Insane Campaigning

Defining Insanity


Chuck Legge

Here we go again. Has it been two years already? Well no, it’s actually been just over a year and here we are, about to enter another campaign season. Yay? We invest a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a whole lot of money (the non-influential kind) into this biennial activity. So, let’s take a look at what we get for all this effort.

Campaign signs will start blooming in yards and along roadways encouraged by liberal amounts of rhetorical fertilizer. Once again we will have the privilege, nay duty, of choosing between the neolithic fascist, or unicorn hugging marxist. Candidates will stand bravely against their opponents and come down on the side of freedom, justice, and puppies. One thing is certain. This will be the most consequential election we’ve had since the last most consequential election held about two years ago. So without further delay, let the blames begin.

The preceding paragraphs are how most americans have seen the process that is, once again, about to be played out on our airwaves and street corners. On the other hand the 2016 presidential offensive was a real game changer. Most campaigns, at least the successful ones, understand that the way to appeal to potential voters is to appeal to their emotions. We’re going to build a wall to keep all those scary brown people on their side of the border and away from our wives, children, and dish washing jobs. And we’re going to make Mexico pay for it. The fact that no wall has been built and if one is it will be the U.S. tax payer that foots the bill is irrelevant. The important thing is that the message got through. It tapped the fears and frustrations of the increasingly disenfranchised middle and working classes. The result being President Donald J. Trump.

The genius of Trump (a combination of words you won’t often see) is that he managed to reach out to weary, cynical, middle americans and get them involved in the process. And here’s the genius part. Trump figured out how to do this using the same hyperbolic rhetorical tactics that turned most of these voters off in the first place. He just fed those tactics a steroid laced diet. Give this tiny fingered devil his due. He’s an unapologetic one percenter, who has screwed contractors and employees time and time again, and has somehow convinced that same middle/working class that he is on their side. Perhaps the quote, wrongly attributed to Einstein, that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” isn’t insanity at all. Perhaps it’s genius. Or perhaps Trump is insane along with about 46 percent of the electorate.

I can’t speak for the emotional stability of our 45th president, but I’m pretty sure 46 percent of the voting public is not insane. At least I hope not. What they are is tired and turned off by empty promises and superficial bombast coming from both sides of the barricade. What Trump did was more than promise them stuff. He promised to blow up the whole system. A system that has, to some degree, left them behind. Is it any wonder that when he denounces the media or the justice department or congress that he is applauded by his base? He’s doing exactly what they sent him there to do. He’s attacking a system that they believe is attacking them. The outrage he elicits is red meat to the Trumpophile and we should all take note.

I think a more clinical definition of insanity is needed here. According to Merriam Webster the legal definition of insanity is: unsoundness of mind or lack of the ability to understand that prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or that releases one from criminal or civil responsibility.” So if Trump is unwilling, or more appropriately, unable to discern certain simple realities like crowd size or where he ranks in the list of presidential accomplishments is he crazy? Does that mean that he is incapable of understanding the global repercussions of his words and actions? I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say he isn’t crazy. Let’s say he’s just an opportunistic bully with no ideological or moral center. Yeah, that’s better.

Trump may not be running in this off year election, but he has certainly set the stage for the upcoming theatrics; and those of us on the left should not go smugly into that good night. We need to do more than just say: “I’m not him”. We need to do more than demonize the opposition and, in so doing, demonize the people who feel abandoned by their country. If you don’t think so just ask President Hillary Clinton what she thinks. By the way, anybody want to buy a PT Cruiser with an “I’m with her” bumper sticker?

We need to offer a real alternative to our current political chaos. Pulling out of the Paris Accords won’t produce jobs, but promoting renewable energy will. Giving Corporations and the wealthy a permanent tax cut while giving the rest of us a temporary one that will eventually amount to a tax increase won’t bolster a continuously trickled on middle class. What it will do is further divide the wealth of the nation between the haves and the have-nots. And along with that division, we have managed to take healthcare away from 13 million americans. This does not help the disenfranchised that are solidly in Trump’s corner. Building infrastructure, making education affordable, and promoting the health and wellbeing of our people. These things will heal a fractured nation. The divisiveness and acrimony produced by the current administration is destructive these ends and it is time to turn this thing around. Let’s offer that.