The 2016 presidential race was the first I could fully bear witness to with all faculties and a proper reserve of cynicism intact, having been far too young to know of or care about any details of politics during Obama’s initial run (knowing only from relatives that he would be the worst thing to the country since Osama Bin Laden), let alone Bush’s quest for a second term and his initial race after Bill Clinton’s time in office. But now its over, and frankly its too painful to go into at length and too cruel to make you read another one of these. I want only to compact everything I’ve observed during this election cycle into a few key highlights, and be done with this as best as every sensory origin around me will allow for the next year or so.
Going into it
- Election season comes on slowly, looming over everyone’s head as the final year of a presidential term arrives, but its official kick-off drops on everyone like a stone in shallow water when we learn about people starting campaigns and listing their crucial issues for the next president. A lot like waking up from a slumber you forgot you settled in for. We have to elect a new president? Oh, right.
- There are those imbued with faith in the system to some degree who think the whole event is critical to sustaining a legacy of sorts of a past president, those new voters who see an opportunity to contribute to American history with obscure hopes, and those veterans to politics who know the matter to be 20% appearance, 20% pandering, 40% money, 10% logistics of money, 9% sensational drama and 1% repetition.
- All campaigns preface their own failure, a kind of Schroedinger’s Cat of politics. Modesty, such as that with Sanders, foreshadows this. Mainly because of the expressed weakness seen by the whole game, like in prison. Once you see that, you know it will turn into an only the good die young situation.
- Learned campaign bystanders will imply the above axiom, letting it germinate and sink in, bursting into a magnificent weed of disappointment and misery for new voters in the election’s progress.
- Support in a campaign done with intent of “engaging in your future” while having no direct means of any real engagement is the outstanding oxymoron of elections. Moreover, it is active disengagement in reclaiming your future than engaging in a predetermined caricature of it.
- The hunt for a new president is the search for a new American social period. Bush’s time in office encompassed a period of questioning war, interventionism, nation-building, the historic causes of extremism and the US’s blindness to digging itself in a hole. Obama’s time revolved around accountability, civil rights progression, the simultaneous invasion of them, acts condemned elsewhere done under a different title, and finally the drive to do better all over again. All this propagated by a great shift in media, information and activism.
- With a lot happening in four to eight years, it isn’t wrong to say that the election cycle is the actual New Year’s Day for the United States. We’re met again with what will define our time, the matter of wading through the waters and scrounging up what we will make of this next era, and how the powers at the top will be affected those.
- Eugene Debs’ vision of Socialism in the United States has perished, having been reduced to the red-headed step-child of The New Deal in fighting for more comfortable chains than their abolition.
- Good intentions and a following around them won’t amount to anything in a system built on bureaucracy and fluctuating cash. The system rewards playing by its own rules and then some, along with it being incompatible with human concepts. Humanitarian campaigns in American politics are like charity under capitalism.
- Issues are just the vehicles for narratives. The two may appear linked in the course of politics, but in the grand scheme its only narratives and support around them than issues that count. Single-issue campaigns contrast by having a steady singular velocity, due to (1) a lack of a figure or personality for things to center around (“We need to elect Hillary to get equal pay”), and (2) the lack of a narrative around this personality (“Hillary said she will get us equal pay”). This furthermore shows that narratives can only drive politics, not issues nor pressing needs for change. There needs to be a political vehicle and occupant; a candidate is elected and a mere facade of hope in an issue is achieved. But this isn’t to say that single-issue campaigns are any better, because they lack the power to break through the barriers set up by the state, otherwise there would be no politics to begin with. The results are narratives carried by the supporters profitable only to the administration’s appearance, and impotent campaigns of singular reform taken up independently.
- The farther the margin of impossibility and absurdity is set, the more it will be surpassed.
In the end
- Every young adult too basic, disengaged and happily stupid (wielded as down-to-earth) to get into politics will contribute to the death of urgently needed movements of direct action in favor of the most immediate and comfortable “best of two evils”, wherefore the contingency for freedom against tyranny, agreed to be “not practical”, will be charged back to the social squalor once more.
- Every reduction of greater concepts in the course of campaign narratives will not only bolster the ignorant support of voters, but contribute to the distance between people’s autonomy and deeper entrenching a public state directed by private interests.
- Defeat, like the start of it all, comes on slow, but hits harder than anticipated. And when its over the whole picture becomes clear.
- All things accounted for, pandering coupled with aggression and absorption, giant reserves of money and holding on that fowl inflection in speaking hollow promises, mixed with some side-drama for publicity is the key to it all.
- The greater hubris, name and bank account yields the greater outcome, or at least a more worthwhile political spectacle.
- Any ignorant orange blowhard with a capital empire and a name synonymous with everything loathed in the American people will make it in the United States. Truly the American dream.
- There can be no doubt that politicians are as ineffective in countering competition as they are bound to be the people’s downfall universally. Lousiness wins as intelligence loses, desperation worsened. Every time.
Onward, every American generation is going to have one of these, every new child with a heart and mind to grow into only for it to work itself into a frenzy of political hope in a hopeless machinery of cogs that work against what they claim to provide for. Thats about the last sad truth every child will learn: After the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and life purpose, they figure out for themselves, wishing that it could have been wrapped in that innocent parental sugar coating so it isn’t as tragic, “Candidates are puppets to greater evil, and merge with it quickly”.
Even those hopeless maladjusted citizens stumbling behind Trump will find either in his success or failure in what resembles policy that a candidate can only meet below the minimum expectation for better or worse, whether they take him as the second coming of Bush, or a certain leader of a historic German political party, or not.
Ultimately, on the death bed, the final dying lesson learned in the realm of politics is that the state itself is the biggest sham and far from the necessity we were so convinced it was. We always catch glimpses of this, seeing our elders scoff at big brother or Uncle Sam, but always opting instead to battle for a few months every four or eight years in defense of it, and continually missing a world managed solely by the good will and unfettered power of the people alone. Persuasion so deep into the physiology compels them to answer to the call of a new almighty overseer, that the exit door stretches farther away from them every passing season, looking back at it only before the final moment of perishing.
The greatest misfortune to me was the sheer conviction, the angry strife to be aligned in something where everything is crooked and sad. The entire time I spent watching Hillary apologists lecturing people to get out and vote, rewriting sexism to mean not agreeing with her or questioning her record, alongside hollow calls for justice for working people being spewed by an orange madman billionaire wrapped in unapologetic self-absorption and prejudice, I genuinely could only feel hopelessness. A very real sadness was awakened in me that hearkens back to personal times of an emotional sinkingfeeling at the inertia of the world too powerful for me to overcome. I felt almost precisely that in regard to politics in 2016. It wasn’t the actual words that struck me like that, but the nature of the fervor in something so basically stupid and repetitive as an election, mounting at it becoming one between a war criminal opportunist and a Trump.
Coming back onto myself and others, even the despair culture of this election season provided little, but equally so did the demands for mobilizing around a third-party candidate, recurring back to narratives and issues. The third party side blended with the despair side and canceled each other out as the inevitable raged on. If anything, it cemented that Mars colonization can’t happen any sooner. But I think deeper still, it awakened just enough people, a minuscule minority nonetheless, to a lesson in approaching politics and holding out hope for some people bound to hold ultimate coercion over you, if not the sum of what it means to partake in the electoral performance and to be free.
There are no necessary evils, there is no best of two evils. There is tyranny and freedom. Any in between ultimately sides with an exception to freedom, and thus nullifies it. Any president however Utopian or benevolent can never do justice. The tyranny is not in any action, but in the very place of power. The very seat and foundation where they sit. They cannot grant freedom because it is innate and not bestowed. It springs from the bottom-up and is chained and mutilated as an oppressor needs, taking generations to regain its roots and grow anew attempting to reach us after being vanquished once again.
There are no good presidents. A president distinguishes your ultimate place at the bottom rung in the ladder of power, and submission and humoring of that structure by telling people to participate in asking for a new slavemaster emphasizes your assimilation on every human front, devoid of greater features and realms of thinking. You choose between freedom and tyranny. Tyranny is a deep and jagged chasm described by its pawns with the sweetest words refreshed to call on the newest generation, functioning in varied complex loopholes and convincing gimmicks, stumbled onto by countless agreements, fees and terms. All this coated in fine-trimmed promises that you grow to hate but still serve out of dependence, up until the very end.
Freedom is not the freedom we know. It is the lightness of the heart in the worst of calamities and the grin during tragedy. Freedom is not an allowance or a pardon, it is the holistic envelopment of self in every shade of life outside the confines of state and master. Its sustains itself solely from enjoyment of it. It holds one singular request in the face of its corruption and needing to be bestowed: Revolt in the spirit of unfettered self-determination.
For the final time, I will let Thoreau’s words, often exaggerated and bludgeoned into intellectual jamais vu, make their attempt to sway the heart for approximately the eight thousandth time. Not in the spirit of commentary or angst, but in the spirit of their actual meaning and the hope to see them made real in the world. I feel his ghost weep in this hour.
“Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.”