The Presidential Election of 2016-Reality TV or the Rise of Fascism in America
Watching with disbelief as the 2016 Presidential Race has unfolded in the United States, it is hard for many of us who feel most secure in the “middle of the road,” to accept and understand how the Republican Party got hijacked by Donald Trump, a reality TV character, and real estate huckster. For the past four years, the Republicans have held a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives and their views have dominated the decisions made by the Supreme Court, most notably the decision made regarding Citizens United.
Their intention in this election cycle would most logically have been to elect a republican to the office of president while they maintain their majority in the Senate and Congress. This would have guaranteed that they would maintain their influence on the Supreme Court and thereby shape the social, economic and political future of the United States in the direction of their right wing, conservative philosophies.
So how can it be that with so much at stake, they ended up with Donald Trump as their candidate, a 70 year old man who has never been elected to or held any political office? He has no experience governing; no history of public service or even any reputation for caring about the welfare of anyone but himself and his bottom line. How has a political party that includes moderate, conservative republicans, as well as Tea Party members, and evangelicals, chosen as their leader a man whose only claim to fame is hosting a reality TV show, or building casinos to profit from gambling and then profiting again from the bankruptcy of those casinos? A man thrice married with five children from three different women? A man who is the money behind several beauty contests that exploit young women in bikinis! How is it possible that this is the man who is the 2016 presidential candidate of conservatives and the religious right?
Much has been written in search of an answer to this question that leads to the conclusion that his rise is related to his rhetoric of hatred—hatred aimed at immigrants (he married two of them), for women (he married three of them and has made money exploiting scores of them in beauty pageants), for blacks and hispanics (he says he employs thousands of them) as well as all Muslims and anyone who has the audacity to disagree with him. He has tapped into deep veins of hatred, fear and frustration, promising that he alone can “Make America Great Again” by building walls, and deporting millions of people whose religion or cultural roots he defines the root causes of an eroded life in America even as he has prospered by exploiting all of the above.
But this isn’t reality TV. This is real time and it is not entertainment.This election is unlike anything we have ever experienced in the United States except perhaps during the McCarthy Era when Joseph McCarthy, a US Senator from Wisconsin, conducted his witch hunt for Communists. Trump is taking us down a much darker and more dangerous path. He is ruthless and his ego has no limits– his insecurities are deep bottomless pits. And as historians tell us, those who do not learn from history are destined to relive it.