In this week of Christmas activities while children are scrambling to open presents under the Christmas tree, adults are preparing for an inaugural for the 45th President of the United States. That is the outcome of an election marred by Russian interference, Wiki leaks, fake news and bumbling from hyper-partisan forces inside America.
It is ironic that Donald Trump who maliciously did everything to make the preposterous claim that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, on the eve of his inauguration much of the maliciousness that surrounded the Presidential sweepstakes of 2016 raises serious questions regarding the legitimacy of his presidency. Trump won 306 electoral college votes to Clinton’s 232. Clinton lost the election but accumulated over 2.8 million more votes cast than her rival.
It is not just the anomaly of the electoral college that calls into question Trump’s legitimacy. It is how the contemporary political culture has become so obsessed with the acquisition of power that the nastiest of conduct has become acceptable. Ironically, in his end of the year news conference and perhaps his last as President, Barack Obama tried to make that point to the media but like Air Force One, it simply flew over the heads of the press corps.
Indeed, Barack Obama’s presidential victory in 2008 concomitantly personifies the augmenting of American democracy and the triggering of the further deterioration of democratic culture. The vanquished in that presidential campaign in 2008 and 2012 were resolved that the presidency of the first African American should at all cost not succeed. Once the Democrats lost control of the House in 2010, the bloodhounds were out in full force and the initiatives of the Obama administration came to a screeching halt.
But the forces arrayed against Barack Obama were not merely concentrated around attempts to make his administration limited in accomplishments but already the plot was being concocted to ensure that his likely successor, Hillary Clinton, would be damaged goods by the time the electorate was ready to vote in the 2016 Presidential election. That was the design of the unending Benghazi Hearings in the House of Representatives.
The tragic loss of four American lives in Benghazi, Lebanon, in 2011, including the American Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, became a witch-hunting exercise by the Republican House of Representatives. This McCarthy-like inquiry further illustrated the tattered state of America’s democratic culture. There were no countervailing forces to reverse the undemocratic machinations. The strategy was to take the fake hearings into the height of the campaign and designed to “criminalize” Hillary Clinton.
The 2016 Presidential campaign brought together a conjuncture of very strange bedfellows. During her four years as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton violated governmental protocol by using a private server to conduct State Department business of a non-classified nature. As she made her departure and to prepare for the Democratic Party nomination of 2016, the Inspector General of the State Department requested the Federal Bureau of Investigation to examine whether any criminal laws, not ethical violations, had occurred. It took the FBI one year to complete their investigation.
Executive Director Comey in an unprecedented, uncharacteristic move held a press conference in July, 2016 to announce that no charges were warranted but went on as a schoolmaster to publicly rebuke the Democratic Party Presidential candidate. Then the same Comey, eleven days prior to the election, wrote a letter to Republican Chairmen in the House of Representatives that new e-mails had appeared on a laptop computer used by former Congressman Anthony Weiner who was the estranged husband of a Clinton aide. Comey had not seen the emails, had not read the e-mails but claimed in his letter that they constituted possible new e-mails. In the closing days of the campaign, the frantic search of the new e-mails was just more of the old folly. There is an ironclad agreement in the Department of Justice not to muddle into a national campaign six weeks before the voting takes place. Comey violated all those established protocols and has provided fodder for Trump’s demagoguery.
Trump was the chief villain in creating the nasty ethos of the campaign. It had been given enough arsenal to “criminalize” Hillary Clinton. She had committed no crime but Trump’s vulgar campaign tactics created the mob-like ethos at his rallies and the cry, “Lock Her Up”. The scapegoating of the “other” – Mexicans, illegal immigrants, Muslims, etc., eventually descended on the doorsteps of the first female to have won the nomination of a major American political party.
But the drama of the 2016 Presidential campaign became even more intriguing as Russian cybercrime intelligence agents and colluding with other transnational forces maliciously interfered with America’s internal political process. America’s intelligence agencies have all agreed that Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear were the culprits responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, the Congressional Democratic House Committee and the private e-mail of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairperson, John Podesta.
The foreign hacking is a telling indication of the collapse of agreed-upon rules to conduct fair democratic elections. In 1972, when Richard Nixon operatives were caught burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee, it was considered such a breach of American democratic principles that the culprits involved were convicted by the Judicial System and it led to impeachment hearings in Congress and the subsequent resignation of President Nixon.
The Russian burglarization of confidential documents and the establishment of internet sites to disseminate this form of transnational criminality in collaboration with Julian Assange and Wiki-Leaks have cast a cloud of criminality over the 2016 Presidential campaign. Wiki-Leaks kept leaking and publishing this criminally acquired information that was lapped up by a complicit mass media. The leaking of this information coincided with the Democratic Party convention and continued non-stop into the day of the election.
Complicating the authenticity of the 2016 Presidential election was the rise and propaganda of fake news online and on social media. At this juncture, we do not know the impact that their falsehoods had on independent voters. The falsehoods spread during the height of the campaign were that Hillary Clinton was implicated in five murders and that she was involved in a child sex ring operating out of the back of a Pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. There was also another falsehood about her health that was propagated on social media.
What Barack Obama was trying to convey is the extent that the pursuit of naked power has made America vulnerable to Putin’s and Assange’s machinations. We swallow the falsehoods wholesale as we have trampled all over the sacrosanct nature of America’s democratic process. This is why a non-partisan Committee is necessary to excavate all the maliciousness that took place within and outside of the borders of the United States. We are like a stampeding herd that needs to step back before we fall off the jagged precipice that we have created for ourselves.