Picking Our Poison?

by Berry Friesen (September 7, 2016)

Here in the US the presidential election is only two months away.  The winning margin will be small, we are told; Hillary Rodham Clinton leads at the moment, but Donald Trump remains close enough to catch her.

For those who assume the imperial paradigm (i.e., someone will dominate the world, it may as well be us), the Clinton-Trump contest presents an important choice:  who is better qualified to serve—the experienced insider or the maverick outsider?

In contrast, those who desire an end to US domination of the world have little interest in either Clinton or Trump.  Our votes will go to a third party candidate—either the Green Party’s Jill Stein or the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson. In my case, it will be Stein.

But whether we are emotionally invested in the Trump-Clinton contest or not, their contest provides important insights into what life has become here at the center of the empire.

For instance, consider the commentary of Gary Luepp.  He calls the entire election campaign “an exercise in mendacity.”  Clinton brazenly lies about her emails and about Benghazi (Libya) and she won the Democrat nomination through the lying and cheating of the Democratic National Committee. Trump brazenly throws out false statements nearly every day about whatever topic he happens to be addressing. Even on his signature issue—illegal immigration—he can’t be trusted.

Everyone knows this, yet the rank dishonesty of both candidates is not seen as embarrassing, much less disqualifying.  Instead, most people say, we must dutifully choose one or the other.

As Luepp puts it sarcastically, “So what that the whole system is soaked in shit? It’s the best system in the world, damn it, so just wade through it and enjoy the stench for the duration.”

Hmmn.  How long, exactly, is “the duration?”  Has “mendacity” come to define the empire itself, not just the presidential campaign?

For a second example, consider the commentary of Daniel Lazare, who asks: “Who’s the most right-wing presidential candidate of all?”  Writes Lazare, “The answer used to be Donald Trump, famous for his naked bigotry toward Mexicans and Muslims.”  But that was before Clinton started attacking Trump from the right “for failing to embrace the ultra-imperialist doctrine of ‘American exceptionalism’.”

Here is Clinton, speaking August 31 to the American Legion convention in Cincinnati: “If there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of the way, it is this. The United States is an exceptional nation . . . And part of what makes America an exceptional nation, is that we are also an indispensable nation.”

Part of this “indispensability” in Clinton’s view is that “when America fails to lead, we leave a vacuum that either causes chaos or other countries or networks rush in to fill the void.”  So America has a responsibility to provide “leadership,” according to Clinton: “The decisions we make and the actions we take affect millions even billions of lives.”

In her speech, Clinton also promised to respond to foreign cyber-attacks with military means and to take on the world’s dictators.  “All this,” writes Lazare, “from a woman whose family foundation has received up to $25 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most repressive government on earth, plus up to $50 million from other Persian Gulf sources.”

Hmmn.  Is there a connection between Trump’s “naked bigotry” toward Muslims and Mexicans here at home and Clinton’s dominating “leadership” abroad?  Might the arrogance and violence of US policies over there be bleeding inexorably into our lives here at home?

Mendacity and bigotry:  two troubling features of this presidential campaign—and of the empire in which it is embedded.