Yes, Warren Is a Lying Liar Who Lies, But It’s Time To Get Back To Beating Joe Biden.

by Russell Dobular

If you’re a Sanders supporter, you’re probably furious with Elizabeth Warren right now. If, like me, you’re a Sanders supporter who’s been going out of their way to say nice things about Warren, you’re probably a little embarrassed too. And if, in spite of her long history of stretching the truth, you’ve been looking the other way, you might feel like you should have seen this coming. I know I have all those feelings, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been responding to her fundraising emails with the kinds of comments that are likely to drive the poor bastards manning her campaign’s info@ box to double down on the Xanax and re-evaluate their life choices. But it’s time to take the win and move on.

What win am I talking about? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, the fallout here has been a victory for the progressive movement on every level. Let’s start with the corporate media. We always knew that if and when Sanders started leading in the polls they would pull out all the stops to blunt his momentum. It was my hope that they would go so over the top in their efforts that it would shred whatever credibility they had left with all but the most dedicated worshippers at the Holy Shrine of CNN and the most devout devotees of the Cult of Maddow. That happened a lot faster than I expected. And we owe it all to CNN and its horrendous debate. The questions were so slanted, and the hostility to Sanders so pronounced, even Mika Brzezinski wasn’t buying it.  And when you can’t convince the corporate shills at Morning Joe that you ran a fair debate, you know the mask is slipping in ways that are hard for the average viewer to miss. That’s probably why #CNNistrash and #CNNisgarbage have been trending on Twitter for the past 48 hours. Progressives have been asking for a long time, “When are people going to wake up and realize this is all propaganda?” Looks like the answer is: now. They’re waking up now. I’d say to send Wolf Blitzer a fruit basket, but no one needs that kind of scrutiny from the FBI.

To understand how epic this fail was, for both Warren and CNN, one only has to look at the numbers. Sanders broke a record for real time debate fundraising in the first hour, with 15,000 donations. That’s 250 a minute, amounting to 43% of total Act Blue donations. Keep in mind that this was at the exact same time that moderator Abby Phillip pulled her now infamous hack move of ignoring Sanders’ denials of Warren’s claims to ask Warren how she felt when “Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election.” There was a time when a signal like that from corporate media would have tanked your campaign immediately, as poor Howard Dean (the Bernie Sanders of 2004) discovered when he had the temerity to scream awkwardly on an open mic. They broke that man so hard with their constant mockery and replays, that he’s a pharmaceutical lobbyist now. He used to be for single-payer health care.

But 2020 is a long way from 2004. Between WMD’s, 2016, Russiagate, and Beto-mania, they’ve lost all credibility with most of the public, and, as usual when it comes to assessing the mood of the body politic, they seem to be the last to know. Sanders has gone on to raise $4M since the debate, from 200,000 contributions, including 25,000 new donors. And he undoubtedly owes a lot of that to Warren’s desperate tactics, combined with the sheer awfulness of CNN.

The other win is the damage that Elizabeth Warren has done to her own campaign. In the end, even if you were well-disposed to Warren, you knew she needed to get out of the race in order for Sanders to consolidate progressive support. Yes, she mostly attracts white, well-educated voters, but we know from polling that around 31% of them will end up with Bernie when she drops out.  I’m expecting that number to decrease in the coming days. Why? Because a lot of those voters are Bernie to Warren voters, who are going to jump ship early and come home to Bernie now. And we owe it all to her campaign’s brilliant decision to launch an identity politics-based smear against the politician with the highest favorability ratings in the Democratic Party. All she’ll have left at that point are the folks who are privileged enough to prioritize her gender over her integrity. By the time the dust settles, she could be under 15% in Iowa. Not even enough to get delegates.

Sure, we’ve had our fun over the last few days, from the Biblical plague of snakes dropped onto Warren’s Twitter feed, to the inundation of Act Blue with requests for Warren donor refunds. And it’s not like Warren didn’t ask for it. In spades. But to keep this going is only going to turn off voters who might otherwise support Bernie when Warren drops out. ‘Cause a lot of those people don’t like Bernie, but they really don’t like Joe Biden. Given a choice between the two, many will come over. Unless we get their backs up to the point that they decide to vote Biden out of spite. Warren will be out of the race before Super Tuesday. But Joe Biden will still be there. Let’s not waste our time on a sideshow when the main event is still to come.

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Podcast: Warren Exits Stage Right, Abandons Progressive Movement – Debate Recap

On this episode, we discuss the Iowa Democratic debate, and why Elizabeth Warren is now an enemy of the progressive cause.

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There’s No Privilege Like Class Privilege – Which is Why We’re Not Allowed To Talk About It.

by Russell Dobular

“You are kept apart that you may be separately fleeced of your earnings. You are made to hate each other because upon that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism which enslaves you both.”-Tom Watson, Georgia Congressman, 1892

It’s a strange time to be a white guy from the American underclass. In a moment when the cultural conversation is being defined by educated elites as one about the inordinate privilege of white people generally, and white men specifically, it puts poor white people in the very odd position of getting “called out” by folks who usually come from far more exalted backgrounds than themselves. It’s kind of like if the villain from Karate Kid grew up to be a social justice warrior and started telling Ralph Macchio to check his privilege. What are you supposed to do with that? These richies have always been around, and they’ve always found reasons to look down on the working class, but in the past they at least had the decency to stay in their lane; if you weren’t part of their world of sports cars as graduation presents and hefty donations securing their slots at Ivy League schools, you didn’t hear from them much. You drank beer on the corner, while they drank cocktails in Daddy’s den, and rarely did the twain meet. Sure, a few daughters of the suburbs, usually the ones with particularly aloof fathers, would make their way to your part of town looking for someone to play Patrick Swayze to their Jennifer Gray, but they never stuck around long. For this new generation of rich white kids though, economic privilege just wasn’t enough. Now they want to virtue signal too.

The thing is, a poor white person and a poor person of color have a lot more in common in the kinds of experiences they’re likely to have, and the kinds of attitudes and values they’re going to cultivate as a result, than either one of them do with someone in the upper 20% of income distribution. Understanding society as a thing that’s been designed to keep you and yours down, seeing the police as enforcers of an unfair system, and the cultivation of a reputation for generosity and reliability among your own, (cuz when you can’t buy your way out of trouble, you never know when you’re going to need help from your network), are attitudes that all poor communities hold in common. I’ve always related to the people I’ve met in jail a lot better than I ever have to the people I’ve met in college. Because of systemic racism, I’ve usually been the lone white dude in the cell on those occasions, and I am not in any way suggesting that POC don’t face a huge, glaring, extra obstacle that poor whites don’t. But I am suggesting that class has more to do with your way of seeing the world than race does, making any discussion of “white privilege” that treats white people as a monolith absurd in its contradictions. By way of example: a friend told me that white people don’t have to code-switch. But if you get me drunk or angry, I sound like I just walked off the set of the Sopranos. That’s my most natural way of speaking. Try getting taken seriously in a university setting speaking that way. When I went away to college, I had to suppress it. I’ve been code-switching since the day I left home. I still slip once in a while, dropping “Lookit ‘dis fuckin’ guy ovah heyah,” and such, in mixed company. I bet Michael Herriott, whose great piece on Pete Buttgieg went viral recently, could relate to that. I definitely related to his story of growing up the book smart kid from a poor neighborhood, who got to go to college. Yet, Herriott describes himself as an expert in “whypipology,” as if those kinds of experiences are exclusive to POC. I don’t know what to do with that either. When everyone wants to deny the reality of your experience, because it doesn’t fit neatly into their preferred narratives about race and class, it can feel like your entire identity is being erased in service to a narrative.

But all ‘whypipology’ aside, I’ve never actually had a working-class POC accuse me of white privilege, probably because people from the lower-classes have a certain way of handling themselves that’s easy to spot if you know the vocabulary. I’ve only ever heard that from other white people, all of whom had it a lot better than I did growing up. That’s because being naïve is a privilege. So’s being an asshole. Poor people can’t afford either, so they usually size up who they’re dealing with based on their actions and aren’t all that quick to jump to conclusions. When you don’t have money, relationships are your most valuable resource. There’s no reason to write off a potential ally in a world that’s stacked against you, until you get a sense of who they are and what they’re made of. When poor people say “ally” they don’t mean a straight person who marches in the gay pride parade to show their solidarity. They mean someone you can call at 3AM from central booking to be there in the morning with your bail. ‘Cause when you’re poor, those things happen. And when they do, you’d better hope someone out there owes you a favor.

Aside from the deflection from their own class privilege that drives wealthy virtue-signaling white people, the phenomena is actually just a new twist on something that’s as old as the country; the cultivation of resentment and mistrust between poor whites and poor blacks, in order to keep them from uniting. In the past this was always done from the white side, meaning it was the poor white people who were flattered and exalted by society’s elites, by way of keeping them from making common cause with poor blacks, and indeed that tactic is alive and well on the political right. But that’s not a tenable approach on the so-called “left,” so instead, elites are exalting POC and denigrating poor whites, which, in the end, has the same effect of keeping them from getting together and fighting against their eternal common enemy: the rich.

There have been both white and black leaders who have attempted to challenge this divide and conquer strategy, from John Brown, to Fred Hampton, to MLK. They all got whacked. Huey Newton, Kwame Torre, Louis Farrakhan; they all made it to a ripe old age, in spite of their fiery and often violent anti-white rhetoric. And Malcolm didn’t get taken out until he re-evaluated his views on black separatism. Stoking racial resentment doesn’t threaten to overturn the apple cart. It actually helps to maintain the status quo. But when you start trying to bridge racial divides by focusing on class solidarity, now that shit is dangerous. That’s one of the reasons Bernie Sanders is so terrifying to the establishment. Old and white though he might be, his views on race and class are dangerously Marxist, and were he to become president, he’s going to be talking a lot less about micro-aggressions, than he will be the macro-aggression to all non-wealthy people that is the capitalist system. They’d much rather have you talking about glass ceilings that people who start life in the basement are never going to encounter, and who is and isn’t allowed to wear a kimono, than to develop a real class consciousness that brings the entire American underclass together under one banner.

So, does this mean we should ignore the reality of “white privilege?” No, of course it doesn’t. I lived in Harlem throughout most of the Bloomberg administration, and I never got stopped-and-frisked once. That honor was reserved for black men on my block, who I would often see getting a pat down on the corner for no good reason at all. To live in a black neighborhood is to see up close and personal that the nightmare police state that only exists for white people in dystopian sci-fi films is the actual lived reality for much of the black population. When white people fret that Trump will bring fascism to America, what they really mean is that they’re afraid Trump will bring fascism to them. Fascism is already here for POC, and always has been.

But woke virtue signaling isn’t going to solve these problems. If it could, they’d have already been largely solved, or at least ameliorated, by now. Since the 50’s, we’ve gone from ‘negro’, to ‘black’, to ‘African-American’, and back to ‘black’, and through it all, the actual economic conditions of blacks in America have barely budged, and actually worsened in some areas, over the past 50 years. Given that the incarceration rate in the black community has increased 16x in that same period, largely as a result of the racially motivated “war on drugs,” you could make the case that things are worse today in some respects than they were 50 years ago.

Screen Shot 2020-01-12 at 9.08.47 AM

If language policing and feel-good symbolism had any meaningful real-world impact, why would that be the case? And if rich white people really cared about the underlying causes of poverty, wouldn’t they be spending more time freaking out about the fact that we’ve re-created slavery by a different name through the carceral state, and less time trying to cancel people on Twitter? The truth is, they really don’t give a fuck about POC, and they never have. They only care about preserving their privileges and feeling good about themselves while they do it. POC are used simply as props, in order to deflect attention away from any examination of an economic system that favors those who already have over those who have never had and, in all likelihood, never will have.

So, by all means, let’s keep talking about “white privilege.” It’s real, and it’s important. But lets not weaponize it, and most of all, let’s not allow the concept to divide working people by race the way they always have been in America, going all the way back to indentured white servants and the black slaves they worked alongside from the earliest days of the colonies. Let’s always consider the realities of class and how much impact it has on outcomes and opportunities for people of all backgrounds. And lets not forget that policies aimed at helping working people, like Medicare-for-All, a living wage, and free college, are going to benefit all of us. The struggle for those things must not be derailed as it has been so many times in the past, by internecine fighting over race. When that happens, the only people who benefit are the same wealthy elites that have been keeping us at each other’s throats for the past 400 hundred years. It doesn’t really make a difference if they’re doing that by convincing white people that blacks are inferior, or if they’re doing it by portraying all poor whites as ignorant racists; the end result is always the same. We waste our energies attacking each other, while nothing really changes. If we want to do something truly new in all of American history, we should try not to fall for it this time.

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Podcast: Iowa Debate Preview, Gaming Out The Early States, and Ricky Gervais’ Hollywood Smackdown

A preview of the next high stakes debate in Iowa, an analysis of early state primary scenarios, and a salute to Ricky Gervais.

Why The Left Should Disown Hollywood.

by Keaton Weiss

Ricky Gervais’ monologue at the Golden Globes this past Sunday is getting rave reviews, particularly from the right wing media. Greg Gutfeld, Fox News host and closest thing to a real comedian they could find to put on TV, called Gervais’ bit “a dream come true for anyone tired of Hollywood telling you how dumb and racist America is.” Sean Hannity’s website posted an all-caps headline, “RICKY RIPS HOLLYWOOD.” Ben Shapiro hasn’t stopped tweeting about it, and wrote a piece in which he celebrates Gervais’ monologue and piles on the humorless Hollywood elite who “swill from the ocean of self-aggrandizing leftism,” as he puts it.

Gervais himself was a bit puzzled by this praise, as he himself is certainly no right-winger. He tweeted in response, “How the fuck can teasing huge corporations, and the richest, most privileged people in the world be considered right wing?” He has a point. After all, he didn’t attack Hollywood from the right; he attacked it from the left, which is both why his monologue was so good, and why so many in the room hated it so much. Because Hollywood, contrary to what the right wing media would have you believe, isn’t actually “left.” It’s “liberal” – in the most nauseating way possible – and the actual left should renounce it.

Consider Gervais’ first real jab of the evening:

“But you all look lovely all dolled up. You came here in your limos. I came here in a limo tonight and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman.”

The audience gasped. The camera cut to a visibly shocked and appalled Tom Hanks. To the Hollywood crowd, this joke was just too harsh. Too severe. Too mean. For those who don’t get it, Felicity Huffman was sentenced to jail (which for those who don’t know, is where license plates are made) for her role in the college admissions scandal, which included, among other acts, paying $15,000 to an admissions consultant to fake her daughter’s SAT score. She was sentenced to 14 days in jail, of which she served 11. An actual left wing audience would appreciate this joke, as it all importantly “punches up” at a privileged member of society whose $45 million net worth bought her a laughably light prison sentence despite having committed egregious fraudulent offenses. Not this audience, though. They were mortified.

Then, a few minutes later, Gervais said this:

“Apple roared into the TV game with ‘The Morning Show’, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. Well, you say you’re woke but the companies you work…Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?”

That didn’t go over well either. Tim Cook himself was in the audience, and the rest of the crowd didn’t laugh much more than he did. Again, if Hollywood were actually the “ocean of self-aggrandizing leftism” that Shapiro says it is, this joke would have played wonderfully. But it didn’t, and that’s because, once again, Hollywood isn’t really “leftist.”

When it comes to labor, we needn’t even look to Hollywood’s partnerships with companies like Apple and Amazon. Just look at how they treat their own. Show business is as unequal a field as there is – a few celebrities sit at the top of the pyramid and live like royalty, while hundreds of thousands of struggling actors, writers, directors, producers, etc. barely make rent each month. The Screen Actors’ Guild has members like George Clooney and Robert Downey, Jr., each with nine-figure net worths, while only 15% of its members earn enough to even qualify for the union’s health benefits.

To the extent Hollywood projects its commitment to fairness in the workplace, it does so by invoking things like the gender pay gap to expose that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence received only 7% of the profits from American Hustle while their three male co-stars each received 9%. Jennifer Lawrence would make headlines a few years later when she reportedly negotiated her salary for Passengers to $20 million vs. her male co-star Chris Pratt’s $12 million. This was a big moment for her, and I suppose it was supposed to be a big moment for everyone. After all, isn’t Jennifer Lawrence’s $20 million payday for a piece-of-shit movie no one even saw, a victory for all women everywhere? According to the “woke” liberal culture that dominates Hollywood, it is. According to the actual left, it isn’t.

And so there is one slight correction I’d like to make to something Ricky said in the aforementioned quote. He said, “You say you’re woke, but the companies you work for…Apple, Amazon, Disney…” I get what he’s saying there, but unfortunately, he’s making the same mistake that many amateur political observers make, which is that he’s conflating “wokeness” with “leftness.” The two terms are often used interchangeably, mostly by people who don’t follow politics very closely. On their part, this is an honest misunderstanding. But hyper-capitalist institutions like Hollywood, Apple, and Amazon, on the other hand, consciously project this “wokeness” precisely so they can appear “liberal” without actually having to be “left.” If the line had gone, “You say you’re left wing, but the companies you work for…” then he’d be exposing some real hypocrisy on their part, and this is no doubt how he meant it. But what Gervais himself, clever as he is, doesn’t quite get, is that Hollywood’s woke virtue signaling is what allows them to treat most of their workers like garbage and get away with it. Woke culture and brute capitalism go together by design. To shine a light on their coexistence is not to expose some embarrassing accidental juxtaposition, but rather to reveal a strategic smoke and mirrors act. In other words, they’re not “hypocrites” so much as they are simply outright liars and hucksters.

As the evening progressed, quite a few of the stars had something to say about the climate crisis and its ties to the horrific bushfires ravaging Australia as we speak. Jennifer Aniston read a statement from Russell Crowe in which he said, “The tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future.” Cate Blanchett said “When one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster. So we’re in it together.”

Joaquin Phoenix made what I suppose is the “furthest left” statement on this, saying:

“It’s great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives. I hope that we can do that. We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards sometimes or back.”

Even Phoenix missed the mark, though. The solution to climate change does not depend on the rich and famous’ willingness to voluntarily inconvenience themselves in their personal lives by flying first class instead of private. It hinges on the macro-implementation of a Green New Deal, which would be financed through progressive and aggressive taxation of people like Joaquin Phoenix, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Aniston, and Russell Crowe. And I don’t recall any of them advocating for that. Again, their comments were all nice, and good, and liberal – ie, “we’re in it together” – but none of them were left.

And so, to the left, what good is Hollywood? Their annoying self-righteous woke virtue signaling makes them a liability in the culture war, and their reluctance to explicitly advocate against their own personal business interests makes them an enemy in the class war. This is why they’re so widely reviled, and this is why those on both the actual left and actual right took such pleasure in watching them squirm while Ricky Gervais tore them each a new asshole. And so the best we can do on the left would be to wash our hands of them, and disassociate from them entirely. Doing so not only allows us to enjoy a laugh at their expense from time to time, but more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to differentiate our brand of politics from that of the woke liberals. Because it’s their brand of identity politics-based neoliberalism, not “socialism,” that drives most of the country crazy. We might have been able to stomach them if they were meaningful allies in other areas, but they’re not. On economic justice issues, they’re too rich. On climate justice issues, again, they’re too rich. And on criminal justice issues, well…forget about that. They can’t even take a joke about Felicity Huffman.

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Podcast: No War With Iran. Period.

Why simple is best when it comes to opposing war in Iran, and why war won’t work politically for the Trump White House.

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The Fake Decade

by Keaton Weiss

President Trump has used the word “fake” so often, he seems to think he invented it. In a 2017 interview with Mike Huckabee, he said, “I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with is fake’.” Liberals, in predictably snarky fashion, scoffed at the remark, because of course Trump didn’t actually invent the word itself. But in a decade defined by institutional corruption, deception, greed, negligence, and hypocrisy, is it really any wonder we’ve elected a president who weaponizes the concept of “fakeness” as frequently and aggressively as Trump does?

This was the decade we learned that Lance Armstrong, whose story of beating cancer, starting a foundation whose yellow wristbands became a symbol of hope and resilience, and winning the Tour de France, made him an American icon, was a doper. A cheat. A fake.

Wells Fargo employees, in order to meet sales requirements, opened millions of fake checking and credit card accounts.

Elizabeth Holmes, celebrated by Forbes in 2015 as the youngest and wealthiest “self made billionaire” in America, had come up with a fake blood testing method (she even used a fake voice to do it!), and is facing a massive fraud trial in June of next year.

The Sackler family was exposed for faking information about the addictive nature of OxyContin and fueling the opioids crisis, and their company, Purdue Pharma, declared bankruptcy in response to an onslaught of lawsuits.

This was also the decade we learned of dismal working conditions at factories and warehouses owned by the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, billionaire businessmen whose successes are supposedly sterling examples of the fully realized American dream.

This was the decade of the #MeToo movement, which exposed many of the fake liberals in Hollywood and in the media for the misogynist pigs they really were.

Boeing made a fake airplane. Volkswagon faked their emissions tests. Celebrities faked their childrens’ ways into elite colleges and universities (and served just 14 days in jail for it.) We even had a fake (Fyre) music festival!

The decade began two years into Barack Obama’s first term. Obama was elected to unite and heal a nation reeling from a recession caused by a war that was started for fake reasons, and a housing crisis made possible by the issuing of fake mortgages. Obama won a landslide victory on the platform of “Hope and Change,” which turned out to be, for the most part, fake.

Then, we had an election in 2016, which consisted of a fake Democratic primary race in which the supposedly neutral Democratic National Committee was actually being financed by one of the candidates in the running, whose name I always make a New Year’s Resolution never to speak again. On the Republican side, we had a candidate who likes to call things fake. And he won the whole thing.

One of the things the liberal class (ie, the Starbucks drinkers, the MSNBC wine-moms, the Washington Post subscribers) laments most about Donald Trump is that he ‘undermines public faith in our institutions.’ To them, this is a real shame, because these institutions are, in one way or another, part of a system that has served them pretty well over the years. Financial institutions like the big banks and the stock market are of course primarily involved, but beyond that, institutions like Hollywood and professional sports are secondary participants, in that they provide the masses with the “bread and circuses” necessary to distract them from the struggles they endure every day. When even those institutions become corrupted, the public begins to lose all faith in everything. And so an era of institutional corruption breeds a culture of bitterness and despair, and out of that culture emerges a demagogue like Donald Trump who can so effectively harness the collective negative energy that had been festering in America throughout this whole fake decade.

What this means, of course, is that the liberals have it backwards. Trump hasn’t caused people to lose faith in our institutions, he’s simply seized upon a jadedness that had already made its way into our culture by way of incident after incident of institutional failure of every kind. This realization is an uncomfortable one for the liberal class, as they themselves bear some responsibility for perpetuating both the system itself, and the lie that it’s functioning in a way we should all appreciate. And so, they’d be quick to point out when challenged with this point, that Donald Trump is the biggest fake of all. They have a point, don’t they? Well, yes and no.

Trump is no doubt a fake himself. Everything about him is fake. His hair is fake. His skin tone is fake. He gorges on fake food and guzzles soda laced with fake sugar. He’s probably a fake billionaire, but whatever real money he’s made came from his fake universities, fake charities, and selling people the fake hope that if they throw a dollar down one of his slot machines, they’ll hit the jackpot and become a big winner. He hosted a fake TV show where he played a fake boss and fired people for inadequately doing fake jobs. One the one hand, yes, he’s the personification, the physical manifestation, of fakeness.

On the other hand, though, he’s so fake that no one actually feels deceived by him. He “breaks the fakeness meter,” if you will. His hair is so fake that we know for sure it’s fake. The blonde dye, or spray, or whatever the fuck it is, is so hastily and lazily applied, we can see the gray at the bottom of each strand of hair. Whatever he does to his face to turn it orange is done so badly we can see his natural skin color in big circles around his eyes. We know what garbage he eats, because we eat it too. We know that reality TV is bullshit, because we watch it. And we know casinos are a scam, because we’ve all lost money at ’em. We know that when he denied his affair with Stormy Daniels that he was lying. And if we know he’s lying, is he actually manipulating us? I’d argue, not really. When your child has chocolate all over his face and you ask if he stole cookies from the cookie jar, and he says no, do you really feel like you’ve been duped, manipulated, deceived, or defrauded? No. He’s just a lying little shit. And that’s ultimately what Trump is. He’s not pre-packaged. He doesn’t come with the pretense of integrity, naturalness, or fair play.

But when Lance Armstrong denies having used performance enhancing drugs, or when Wells Fargo tells us we can trust them with our money, or when the Sacklers tell us we needn’t worry about getting hooked on their product, or when Hollywood’s sexual predators pose as women’s rights advocates, we take them at their word. So when they betray us, it hurts, because we believed them. Since we know Trump is full of shit even before he opens his mouth, his lies don’t have the same emotional effect on us.

Therefore, Trump’s overt, over-the-top artificiality, along with his repeated branding of any and all opposition to him as “fake,” makes perfect sense in a decade defined by widespread institutional fakeness, because Trump is a constant reminder that fakeness is everywhere. He didn’t hoodwink the country into electing him; he simply gave the country a way to express their frustration at having been hoodwinked into thinking their politicians cared about them, and that their banks were taking care of their finances, and that their media wanted to keep them informed, and that their idols in sports and entertainment were exemplars of virtue and excellence, and that the people who make their medicine do so because they actually want to heal the sick, and that the American dream is attainable for anyone who works hard and plays by the rules.

Of course, there are real solutions to these problems that could be explored, and thankfully, are being explored. Ideas like Medicare For All to replace the fake healthcare reform of Obamacare, or a Green New Deal instead of the woefully inadequate Paris Climate Accord, or student debt cancellation to make the American dream actually possible for a generation saddled with crippling high interest loans, are all being floated in this critical election year as we close the book on the previous decade. But in these fake times which we live, real solutions to real problems are deemed – you guessed it – unrealistic.

And so, the Fakeness Train doesn’t just roll on, it builds steam.  This makes Trump the favorite to win in 2020. He is the distillation of this American moment, and of the previous American decade – the fake decade. We’re very much a fake country right now. And so if we’re going to turn this around, and see to it that this next decade is more fruitful than the previous one, and we must, we’re going to have to get real.

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