For those who aren’t familiar with the title’s reference, Punk’d is an American hidden camera-practical joke reality television series that first aired on MTV in 2003. It was created by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg. In the show, Kutcher sets into motion elaborate pranks aimed at Hollywood stars and other celebs. At the end, the prank is revealed and the person understands that they’ve been Punk’d.
This year, the entire presidential election has been hijacked and we are all getting Punk’d.
As we wring our collective hands over Hilary and The Donald, here’s what I think is actually happening:
About 18 months ago, Hilary and Bill realized that Hilary didn’t stand a chance against any ‘normal’ Republican candidate. This realization began an elaborate scheme to get The Donald to run on the GOP ticket. Conveniently ignored in media coverage of the election is that these two families are friends. Chelsea and Ivanka are frequently described as best friends. So Bill meets with Donald, and although we know nothing about the content of the meeting, shortly after it, Trump announced his candidacy.
Then using their vast connections with the ‘billionaire class,’ who would want the Clinton’s back in the White House, they conspired not only to impede the Sanders candidacy (once it arose as an unexpected threat), but also to get the media to turn the GOP race into a circus where Trump was treated as a comedy fixture and not a serious candidate. This allowed him to avoid all scrutiny, get gobs of free media, all the while trashing the other candidates.
Now that he’s become the candidate, we see that he is being destroyed by the same media that all but gave him his wonderful ‘outsider’ ‘tough guy’ status during the primaries. In addition, we see Donald becoming more and more reckless, bizarre, almost a caricature of himself. Everyone is mystified. But it makes perfect sense if the plan all along was for him to lose.
This work has paved the way for Hilary to win, although she is such a challenged candidate that she’s having a hard time, and making it seem like a real race. What does Trump get out of this? A lifetime of free marketing, endless publicity, and even more power and access to the world of ‘business.’ Someone who’s not an extreme narcissist might wonder how and why you’d ever subject yourself to such abuse and humiliation. It’s hard to appreciate that a person with a narcissistic personality disorder doesn’t feel humiliation and never views their actions in a negative light. They can spin anything they do as a positive.
Thus the overreach and power of the entrenched oligarchs has now become so massive that they can turn the presidential election into a reality TV show. We are getting Punk’d and the powers that be are getting what they want, a Democratic president and a GOP Congress, the balance that has worked exceptionally well for them these past 8 years.
Now for those of you who think Hilary is wonderful, this is all great news and you are very happy. However in my lifetime:
- The military budget has done nothing but increase, gobbling up an ever growing percentage of our resources, and fueling a massive military industrial complex which continues to wreak havoc and death around the world. The Trillions spent on the war crime which was the Iraq war, the thousands killed by drones, the hundreds of bases around the world, the 22 vets who kill themselves every day, the hundreds of thousands of innocents slaughtered, these policies have been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike and continue unchecked regardless of who’s in the White House or Congress.
- The prison-industrial complex has continued to wage war on POC decimating communities and families. We now enslave more people than were enslaved when slavery was the law of the land. This too continues regardless of the administration’s party.
- The mental health of our population continues to decline. The meaninglessness of jobs in a global economy, the crush of debt, and the emptiness of the consumer life style has fueled the rise of an epidemic of anxiety and depression, opiate use, and chronic pain illnesses. These trends also continue unabated by those who support and promote a predatory global capitalism.
- The wealth gap continues to grow due to these same capitalist forces. This economic system is fully embraced by both parties and is unquestioned American doctrine. Meanwhile people work more hours for less and a permanent underclass continues to grow.
- Global warming and the destruction of the environment continues unabated. Again, despite some recent lip service as to the importance of this issue, world-wide emissions of carbon dioxide continue to grow and our climate may have reached a point where we can never return to the stability of a pre-industrial era.
- Our country continues to take advantage of ‘illegal aliens,’ using them as fodder for wage depression and refusing to treat them as human beings or create serious immigration reform. Obama has deported more people and destroyed more families than any recent GOP president.
If anyone seriously think that a Clinton administration is going to make a major reversal in these trends, well we can just wait and see.
The hegemony of the global elite is both depressing and disempowering. In the face of it I believe we should continue to advocate for sane, human policies as hard as we can, without much expectation of success. However these times also remind me of other points in history when huge Empires ruled the world and were in the process of grinding themselves, and anyone in their wake, into the dust. During such moments, people of faith often responded to their relative powerlessness by deciding to invest in small local communities of deep spiritual practice and service as a way of investing in the long arch of history. We are in such times, and if we invested even a fraction of the energy we put into this charade of an election into small scale, human alternative communities, I think we would do humanity and ourselves a great service.
And it always feels better if you’re not getting Punk’d.