Monday, July 27, 2015
There doesn't seem to be a cure for these "Summertime Blues" as the Donald continues to hog the television limelight. While he may be a gift for comics like Jon Stewart, one can only ask how long can you ride this "rollercoaster of blow jobs," as Stewart described it. Trump is even trolling CNN now, calling in on Jake Tapper's State of the Union and launching broadsides at Hillary Clinton. This gave Republicans a bit of a reprieve, as the Donald had been blasting them right and left on the campaign trail.
More interesting was Bernie Sanders on Meet the Press, as he refused to let himself be pigeon-holed by Chuck Todd, who was anxious to portray Sanders as a gun nut. Todd also tried to turn Sanders "confrontation" with Black Lives Matter into an issue, but here again Sanders cut him off before the host had a chance to set the narrative.
While Trump has been America's Id the past few weeks, Sanders has been America's conscience, but unfortunately Bernie doesn't get as much air play as Donald. Bernie hasn't exactly shot up in the Democratic polls either, languishing at 18 per cent, while most Democrats continue to support Hillary by a whopping 57 per cent.
It seems Democrats, unlike Republicans, want to win in November 2016 and figure Hillary is their only hope, while Republicans flirt with Donald like they would a floozy at a local bar. I suppose Republicans will eventually come to their senses and rally around one of the establishment candidates as they usually do, but in the meantime why not have a little fun with this orange-haired temptress that says everything you want to hear in a candidate.
Bernie seems to be striking the right notes in the Democratic Party, but mostly among the liberal wing of the party, which as we can judge by the poll numbers now represents less than one-fifth of Democrats. It's not like Bernie is way out there in left field. He isn't reciting passages from Karl Marx or calling for a socialist state. Nevertheless, he seems to make many Democrats uncomfortable with his confrontational style, as he presents what are hard truths, namely that we have let ourselves become controlled by a corporate oligarchy which is stifling the middle class.
Hillary presents the same theme in a softer tone, which allows her greater access to this oligarchy, or "Billionaire Class" as Bernie calls it. She is loaded with cash and will be able to mount a long, hard campaign which most likely will force Bernie to bow out by the Super Tuesday primaries. He's done well with campaign contributions, but nothing on the level he would need to sustain his bid beyond the initial primaries.
These Billionaires aren't all bad. You have Warren Buffett and Bill Gates calling for tax hikes and greater government investment. Buffett has even tried to encourage alternate energy sources by investing in wind farms, and we all know the great philanthropy work the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation does. This is a far cry from the Donald, who has been deemed as "the least charitable billionaire in the world."
The Donald clearly represents the Me-First attitude that resonates among Republicans. After all, this is a party that wants to drastically curtail welfare programs and require individuals to take drug tests before getting food stamps. The GOP also wants to tightly control what an individual can buy with those food stamps, firmly believing that many welfare recipients dine on lobster and big Porterhouse steaks. This is something only a man of Trump's wealth and stature should be allowed to do.
Yet, here is Trump saying he also champions the middle class. His approach is from another angle than Bernie, claiming that immigrants are destroying the working class, not big business, and that we need to kick these bums out of the country. The Donald even donned a trucker's cap for his little rally on the Mexican border to identify with Blue Collar America. It doesn't matter that his entertainment industry relies on this cheap immigrant labor. He brushes aside criticisms by saying he can't check everyone on his vast payroll. I imagine most of his labor is subcontracted anyway.
The Donald has a big advantage over his political opponents in that he is as slippery as an eel. Jake Tapper tried to draw Trump out in the ad-hoc interview, pushing him to better define his positions, but the flaming billionaire was having none of it, controlling the interview from start to finish with his bravado style.
One of the odd things in this country is that most Americans seem to have great admiration for the Billionaire Class as if they are the Masters of the Universe Tom Wolfe facetiously described in The Bonfire of the Vanities. We all want to fly first class or rent a stretch limo or stay in a first class suite at the Trump Plaza Hotel or some other luxury hotel. The average wedding today costs $26,000, and as much as $70,000 in the Big Apple, because we want our daughter to feel like a princess at least for one day. Everyone is waiting for Trump's campaign to flame out, but it may have a lot more fire than pundits think, largely because many Americans crave the life that Trump leads and are drawn to him like moths to a flame, or in his case day-glow orange hair.
Long gone are our working class roots. We live in an age where most persons look at investments to carry them through their lives. Whether it is a home or investment portfolios or both, we try to see where we can make the most money. This is why wages suffer, because the first thing any business on the stock exchange does is cut its payroll to boost its quarterly earnings. No broker recommends traditional forms of savings with the interest rates so low. They try to hook you into medium-risk money market accounts where you have the potential to "earn" back ten per cent in dividends, twenty when times are good.
Bernie is trying to call our attention to the unsustainable nature of this kind of investment but we rarely listen to our conscience. More often we let ourselves be strung along by our Id, our "gut" in other words, throwing caution to the wind as we would in one of Trump's casinos, believing for a moment that we can hit the jackpot to pay for our little indulgence. It's only after we get over the hangover that we painfully listen to Bernie's words and say next time.