Who’s to blame? Cynical establishment politicians

This part of a series where I hypothesise how Donald Trump came to be elected.

I think it’s a fair criticism that Hillary Clinton must have been a bad candidate to have lost to Donald Trump.

That isn’t to say that I necessarily think she would have been a bad president. After all – Obama did make her his Secretary of State, and I do respect Obama’s judgement on many things. I don’t know what to make of the ‘Hillary Clinton is a corrupt warmonger, in the pockets of wall street’ arguments, they smell of fringe conspiracy theorying to me.

But I do think that Hillary Clinton appears to be an insincere politician who panders to political winds, rather than bravely sticking to idealism.

Her about turn on the TPPA is a good example, from calling it ‘the gold standard of trade agreements’ to saying she opposes it. I’m not sure I believe her when she says she no longer thinks it’s right for the US.

It’s fair to say that a huge amount of Trump’s support base was from people who felt that neither Democrats nor Republicans represented their interests. This video here gets into it well:

I sympathise with the sentiment – but I can’t abide accepting Trump’s hateful rhetoric as the price to pay for shaking up the system. I’d much rather have a slow moving establishment politicians, than four years of Trump’s rhetoric.

The 2016 election wasn’t just defined by Trump though – there was also Bernie Sanders who gathered a significant chunk of Democratic support in the primaries, and polled  better than Hillary in head to head polls vs Trump.

The pet peeve I have is politicians’ resistance to announcing that they’ll end the drug war. I think that there are many policies, like this one, that politicians agree with, but don’t want to announce, because their research shows that it won’t be politically popular with certain demographics (eg. social conservatives, religious).

Especially in a two party system, there is an incentive to remain as politically close to the opponent as possible – the idea being that it’s more about winning those swing votes, than winning over people who are already aligned your political leaning.

But I think people see through this game playing. If politicians were willing to be a bit more honest about their genuine political views – then they’d at least appear more credible – even if they piss of some of their potential support base.

Addendum: Perhaps this comes back to being the fault of the public again. Politicians do what they do, because research shows that it works. If people were more ok with voting with politicians who honestly expressed opinions that the voter disagreed with, then perhaps we’d have more honest politicians.

An uneasy shared interest – The Trump Regime and the Anti-Free Trade Left.

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In the early 2000’s the anarchistic left held anti-globalisation and anti-free trade as one its core issues.

You had events like the 1999 Seattle WTO protests.

More recently the attention has been on the TPPA – the left generally opposing it.

Commentators have pointed out that perhaps the only issue that Donald Trump has been consistent on, is his isolationist stance.

In the 2016 US Election, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton said they oppose the TPPA, though in the case of Hillary, I can’t help but wonder if this is a political compromise on her part. Bernie Sanders also opposed the TPPA. 

I don’t really understand why people oppose the TPPA. The main argument I’ve seen is that it gives corporations the power to sue governments if they pass legislation that contravenes the treaty. However, my understanding is that this would only allow corporations to sue if the countries government is passing legislation that in contravention to the trade agreement. I’m not sure that the trade agreement is anti-environment and anti-workers-rights itself.

Given that TPPA also takes place in the a context of governments trying to make progress on climate change (Barack Obama supports the TPPA, and is clearly for making progress on climate change) – I don’t think there’s a conspiracy that makes the TPPA a fundamentally anti-environment conspiracy.

So the question I have for those on the anti-globalisation left – that Donald Trump says he’s going to rip up NAFTA and opposes the TPPA – is that in itself a good thing for the world?

Is Wikileaks in cahoots with Russia?

I consider myself a fairly objective and level headed person, and I’m cautious about subscribing to conspiratorial ‘seek out evidence that confirms your existing world view’ type thinking.

With that said – this post does do exactly that.

There is an already existing narrative that Wikileaks is working with either or both Russia and/or Trump’s campaign to get Trump elected.

We can see this with a list of Google’s search suggestions:

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Wikileaks deny that they’re partisan in their leaks.

This CBS news article summarises the recent Wikileaks Reddit AMA, where the Wikileaks staff were asked about colluding with the Trump campaign and Russia.

Q. Many people have suggested that WikiLeaks was brazenly partisan in this election and colluded with Team Trump (and by extension, Russia). Just today a top Russian ally to Putin is quoted as saying Russia did not interfere in the election but “maybe helped a bit with WikiLeaks”.1

A. The allegations that we have colluded with Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, or with Russia, are just groundless and false. We receive information anonymously, through an anonymous submission platform. We do not need to know the identity of the source, neither do we want to know it.

Q. Why do you only seem to have information on Democrats?

If you were as Noble as you say you would believe in government accountability at all levels, not just for one party.

A.  To date, we have not received information on Donald Trump’s campaign, or other campaigns. If it were to be submitted now we would happily publish it.

Wikileaks are making the argument that they’re simply publishing what leaked information they have, and that they only have information leaked from the Democratic party. Nothing partisan here.

But I think their Facebook page demonstrates posts that go beyond non-partisan leaking of the information that they purport to be doing.

The first thing you’ll notice that almost all of their posts in the months of November and December are to do with the Clintons or the Democrats.

A lot of their of their posts are neutral email dumps:

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Or they’re linking to articles that discuss the leaked emails:

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But here already, there’s a narrative being pushed. Is it really within the scope of Wikileaks to tell us what we should think of the emails?

Wikileaks also posts links to content that is plain opinon – for example:

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This has nothing to do with leaked data at all – but Wikileaks do appear to be publishing one particular narrative.

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This posts has nothing to do with leaking  data – it’s reporting on how Americans feel. Given that you can find polls that suggest ~50% of Americans don’t believe climate change is caused by humans, or that ~40% of Americans believe the Earth is only 10,000 years old, this isn’t a particularly noteworthy report. It looks like a disingenuous ploy to push a narrative.

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This is commenting on politics. Why did Wikileaks feel the need to publish this?

It seems like an out and out partisan statement, that you’d expect from a Fox News pundit or a republican. It’s also not factually true- PRISM started in 2007 for example, before Obama was elected.

Now perhaps – there genuinely is some conspiracy by the Democratic political establishment, and Wikileaks is doing the honorable thing by exposing it. But that’s a different story.

I think it’s fair to say that Wikileaks has a axe to grind for the Democratic party – it’s not just a matter of neutrally exposing leaked data.

The comments on Wikileaks have also been interesting:

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There are a lot of ‘Thank you Wikileaks’ type comments. Given that there’s evidence that a lot of the support for Trump on social media is apparently bots, it’s plausible that the same thing is happening here too. But I don’t know enough about how we analyse whether an account is a bot or not, but it’s something to consider.

Wikileaks’ role in the 2016 Election does flip the script a little. From Wikileaks being the hero of the radical left or anarchists, it’s all of a sudden being cheered for by the radical right.

As a final note, here’s an John Pilger asking Julian Assange just about this – here it is: