Sunday, September 04, 2016

America's Broken Political Sysytem

With some of the latest polls showing Hillary Clinton's lead over Donald Trump narrowing, some wonder how our political system became so broken that a reality TV, carnival barker could ever have secured the Republican Party nomination, much less be running as strongly as he is when his message is one of hate, fear, and misogyny.  A piece in Salon looks at the scary situation and places the blame on two sources: (i) the Republican Party's broken nominating process, and (ii) the media and its obsession with false equivalency and hesitancy to report the truth, and willingness to allow itself to be duped by right wing pundits and others.   To these factors, I would add the GOP's deliberate courting of Christofascists and then allowing them to be admitted to and eventually hijack the party base. Here are article excerpts:
In case you hadn’t noticed, the polling gap between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is slowly narrowing, according to Nate Silver’s where Trump has gone from a 12 percent chance of winning to a 27 percent chance in four short weeks. 
Should Democrats and, indeed, all reasonable human beings panic now? Maybe.
And the GOP nominee hasn’t really done anything specific to warrant such a change in fortunes. In fact, he’s done almost everything wrong by a factor of thousands. This speaks volumes about the malfunctioning condition of American politics and the news media, and I’m afraid that all of the garment rending over Trump’s individual hourly trespasses is serving to avoid the big picture crisis: Trump shouldn’t even be in the race, much less nearly tied with a far more qualified opponent. He’s marched through a super-colossal loophole in the system, bobby-pins and border walls in tow, while doing everything wrong.
After watching Donald Trump yelling at the world about immigration Wednesday night, I’m more discouraged than ever about the current state of the American political process. How could this have possibly gone so far? Are we really this vulnerable to the whimsy of necrotic populism? Sadly, we are, and there are scant firewalls to prevent it from happening again and again.
In case you missed it, Trump’s whiplash posture — one minute “softening,” the next minute going full Hulk Smash! — was on unavoidable display Wednesday, beginning with his awkward meeting with Mexican President Peña Nieto and concluding with what was supposed to be a major policy address, but which ended up being one of the most horrifying presidential-level speeches ever recorded. In addition to the apocalyptic hatred and loudness of Trump’s rant, it was, of course, loaded with terrible speechwriting, joined by outright fiction.
Simply put: Trump is an embarrassment to civilization. A crackpot who exploited a broken party and a broken nominating process to threaten the world. If Trump’s brand of undisciplined pandering and screechy malevolence ever becomes the standard for American politics, I don’t want any part of it. I can’t repeat this enough: We’re on the brink of disaster, with roughly five percentage points separating us from Trump and the abyss. . . . Unless something’s done to fix it, we could permanently become a nation that elects despots and freaks similar to the Republican nominee.
Within our present system, a reality-show demagogue can parlay his tabloid popularity into a run for president. He can win the nomination by appealing to the basest, cruelest, most simplistic instincts of reactionary voters who are too ignorant and lazy to understand the wonky details of public policy and who are mostly brainwashed from within an impermeable bubble in which a limitless geyser of misinformation and propaganda, carefully designed and crafted to tap into the reptilian brains of the poorly educated and easily influenced, has successfully deceived enough voters to openly support this destructive character.
He can literally sidestep every standard by which all other candidates are expected to achieve, and the news media, along with a frustratingly large chunk of the voting public, will give him a pass anyway. Again, he can say a million things that no other candidate could possibly get away with, and never has, and because the news media has been rendered flaccid before the false accusation of liberal bias, the existential threat he poses — the urgent relating of facts that’d easily disqualify him — takes a back seat to horse-race narratives and smirky roundtables in which, inexplicably, Bill Kristol, who’s always wrong about everything, pops up on the liberal network. . . . Yet qualifications and conspicuously vast differences are irrelevant when there’s an equivalence quota to fill on cable news.
Even though the Democrats still have a superdelegate firewall, and, by the way, the electoral college was designed by the Framers in part to expressly stymie outlier candidates, the GOP nominating process is without a mechanism to prevent another Trump from getting this far despite himself. The Republican Party needs to devise a firewall now. I mean, right fucking now. If nothing else, Trump’s success underscores how the superdelegate system and the electoral college as they exist today are, obviously, crucial to the future of democracy. 

No comments: