I've been making you wait forever, and yet I've been fielding questions and listening to comments for an entire year. Now, two weeks or so before the election, it's time to weigh in.
What's the deal with the Presidential election? From an alien's perspective, it's a really odd deal: on one side, there is a mix of Berlusconi, Netanyahu, and Putin; on the other, a combination of Merkel, Thatcher, and Nicola Sturgeon. How could Americans possibly have a hard time choosing?
Well, first of all, you smug aliens, Berlusconi, Netanyahu, and Putin ran their countries for longer than you'd like to admit. Also, while Hillary Clinton is sort of a blend of the three women rulers above, she has some of the good and some of the bad qualities of each. For instance, she is not inspiring as The Iron Lady and isn't as fresh-faced as Sturgeon.
Regardless, America seems to have come to its senses again and Hillary Clinton is on its way to becoming the next President of the United States. I congratulate her in advance and believe she is the right choice. Most of my friends and readers think so, too. So, why was the contest so tight for such a long time?
America, you need to know, is a very odd place in this respect. The media are not held accountable for the things they say in the name of freedom of speech. That same freedom of speech applies in other countries, too, but in America, it is used by media corporations to mean they can "spin" anything the way that is most convenient to them.
"Hillary Clinton has no real competition, because the Obama years were largely successful economically and scandal-free. She is a continuation of those years, so she should be sailing to an easy victory" is absolutely not what glues viewers to TV screens and doesn't lure advertisers. So news media corporations need a story that makes it more suspenseful, like when you watch a TV show and it all builds up to a great reveal - right after the commercials.
What they did was build up one candidate that isn't boring. First, they did so with Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. Bernie is an absolutely lovable guy with lots of great ideas, but he's exactly the kind of person you don't want to be Chief Executive: he's been a Congress member since 1991 (!) and has accomplished little to nothing but vote for progressive causes.
Still, he was the only real challenger to Hillary Clinton, so the media hyped him up. They made him sound like a saint and started hyping all sorts of catastrophic faults in Hillary Clinton. That is quite the miracle, because the record of both is openly visible to anyone who looks, but a huge segment of the population bought the story, hook, line, and sinker. Hillary Clinton was a drone of Wall Street, a war hawk, and she was a liar with no commitment to any progressive cause. Bernie was the real deal.
Of course, the media pushed the narrative knowing fully well that Bernie didn't stand a real chance. Bernie didn't stand a real chance in particular because the media didn't want him to, really. He made for a great story in the primaries, because he was a suitable challenger, but ultimately the news media knew he was not going to be a match for any Republican candidate.
Hillary won the nomination handily. So handily, in fact, that those that had bought the media story were caught completely flat-footed and had to resort to claiming fraud. There was no fraud: Hillary Clinton won because she got the most states, because she had the most votes, and frankly because she stood a chance.
On the Republican side, the story was more complicated, because there were 17 contenders for the nomination. Some were boring, like Jeb Bush. Others were unproven, like Carly Fiorina. Then there was Donald Trump. The Donald was a known entity in the media: they knew he was going to be great entertainment, so they started pushing him.
The Republican Party was horrified. The Donald was not one of them, he didn't stand a chance to win, and even if he did, it was entirely unclear what his relationship would be to the party. Also, he was absolutely unreliable with his bona fides, having been a Democrat much of his life and having supported liberal positions for much of his life, in trying to appease and appeal to his native New Yorkers.
I cannot say how much of Donald Trump's ascent comes from the media's support and how much is just the electorate, because this year they worked in tandem. The Republican grandees have been pushing a policy of obstructionism that, at its core, was both lazy and counterproductive. If someone is hurting economically, which many are, you can't really help them by saying you prevented things from happening that would have made their life even worse. You need to come up with solutions, and the Republicans completely forgot how to do so.
Once the nomination was sealed for both parties, Hillary had a huge advantage over Donald. It was in the media's interest to push her down a notch and make him seem better. They took the negative press on Hillary Clinton, beautiful aged since the 90s, and revived that. Partisans on both sides ate it all up: despite visible proof to the contrary, the partisans claimed she was a liar, she was beholden to moneyed interests, she was crooked, and just plain unpleasant.
None of that was true. But it worked. The race became tighter and everyone was watching the news on an hourly basis.
Then came the first debate between the two candidates. It was there that the fundamental lie of the media hype became plainly apparent: that Hillary was a liar and Trump a man that says it like it is. Instead, for everyone to see, Hillary made a fool of Donald by quoting him. He made an even worse fool of himself by denying he had ever said the things she claimed he said.
You have to let that absorb for a second, because it's so odd. Hillary Clinton said horrible things about Donald Trump. By quoting him. His defense was that he had never said those things. Which was so easily disproven, it made the entire country wonder: who is this moron? It wasn't even a matter of lies at that point, it was a matter of intelligence. How could he not know that he was going to be proven a liar in a matter of seconds?
Suddenly, the media narrative collapsed. Hillary Clinton was not a liar: she was defeating her opponent by simply quoting him. He, on the other hand, was hardly believable, no matter what he said, because so much of what he said was easily shown to be false. Hillary the liar and Donald the man that speaks the truth? Visibly not so.
After that, revelations of sexual misconduct. The things that Donald Trump said, the things he allegedly did, they are all terrible. Still, they obscure the fact he had already lost without any of those revelations.
It would be an odd miracle if Hillary Clinton lost this election, and it is hard to believe she wouldn't be America's Angela Merkel: you disagree with her and her party on many an issue, but it's hard to argue that she hasn't the country's best interest in mind, and that she simply gets things done. Whether that's good or bad when all is said and especially done is hard to tell, but it's a really great change from the preceding stalemate.
Donald Trump called himself the Brexit candidate. There is more truth to it than just in the sense he's thinking: the option that everyone shorts, but that wins the day in the end. It is also the far inferior option, the option driven by pathological political ideas, the option that most resembles the traditional shooting in the foot.
So, this blog predicts that Hillary Clinton will win the election in a landslide of Barack Obama's 2008 proportions and that she, unlike he, will actually be able to use the victory to get a lot of things implemented. Whether you will like or dislike those things, the political stasis of the last eight years is probably over.