Max Goldberg
Politics /31 Aug 2016
08.31.16

Trump’s Incompetence Misses the Point

Trump is a buffoon. He’s embarrassing. He’s unqualified. He’s a carnival barker. All of these things are true, but so what. He’s an easy target. In fact, he makes himself a target. He feeds off of it and so do his followers. But that’s not the story. Trump’s buffoonery is the equivalent of a magician suggesting you ‘look over here.’

While liberal pundits are all too happy to point out that voting for Trump would be a disaster, much of the substance of the political story is being lost. In this situation, if anyone wants to question Secretary Hillary Clinton on her hawkish war record, the answer is simply, Trump is a buffoon. If we want more assurances that she is not in the pocket of big banks and oil companies, the answer is Trump is too unstable to be at the button. If you want clarity on her stance on America becoming an oligarchy, pointing to The Donald and asking “do you really want him to be president?” is all that is required.

This scenario has completely left Americans, especially the youth, trapped as to the direction they want the country to go. But this strategy, as effective as it might be, is tone deaf. People may prefer Clinton to Trump, and that might play out in the election, but there is a groundswell of dissatisfaction that is being ignored.

When we turn on the news, we see reports of security issues. And in the world where leaders should care about cyber security because it can be costly to security as well as reputations, most people in the political margins are saying ‘meh.’ Some will take the argument further, suggesting that the US government is one of the industries lagging behind in cyber security, but hold important information regarding our security. The response is still ‘meh,’ and I am one of those who is firmly in the camp of ‘meh.’ This story simply distracts us from real issues, the issues that affect Americans every day: military spending, war, trickledown economics strangling the middle class and growing poverty.

The problem on the right is that they are too aligned with the positions Hillary supports to go after her in any meaningful way. Could a conservative actually attack Hillary for being pro military spending? Trickledown economics? This leaves them with emails and straw man positions. On the left, any criticism of Hillary is met with, “Do you want Trump?” This is further igniting the anger at politics that made the Trump and Sanders phenomena.

People understand that Trump is a megalomaniacal, narcissistic joke candidate who has no real business being president. This story is old. We have endured decades of straw man attacks on Hillary Clinton, largely with no traction. These attacks are old.

But just because she isn’t the perpetrator of the accused scandals, doesn’t mean that there is no story here. The phenomenon behind the Bernie Sanders’ campaign coupled with the fallout from Occupy Wall Street have clearly shown that the social compact that is being forced onto the youth of this country is not being accepted and for good reason. Young people understand that they didn’t cause this debt, they didn’t hand over the nation’s wealth to the 1% and they didn’t create a tilted economic reality that has squeezed opportunity out of it. Because of this, there is a demand that we don’t merely continue with the worldview that war is acceptable even if costly and unconscionable. There is the expectation that if you show up, play by the rules and do your part your efforts will be rewarded. There is the belief that systemic poverty is not ‘just how it is’ nor is it acceptable.

Because of this new wave of young voters there are important issues being discussed across social media and among people, but ignored within conventional political arenas and this is contributing to the wave of dissatisfaction. The youth and those aligned with them feel like their voices are being taken away and they are dismissed as lazy and entitled. This isn’t true however. New studies show that millennials are very industrious and don’t simply fall in line with the social infrastructure they inherited. They want change.

And simply not being a buffoon isn’t enough to move the needle with millennials who are now the largest voting block in America. They want real change. This doesn’t mean slightly better tax rates, it means eliminating the legacy industries that drive our taxes but don’t support our values, like the Military Industrial Complex. They want a real approach to global warming, not one that leaves the planet devastated, but didn’t threaten corporate profits. They want opportunity, not cronyism.

Until these issues become part of the conversations, Hillary Clinton might get away with being better than Trump, but she will not have captured the hearts and minds of the electorate. And if she doesn’t do that, electing the first woman president won’t be as revolutionary as it could be.

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