A cell phone sounds off at eight-thirty to notify Donald Trump that his helicopter has arrived atop his building. The man himself slowly shuffles around the three story penthouse apartment, decorated primarily in gold and marble, while habitually clearing his throat and snacking on crispy baked goods straight from the bag. They spatter and explode from between his tight chalky lips. A servant, careful not to hold eye contact, brings him tea and a paper while he drops crumbs all around the elegant 17th century influenced room. Licking the tips of his short red fingers, he makes his way to the bathroom and empties himself desperately into a fifteen-thousand dollar toilet. When he emerges a small team of stylists primp and affix his hair with a series of holding sprays and volume adding mousses. Hair is swept forward, then over and up, before being carefully laid on top of itself. The makeup, hand-mixed by an on-staff cosmetologist, is infused with real 24 karat gold and applied liberally but varies in intensity depending upon his mood and schedule. Today is an important one so he demands more and his normally pink completion takes on a rich orange hue as he cries out for further cosmetic enhancements.
When satisfied, the staff encircle him with mirrors but he doesn’t give them more than the most passive of glances. To Trump it’s more important that he feel beautiful than look it. That is one of the many secrets to his boundless confidence. And, if he needs a touch up on the road, someone will be there. Because today is not a normal day, this is a day on the campaign trail for this man of the people. As he takes a seat in his private chopper he goes over some of the talking points for his next speech. “Brag about penis size” is highlighted, as is “subtly encourage racism” and “ramble incoherently.”
Thirty miles north in a sizable Chappaqua mansion, Hilary Clinton is already dressed and being briefed by her campaign manager via phone over the things she needs to change her opinions on to remain popular. Today it’s all about damage control over the ongoing email scandal with the FBI and reinforcing her new commitment to gay rights, something that has been solidified by a new partnership with the Human Rights Campaign. “Don’t worry,” says the manager over the phone, “even though you opposed marriage equality and tried to pass anti-gay legislation until 2013, they understand that it’s important to you now that you are running for President. They’re endorsing you fully thanks to help from our mutual ties with Goldman Sachs. They are absolutely going to publicly endorse you as their candidate, probably today.”
The rest of the call addresses ways to avoid discussing contributions form such large banks as Sachs, something she knows Bernie Sanders will likely bring up in the next debate. “We don’t want them to think you are crooked or bought and paid for, so we’ll have to fight these accusations at every turn. Remember while on the road to stop and get a photo with every staff member you can. We’ll have people there to take the photos and get them out to the press, but try and pick lots of different people that aren’t too ugly or too pretty to alienate the average American. We’ve got this great little story in the works about how you love iced tea but can’t find any ice so you have to drink it at room temperature! That’s really going to make you seem like a regular and humble person.”
It is agreed upon by all parties that the iced tea story is a home run and should be sent out to every major news outlet once they find something to shoehorn it into. Hillary hangs up the phone and goes outside to take in a few nervous breaths of cold air before coming back in to tell people what bags to take out to the car that will drive her to the airport, possibly only to have the plane land under more claimed sniper fire.
America, for a multitude of reasons, is seriously considering pitting an angry clown against a lying shill for the red white and blue crown. In one corner we have famous megalomaniac who is promising to dismantle the establishment that has crippled the middle class while paying not-so-subtle tribute to every violent and racist instinct that a person seeking scapegoats can have. In the other, you have the usual appeasement politician with deep ties to the very banking establishment that has hurt this country for the last three decades and will say anything deemed popular to get elected.
While I don’t actually know Trump’s bathroom habits, the above is a more realistic portrait of the two frontrunners for this year’s presidency than anything offered up by their campaign strategists or even the mainstream media. Trump does live in a solid gold apartment. Clinton has lied about being under sniper fire. Donald has bragged about the size of his penis on national television. Hilary’s website includes the story about the room temperature iced tea. He’s a master of talking without saying anything. She’s only endorsed homosexuals as equals in the last few years. He has been bankrupt numerous times. She has deep ties to corrupt banks and may be indicted for mishandling and willful destruction of classified information. Ugly truths like this go on and on for anyone who is willing to put in the time to track them down.
The argument could be made that politics have always been filled to the brim with sensationalists, phonies, corrupt opportunists, and power hungry robots. You could also make the argument that this country has never needed them to not be those things more. Furthermore, when did outright and relentless lying become reasonable? When did inciting violence and bragging about the proportions of your genitals become relevant in political discourse? When did politics go from civil debates on governance and the occasional shady deal to a mischief of rats copulating in a pile of soggy garbage? We live in the age of the internet, it’s not like you can’t check up on these people while you’re managing your fantasy sports team or shopping for that next thing you don’t need. We really don’t have a great excuse.
A dog will eagerly devour a delicious chocolate bar offered to it primarily because it is unaware that the sweet perfect taste of cocoa is the dog equivalent of Diet Ricin (regular ricin is also not good for dogs, FYI). Dogs are also pretty stupid. I think that this logic can also be applied to the average American voter. While it took me a little longer than the twelve year old version of myself would have guessed, I eventually explored every region of the continental United States. And, if you asked me what they all have in common, I would tell you that they all possess a lot of people who are wildly selfish but still support concepts that directly oppose their best interests.
When Occupy WallStreet was still a tangibly physical force I assumed, like many, that change was coming. When it fizzled into internet activism and became the digital equivalent of a wet cough, I expected it was only a matter of time before a subset of backpacked youths returned angrier than ever to break through barricades and hit investment bankers with axes before they were liquidated by police gunfire. Mansions would be burned without exception while the Koch bothers were drug out of their opulent dwellings, drug into the streets and eaten by underpaid teachers— not because people took pleasure in the killings but because it was what had to be done. That didn’t happen. Instead Occupy members just got kicked and pepper sprayed in the face while the organization’s co-creator wrote a book explaining why protesting is no longer a viable option. And, based on every protest I’ve seen in the last decade, there seems to be a lot of truth to that. But Occupy was for freaks and intellectuals, not the regular people they were trying to help.
Average people, for one reason or another, seem much more excited about having answers and much less interested in seeking them out for themselves. Taking what a pundit or political figure says at face value is a lot easier than hearing it, breaking down its meaning, researching its validity, and then checking to see if they’ve been consistent in that assertion. This is probably why Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump can talk behind a podium without getting egged into a coma for lying every single night. It’s why so many highly religious people vote Republican just because it identifies itself as the “Christian” party, even though most Democrats from the United States are also Christian. Let’s not forget that the vast majority of America still considers Jesus as their number one guy. It’s why overly aggressive policing is tolerated, it’s why you don’t make more money, it’s why you pay top dollar for a terrible education, it’s why you live in the only developed country that doesn’t provide you with healthcare.
Stupid people are easy to manipulate. They’ll believe anything you tell them if you say it in the right way and with enough gusto. Facts become an impediment. But even those Americans belligerent with stupidity can sense that there is something wrong. Those that grew up in the great era of change and American exceptionalism, who failed us so completely and then sold off the future as piecemeal, have started to realize there is a problem. But many don’t yet understand it. It’s as if they can hear the pained squeals coming from the New World as it has had its head kicked in over and over again, but they can’t quite make out the boot that is doing the stomping.
This is what gives a wealthy fringe weirdo like Trump an appeal to angry people fed up with the status quo. This is also what makes Clinton seem viable by comparison. They are familiar personalities with millions of dollars of clever marketing behind them. There is a revolving door between top-tier industry and government jobs. No matter which frontrunner you vote for that will remain a truth. They aren’t evil, they’re just vacuous people with selfish agendas who do not care that you exist. Perhaps, at a minimum, you might consider casting a vote for someone else. And if you are feeling exceptionally patriotic, you could organize and make the powers that be absolutely terrified of you. After all, it should be you who has the power. It should be the citizenry coming away with the biggest piece of the pie, even if we all have to share it and it’s some shitty flavor like rhubarb.