The 2016 election results were an amazing surprise to nearly everyone in the press, the public, the pundits, the partisans and the people. Not only did long shot underdog Republican Donald Trump win the presidency in the Electoral College with a comfortable margin; but also Republicans held the Senate in a rare year when Democrats benefited from natural advantages.
How did this happen? And how does the national minority party so often hold the majority of power?
A series of election tricks have been refined to near perfection this millennium. The same tricks have been used repeatedly with predictable effects — often in nearly identical formation. Here comes a big tour of elections since 2000.
See also President Donald Trump is Coming January 20, 2017, story from July 2016.
This report does not spend time on voter ID laws and gerrymandering, as these issues receive much more coverage across the media. Electoral College will be discussed in an upcoming article.
MILLENNIUM BEGINS WITH A CONTESTED ELECTION
In early 2000, with the economy roaring ahead like the glory days of the 1950’s and 60’s, the stock market reached new highs. Then something strange happened: all the major indexes plummeted. Despite trillions lost in stock market vanishing tricks, Republican Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan decided this was the year to raise interest rates to cool the economy.
George W. Bush was running for president, just one White House succession after his father was defeated in a reelection bid. Even with the duel economic hits of major stock market crashes and deliberate interest rate increases, the economy remained strong through the rest of the year.
Republican George W. Bush lost the nationwide popular vote in the 2000 election. There were “irregularities” in the vote count in Florida and other states. The election was contested.
With the 25 Electoral College votes from Florida in dispute, Florida became the center of controversy. For weeks, the vote count was challenged. The case went to the Supreme Court. A 5-4 majority ended the vote count and declared George W. Bush the winner in Florida. This gave him a slim victory in the Electoral College to take the White House. Shortly after the election fiasco ended, the recession came.
CONTROL OF GOVERNMENT
Overall, Democrats gained seats in the Senate, splitting the institution 50-50, maintaining Republican control by a thread. The House of Representatives remained under Republican control. Republicans ruled the government.The Supreme Court was split with five Justices generally supporting Republicans and four supporting Democrats. Sandra Day O’Connor was the “swing voter” in close cases.
In the spring of 2001, Republican Senator Jim Jeffords from Vermont left the party to slow the agenda on “issues of choice, the direction of the judiciary, tax and spending decisions, missile defense, energy and the environment, and a host of other issues, large and small.” By moving to the Democratic Party, Republicans lost control of the Senate.
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON
In 2000, Hillary Clinton was the outgoing first lady. With a strong resume to run for political office herself, she relocated to New York and ran for Senator. Although negative press continued, she won the election handily.
Once in Congress, Hillary Clinton received rave reviews as a powerful force for getting things done, with notable Republicans praising her efforts and capabilities. For a short time, the former first lady received generously positive press.
FISHY ELECTIONS AFTER THE FIASCO
Ostensibly to repair election integrity, Republicans offered and Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which required wholesale “upgrading” of voting systems in all 50 states. Private companies with political ties would run new computerized systems. Software would be encrypted and proprietary [PDF].
In 2002 and ever since, elections have been full of surprises. Exit polls have varied from official results like never before. Even though official results frequently gave Republicans the advantage over Democrats, few bothered to critique the anomalies — not even most Democrats.
For example, Georgia was known as a traditional “blue state” until the state was filled with Diebold voting machines, a company with very close ties to the Republican Party. On election day 2002, defying the polls by double-digits, Georgia suddenly turned deep red in a huge “upset.” Suddenly, Georgia was a “red state.” Few bothered to look more closely, but some found problems [PDF].
Republicans won back the Senate with a slim majority of 51-48.
CONVENIENT 2004 PRIMARIES
The Democratic primaries for the 2004 presidential election featured four main candidates: Senator John Kerry, Senator John Edwards, former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.
Howard Dean talked about issues, opposing the Iraq war and the Bush tax cuts. The media ignored him. People on the fast growing internet responded differently. Howard Dean gained popularity.
Finally, with Howard Dean leading in the polls, the TV belatedly discovered him. At first, there was a honeymoon period of positive press. Soon, the press looked desperately for a scandal to take Howard Dean out of the race.
Meanwhile, insider and Democratic House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt spent his campaign money before the Iowa Caucus incessantly attacking Howard Dean, while giving fellow insider John Kerry a free ride. John Kerry won the caucus handily. Richard Gephardt conveniently dropped out and endorsed John Kerry, as if his entire purpose in running was to bring down Howard Dean. Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman and former vice presidential candidate also spent his time attacking Howard Dean.
Despite his clean record, press reporters were going to provide a Howard Dean scandal if they had to fabricate it themselves. By using a distorted recording of Howard Dean yelling “yeah” over an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, they declared that Howard Dean was “angry.” The recording was played over 700 times before the New Hampshire primary. The media apologized after the fact.
The 700 or more replays of the so-called “Dean scream” were supplemented with subtle bandwagoning toward John Kerry. The uninspiring monotone insider was described by the press as “electable.” He had “momentum.”
The media fabrication worked. John Kerry won the New Hampshire primary. Howard Dean never recovered. The lackluster but “electable” John Kerry eventually won the nomination. Now it was time to go against George W. Bush.
ENTER BARACK OBAMA, CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR
In 2004, Barack Obama was a black man and a state senator in the Illinois legislature. He was running for a big move forward, the US Senate. As the keynote speaker at Democratic Convention, he spoke eloquently and became a national star. Television was enthralled with the new black hero. Suddenly, Barack Obama was everywhere. Some immediately considered him as a potential first black president.
Illinois was considered a “blue state” favoring Democrats. The 2004 Senate election involved an open seat. Barack Obama won the contested Democratic primary with ease. The Republican primary winner was ousted in a sex scandal and replaced by famous conservative black man Alan Keyes. Barack Obama won the election in a landslide.
GAMING THE 2004 GENERAL ELECTION
The cloud on the 2000 election was still fairly fresh. George W. Bush had decided to invade Iraq, trying to tie that nation to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The campaign worked. But now the plain lies of the administration were coming to light. A master war plan was exposed. Prisoners were being held lawlessly at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The economy was dismal after massive tax cuts largely targeted to the top one percent.
All signs pointed to a tough “reelection” campaign for George W. Bush. Contrary to media assertions, John Kerry was barely “electable” at all. Therefore, to keep George W. Bush for another term, his powerful supporters needed to nudge the election a tiny bit.
The Republican CEO of the major voting machine company Diebold promised to help “Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.”
Sure enough, the Electors of Ohio decided the race and victory went to George W. Bush. As stories of oddities began to bubble up, Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards considered contesting the Ohio election. But John Kerry nixed the suggestion in “two hours.”
The mainstream press mocked anyone who wanted to look at what happened. Most of the establishment Democratic press including sites like Salon.com argued squarely on the side of Republicans. The establishment, Democrats, Republicans, and corporate press, all agreed: there would be no reviewing the 2004 Ohio situation.
In the quiet halls of Congress, Democratic Representative John Conyers investigated the election and produced a lengthy report [PDF] describing a long list of problems in Ohio. A few stories here and there took an honest look at the situation. Scholarly reports were issued [PDF]. Election anomalies were everywhere, especially in Ohio. Official results mostly favored George W. Bush over exit polls. This one-sided distortion became known as “red shift.”
Years later, Ohio election officials were convicted of crimes related to handling of the 2004 election. In a civil lawsuit, hacking came to light. Finally, in Florida, a computer technician testified under oath that he was offered money to hack the election.
SUPREME COURT SHIFTS
After the 2004 election, Nixon appointee and Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist died. George W. Bush replaced him with John Roberts, who became a reliable vote in nearly every case for Republicans since. Soon, Reagan appointee and “swing voter” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor decided to retire. She was replaced with the very conservative Samuel Alito.
Justice Anthony Kennedy who was previously in the solid block of four reliable conservatives now became known as the swing voter. This transition pushed the Court more to the conservative side.
DEMOCRATS RETAKE CONTROL OF CONGRESS
With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan lingering, George W. Bush was pushing for a third war in Iran. People were tired of George W. Bush and the Republican Party. Republicans lost the Congress in the 2006 mid-term elections. Democrats took control of both houses for the first time since 1994. After the election, long-time Democratic operative Zbigniew Brzezinski warned Republicans not to mess with Iran. The Bush agenda was finally slowed.
Despite this victory, voting problems persisted. Electronic voting machines were shown to be unreliable. “Adjusted” exit polls made less statistical sense than unadjusted exit polls [PDF]. In the end, some three million Democratic votes disappeared.
Also in 2006, Hillary Clinton won re-election in her adopted state of New York with 67 percent of the vote. She was now prepared to become a serious candidate for the presidency.
DEMOCRATS BACK THE REPUBLICAN
Incumbent Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, arguably the most conservative Democrat in Congress, faced a primary challenge by anti-war candidate Ned Lamont in 2006. Campaigning against war, Ned Lamont won the primary.
The Democratic establishment did something very telling: they continued to back Joe Lieberman against their own party. Newly “independent” Joe Lieberman won the election as the de facto Democratic and Republican candidate. The official Republican candidate basically moved aside. Turncoat Joe Lieberman went on to support Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
Calls for impeachment of George W. Bush were gaining strength. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took “impeachment off the table.” From her safe San Francisco district, she became the main voice in the Democratic Party to campaign against holding George W. Bush accountable.
Nancy Pelosi was not too concerned with, as The Washington Post described, “allegations that Bush misled the nation about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and that he violated federal law by approving warrantless wiretaps on Americans” or any other information that might arise. She emphasized, “I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table.”
Those allegations included torture, spying, and the 2003 Iraq war. In contrast, just eight years earlier, Republicans did not hesitate to impeach Democrat Bill Clinton for lying under oath about “sexual relations.”
As it turned out, the new House majority was built with a good number of “blue dog” Democrats from conservative districts who were not in full alignment with the usual party agendas.
In this environment of discontent, the 2008 election could not come fast enough. The mainstream press and both parties made sure the focus would move away from impeaching George W. Bush and on to the next election. Debates began for Democrats in April of 2007, with Republicans starting in May.
HOPE AND CHANGE ARRIVES
Election year 2008 was looking good for Democrats thanks to fatigue from the George W. Bush years. Senator Hillary Clinton was all set to run. She was described as the “inevitable” nominee. Her press was still relatively positive but people were grumbling. Members of the Bush and Clinton families monopolized the presidency for 20 years straight.
Right from the beginning, the election would likely be decided in the Democratic primaries. To counter the inevitable Hillary Clinton, Democratic Senator Barack Obama hooked up with legendary talk show host Oprah Winfrey who campaigned for him in Iowa. Barack Obama also had big money behind him. He won the state handily.
A few days before the first primary in New Hampshire, candidate John Edwards and front runner Barack Obama teamed up against Hillary Clinton. The day before the first primary in New Hampshire, The Washington Post wrote Hillary Clinton’s “obituary.”
Hillary Clinton won the primary despite the polls in another “upset.” Election and exit poll integrity questions were pushed off to alternative press in favor of general press attacks against Hillary Clinton. For example, CNN spun a “tearful moment” into “not enough” reason for her to earn support.
Ultimately, the relatively unknown quantity Barack Obama squeezed out a delegate victory and went on to become the nominee. The candidate of “hope and change” had arrived.
REPUBLICAN RETREAD RUNS AGAIN
On the Republican side, John McCain won the nomination. Back in 2000, John McCain had run against George W. Bush in the primaries and lost widely to the younger man. Now, the prior loser of the primary was being recycled. The general election featured fresh faced “hope and change” versus old man and previous loser.
The mainstream press loved Barack Obama. Big money donors showered him with campaign funds. However, some of the alternative press found the likelihood for Barack Obama to offer real change somewhat lacking.
In the final weeks of the campaign, the stock market was collapsing, jobs were vanishing, and George W. Bush was pushing a giant bank bailout, among warnings of martial law. Even though Barack Obama voted for the bailout, he looked good compared to more of the same with another Republican.
THE NEW DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT
Barack Obama won the election easily to become the first black president of the United States. Spontaneous crowds appeared on the streets crying with relief that the dark era of George W. Bush was over, and that the United States elected a black man. The inaugural spectacular for Barack Obama could not have contrasted more with the protests in 2000.
High expectations never materialized. Black people did not attain equality, nor did relief come for many others. Worse yet, Barack Obama took charge of the tools of power created by the George W. Bush administration, sometimes extending injustices. This is not to say that Barack Obama did not offer some desired change — he certainly did.
The first act of the new Democratic government was to reverse a twisted 5-4 Supreme Court decision that refused to allow women equal pay for equal work. Later, Barack Obama changed drug sentencing guidelines to reduce racial imprisonment disparities. After multiple false starts, Barack Obama finally brought back net neutrality.
In an unprecedented plan of obstruction, Republicans blocked most of his agenda. The plan included making it illegal for Barack Obama to move prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay — thereby forcing him to break a campaign promise under implied threat of impeachment.
Even in this environment, Barack Obama managed to achieve partial success with the 2009 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The act provided health coverage to more Americans, and offered other benefits including coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Despite Democrats controlling Congress, a widely supported “public option” that would be an expansion of the beloved Medicare program failed to make the final cut. Barack Obama faced resistance from his own party’s conservative “blue dog” Democrats. Senator Joe Lieberman also played a role. Barack Obama, pushed by his own elite friends, seemed to cave in.
The law became known as “Obamacare” — the centerpiece of the Barack Obama legacy. In reality, Republicans conceived and created the core of the plan. The plan included a federal “mandate” for citizens to purchase insurance from companies or face penalties — an idea that strayed far from the Constitution. There was also a provision to deny Medicaid funds to states that refused to sign onto an expansion of coverage for low income uninsured people.
Before the mandate provision took effect, court challenges were launched. A Supreme Court 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts permitted the mandate but did not allow the federal government to block all Medicaid funding from states that refused the coverage expansion.
Democrats and the mainstream press applauded John Roberts for supporting Obamacare. He took a hit on the Republican side, with some in the partisan press looking for conspiracy excuses.
John Roberts played his hand brilliantly. For the price of being criticized by some of the most conservative Americans, he gained credibility as a fair “umpire.” His decision was far more supportive of Republicans than realized:
- By turning a “penalty” in the law into a “tax,” he expanded a recent 5-4 decision that provided a massive Constitutional loophole on the taxing side of legislation.
- By permitting the “mandate,” he laid the ground work for the eventual privatization of Social Security which could divert the two trillion dollar surplus into the stock market. If the government could force Americans to buy health insurance, they could also force purchases of privatized retirement plans.
- By overturning the Medicaid funding penalty, he made it easy for Republican governors to block expansion, even though nearly all of the funding would come from the federal government.
By choosing the partisan position for Barack Obama, the Democratic Justices were fooled. They will have a tough time opposing the Republican agenda in the future, based upon their own precedent here. John Roberts for his own part went right back to his usual role of ruling on the side of Republicans.
Obamacare would become the main rallying call for Republicans from the 2010 election onward — both before and after the main Supreme Court decision. The focus from then onward became the mandate and insurance rates.
Obamacare also raised taxes for those who collected over $250,000 of unearned income and extended the ability of Medicare to cover expenses for an additional twelve years, but these inconvenient aspects of the new law were mostly absent from discussion.
THE 2010 TEA PARTY ELECTION
After the 2008 election, opposition to Barack Obama gained traction quickly. Supporters of former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul had already formed a protest group known as the Tea Party.
A non-profit group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP) was founded by the Koch family who had decades of experience with “non-profit” propaganda organizations for partisan political purposes. Stealthily rushing to capitalize upon this grass roots organization for Republican partisan purposes, AFP took over the Tea Party — finding common ground with the Tea Party in economic deregulation and general hatred of Barack Obama, while minimizing the anti-war agenda of original Tea Party members.
In January 2010, a 5-4 partisan Supreme Court handed the Tea Party an extraordinary victory in the Citizens United case. All Republican appointees on the Court lifted one hundred years of campaign funding regulations as unconstitutional to permit unlimited campaign funding to “independent” groups for “electioneering” without disclosure. Funding rights were quickly expanded to include individual spenders at a lower court. The new funding organizations were called Super PACs.
Soon thereafter, AFP money flowed to Tea Party candidates. Fox News and other networks provided the group with free broadcast promotion. While many people were still disgusted from the George W. Bush years and dissatisfied with the new Barack Obama administration, the Tea Party advertisements offered an apparent grass roots alternative to both parties.
When people exposed the connection between the Tea Party and Republican operatives Charles and David Koch, the Koch brothers initially denied funding the group. In fact, the Tea Party was partially funded by Bradley Foundation — a long-time ally of Koch brothers. The Koch brothers themselves funded newly legalized Super PACs for Tea Party candidates.
The Tea Party was presented as an “insurgency.” Its candidates opposed mainstream Republicans in the primaries, taking out a number of top names. The populist illusion worked. In 2010, Republicans took back control of Congress after just four years out. The old Republicans stood down, allowing the Tea Party to be the face of a more ideological Republican wish list. In Florida, Democrats cast out their own candidate, giving Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio an easier chance to win.
On the Democratic side, conservative “blue dogs” were slaughtered. The Democratic base and the electorate generally made it crystal clear that they were tired of Democrats that aligned with Republicans.
A Harvard study [PDF] described the Tea Party: “During President Obama’s first years in office, the Tea Party rubric has enabled conservatives to rebrand their ideology and mobilize their grassroots in new ways.” As it became evident that the Tea Party was little more than a flavor of same old Republican agenda, the group fell out of favor. Barack Obama had also slipped. Republicans were able to hold Congress for the rest of his years in office.
ANONYMOUS CLAIMS TO SAVE THE 2012 ELECTION
While the 2008 election was a shoe-in for the Democratic candidate, 2012 looked as if it might be possible for Republicans to regain the White House.
The group Anonymous predicted that Republicans would attempt to steal the election in Ohio, but Anonymous was watching from the inside of the computer system. On election night, strategist Karl Rove predicted a sudden reversal of fortune for Republican candidate Mitt Romney just after 11 pm. The computer system failed right on time, but the reversal never occurred. Anonymous claimed a few days later that it saved the election. Here is Thom Hartmann to explain more:
REAL ESTATE MOGULE DONALD TRUMP
For decades, Donald Trump was a famous billionaire in the New York real estate market. He occasionally spoke out about politics. In 1987, he announced on The Larry King Show that he was Republican. At times, Donald Trump considered running for president or for New York Governor.
Donald Trump took center stage in a campaign to reinstate the death penalty in New York State. After an apparent gang attack upon a woman jogging in Central Park, Donald Trump placed advertisements promoting the death penalty in major newspapers. Five black boys were charged in the attack. Some confessed. All were convicted. The jogger case filled local airwaves. Stories of black youths “wilding” in Central Park were everywhere.
New York politics became immersed in death penalty debates. Popular third term Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo refused to endorse it, and was defeated by Republican George Pataki a few years later.
The “Central Park Five” as they were known did not actually attack the woman. They were exonerated and released years later to little fanfare. Donald Trump never apologized.
In 2004, Donald Trump became the host of network television program The Apprentice beginning a 13 year run. The show was a reality program where contestants would compete in business-related tasks. Donald Trump would fire contestants throughout each season until a winner took the seasonal prize. Donald Trump became famous all over the nation.
BILLIONAIRE DONALD TRUMP STEPS UP POLITICS
In 2011, as the true nature of The Tea Party was becoming apparent to the public, Donald Trump latched onto some of its talking points. He now claimed that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that global warming was not real. In 2012, he briefly considered running for president in the Republican Party. Losing in early polls, Donald Trump chose to wait.
OBAMA OBSTRUCTION CONTINUES
Throughout the rest of the Barack Obama years, he was faced with a hostile Republican Congress out to block most anything positive that could be used for his legacy. Assaults on his centerpiece Obamacare continued. Obamacare went to the Supreme Court multiple times. Republican governors refused to implement the plan even though the federal government would pay for it. Talk about the mandate, big government, and freedom continued, but still, no word about that tax on the rich in the health law.
Although Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 primaries to the younger Barack Obama, she decided to run again. She was following in the footsteps of John McCain who did the same thing and lost. This was an obvious disadvantage that Democrats seemed to miss.
The Democratic establishment ran full speed ahead with Hillary Clinton “inevitable” again. Token opposition emerged with former Democratic governor Martin O’Malley. A curve ball arrived in the name of independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont who decided to run as a Democrat.
On the Republican side, it seemed every big Republican name wanted to run. Whereas they could all be reasonably lumped together as establishment, one figure stood out. Donald Trump was finally ready to run.
Donald Trump was cast into the role of the vulgar outsider willing to shake up the establishment in stark contrast to 17 other candidates. Many seemed to know that Donald Trump would have the advantage against a divided group, but the establishment refused to gather the others together to pick just a few candidates to provide some chance of blocking Donald Trump.
Quite the opposite: they paved the way for Donald Trump. The entire Republican primary was set up to make it virtually impossible for anyone other than Donald Trump to win — from the beginning.
PRESS COVERAGE IN THE YEAR BEFORE
In 2015, the press showered Donald Trump with generous positive coverage. Republicans received more than double the coverage of Democrats. Donald Trump received more coverage than any other candidate, and more than one-third of all coverage of Republican candidates. Coverage of Donald Trump was positive by a 2-to-1 ratio, despite popular myth.
Democrats gained far less free press coverage. The tone of press coverage for Hillary Clinton was negative. At first, her rival Bernie Sanders received little press. As he became more known and more popular, press increased. Bernie Sanders enjoyed a bump of positive press in the summer, but it faded fast in the fall, as positive press for Hillary Clinton increased, but remained negative.
As the unlikely “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders became a real threat to Hillary Clinton, the press went crazy with negative stories and opinions against Bernie Sanders. Democratic and Republican establishment outfits joined forces with the mainstream press in attempting to derail the Bernie Sanders campaign.
In early 2016, tone of coverage for Bernie Sanders again went positive, while Donald Trump enjoyed unbroken positive coverage.
At the precise critical time when Bernie Sanders was taking his last shot to win enough delegates, tone of press coverage for Hillary Clinton went net positive while tone of coverage for Bernie Sanders went net negative — both for the first time in 2016.
Non-mainstream sources mixed coverage, with Democratic and Republican sources generally ridiculing Bernie Sanders and alternative sources generally leaning toward Bernie Sanders.
PRIMARY EXIT POLLS
Reviews of exit polls found that official results were skewed in favor of Hillary Clinton far more than long understood statistical methods would permit. In recent elections official results shifted toward Republicans compared to exit polls. This time the shift was seen on the Democratic side. The establishment candidate Hillary Clinton did better than expected in many races. Republican primary exit polls matched official results better. A huge report [PDF] was released.
To summarize the absurdity of the results [PDF], pollsters “perform splendidly when questioning Republican voters, but somehow turn into bumbling amateurs when questioning the Democrats.”
2016 GENERAL ELECTION SEASON BEGINS
The final battle for the White House began with once-defeated establishment politician Hillary Clinton who already lived in the White House for eight years during her husband’s terms versus the new outsider face.
NOT VERY PROGRESSIVE HILLARY
Hillary Clinton took the nomination, conceding as little as possible to the independent candidate who gave her a contest. They called it the “most progressive” Democratic Platform in history but many disagreed. Long time Democratic goal of “single payer” health coverage was not only missing — it was a “theoretical … better idea that will never ever come to pass.” During the Democratic Convention, Bernie Sanders delegates walked out. Pictures of empty seats, possibly taken at some other time to exaggerate the walk out, were all over the internet.
Despite 2016 being described as a “change” election, Hillary Clinton warmed up to not only the Democratic establishment, but also to the Republican establishment. The two parties were literally working together to support Hillary Clinton at a time when it was clear people wanted something different.
MAINSTREAM PRESS ISOLATED
The mainstream press and the Democratic press focused upon Donald Trump’s bad character, Hillary Clinton’s womanhood and experience, and superficially upon identity group rights — just enough to irritate white people but not enough to discuss the real and important ways unfairness exists. Arrogantly, the establishment reached “consensus” but coverage was a vast wasteland.
The rest of the press saw things just about opposite. Unlike during the primaries or at any other time, an unprecedented convergence of coverage took place. Nearly all major sources opposed Hillary Clinton, including deeper anti-government places like ZeroHedge, InfoWars and Russia Today. They were all singing the Republican line together, generously promoting the face of the “alt right,” Breitbart.com.
The Republican press did what it does — promoting, exaggerating or fabricating scandals about “corrupt” Hillary Clinton for the sole purpose of winning the election. Notorious partisan James O’Keefe released a series of damaging videos, carefully edited and timed to maximize harm to the Democratic Party. He claimed that Democrats were going to steal the election with voter fraud.
The mainstream media became a joke. Corporate coverage was so one sided that it appeared to be working against Hillary Clinton:
As the media comes down on Donald Trump, support for his campaign becomes stronger. If the establishment press majority truly opposes a President Donald Trump, it needs to tone down the rhetoric and try to gain back some credibility by presenting genuine issues without all the excitement.
Among all the outlandishness, fake news sites sprouted up. Some sites spammed the internet with outrageous anti-Hillary Clinton headlines while opportunists took advantage of Google’s advertising program to make huge amounts of money.
Some charges of corruption about Hillary Clinton were valid. The non-partisan WikiLeaks joined the fray. The organization leaked thousands of hacked DNC emails on a daily basis for weeks before the election. Much of the information was routine or mildly embarrassing, but there were stunning revelations among the leaks:
The DNC favored Hillary Clinton in the primaries. The DNC had secret contacts with the mainstream press. Hillary Clinton received a debate question in advance. The DNC tried to trick Bernie Sanders into accepting a worthless concession as important. And on it went, day after day.
Establishment figures summarily blamed Russia for the WikiLeaks email releases while the Obama administration ruthlessly threatened Russia with “body bags” and cyber attacks. Donald Trump said he wanted to be a partner with Russia, not an enemy. Hillary played war hawk; Donald Trump played peace maker. The lines were not cut so cleanly, with Donald Trump once yelling for war against Libya and escalation with Iran and Hillary Clinton supporting peace with Iran, but few noticed.
When the subject turned to other issues, there was plenty more negative material on Hillary Clinton. She supported the fiasco in Iraq that George W. Bush created. She was the mastermind of the bombing of Libya. She supported the TPP trade deal but then opposed it. She was in the White House when the NAFTA free trade deal became law. She was there for a bill cracking down on crime and for a bill lifting off banking regulation. And on it goes.
The media was flooded with a few popular favorite issues that Donald Trump promoted — deportation, trade deal opposition, and ending war. Most of the coverage of these issues came from Republican partisan press with a positive spin. Establishment Democrats preferred to talk about identity group outrage.
Outsider Donald Trump shared a solid core of unpopular economic platforms with the Republican Party — Social Security privatization, energy exploitation, and banking deregulation. Coverage of these was minimal.
CAMPAIGN LOBBYING AND FUNDING
Donald Trump released a five point plan to reduce campaign corruption and “drain the swamp.” His five specific points failed to address the big problem: that unlimited amounts of money could be utilized to clutter free speech space. Donald Trump hired the very guy who championed the money-equals-speech idea.
A vacancy on the Supreme Court from early in the year that Republicans refused to fill would afford a Hillary Clinton administration the opportunity to overturn the money-equals-speech doctrine. Most Americans agreed. Inexplicably, Democrats and the mainstream press rarely discussed the vacant seat and the corporate speech doctrine.
For his own part, Donald Trump spent very little on his campaign. By March, he had already received the equivalent of over two billion dollars of free advertising. The Koch brothers claimed that they were opposed to Donald Trump. They spent their war chest on Senate candidates.
LYING INDICATING SECRET TRUTH
To some it did not matter what Donald Trump said as a rumor spread that he once boasted:
If I were to run as a Republican, They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They love anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up.
The meme was not true, but it granted license to Donald Trump to say unpopular things. His most outrageous suggestions and his flip-flops on issues were excused as election tactics.
NEW VOTING RESTRICTIONS
In 2013, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a 50 year old provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The act required jurisdictions with known histories of voter disenfranchisement schemes to seek “pre-approval” through the Department of Justice before making changes.
With the pre-approval law gone, Republican controlled states rushed to change the rules before the 2016 election. New voting restrictions were most likely to be passed in swing states that were newly controlled by Republicans [PDF] rather than in solid red states.
Voter fraud court cases and debates became commonplace. Election fraud — manipulation of election results through means other than illegal voting — did not receive much coverage.
DONALD TRUMP WARNS OF A RIGGED ELECTION
With the polls almost unanimously favoring Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump claimed that the election could be rigged. He suggested that he would not concede if he lost the election. This talk became a topic of moral outrage by reporters.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace hosted the third presidential debate. He asked Donald Trump to “commit” to accept the result of the election to maintain the “peaceful transition of power.”
CHRIS WALLACE: One of the prides of this country is the peaceful transition of power… At the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner … and the country comes together for the good of the country …
DONALD TRUMP: I’ll tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.
HILLARY CLINTON: That is not the way our democracy works… We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected …
The Fox News anchor carefully set the stage. Donald Trump fully expected a rigged vote. Hillary Clinton reacted by denying it was possible.
Meanwhile the White House was pushing the exact opposite. Democratic officials were warning that Russia might interfere with the election. Vice president Joe Biden ominously warned that Russia would be hit by an internet attack.
CROSSCHECK VOTE PURGE SYSTEM
Far away from the usual pre-election noise, long time investigator and reporter Greg Palast wrote a book and then made a movie. “Trump says the election’s rigged. He should know: his buddies are rigging it,” Greg Palast announced in a promotion for the work.
“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits” was a book and feature movie released before the election to describe and document a system of voter disenfranchisement affecting over seven million people. The feature covered both the connections of the people involved and the technical aspects of the operation, with insider documents and numbers.
The main vehicle for fixing the election was a voter purging system called Crosscheck created by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and used in many states. Mainstream press was not interested in this story.
ANOTHER UPSET ELECTION
Early in the morning of November 9, 2016, the nation and the world was stunned as final results of the American national election came in. A foul-mouthed insurgent “outsider” billionaire businessman was declared the winner of the White House, while elections stacked in favor of the other party taking the Senate failed.
The exit polls were wrong and the national minority party took charge of all branches of power — including the opportunity to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court that would have given the majority party control of it for the first time since 1970.
Greg Palast continues to cover the election. He made this graphic.
HISTORICAL EXIT POLL ACCURACY
Robert Kennedy Jr. in a footnoted thesis about exit polls in 2004 noted:
Over the past decades, exit polling has evolved into an exact science. Indeed, among pollsters and statisticians, such surveys are thought to be the most reliable. Unlike pre-election polls, in which voters are asked to predict their own behavior at some point in the future, exit polls ask voters leaving the voting booth to report an action they just executed.
The results are exquisitely accurate: Exit polls in Germany, for example, have never missed the mark by more than three-tenths of one percent. ”Exit polls are almost never wrong,” Dick Morris, a political consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, noted after the 2004 vote.
Such surveys are ”so reliable,” he added, ”that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries.” In 2003, vote tampering revealed by exit polling in the Republic of Georgia forced Eduard Shevardnadze to step down. And in November 2004, exit polling in the Ukraine — paid for by the Bush administration — exposed election fraud that denied Viktor Yushchenko the presidency.
RECOUNTS WILL NOT END SUSPICION
A new statistical report indicated that the election totals were questionable. The authors requested recounts. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein raised millions of dollars for recounts. The Hillary Clinton campaign signed on after receiving messages “urging us to do something… now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate.” Recounts are going forward.
Recounts are unlikely to change the final outcome of the election, but they may provide more information about anomalies and more attention for election fraud issues. Recounts themselves are problematic, as documented by Black Box Voting.
How ever the results come out, issues of voter purging, redistricting, polling place closures, identification, popular vote, etc., will remain. Quality verifiable election rules, procedures and equipment are necessary.
NORMALIZATION OF DONALD TRUMP
Normalization was foreshadowed in an article appealing to Democrats just before the election:
Don’t worry, Democrats. A Trump presidency would be a third Obama term… While Trump attacks President Barack Obama on the campaign trail as “the worst president, maybe in the history of our country,” on issue after issue Trump has mimicked not only Obama’s policies but also Obama’s own language to argue for them.
After the election, the press shifted to this view — Donald Trump should be given a chance to be less outrageous. He should be given a chance to moderate his positions. He should be advised by the press to adopt its recommendations.
With protests rising throughout the nation, Democratic leaders rushed to normalize the results. President Barack Obama was “rooting for his success.” Hillary Clinton claimed we “owe him an open mind.” The Democratic establishment did not seem to mind the party losing. Most of them still had their jobs. Hillary Clinton will reap benefits from her business friends.
In the first post-election interview of Donald Trump, Lesley Stahl of program 60 minutes described him as a man with a “sense of gravity.”
Even National Review, a once vigorous Donald Trump opponent, joined the normalization bandwagon in a piece ironically entitled, “Who ‘Normalized’ Trump? Liberal Pundits.” First, the article complained about Democratic partisans normalizing Donald Trump. Then, the article compared Trump to Clinton, effectively normalizing Donald Trump itself.
LIMITED CHANGE IN DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Democrats elected pro-war Senator Chuck Schumer to lead them in the Senate. Representative Nancy Pelosi is running to hold Democratic Minority Leader in the House. Former independent Senator Bernie Sanders was given a new token position in the party.
A COMEDY OF ERRORS
Some say the surprise and shock by the stunning upset proved how remarkably ignorant the establishment was. Some say they did not foresee these novel forces that would give the White House to a genuine outsider. So the narrative goes.
But events since the election indicate otherwise:
In the final hours of the election, stock markets tumbled. But immediately afterward, markets were just fine as the next few days saw record highs.
Leaders in vote suppression gained top consideration in the Donald Trump administration. Outspoken opponent of the Voting Rights Act and major supporter of voting restrictions Jeff Sessions was named Attorney General. Mastermind of the Crosscheck voter purge system Kris Kobach is being considered for Homeland Security Secretary. Unlimited campaign spending guru David Bossie is now on his transition team. Soon, there could be a major Democrat join on the Donald Trump side of the partisan divide. Normalization complete.
The mainstream press, which spent so much effort on identity group politics before the election, reversed course. For example, suddenly, The New York Times declared “The End of Identity Liberalism.” siding with Fox News to “laugh” at issues of diversity — and discouraging continued activism in this area.
These establishment powers got exactly what they wanted.
This entire election was likely the well-planned result of a bipartisan establishment set-up. While it was possible that it could have failed, as happened in 2012 (see above), it wound up succeeding. Now, stock market elites and masterminds of the plan begin to reap the rewards. Hope and change remains elusive.
REPUBLICANS ARE PREPARED TO MAINTAIN CONTROL
The 2016 election was no fluke or last gasps of the minority party. Republicans are well prepared to maintain majority control for years to come. On one hand, Donald Trump can rush through their dream economic agenda. On the other hand, if it becomes necessary, Republicans can discredit Donald Trump and remove him from power — blaming their own agenda on the “outsider” and becoming heroes to those Democrats who would applaud such a removal. Republicans will not face election difficulties in 2018 because the Senate race naturally favors of Republicans.
THE EULOGY WAS CORRECT
In 2004, after George W. Bush received a second term in the White House, David R. Hoffman wrote up a chilling “Eulogy for America.”
Ladies and gentlemen, we gather here today to mourn the passing of the United States of America, a nation that once stood as a beacon light of hope for the world. America was betrayed and murdered on November 2, 2004. Also killed during this time of madness were the following virtues: truth, justice, integrity, freedom, compassion, brotherhood, tolerance, faith, hope, charity, peace, and respect for other cultures and nations …
But dark days are ahead my friends, and perhaps the best we can hope for as this maelstrom of evil engulfs us is that we do not succumb to its allure, lest we become, like those who murdered America on November 2, 2004, people without souls.
The dark days have continued ever since. There will be no chance to rebuild America unless and until we face our electoral demons and restore our rights to vote and have our votes counted.
We also need to discern truth out of information sources — without instituting massive censorship and without falling prey to negative attacks. Prepare for a second Donald Trump term — especially if Chuck Schumer runs against him.