebratory gathering in Washington, D.C. A video shows many of the white nationalists assembled there doing the Nazi salute after Spencer declared, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”
Another curious thing happened while on the campaign:
In May of 2016, Trump implied that Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over a class action suit against the for-profit Trump University, could not fairly hear the case because of his Mexican heritage.
“He’s a Mexican,” Trump told CNN. “We’re building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings — rulings that people can’t even believe.”
Even members of Trump’s own party slammed the racist remarks:
“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” – House Speaker Paul Ryan. However, this didn’t seem to bother Ryan all that much as he still endorsed the nominee. (please see takeaway #4)
It’s pretty safe to say that everyone knew exactly what the slogan “Make America Great Again” actually meant.
6) You Can Fool All Of The People All Of The Time!
This one is a personal favorite. During a rally on December 9th, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Crowd: “Lock her up”
Trump: “That plays great before the election…now we don’t care”
He literally admitted on national television that he was playing his supporters!
Let’s add some context. Second presidential debate:
Trump: I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception….
…because you know what? People have been — their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Clinton: It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country
Trump: Because you’d be in jail.
Usually politicians break their promises in silence after the passing of time. Not Trump. Trump is so confident in our ignorance that he’s perfectly fine with admitting to his supporters how he was just using the “Lock her up” chants as a tool to get their votes.
It’s one thing to back-track on your promises. It’s quite another to tell your supporters that they were played.
This doesn’t say much about Trump. That was to be expected. It does say whole lot about us!
The most important lesson of all:
Trump exposed the flaws in all of us. Trump openly ran on a platform of impossibly ignorant proposals steeped in racial bigotry, misogynistic slander, and outright lies yet nobody stopped him! In fact, he was embraced for it.
The Trump phenomenon was ultimately a great experiment on human nature. It revealed clearly and concisely that we’re still human, all too human.
Thanks for reading,