The Age of Vandalism?

Random thoughts prompted by a seemingly interminable election campaign:

  • When I ran for Congress in 1980, women candidates were still rare. One of the “truisms” I encountered about the differences between male and female candidates was “Men run for office to be someone; women run in order to do something.” As with all sexist constructions, it isn’t a “one size fits all” observation, but it certainly is an accurate description of Clinton and Trump. Clinton has issued reams of carefully constructed and highly detailed policy positions; Trump talks only about himself–and from all appearances, has not the foggiest notion of what governing entails or what the constitution permits. The question, of course, is whether a celebrity-obsessed culture wants leadership or entertainment–no matter how dangerous or damaging that entertainment may be.
  • I share in the depressing point of view offered by a reader of Talking Points Memo:”Win or lose, on November 8, Donald Trump will have garnered some 60 million votes. Sixty million Americans will have gone to the polls and voted for him — clear-eyed or self-deluded people, making that choice enthusiastically or resignedly, very much because of what he represents or in spite of it. 60 million people will have voted to entrust themselves and the people they love not simply to a vulgarian narcissist who desperately needs medical help, but also to someone who is so arrogantly and defiantly ignorant that he thinks Supreme Court justices investigate crimes, that federal judges sign bills, that he would have the power to replace leadership in the armed services with officers who have publicly supported him, that the Constitution has (at least) 12 articles, that the United States could use nuclear weapons tactically without initiating nuclear war, that we could have new libel laws that wouldn’t gut the Bill of Rights, etc. Win or lose, Trump has already exposed something about us that we need to grapple with. All of us.”
  • I’ve never understood vandalism. Theft is comprehensible; people want something and take it. But destruction just for the sake of destruction has always been unfathomable to me. I mention this because, more and more, participants in America’s political system have come to resemble vandals–intent on mayhem rather than reconstruction, unwilling to participate in the hard work of productive reform. Whether it’s the members of Congress’ “lunatic caucus” or the thugs acting out at Trump rallies, or the racists relieved that “political correctness” no longer restrains them from spewing their hate, these are people simply venting their rage, trying to bring down “the system,” with no concern about the social or fiscal costs and no apparent concern for what comes after the destruction.

I’m very depressed. The Trump campaign has uncovered and threatens to normalize an America of which I was previously–blissfully–unaware.

Forty-nine more days…..


  1. I have no excuses for Trump or his success at the polls. Of the 17 that Republicans started with, he is last on my list. However, implying that Clinton has some high purpose that led her to run for President because women run to do something is naive and delusional. She defines megalomaniacal as well as Trump does; actually better!

  2. I’m negatively impressed with both of them. Trump has no clue as to how things work. Clinton has too much of a clue.

  3. I feel like we are watching a variation of an Ibsen play waiting for that “wonderful” thing to happen on stage but we in the audience know what is probably coming…

  4. Ken; as I commented to someone on an earlier blog, this election is like being forced to decide between walking on cow patties or horse manure. Horse manure (Hillary) is easier to clean off your shoes. I’m afraid a Trump win will leave all of us mired in those cow patties for years to come.

    “Vandalism” is an excellent description of this current presidential election and campaign process with the “vandalized” Congress up for grabs in many states. We are in deep doo-doo either way it goes.

    embig genUS; I can only copy and paste your comment, “I can hardly wait. Sigh.”

  5. Keep the faith, the system still works. If the Republican Candidate wins he will have garnered the most electoral votes and we will be stronger, it will not kill us.
    Thanks to Women like you who have had the guts to compete politically in a system that is bias to them, my faith tells me that more people will honor that integrity and guts and we will have to deal with only the understanding of how divided we are.
    Keep on, get everyone to the polls.
    Thank you for your continued shared wisdom.

  6. I’m campaigned out…I have rational [IMO] opinions….I dread journalists who do not research “facts”….I ask why does bluster outweigh real plans…Why is retro more attractive than measured quantifiable progress… Please give me a date that was great…

  7. I am depressed too because we lost a friend a few weeks ago and it made me realize how precious our short lives really are. My husband asked me what I would do if he died suddenly like our friend and I said, I don’t know for sure. I don’t want to stay where I am (because Switzerland is far too expensive, I have no desire to learn this language and I can’t wait to get out of here), but going back to Indiana is not even in the cards for me. I think I’ll move to Italy like we plan to.

    I know some here on this blog that are aware of world affairs might mention that Italy is having problems too but I figure, I can learn that language and having Italian roots, I might fit in better despite my American history. And if Trump gets elected, sigh…I am really depressed about that. Bernie was my choice, still is my choice but Hillary will get my vote over that evil S.O.B. I really think that people are just fed up with our choices and want to burn the whole thing down…like vandals. I will be watching with eyes wide open on November 9th to see how the citizens react.

  8. AgingLGrl,

    “I really think that people are just fed up with our choices and want to burn the whole thing down…like vandals.”

    Right on point. I would only add the adjective JUVENILE to vandals.

  9. Until I read Sheila’s comments in her blog Calvin and ALICE I could not understand why such a large portion of the population was backing Trump. The statistics in that piece answered the question. When over one third of the population of Indiana lives in some form of poverty even though they work full time, and this situation has continued and grown worse over the past ten years, it doesn’t take a mental giant to see the frustration and anger that has boiled to the surface. And frustration and anger is exactly what Trump plays to. He throws the public temper tantrum that his supporters wish they could display as everyday they face the grueling task of survival in a society that they can no longer understand. He gives them a villain, lots of scapegoats, and a promise to make it all go away. And they do not care that he doesn’t tell them how he will make it “better again” or what it will cost. And while Trump acknowledges their lives, Hillary blithely goes to dinner with Wall Street fat cats and speaks the language of the educated upper classes oblivious to all who live at the bottom. And there are lots and lots at the bottom.

  10. The question do Americans want leadership or entertainment is at the heart of our current problem. I’m just afraid too many of us want entertainment. We like to do things the easy way. The cleanup of our messes will take several generations.

  11. With Trump as president we cannot be sure that there will be a presidential election in 4 years. What we can be sure of are brownshirts, police actions, states of emergencies, detention camps, possibly a faux coup d’état (a la Turkey?) and other anti-democratic (fascist) measures. My parents and other family members told me what happened in the thirties, how nobody believed it could actually happen. When I see Trump “orating”, I see a man preaching fear, with empty gestures and full of bluster. The only thing missing is the mustache. Yes, I am deadly afraid.

  12. We continue to hear comment exhorting the idea we have no one to vote for, when the alternative is quite apparent! Hillary is the most competent by far. Competency is a fabulous thing.

  13. Alphons,

    “Yes, I am deadly afraid.”

    You ought to be. Sinclair Lewis warned of the potential in his 1935 book “It Can’t Happen Here.” It has been happening two steps forward and one step backwards, time and again, for almost 50 years.

  14. Why does everyone hate Hillary? In the backs of their minds, they see her and think, ” That b—-!” Male politicians lie and thieve and scheme, and they are leaders. Women are hated for it. Republicans depend on that.

  15. By the way, it was said that once upon a time Germans were so frustrated that they went to the polls and collectively said, “At least he’s different. Maybe he can do something.”

  16. One thing is clear in this election: a significant portion of the electorate is fed up with the establishment. So much so each side produced a viable anti-establishment candidate in the primaries. (Yes, Bernie has been in congress a long time, but was hardly a lemming in his ideology and he got a LOT of support in the Primary.) So the right got their anti-establishment candidate, the left did not. (Dems, by the way our party destruction is next so cateful how much your jaw drops over the other sides antics.) Establishment Democrats insisted Hillary can withstand the beatings the right delivers her because she has done so for years. That BS is being proven wrong in every news cycle. What it really means is they’ve had their teeth in her long enough that it won’t take much more effort for them to sink her battleship. And while we’re at it, why do we sit around clutching our pearls up in arms acting like facts about anything from the Constitution to HRC herself actually matter? Like facts are legitimately in play? People, it’s a game of perception with a narcissist running the show. Trump talks about Trump. Hillary talks about Trump. Elizabeth Warren talks about Trump. The media talks about Trump. He’s already Commander in Chief of the media and our national dialogue it seems. Narcissists are good at that. Unfortunately I think we’re headed for the same fate as the mewling teenager that will not listen to a parent’s advice. We’re going to have to go to learn our lesson of what it’s like to make a bad choice and live with the consequences. And if you think for one second the Republican side of the aisle who’s saying Never Trump isn’t going to vote for everything he’ll ever ask for, you’re more delusional than Trump is. My hope is the country can survive it. And as Sheila’s post well points out, even if HRC wins we still have to live in a country with 60million Trump supporters who aren’t gonna be happy.

  17. The fact of Trump is not surprising. Con men have always been around. I suppose even con men from wealthy families to feed their game.

    It’s the size of our basket of deplorables that’s depressing. Maybe even the basket’s diversity. Racists, sexists, homophobes, religious cultists, pistol packing mamas, oligarchs, science deniers, fascists, wizards of Wall St, haters of every stripe and color, separatists, social leeches, etc.

    It’s possible their numbers are greater than those of reasonably informed responsible law knowledgeable and abiding problem solvers.

    How did we get from the “Greatest Generation” to here?

    People like Ken suggest it’s because HRC isn’t a popular girl.


  18. Pete,

    How did we get from the “Greatest Generation” to here?

    The answer to that is our only chance left. We must undertake a root cause analysis that would produce a socio/political MRI on America’s body politic in order to diagnose and predict what our future will be like in the hands of a Donald Trump. Evidentiary proof is our only weapon left. Conjecture is meaningless at this point in time.

  19. Trump is already “doing something different”; trouble is, he is doing the wrong things in the wrong way. As my 16 year old grandson posted on Facebook months ago after listening to and reading Trump’s “speeches” and his opposition (on both sides); the young people believe they are going to get what they want fast…instant gratification. What they don’t realize is what there are more likely to get is another war or wars; with the possibility of reinstatement of the draft. “Different” doesn’t necessarily mean “better” any more than “progress” always means “improvement”. We are living in changing times…possibly on borrowed time. The young Trump supporters are not aware they should be careful what they wish for.

  20. I’m viewing election cycle 2016 from beyond the exact day of voting. And, I’m viewing this particular election cycle well beyond our narrow penchant for partisan politics with my thoughts playing with apt book titles that express my overall philosophies, in a broad cultural sense, as of today — “Things Fall Apart” and “No Longer at Ease”.

    Borrowing from Chinua Achebe’s brilliant book titles “Things Fall Apart” and “No Longer at Ease”, I find myself in agreement that things indeed have fallen apart and that we are no longer at ease in the US just as Achebe found himself no longer at ease in his native Africa following settlement colonialism that sought to replace tribal importance.

    “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”

  21. Pete, thank you. A shot of brilliance from anyone never hurts a girl and might transport the girl back in time to days of lengthy university discussions of literature as it relates to international politics and to universal understanding of the human condition.

  22. Trump is on an ‘all about me’ power trip. He wants to run the government like he runs his business where he can fire anyone who disagrees with him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have to live within constitutional constraints in his own business, and he disdains them for the government he seeks to head.

    Trump wants to be the tough guy – Putin without the bare chest and without constitutional restraints on governmental power. Since he doesn’t like the media when it reports his mistakes, he’ll just loosen the libel laws and prosecute and imprison journalists. Today he doesn’t like the accused having a right to lawyers – even though he’s been involved in 3500 lawsuits himself. Easy solution — just eliminate one’s right to representation and maybe due process too while he’s cleaning up after those he doesn’t like. And that freedom of religion thing – he probably would prefer that the constitution said – ‘except for Muslims’ – but then again, he HAS criticized the Pope and retweeted white supremacist, anti-Semitic messages, so perhaps that 1st amendment could be reframed to protect not all religions but the Holy Bible (New Testament only?) and Trump’s other spiritual guidelines in “The Art of the Deal”.

    That should send a message to Congress and the Courts – don’t even THINK about being a check and balance on President Trump. And if they do try to exercise THEIR constitutional powers, well THEY are not commander-in-chief of the military. In that position, Trump could luxuriate in the knowledge that HE calls the shots – literally.

  23. Trump as a narcissist is living in a fairly land of his own making and appealing to the anger and anxiety of a society that Republicans and their rich and corporate allies have plundered with their wealth and wage inequality efforts and the help of sellouts in the congress. Much of Hillary’s negatives spring from Fox News and other propaganda organs of the right wing, who have pilloried Hillary daily to an anxious and angered electorate. Anyone who has been in the political limelight for some 35 years is bound to have some scabs and moles, but that’s all they are. She is the best qualified candidate in years to run for the office, and I am voting for her for that reason, not just because I would never vote for a mentally defective person such as Trump. The perfect candidate? No, they don’t exist and if you think so you are living in a fairy land yourself. I don’t have to love a candidate to vote for them in any event. I’m voting for a president, not a saint, even if one were available. Let’s all take a deep breath, settle down, and work for her election since this has become not an election in the usual political sense but may well rather be one for survival.

  24. Nancy Papas, I agree with your current assessment of Trump’s activities; however, I do feel an overriding need to ask “Why are Trump’s behaviors/activities seemingly so well received by a majority of our US citizens?”

    Seriously, what pre-existing conditions in the US could have set the stage for the rather large acceptance of Trump’s ideas?

    A Trump simply does not arise out of the blue, out of the wild blue yonder, simply does not grow into prominence without a back story lending credence to his popularity.

  25. AgingLGrl, I understand your angst with so many Internet hits and pages being Trump, Trump, and more Trump. And, personally speaking, your response of “Ugh” may make you feel good, but at the same time a simple “Ugh” response does not drill deeper into the reasons for the large number of Trump mentions on the Internet.

    Why do you think there are such a large number of mentions of Trump, such a large number of Google hits for Trump, such an inordinate number of Internet mentions of Trump? That is the larger question. Until we address the larger question, we are simply complaining. Moving beyond the complaining stage requires deeper thought. Why does Trump gain such attention? Think on that.

  26. Can we not thank Trump and the others for showing us what needs to be worked on? I did not know how pervasive our heretofore hidden biases were but, because of this election cycle, we are now all exposed to this dark side of this country (not to mention the same issues worldwide). We at least now know that we have much to work on. I cannot stand the man and his principles (does he have any principles?) but I am glad that he helped expose the biases. Of course if he were a real patriot, a real hero, he would drop out of the race.

  27. BSH,

    “Until we address the larger question, we are simply complaining. Moving beyond the complaining stage requires deeper thought. Why does Trump gain such attention?”Think on that.”

    That’s the overriding issue. However, tackling this issue is much more difficult than you might suspect. That’s why many on this blog can’t stay with developing an answer. It’s too upsetting.

  28. Marv, until one can rise beyond the partisanship, beyond claiming allegiance to either the Democrat or the Republican party, there will be no real discussions.

  29. BSH,

    “Marv, until one can rise beyond the partisanship, beyond claiming allegiance to either the Democrat or the Republican party, there will be no real discussions.”

    You’re absolutely right. The only way Trump/Pence can be successfully engaged is from the almost non-existent CENTER. At this point in time, successful engagement is more important than the vote. I realize that’s very hard to swallow for most, but concentrating on partisan politics makes it impossible to deal with the forces Trump is leading. At a deep level, they could care less about partisan politics.

  30. I have never been a member of a political party. I have tended to vote for Republican candidates in the past years more often than not. During this year’s primaries I started paying more attention than in the past. I began fact checking much more and looking at the candidate’s past actual behaviors for context. I became a #nevertrump first. As I dug deeper and deeper into likely motivatiosn and began to think more highly of Hillary Clinton. I’ve spent hours reading congressional reports on Benghazi, and watching full videos of testimony on email issues. I came to the conclusion it was mistake in judgement on the email server before Hillary apologized. Ive read details about the alleged difference in treatment for what other people did (like intentionally giving classified material to a girlfriend or taking pictures of a nuclear sub’s control room) . I’ve looked at what people typically said about her while she was in a job. So, this white male who does not have a college degree is now saying. ” I’m with her”.

  31. Vandalism? Hate? We already have HATE enshrined in the institutions of the state: The Fed hates savers and pensioners. The DNC hates voters who want to register or select a candidate of their choice in the primaries. The Justice Department hates people with the temerity to want redress from bank crimes. The government hates people who use health care systems so they empower insurers who hate their customers. The government also hates whistleblowers who simply want facts available in a free society so we can make informed choices. The State Department hates all vassal states (read: sovereign nations) that do not lick the jackboot. The prison system hates poor people. And we’re all told we’re supposed to hate the Russians (the reasons are hazy).
    And you’re surprised that hate is becoming a popular state of mind among the populace? Our institutions are telling us it’s the way to focus and get what you want.

    There’s a huge disconnect happening/there with Clinton, and I think it’s why she is floundering. Sanders had that connection, and he was sacrificed on the altar of Hillary Clinton’s personal ambition and the self-interest of those in power who want to stay there. She’s bought and sold.

    Btw,if Trump is so venal and evil, why did the Clinton family voluntarily hang out with that “complete bastard.” What does that say about about the Democratic candidate?

    Speaking of “destruction for the sake of destruction”. I bet the citizens of Honduras,Syria and Libya have an enlightening opinion on the subject.

  32. Trump is a celebrity without any demonstrated capability other than marketing his personal brand.

    He’s as surprised as anyone that the “basket of deplorables” is as large as it is.

  33. IF four days of sick leave on Hillary’s part resulted on a not insignificant popularity uptick for Trump….what are we dealing with, what kind of human banality in thinking is this? Entertainment indeed!

    Despairing…I’m appalled and feel impotent, and perhaps the thing to do, crazy as it seems, is to face the inevitable, change the viewpoint and look at the wretched silver lining. If this country puts him in the White House not only does it deserve him but deserves the slap on the face he represents, to sober up….maybe a generation or two later. What we stand to lose through neglect and carelessness reminds me of more hopeful times when I was young…and Joni Mitchell title song.

    “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got. Till it’s gone….”

  34. Grandma Mary; excellent musical choice from that great Sally Field movie, “Norma Rae”. Few people know that is based on a true story; the real people in those factories didn’t know what they weren’t getting till they got it. Trump supporters have no idea what or who they are voting for or against or what is gonna get gone if he wins.

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