Donald Trump is democracy’s nuclear option

donald trump standing on stage speaking in front of an american flag

When Men’s Trait decided to start covering politics, it was because of Donald Trump, the unlikely Republican nominee for president. At the time all we did was round up his best/worst quotes and threw them in a slideshow, having a good laugh at his expense and generally just enjoying the success making fun of him brought. And making fun of him made for good business; that article has been the most read on our site in its history (god bless SEO and Google). Since then, we’ve basically been accused of being stooges for Hillary Clinton, but a quick glance at some of our articles (here, here, here, here, here and here) prove we’ve not exactly been nice to her either all the time.

I, in particular, have been very critical of the Democratic nominee for president, and though I’m not writing about her much (or in general) at the moment, there are plenty of critiques to be handed out. My opinions about Hillary Clinton are more a reflection of how I feel about both the Republicans and Democrats right now than they are what I actually think of her. I don’t know her, and my friends who’ve spent time with her seem to think she’s awesome, so I’m sure she’s an alright person. I just wholeheartedly believe her presidency would be terrible for the United States.

This is an unpopular opinion to hold in liberal/progressive circles right now, as many of you probably imagine. Liberals have always been expected to rally around the Democratic nominee for president and typically do, so my unwillingness to do this has caused a lot of my friends to scratch their heads, especially with the threat of Donald Trump nigh. When my friends hear “Trump”, I swear they immediately imagine every single nuclear weapon in the world exploding at the same time, ending all life on earth for the next 2 billion years or something.

It’s funny, because I too see the nuclear connection with Trump, only I think he is the nuke, aimed squarely at the undemocratic practices of both the Republicans and Democrats.

The DNC’s recent email leak was very telling. In it we learned that the party wasn’t exactly unbiased in its treatment of the two major candidates for the Democratic nomination for POTUS, that they literally reward rich people for giving them money, and that they have relatively exploitative views of religion—among myriad other less-than-savory things. I was a reluctant Democrat before this election, but thank Jesus that’s over. It’s essentially like getting out of an abusive relationship only to realize you’re much better off alone.

On most policy issues, the Democrats really aren’t that bad in my view, and I fully respect everyone’s right to disagree with me on that. I’m not here to argue policy. I’m here to basically call out the Dems for being corrupt pieces of shit who use their positions to garner favor among the right capitalists, selling out both national interests and the will of American voters for personal gain. Oh, by the way, the Republicans aren’t any better. Both are rubbish parties that really need to be swept away and replaced with a true multi-party system featuring proportional representation and rank-choice voting.

Naturally my dislike of Hillary Clinton the politician is because I’m sexist and buy into all the right-wing conspiracy theories that she’s fucking all the Illuminati and killing Vince Foster nightly for shits and grins, because the Illuminati can resurrect him or something. I’m sure I’m getting that partially wrong, but that sounds like some of the über ridiculous conspiracy theories I’ve had the enjoyment of stumbling upon.

But no, my dislike of Hillary Clinton the politician has everything to do with the type of politician she is. She’s made rather suspect arms deals with Saudi Arabia, which then sent millions to the Clinton Foundation. She’s the type of politician that sells out gay people until they can help her win an election. She’s the type of politician that stumps for others (Kathleen Matthews) in exchange for favorable media coverage (from Chris Matthews on MSNBC). Oh, by the way, in the DNC email leak we also saw the DNC carefully craft the messaging for writers featured at media outlets like MSNBC and CNN. See, corrupt. The scarier part is that of all the corruption we know about, there’s got to be more we have no clue of. The evidence of the revolving door between government and the private sector is strong, and while many might not consider it “corruption” in the traditional sense, I don’t know what else to call politicians using their positions to further the ambitions of private entities in exchange for lucrative lobbying jobs after. The politicians are getting the reacharounds while we’re the ones getting fucked.

When one steps back and remembers the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, which all but made political bribes legal through election fundraising, it’s easy to be dejected and cynical about our government, and more specifically the people who make up that government. Let’s also not forget about President Obama leveraging the IRS to do some dirty work, or that George W. Bush started a war for his buddies in the defense sector. Corruption in the United States is real—it just doesn’t look like corruption in countries with less sophisticated governments and economies.

But, back to Citizens United, which has transformed corruption from K Street lobbyists finding ways to get politicians nice perks and jobs to completely unfettered buying of politicians and elections in plain sight through campaign contributions. Of all the internal and external threats to American democracy, our campaign finance laws are the worst. “Nuh-uh,” say all you corporate apologists. “There’s no evidence the companies and rich people are getting kickbacks,” you claim.

Business 101: When you make an investment of several millions dollars, you expect some kind of return. That’s what investments are. You put in a little money today in the hopes of it translates to more money later. I know this because I invest all the time, in marketing, other businesses, people, etc. Business people and companies that make investments in the political campaigns of others expect something in return. Those expectations could be altruistic, like the lobbyists for animals rights groups, or they can be sinister, like pretty much everyone who helped fund G. W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

When politicians accept this money, they’re entering into an agreement to deliver something to their donors. When Bernie Sanders raised funds from voters, he promised them something in return (universal healthcare, tuition free public college, not being corrupt, etc.). See? It’s a reciprocal thing. So, I wonder, what people donating millions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign want. Something tells me free college tuition isn’t on their list of rewards. Can we prove this? No, because those people have face-t0-face closed door meetings we’re not privy to. These people are smart and won’t leave a trail of breadcrumbs too often.

After speaking with a staffer for a Republican Congressman, who wished to remain anonymous (because duh), he painted a rather chilling view of just how powerful these titans of industry are. According to this staffer, when Brian L. Roberts or one of his representatives shows up on Capitol Hill, everyone’s schedule is clear until he’s had his time with the Congressman. Everything stops. No matter where the Congressman is when Roberts  arrives, he stops whatever he’s doing and goes back to his office, where Roberts is waiting for him. Brian Roberts is the CEO of Comcast, one of the most powerful entities on earth, and this is the clout he carries.

And Donald Trump will even admit this happens. “Most of the people on this (Republican debate) stage I’ve given to, just so you understand, a lot of money … I give to everybody. When they call, I give,” Trump admitted last August. “And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that’s a broken system.” Wow, Donald, that is a broken system! Granted, I don’t believe much of what Trump says, but he really didn’t stand to gain anything from that statement.

Donald Trump accepts Republican Nomination
Image: Twitter

So, for those of us who subscribe to the notion that outside money is corrupting our democracy, we’re wondering how to get out of this election without voting for someone who is going to completely prison fuck our country’s citizens. Taking a look at all the campaign finance information available, we know Hillary Clinton has a lot of friends in the business world. Donald Trump is the single most scary presidential nominee I could have drawn up, but we’re literally watching Hillary Clinton sell our government to outside interests by taking their money.

These are not concerns everyone has. As Matt Taibbi pointed out recently regarding the British vote to leave the European Union, sometimes people don’t think the masses should be making decisions because they do stupid things, which is why it’s okay for elites to play the role of puppet master. If you’d prefer to hear it straight from the elitist’s mouth, Andrew Sullivan excused big money politics in a piece titled “Democracies end when they are too democratic,” which is plain lunacy. The fear of mob rule in democracies is very real, and had Sullivan been arguing that point only in his piece, I probably wouldn’t have balked, but in reality he was arguing to excuse the excesses of corruption within government to stop Donald Trump.

Just how bad this corruption is is up for debate. Some people imagine a bunch of little Jewish guys sitting around a dark room somewhere hidden in the Swiss alps sipping brandy from the skulls of Christians while plotting the takeover of the world and forming a single global government that enslaves all of humanity. The rest of us just think business leaders use their clout for favorable tax rates and lax regulations on their industry. It’s more complicated than that in practice, but the gist of it is closer to the latter than it is the former.

I’m not going to call Hillary Clinton evil, and I’m not going to leave you with the impression that she’s just a manchurian candidate for a mysterious wealthy elite cabal. (It’s also really popular to call her a liar, but I lie all the mother fuck’n time, so…) No, she merely accepts donations from these people and considers their wants and desires when it comes time to shape policy, even at the expense of people like you and me. Hillary Clinton is a smart and talented woman. She’s not someone else’s lapdog, but she does recognize the hand that feeds her. That’s how corruption in the United States works, with some fun little wrinkles pulled in from time to time. Even Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, former governor of and current senator from Virginia, knows how to pry money from the willing hands of Wall Street.

How dangerous this is to democracy and the United States is up to you to determine for yourself. For me, the immediate damage isn’t the concern, but rather it is the long-term effects of an electorate constantly seeing their wants and desires shelved in favor of the will of big business that frighten me. Americans already don’t vote consistently, and it is only going to get worse the more people feel they’re getting screwed. The fewer of us that vote, the less democratic our society is. A dead democracy is scarier than people acknowledge, and it feels like we’re rapidly approaching that pinnacle of corrosion in our elections.

Any other recent year, it would be easy to vote for the outsider against the establishment politician. This year, however, we’re blessed with Donald Trump, who is the boogeyman we’re all afraid of.

Anticipating Donald Trump’s presidency is difficult since he has zero political experience—which is scary in its own right. Our imaginations can go any number of directions, but generally the majority of Americans don’t think it would turn out too well if Trump wins in November. Consider me one of those people. I’d probably put Trump’s potential presidency in the “buffoonery” column if I were a betting man, though most of my friends and colleagues would put him in the “scary” category. I still can’t figure out if he’s just in over his head and flailing out of complete incompetence at the task or if he’s legitimately lost a bit of emotional and cognitive control. He’s picking fights with his friends, the families of veterans, his enemies and babies, instilling confidence in fewer and fewer people each day.

Since officially snagging the Republican nomination during a rather uneventful and boring Republican National Convention in July, all Donald Trump has  been able to accomplish is losing ground in pretty much every poll to his Democratic foe and worsening his net favorability/unfavorability rating. While Clinton’s net favorability/unfavorability rating isn’t anything to write home about, she’s not in Donald Trump’s territory.

If Trump is incompetent, and not actually a sociopath excited to get the stubby little fingers on his cold orange hands on the launch codes to the United States’ nuclear arsenal, we could probably survive four years of him in the White House. He has so few friends left, most people don’t think he’ll be able to accomplish much in the way of legislation. And the Democrats are likely to gain control of the Senate, so the specter of a horrible Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justice isn’t really all that threatening. Incompetent Trump is a lame dunk president, and I could probably force myself to vote for someone I loathed if I thought they’d accomplish nothing. Trump doing nothing is infinitely better than Clinton further strengthening the unseen oligarchy, imo.

But if all the left-wing rhetoric is true, if we take everything Trump says at face value, then his presidency would be potentially world ending. He is so unpredictable I can’t even figure out if I’m being hyperbolic or not.

There is something Trump has going for him that Clinton doesn’t, and that’s political baggage. Specifically, we’re talking about political baggage in the form of familiar relationships with the types of people most Americans don’t like and 24 years living in or working for the White House, Department of State and Senate. If Clinton represents the candidate that challenges democracy by taking part, without hesitation, in a corrupt campaign finance system, Trump represents the populist anti-establishment sentiments that also propelled Bernie Sanders so far in the Democratic primary. It’s very real, and people genuinely want money out of our politics. So many of us think it is a pervasive process that undermines the very principles of democracy—that every man and woman has the same influence as any other through their solitary vote—which is why we oppose a candidate like Hillary Clinton. But can we oppose Clinton in favor of Trump?

The American public is pretty much over politicians like Hillary Clinton. It’s why Republicans quickly and ruthlessly disposed of all the establishment Republican candidates during the primary. Don’t forget, Ted Cruz was the only Republican other than Donald Trump that did anything of note in the primary, and he’s not an establishment politician either. He’s closer, but his own party hates him. Hillary Clinton could have easily lost to Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, a self-described socialist with bad teeth, horrible hair and very little support from other politicians. The fact he was in the race past Super Tuesday is a miracle and officially recognized as one by the Catholic Church.

People see what’s happening, and we want change.

The other morning at breakfast, while sipping on my iced tea and eating my bagel, I dubbed Trump the U.S. electorate’s nuclear option.  I mean it. Donald Trump is the biggest, most destructive weapon we have right now to send a message to beltway politicians that the American public is tired of being the vehicle that delivers those with questionable ethics straight to Washington D.C. Donald Trump, the guy who says all the wrong things, doesn’t play by the rules, the one not receiving big money donations (as many, rather)… Donald Trump might be democracy’s best hope right now, in a “you really shouldn’t do that” sort of way. He’s the ultimate “fuck you!” to the people 81% of the electorate is railing against. That’s an accurate number, 81% of Americans don’t trust their own government. That partially explains how someone like Trump, who is almost literally the polar of what a traditional politician is—his relationship to the truth, like that of all elected officials, is noteworthily suspect—is doing inexplicably well.

Calling him democracy’s best hope is admittedly pushing it, but after both major political parties came so close to losing their control over the electoral process, it’s not irrational to think the Democrats and Republicans might retract this whole democracy thing and make it more difficult for non-establishment candidates to secure their party’s nomination. It may not be the same as stripping away voting rights from people (or closing polling stations), but when you limit people’s choices you essentially make the choice for them.

Donald Trump winning could result in the same exact thing, but if Trump’s nonconformism is a winning combination, the parties are much more likely to figure out how to harness voters’ angst, not silence it. Donald Trump winning weakens both political parties, and two weaker parties open up room for new options, and options are good in democracy. Trump, even being shitty, is good for Democracy…

…if he’s not actually as scary as the major media outlets would have us believe. If he is that scary, well, that’s one hell of a bomb about to tick away in Washington D.C..

Donald Trump might save us from the Hillary Clintons of the world, but at what cost? Are we talking four years of a do-nothing president, or are we cutting off our noses to spite our….oh, fuck, we just blew up the world. See, that’s the predicament America. Get in line and vote for someone who knows how to game the system, or roll the dice and hope the nuke we’re launching has some good tracking coordinates.

Granted, if we gamble by voting for Donald Trump, we should probably expect a counter strike from those we’d be standing up to. See, Trump is our nuclear option. Maybe it’s best if we just don’t, you know, use it right now. Maybe, just maybe, there is a plan C out there for us.

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Preston Hemmerich

Preston fancies himself somewhat intelligent and a very poor joke teller. He enjoys writing about food, pets, politics and the occasional bit of social commentary. He has four dogs, a cat, and a pretty awesome husband.