Political Theater of 2016 – The New POTUS

I am writing this on the Sunday before the election, so we don’t yet know who the next President of the United States will be as you read. After watching the early morning news, the polls show this race is in a statistical tie – a dead heat. It could go either way. Is it President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump?

The campaign has been in motion for the past 18 months. As you reflect, this election has been the politics of theater. The 2016 election is a determining one, the culture of American politics has changed. There is no accountability or responsibility. The campaign has been a long one. Donald Trump has destroyed the Republican Party, as it has been traditionally known. He has changed the body politic. He stepped up with his out of the box, zany, insulting, brash way and provided a new and different kind of “leadership.”

He taunted his opponents with unthinkable insults, he has proven he does not speak to the issues, but he has spoken to the negativity of the times and he has utilized social media to get his taunts across. He has been obnoxious and the new press has allowed him to be a mad man without censor or check finding. His attack politics style has been scandalous. The last attack was with Clinton’s emails for the second time, that found no traction, but made for a good headline suggesting FBI investigation. He made her look like a criminal. The timing was at the end of the election, when about 40 million people were early voting.

Trump is a media fabrication. As he has dumb founded, he has also fascinated. He has been good for the ratings, as he has turned real life politics into a reality show. He has dominated the news; he has been the master tweeter. He has the pundits – the newscasters, Black and White, men and women, react to his every move. What on earth will cable TV do without Mr. Trump?

Trump has lambasted women with his sexual abuse insults. His last two weeks of running as president have been his best, because he appeared to be on message with structured comments. He came as close to addressing issues as he could.

Many dismissed Trump originally because he was so bizarre, but that was his appeal to the American public. The pundits did not see him coming, but he stepped up to the plate with a game of reality TV-like insults that proved to be a winner. His bar-room-bully-in-your-face tactics worked.

The American Moment
What Trump has captured is the American moment. The country is divided. People of all sorts are angry and frustrated and feel that neither candidate is worthy. Many said they would not vote at all. The Trump factor has demonstrated that there are two Americas, one Black and one White. He made it comfortable for Whites who are anti-everything to come forth. No one group dominates the political landscape anymore. All votes matter.

Trump’s people are those who feel outcast, out of pocket, out of step with the American process. He has taken on Washington as the real outsider. He has proven to be the ultimate outsider. But in the process, he has either killed politics or changed its culture.

He has taken away “political correctness.” He has been a one-man band and he has sung his song loud and clear. Branding is the name of the game. He has used his celebrity status from reality TV to propel him into the national limelight. Trump campaigned as the one and only candidate. Newspapers throughout America with the exception of one endorsed Mrs. Clinton.

He destroyed the dignity ceiling with his very own reality. His techniques may take him all the way to the White House. If he wins, he will change the face of America. It has been said that what the Trump candidacy has represented all along is a new national TV network. If Trump loses the race, he does not lose. He will lose business opportunities, but he will also gain some.

Trump has destroyed the dignity ceiling while Hillary has missed opportunities by being too cautious.

Hillary’s Missed Opportunities
The Hillary Clinton campaign has missed opportunities by being too cautious. She missed real opportunities with the Civil Rights community by putting all of her eggs in the President Obama basket. Clinton chose celebs at the very end of the campaign. Vote by association, I suppose.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson and others in the Civil Rights era should have been turned loose. Why? Because they know movements, they are the masters of galvanizing. Instead, they were put in the closet. It is the Civil Rights community that represents the strongest voters. Jackson has registered more voters than any man in the history of the United States, some seven million strong.

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Hillary brought forth a new group, “The Mothers of the Movement.” This group was composed of Black women who have lost their children to street violence.Their stories are sad and reflect today’s killing of young Black men on the inner city streets. Their stories are heart breaking and will make you cry, because many of the murders were absolutely senseless.

But what is their movement? There is none. I suppose this was to reach the sympathy vote and to show outreach at the grass roots level. But the Clinton campaign never said what she would do about the street violence from a policy position. Clinton missed a real opportunity and some found the gathering of this group insulting.

The 2016 presidential campaign started three movements. One was with Bernie Sanders who roused the millenniums into a political campaign. The other movement was started by Trump. The other was Michelle Obama. She made the best non-political speeches of the season, with pure common sense logic and language.

Hillary did not start a crusade movement, even though it would have been logical for her to do so with women. It is historically and politically significant that she could be the first woman President of the United States. That status alone will be a real change forever. Again, a missed opportunity.

Obama started a movement with new voters, the Black civil rights community and a crossover group of young folk that proved to be the new progressives of all races and ethnic groups for the sole purpose of electing the first Black President of the United States. Hillary should have borrowed from his historical page.

It is a bit sad that our President Obama is campaigning for Hillary on the premise of his legacy being insulted. “My legacy is on the ballot,” he says in his radio commercials urging people to vote Democratic. Some question what his legacy actually is, particularly in the Black community. He has been a robust Democratic campaigner.

Many say they are not voting for either candidate because they remember the Bill Clinton legacy of “three strikes, you are out” – the policy that imprisoned a generation of young Black men. This was an issue that never made mainstream news by any candidate.

Mistaking The Black Vote
All of the campaigners have been confused about the African-American voter. The politicians still treat African Americans as a monolith.

They don’t know how to approach the Black vote other than to visit the churches to solicit the vote with preacher’s blessings. This is a practice that is fading because there are so many non-churched people and many are not necessarily about the handouts that might come to the clergy.

Young Black voters are different. They are more into economics than any other generation has been. They are not looking to practicing politics of old. They are looking for the new. It’s called inclusion and prosperity for real. They are not looking to history as a badge of courage.

At the end of the day, we will have a new President of the United States. And a new world order will be in place either way. There is a new body politic as of today in America as the first Black President counts down his days. This election showed a country divided. Hopefully the new president can make us the United States of America. God Bless us all.

Hermene Hartman
Hermene Hartman

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