Donald Trump May Go Away, But the People He Has Empowered Will Not

By Jeremy Scahill

These presidential debates — certainly this one — serve as the most stark commentary on how bankrupt the U.S. electoral system is.

This is the choice the system produces for “viable” candidates.

The cartoonish villainy of Donald Trump is a major factor in distracting attention from the hawkish, neoliberal policies of Hillary Clinton. Hillary’s best selling point for a lot of people — Democrats and, increasingly, Republicans — is: I’m not batshit crazy like Trump. There is rarely a focus on Clinton’s embrace of regime change, her role in creating the conditions, as secretary of state, for the horror show currently unfolding in Yemen, or her paramilitarization of the State Department. Clinton has never been asked about her role in the secret drone “kill chain” the Obama administration has now codified as a parallel justice system, where there are no trials, indictments, or convictions, but a whole lot of death sentences. Just as Clinton avoided real questions about Libya thanks to the clownfuck Republicans’ carnival over Benghazi, she emerges as the only choice for many sane people. That she is buddy-buddy with Wall Street, speaks one way to them and another way in public, becomes a footnote. She is the empire candidate and that is why the John Negropontes and Max Boots and George H.W. Bushes of the world have embraced her.

Here is the thing, though: Both Clinton’s and Trump’s candidacies have fucked us — albeit in different ways. Hillary represents more of the same bipartisan warmongering. And, under Obama, that has been met with a lot of silence and complicity from liberals. Depressing.

Whether Trump wins, loses, or loses big, he has empowered fascists, racists, and bigots. He did not create them, but he has legitimized them by becoming the nominee and openly expressing their heinous, hateful beliefs. This, to me, is one of the most frightening developments on a domestic level in the U.S. this election cycle. Trump may go away, but the people he has empowered will not.


Top photo: Donald Trump during the town hall debate at Washington University on Oct. 9, 2016 (Rick Wilking/Getty Images)

Originally published at theintercept.com.