Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hillary Goes For the Jugular


I'll be honest, I've been critical of Hillary and her campaign over the last few weeks for some unforced errors regarding her email server and the Clinton Foundation. And while these unforced errors were being committed, her opponent, Donald Trump, was in the middle of his long-awaited pivot, trying to rebrand himself as a softer, kinder, bigot by appealing to moderate white women, who for some strange reason find him offensive.

I've also made no secret of my concern that in the midst of the distraction of trying to justify her and her husband's actions to an electorate that just doesn't believe her anymore, Trump could reset the entire campaign; we were already starting to see signs in the national polls that were portending trouble ahead.

Well, I'll say this for Hillary: she's got balls of steel. In a speech Thursday before a crowd of supporters, Clinton ripped Trump, his campaign and, perhaps most importantly, his supporters for taking "white supremacy mainstream." Not only did she effectively preempt Trump's pivot, she exposed the charade he and his surrogates have been attempting to pull off.

They say timing is everything in politics. Well, if that's so, Hillary's was impeccable. I've seen this woman and her husband give a good many speeches over the years; some great, a few not so. This might go down as one of the best she's ever given. It might well prove to be the signature moment in this campaign: the point at which Hillary ostensibly delivered a knock-out blow to Trump and saved the country from what would've been one of the darkest chapters in its history.

Let's face it. It's been easy - way too easy - to simply brand Trump as a fool, an asshole, a man child, a con artist (that's the term I use most often). He is certainly all those things. But he is also something far more sinister and menacing. Donald J. Trump is the closest thing the United States has to a despot since its inception as a country. He isn't just your run of the mill bigot with delusions of grandeur. He embodies virtually every personality trait of some of the most notorious dictators the world has ever seen from Stalin to - yes I'm going there - Hitler.

The Hitler comparison is striking and, in this instance, quite relevant. His rise to power in Germany in the 1930s was due in large part to his ability to convince a majority of the population that the reason for their deplorable condition was due to a certain segment of society; a segment that had to be removed.

Nativists decry the watering down of American culture and find aid and comfort in Trump's rhetoric. They see in him a hero who self identifies as one of them and who promises a "solution" that will ameliorate their concerns. It is no accident that someone as loathsome as David Duke extols his virtues and, upon hearing that Breitbart head Stephen Bannon had been brought in to run the campaign, proudly pronounced, "we have taken over the Republican Party." If one listens closely enough they can hear the first burning embers of the Reichstag building going up all over again.

This is no populist movement. Bernie Sanders had a populist movement. His was a bottom up revolution; a people's revolution. What Trump is offering is nothing less than a coup d' etat, first of the GOP, then the whole damn country. The racist elements that permeate every corner of this campaign have been around for quite some time. Sadly, they go all the way back to the founding of the Republic. But not since the ascendancy of Trump have they had this kind of platform. Hillary was correct when she said this is something "we've never seen before."

And that is why it is essential that she not let up, not for one second. To have remained silent and played it safe in an attempt to run out the clock till November, as some advisers were telling her to do, would've been foolish. You don't do that when the stakes are this high. This isn't Mitt Romney she's running against here. To be honest I'd take Romney over Trump in a heartbeat. Shit, I'd take Bush over Trump. That's how dangerous this man is.

I think Hillary gets it, finally. Yes, there is the issue of his temperament to consider, along with his thin skin. But those qualities are not the paramount concern here. Let's not forget, the nation both elected and survived the presidency of Richard Nixon. They don't come much more temperamental and thin skinned than Tricky Dicky. But the existential threat this man and his followers pose to America is without precedent.

Are all his supporters racists? Obviously not. Just as some of Hitler's followers were attracted to the manner in which he gave voice to their frustrations, there are some Trump supporters who are fed up with the system and see him as someone who will tilt the scales in their favor for once. As B.T. Barnum is alleged to have said, "There's a sucker born every minute."

Every tyrant needs a flock of sheep in order to succeed. It is no less true for Donald Trump. It is now up to Hillary Clinton to make sure that the sheep don't fall asleep.

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