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It's not that we were ignorant, though we surely were, kept that way by the usual suspects—a too- passive media, a fragmentation of news and information sources, a broad band of American apathy or inattention, and an alt-right propaganda ministry provided by Fox "News" and a nationwide network of right wing talk radio that includes our local outlet for fear and hate, KPAY. This vast cacophony of kooks includes Steve Bannon's Breitbart media outlets, and the truly crazy Alex Jones and his bizarre insanity bazaar peddling paranoia to the gullible.

why trump won

What Have We Done, and Why?—Jaime O'Neill

No, the election wasn't won by Donald Trump simply because we were a nation stewing in ignorance, both willful and imposed. Trump won, sort of (though he lost the popular vote by well over 2 million votes), but that victory, such as it was, was gained with massive help from a foreign government, with additional help from FBI Director, James Comey, and by a range of voter suppression efforts that saw hundreds of polling places closed in areas where voters were likely to vote for Democrats. As Trump said before he "won," it was rigged.

Russ Neal, my Wednesday counterpart here on the editorial page at the Paradise Post had a different take on all this, of course. He spent a recent column explaining Trump's win. He mostly blames Trump's election on "liberals," a species of human beings he tends to see as the source of most every woe or complaint he has. Voters, according to Russ, were just "fed up," and "conservative white males" were sick of being blamed for so much that seemed bad or dysfunctional in our politics and culture. It's Democrats who are "pitting one race against another," he says.

Even before the election, Trump supporters who claimed to be free of racism were lending enthusiastic support to a man who not only said so many racist things, but had so many openly racist supporters.

He and other conservative white males were also fed up with what he calls "political correctness," so they voted for a guy who, according to Russ, "eschews political correctness" and "tells them the truth…and fights for jobs," though Trump was found by independent fact checkers to be telling lies on a massive scale, daily, for months on end. He was also a guy who outsourced American jobs, right down to his "Make American Great Again" caps that were not made by American workers.

Neal also says that those aforementioned "fed up" white conservative males" were sometimes told their opinions were "offensive," so they voted for a guy who had the avid support of some pretty offensive people like David Duke and organizations like the KKK. They were just "fed up" with being told that the use of "politically incorrect" words like "faggot," or "nigger," or "Femi-Nazi" were deplorable.

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I'm currently reading a novel bearing the title Hitler's Niece, by Ron Hansen. In it, I came upon the following passage describing Hitler's rise to power.

"Shunning rationality, he sought the people's faith with his own certainty. Hard questions were given easy answers. Objections were overcome with insistence. Opinions difficult to accept were continually repeated. Every complex issue was simplified. Every suspicion of paranoia was offered due consideration and respect. The ill-educated in the audience got the impression that they finally understood politics."

That sounds like Trump, to me, though I know that comparisons between Trump and Hitler are usually dismissed without much thought. Sometimes, however, the parallels seem too apt even for our homegrown fascists not to notice, especially since some of them brag about their admiration for Hitler and other demagogues, and take great pride in their supposed Aryan genes. Even before the election, Trump supporters who claimed to be free of racism were lending enthusiastic support to a man who not only said so many racist things, but had so many openly racist supporters. How it was possible to be free of racism while finding such racism unobjectionable was never explained.

In the weeks since the election, we've seen Trump trot out a succession of Wall Streeters, elitist plutocrats, lobbyists, Goldman-Sachs honchos, unconscionable profiteers, climate science deniers, racists, cronies, and family members, some of the worst and often least-qualified people imaginable.

Russ wants us to "see if Trump can deliver something different" from what we've had during the Obama years. I don't think we have to wait. It's already quite different, and not much of that difference should give us cause for hope, unless, of course, we number ourselves among the oligarchs, the plutocrats, and the top 1% who are already lined up to begin siphoning from the treasury, running up the deficit, and pillaging Social Security. Like Trump, many of these people pay little or nothing in taxes, but, like Scrooge McDuck, they'll be swimming in the proceeds from those of us who do.

jaime oneill

Jaime O'Neill