Act Three – Scenery in Trompe-l’oeil

>>> Continuing on from yesterday >>>

The amazing thing about this photo (taken by Louise Rosskam) is that it’s over 70 years old. Look at the graffiti on the windows. This is the lasting effect of the Great Depression. It looks like part of my lifetime. It looks like today…

Which brings me to my final point for Clinton to consider in this election. I’ve harped on enough about how things really aren’t as scary as the Republicans want to make them look… but they’re really not as rosy as the Democrats seem to want to make them look either. Times are tough for a huge portion of America. The jobs aren’t coming back (no matter how much the unaccountable may promise that they are). There is much work to be done.

3 – Find your New Deal

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an American public in possession of a prolonged economic downturn must be in want of a socialist.

Bear with me.

See, the last time America went through a major depression (and before communism was seen as the great bugaboo it became) the nation voted for the most socialist president it has ever had. He created welfare programs and back-to-work programs. He set out to improve the living standards of the country’s poorest citizens. And he was so beloved that he was elected four times in a row, only vacating the presidency due to the misfortune of dying in the harness. People in other countries seem to think that American voters are, by and large, slightly to the right of Himmler, but the fact is that Americans in general are lovely, kind, unselfish people who just want everyone to get a fair deal… Much like most other human beings, really.

Trump knows this (although possibly not consciously), which is why he’s electioneering like a communist demagogue. Free trade is bad. Soldiers are godlike. Disabled people aren’t really people. He sees himself as the superhuman on the statue who saved the common people from… well, foreigners and sub-humans and people with different religions. He doesn’t know many of those people and he’s banking on his voters being the same.

Sanders knows this (much more consciously), which is how he nearly equaled Clinton’s pledged delegate count by promising fairness and forethought. People (Democratic people, who had previously loved Clinton) voted for him in droves. It was only the party elite – the super delegates – who made it clear that Sanders couldn’t win the nomination. But if Trump is the Stalin in this election, Sanders is the FDR. Clinton at least needs to take up the torch and become Truman.

Except two generations of communist-baiting made all American politicians terrified of appearing too left wing. They go to pains to avoid even the word “socialist”, and voters do the same (even when they’re voting for a free-trade-hating, foreigner-bashing, dictatorial control freak). Lots of people want to vote for the socialist, not call them a socialist, and then get surprised when they end up with a congress full of self-serving capitalists who ship the blue-collar jobs overseas (because anything else would look too much like socialism). It’s a ridiculously self-deluding system and it’s no wonder that American voters feel constantly cheated.

In this way at least, Clinton is honest. She’s a centrist.

Unfortunately, centrists aren’t usually very good at electioneering on the basis that people are hurting and drastic action is required. Her husband did break that mold back in 1992 – being something much less than left-wing but still constantly hammering the problems with the U.S. economy. If she can recapture that moment, she might do okay… except that she played a role in the outgoing administration, so any perceived problems with the U.S. economy can quite sensibly land on her doormat.

If she stands any hope of firing up the downtrodden American electorate, she needs to take a leaf out of both her husband’s and Sanders’ books. She needs to create distance between herself and Obama, and she needs to accept the fact that Americans are suffering and something must be done. Carrying forward on the basis of “everything is great, Trump’s an idiot, and I’m a woman” is lazy politics… and it will come back to bite her.

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