Saturday, January 7, 2017

Who Really Won the 2016 Election

There is a difference between winning an election campaign “fair and square” and carrying the legitimate democratic power that comes with representing the interests of the people.

Hillary Clinton lost the election.  There seems to be no evidence to contradict this, just conjecture and wishful thinking.  Donald Trump won the election.  It seems that the use of psychological profiling developed from Facebook “likes” and “loves” was used to great effect.  Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica very efficiently targeted individuals in swing states that fit the profile of someone that voted for Obama but could be swayed to vote for Trump.  They tailored messages to those individuals and with a small amount of money and very little organizing, managed 80,000 votes in key places that swung the election.

We should understand these tactics.  We should understand why the Clinton campaign dismissed this type of strategy.  And we should be sure to win at this game next time.

However, we must be very careful not to confuse strategic and tactical failures with failures of message.  At the end of the day, nearly 3 million more voters voted for Hillary Clinton.  At the end of the day, voters clearly decided that Clinton’s message and the Democrats’ progressive party platform represent their interests.

When we add the stunning fact that Vladimir Putin was also essentially campaigning for Trump, and that the propaganda war waged persuaded voters to vote based on Putin’s interests, we cannot conclude from this election that the Democratic agenda is the weak link in getting elected, but rather tactics and strategy. This election was turned on interests that are not held by the majority of people that voted.  There is no democratic legitimacy to Trump’s power.

What, precisely does Trump’s power spring from?  We can make the case that it stems from bigotry, sexism, homophobia, fear of other religions and ethnicities.  That is valid.  However, we would be wise to look at who will be gaining from this election most.  A clear answer to that can be seen in his appointments.

Secretary of State?  A man who has done nothing but work for oil his entire career, who directed disinformation campaign to discredit science, who has been thwarted from oil profits by sanctions against Russia, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

But that is just the start:

"Trump has also put forward a host of other appointees who are overt climate denialists and generally also have financial ties to industries threatened by the Carbon Bubble. These include Rick Perry, Trump’s choice for Secretary of Energy and a close ally of Big Oil; Scott Pruitt (EPA Administrator — a virulent climate denialist); Nikki Haley (U.N. Ambassador, also known for suppressing climate science as Governor); Steve Bannon (Chief Strategist, and just generally gross); Ryan Zinke (Secretary of Interior — who strongly supports more oil and gas exploration on public lands): Jeff Sessions (Attorney General and climate regulation opponent); Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation, who will be tasked with getting a huge fossil fuel infrastructure plan through Congress, working with her husband, Mitch McConnell); James Mattis (Secretary of Defense, who is not a denialist but does have oil industry ties); Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor — and former oil industry lobbyist); Larry Kudlow (Council of Economic Advisors — a climate denialist and frequent defender of the Koch brothers); Wilbur Ross (Commerce Secretary — holds ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ in oil and gas investments); even Betsy DeVos (Education Secretary) is sister to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who is investing heavily in African oil and gas fields, ‘places where he thinks his expertise in providing logistics and security can give him a competitive edge.’” (emphasis added)

And then there is Putin, authoritarian and aggressive leader of a country highly dependent on oil and gas.

These people have everything to gain by persuading us that we need coal, oil and gas.  They have everything to gain by persuading us that electric cars aren’t actually the totally cool innovation that they are, with awesome torque, minimal maintenance and zero stops at the gas station.  These people have everything to gain from creating a false perception that wind and solar aren’t going to create energy independence.  These people have everything to gain by stopping our innovators and engineers from developing the infrastructure for storage and transmission that would make us a clean energy superpower, competitive against China who now stands to profit hugely from our failure.  These people have everything to gain by convincing coal miners that their only hope for their families is to continue to go into dark caverns and develop black lung instead of working in the sunshine installing solar panels or maintaining wind turbines.  These people have everything to gain by convincing us that wind turbines and solar panels are ugly in our backyards, while gas plants in our backyards are the price we must pay for energy.  These are the people that will con us into buying their oil, coal and gas for as long as we let them.

It is time to recognize that ENERGY is at the crux of our politics.  It is time to get angry at the fossil fuel barons.

As we organize to resist Trump, let us be perfectly clear that our biggest enemy is the fossil fuels that put him in office.

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