A note from the Editor…

Tick… Tock… The big clock counts down the last days of the 2016 U.S. presidential election — the world’s greatest spectator sport.
Given that the U.S. president remains the most powerful figure on planet earth, every election cycle is, understandably, an exciting affair. But it’s never been quite like this.
In the red corner scowls Donald Trump: the businessman, the law-and-order candidate, the wall builder. He represents the moment that America’s toxic infotainment celebrity culture fetish converged with the runaway flames of racist, sexist, homophobic right-wing populism, cynically stoked for decades by opportunistic Republican Party elites.
In the blue corner grins Hillary Clinton: the patrician, the neoliberal, the tribune of the Washington establishment. She represents everything wrong with the hegemonic nominally liberal wing of the U.S. political class. For her base, she speaks the rhetorical language of uplifting feel-good niceties that progressives desperately want to hear and believe. Yet corporate America and the Wall Street banks — beneficiaries of our new gilded age — understand the power of the campaign finance quid pro quo, which goes far beyond mere words…
In a time when a new wave of clown-fear has gripped the U.S., the most dangerous clown of all is Trump. Fortunately for U.S. citizens — and indeed people around the globe — the very same narcissistic tell-it-like-it-is behavior that helped him lay waste to all of his adversaries in the Republican primaries is proving to be his greatest weakness in the general election late-game. His skin is far too thin to suffer any insult, and the Clinton campaign skillfully exploits this Achilles heel.
Most notably with the post-convention spats with the family of the slain U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, Trump proved that the structural integrity of his fragile ego outweighs any sense of political expediency.
Disappointing as it is that the months of virulent racist posturing against Hispanics and Muslims or his near-total ignorance of the realities of the world outside the U.S. borders weren’t enough to bring him down, the beyond overt sexist vulgarity of this latest Access Hollywood tape scandal seems to be a slippery moral slope too far even for the self-serving Republican Party sycophants who lined up behind their demagogic nominee.
But that’s just it. Trump is his own worst enemy, isn’t he? It should be clear to everyone by this point that Clinton is all but certain to claim the coveted black chair in the Oval Office this November. Trump’s real function in this election is to deliver unto us the lesser evil. The spectacle of the greater evil is so dazzling and lizard-brain fear inducing that even a hawkish corporate tool like Clinton becomes eminently palatable.
This is how our plutocratic pseudo-democracy perpetuates itself.
The most troubling thing to me is how we don’t seem to understand that the Trump phenomenon is itself a product of this endless cycle of lesser-evil pragmatism. The policies of neoliberal politicians like President Obama, Clinton, and the former President Clinton are directly enabling the Trump phenomenon.
Take the ‘07 – ‘09 recession, for example. This was a very serious and traumatic economic event for the population of the U.S., which in the lead-up had experienced decades of wage stagnation and ever increasing indebtedness in order to acquire homes and college educations, the classic trappings of the ‘American dream.’
Bill Clinton-era trade deals like NAFTA — which Trump isn’t wrong to criticize — weakened the economic position of the average American, while the same Clinton’s decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act opened the door for the euphoric financial securities gambling by big American banks that directly caused the aforementioned recession.
Cut to the election of President Obama and the decision to use tax-payer money to bail out the so-called “too big to fail” banks. While it’s true that further regulations were passed in the form of the Dodd-Frank Act, are we seriously expected to accept that this is enough to change the internal cultures or structural failings of the banking system? If Glass-Steagall can be repealed, so can Dodd-Frank.
In just the past week, segments of Clinton’s $150,000-a-pop willfully undisclosed speeches to Wall Street banks were published by Wikileaks. Here is an excerpt:
“…politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position. And finally, I think — I believe in evidence-based decision making. I want to know what the facts are…”
To be clear, this is a person that claims to think evidence-based decision making is good, but apparently not for the child-like public because they would be too nervous if they saw the actual content of the back room discussions and deals. Maybe that’s because what goes on behind the scenes is actually deeply enraging? Food for thought.
For this election, I endorse a tactical voting strategy based on the realities of the anti-democratic electoral college. Trump clearly cannot be allowed to be president. If you’re a citizen of a state with close competition between Clinton and Trump, vote to keep him out. However, if you’re a citizen of a state where the race isn’t close — like Vermont — make your vote mean something and help the actual progressives in the Green Party gain federal funding by voting for Jill Stein. The only way to improve the political health of this country is to decisively break from the abusive relationship we have with our two corporate parties.
–Sam Hartley, Editor-in-Chief