The Closing Arguments

The Eve of Destruction – of all of the pretentious songs from the sixties, and there were many of them, that one was the worst of the lot. It was offered to The Byrds – they rejected it. Pretentious posturing just isn’t cool – that’s what rock ‘n’ roll was trying to defeat, after all. They passed on it. Barry McGuire, however, recorded it for Dunhill in 1965 and made a big hit out of its premise – the world is coming to an end because our leaders are fools, and everyone is blind, and we’re all going to die, and there’re not a damned thing anyone can do about it. There is no hope.

Perhaps so, but there was the pure nihilistic anger of uninformed youth – there was a lot of money to be made there, and of course the song was banned by some radio stations in this country, as well as by the BBC and Radio Scotland. The message was dangerous. It was, basically, against everything. Everyone was lying. Only the singer could see how oblivious everyone else was, even if everything listed was actually rather obvious, and serious people had been working on the issues all along. A few months later, in response, that Green Beret medic, Sergeant Barry Sadler, released the hyper-patriotic Ballad of the Green Berets – and more followed. If you don’t like the way things are, you do something about them, you don’t strike a tragic pose to impress the girls. Hyper-patriotism will do. America – love it or leave it. Go fight for your country. Get your sorry ass over to Vietnam. Quit whining.

That was the sixties in a nutshell. Years later, after Barry McGuire suddenly got all evangelical and born again, he refused to perform his one big hit – until he modified the lyrics. It just needed to be tweaked so it wasn’t entirely callow and stupid – but of course the original Eve of Destruction song would not have been such a big hit had it not tapped into the way some people were feeling at the time. Youthful posturing aside, sometimes it does feel as if the world is going to hell, and rather quickly, and on many fronts at once, and that there are no good answers to anything anymore. Sometimes only one person can see how oblivious everyone else is, even if everything is actually rather obvious, and serious people have been working on the issues all along. That one person ends up singing that old Barry McGuire song – only that person can see what’s really going on.

That’s the song that Donald Trump has been singing and it’s a bit of a hit again. Just change the sixties-left lyrics to the angry white-nationalist stuff – brown people are pouring across our border and they’re rapists and drug dealers and murderers, and the Muslims are coming too – they’re out to kill us all – and all the nations of the world are laughing at us. They take our jobs and take our money – even our allies do that. And that Black Lives Matter group is a racist hate group – out to kill white cops, or all cops. And who have the Democrats nominated? Hillary Clinton is a crook and she should be in jail, or will be soon – and she’s part of an international conspiracy, with the bankers, perhaps the Rothschild family and the Illuminati, to take over the world.

We are on the eve of destruction. Why doesn’t anyone see this? Well, one man can see this – and because he alone can see this, only he alone can fix it all. That’s the song Donald Trump has been singing for a year and a half now, and it has been a hit. He was singing that the day before the election:

In one of a handful of final campaign rallies before Election Day, Donald Trump painted a grim picture of the state of America, saying “the world hates us,” and promising his administration would catalyze a radical transformation of the country.

“This election will decide whether we are ruled by a corrupt political class – you’re seeing what’s happening, everybody’s watching – or whether we’re ruled by the people,” Trump began in Raleigh, North Carolina on Monday, marking the start of a largely fatalistic final pitch to voters in the state.

“The failed political establishment has delivered nothing but poverty, nothing but problems, nothing but losses. Nothing but losses, we don’t win anymore as a country,” he said.

And he alone can fix that:

Trump promised the crowd, “That will change tomorrow.”

“You have one day until the election to make every dream you’ve ever dreamed for your country and your family to come true,” Trump said, nearing the end of his remarks.

“We are just one day away from the change you have been waiting for your entire life.”

He will save us from destruction. We’ll leave the hell-hole we’re in. Jamelle Bouie has more detail:

We are hours from the end of the campaign, and Trump is ending it the way he started: demonizing immigrants, nonwhites, and religious minorities, and blaming them for America’s problems.

The first swing came on Saturday, when Trump released the closing ad of his campaign. “The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election,” warns Trump in the video, which quotes from an address he gave last month in West Palm Beach, Florida. “For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind.”

Trump’s speech in Florida was roundly condemned as anti-Semitic for its use of anti-Jewish tropes. With his latest ad, Trump leaned into those tropes, interspersing this slam on “global special interests” with photos of George Soros, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, all Jewish. The message is clear – Jewish elites threaten American sovereignty – and blatantly anti-Semitic, with a lineage that includes Henry Ford’s The International Jew and the even more infamous The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

And then he dove deeper:

Not content to end his campaign by just indulging the ur-prejudice of the Western world, Donald Trump made a Sunday campaign stop in Minnesota to spread a different message of xenophobia and hate. “She wants virtually unlimited immigration and refugee admissions, from the most dangerous regions of the world, to come into our country and to come into Minnesota, and you know it better than anybody,” Trump said, referring to Clinton. “Her plan will import generations of terrorism, extremism, and radicalism into your schools and throughout your community. You already have it.”

Trump’s last line was a reference to Minnesota’s substantial Somali population, which includes many refugees. “Here in Minnesota,” he said, “you’ve seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state with your knowledge, without your support or approval. … And with some of them then joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world.”

“You’ve suffered enough in Minnesota,” Trump said, promising to block further refugees.

Bouie has a problem with that:

The United States has strict procedures for vetting refugees, with a process that can last up to two years. As for Somali Americans, the vast majority are ordinary, law-abiding citizens and residents. While there is a problem with radicalization among some younger members of the community, they represent a distinct minority. And joint efforts between local groups and the federal government have had some success in combating the factors that foster extremism. Trump undermines those efforts with his message of fear and hostility. Worse, he stokes the kind of atmosphere that turns refugees into targets for domestic terrorists, such as the three men in Garden City, Kansas, who were recently arrested for an alleged plot to bomb an apartment complex with a number of Somali American residents.

Well there is that, and there was this:

As if to emphasize this closing message of prejudice and xenophobia, the Republican presidential nominee also announced a campaign stop in Michigan with Ted Nugent, a musician and right-wing political activist known for extremist positions and violent, racist rhetoric. Earlier this year, Nugent said that President Obama and Hillary Clinton should be “tried for treason and hung” for the deaths in Benghazi, Libya. “You can’t vote for liars,” said the musician while stumping for Trump on Sunday. “You can’t vote for scam artists. You can’t vote for people who take from producers and give it to the blood-suckers anymore.”

This is the eve of destruction, apparently, but Bouie sees nothing surprising here:

Trump kicked off his political career with birtherism. He inaugurated his presidential campaign with xenophobia. He grew his base with the promise of a ban on Muslims and a wall with Mexico. Yes, he brought a kind of free-form economic populism to the Republican Party. But his passion has always been this vision of a whites-only America, defined in opposition to racial enemies.

Now, with the end of the campaign in sight, his promise is simple. If elected, he will redeem the country from the illegitimate presidency of Barack Obama and restore the pride and dominance of white Americans. He will punish his opponents – Lock her up! – and protect American “sovereignty” from “globalists.” This is the message that defeated his opponents in the Republican primary. This is the message that brings the crowds and the adoration. This is the message that will define his presidency.

Donald Trump’s closing tour is an affirmation of his entire political movement.

But of course it doesn’t end there. Tessa Berenson covers what’s next:

To hear Donald Trump tell it, Tuesday’s results will either save or ruin the country. Americans will emerge from Election Day ascendant with a strong new leader who heeds their cries, or they will plunge into a dystopian future of hopelessness and violence.

“It’s our last chance,” Trump said in early November in Pennsylvania. But here’s what Trump actually says will happen if he loses to Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8.

First, he has said the nation could face a messy fight around the election results themselves. Trump declined to promise at the final presidential debate that he would accept the election results regardless of outcome. “I’ll keep you in suspense,” he said. The following day at a rally in Ohio, he elaborated: “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election – if I win,” he said.

So in the event of a Trump loss, he’s hinted at challenging the results or calling for a re-count similar to 2000.

Well, we lived through that. That might not be so bad, but think again:

Trump surrogate Roger Stone has gone further, saying there will be a “bloodbath” if Democrats “steal” the election.

But if Trump either doesn’t challenge the results or does and is still found to be the loser, he has said that Hillary Clinton would be tried for crimes in office and impeached. Two nights before the election, he said Clinton’s time in office would be “likely to conclude in a criminal trial.” On Nov. 2, he said, “If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, it would create an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis,” and raised the specter of impeachment: “Haven’t we just been through a lot with the Clintons?” he said. “Remember when [Bill Clinton] was impeached for lying? … Didn’t we just go through this?”

And then things get really dark:

While President Clinton is being impeached and tried for crimes, Trump says outside Washington, the country will be beset by violence at the hands of immigrants and refugees. He often recites victims of violent crimes committed by undocumented immigrants at his rallies – Earl Olander, “brutally beaten and left to bleed to death in his home. The perpetrators were illegal immigrants with criminal records a mile long but who did not meet the Obama Administration’s priorities for removal”; Marilyn Pharis, “sexually assaulted and beaten to death with a hammer. Her killer had been arrested on multiple occasions but was never deported”; and many others.

“This is a crime wave that never ends. I can tell you it’s thousands of cases like this,” Trump said at the end of October, pledging to build a border wall. “There goes your country, folks” he said the day before the election, saying Clinton wants “open borders.”

“Hillary Clinton’s plan will import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities,” he said in November, pledging to end the Syrian refugee program.

And then things get even darker:

As violence pours over the borders and the nation’s President is embroiled in political scandal and criminal trials, Trump predicts an Orwellian system in which his supporters are controlled by the government and manipulated with biased media reports.

“When the people who control the political power in our society can rig investigations, can rig polls – you see these phony polls – and rig the media, they can wield absolute power over your life, your economy and your country, and benefit big time by it,” he said at the end of October.

This man sees only darkness. That’s the song he’s singing. Yes, the “eve of destruction” song always finds an audience, but there’s another song:

Campaigning for Hillary Clinton on the eve of the election, President Barack Obama told voters that he was still “as optimistic as ever about the future.”

“We now have the chance to elect a 45th president who will build on our progress, who will finish the job,” Obama told attendees at a rally in Philadelphia.

He said that Clinton is “as well prepared as anyone who has ever run – more than me, more than Bill,” and praised her experience before pivoting to discuss the election itself.

“At times, it’s felt more like a reality show or even a parody,” Obama said. “The choice you face when you step into that voting booth could not be more clear and could not be more serious.”

In short, this “eve of destruction” stuff has gotten out of hand:

He ended his address by recounting a question from a journalist who asked Obama if he still believed in change.

“Yes,” Obama said. “I still believe in hope and I’m still as optimistic as ever about the future and that’s because of you, the American people.”

“I always had the better odds, because I always got to bet on you,” he added. “I am betting that, tomorrow, you will reject fear and choose hope.”

That was Hillary’s closing argument:

Hillary Clinton made her closing argument to voters at a rally Monday night, asking them to “believe in an inclusive and big-hearted America.”

Clinton opened her speech in Philadelphia by thanking President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“I’m proud that I had the chance to serve in President Obama’s cabinet and I am proud that I could watch the extraordinary service of our first lady,” she said. “Like them, I love America and I know you do too. We love this country. We love what it stands for, not that we are blind to its flaws, its problems, its challenges. But I believe with all my heart that America’s best days are still ahead of us if we reach for them together.”

She seems to think it’s time to walk away from the darkness:

She cited Khizr Khan’s speech at a rally in support of her on Sunday, in which he asked if his deceased son, Capt. Humayun Khan, would have a place in Donald Trump’s America.

“That’s an important question for all of us. Because we don’t want to shrink the vision of this great country,” Clinton said. “We want to keep expanding it, so that everyone has a place to pursue your dreams, your aspirations, the future that you want to create for yourselves and everyone else.”

She asked voters to keep that in mind when they go to vote on Election Day.

“Think about that when you go to the polls tomorrow. Think about how throughout our history generations of Americans just like us have come together to meet the tests of their time,” Clinton said.

“Every issue you care about is at stake and that is just the beginning, because we have to bridge the divides in our country,” she said. “I regret deeply how angry the tone of the campaign became.”

“Not your fault!” a member of the crowd shouted, to cheers. Clinton smiled.

Clinton smiled at the obvious:

Clinton emphasized the themes of unity and inclusivity in rallies earlier Monday, asking voters to “rise above all of this hate-filled rhetoric” in favor of “love and kindness” in her remarks at campaign events in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Allendale, Michigan.

She concluded her speech by asking voters to think about what they will tell their grandchildren about the 2016 election.

“I want you to be able to say that you did vote. You voted for an inclusive, big-hearted, open-minded country, future that will make sure that we all keep moving together,” Clinton said. “You voted for an America where we build bridges, not walls. And maybe most importantly you voted in great numbers to demonstrate conclusively, once and for all, that yes – love trumps hate.”

Those three words are getting tiresome, but the general idea is that we’re not on the eve of destruction. We’re not all gonna die, and only Donald Trump can save us. We may be on the eve of something else. That something might be just fine.

Those were the closing arguments, but the best closing argument came from a third party. Ana Navarro is a Republican strategist and a CNN commentator, and she was national Hispanic campaign chairwoman for John McCain in 2008, and national Hispanic co-chair for Jon Huntsman’s 2012 campaign, and so forth and so on, and she’s voting for Clinton. These are some of her reasons:

I voted against Donald Trump because I am an immigrant. Trump has spent this campaign focusing on the very bad things done by a very small group of very bad immigrants. He has portrayed immigrants as criminals, rapists, and murderers. He does not talk about the contributions immigrants have made to America. He does not talk about immigrants who have made this a better and stronger country. He does not talk about the thousands and thousands of immigrant names that fill the Vietnam Wall in Washington or that are carved on so many headstones in every US military cemetery around the world.

I voted against Donald Trump because I am Hispanic. On June 16, 2015, the first day of his campaign, Trump called Mexicans “rapists.” I was not born in Mexico. I am not of Mexican descent. But I knew he was also talking about me.

I voted against Donald Trump for every American who looks and sounds like me. Because we love this country. We are proud of this country. We stand as equals in the United States of America.

I voted against Donald Trump because of 8-year-old Alessia. She is my best friend’s daughter. Alessia was born in Miami. Both her U.S.-citizen parents were born in Venezuela. Alessia can’t sleep at night. She is afraid that if Trump becomes president, her parents will be forced to leave our country.

I voted against Donald Trump because of Judge Gonzalo Curiel. He was born in the United States to poor Mexican immigrant parents. Judge Curiel is the federal judge assigned to the Trump University case. Trump dismissively called Judge Curiel “Mexican” and attacked his ability to perform his job impartially because of his descent. Attacking another American’s qualifications solely based on his ethnic background is bigotry. Plain and simple.

In the midst of the Judge Curiel controversy, I rode a taxicab in D.C. The driver was an African immigrant. He told me he worked 14 hours a day, six days a week, so his three children could one day be professionals. He teared up telling me he feared that if Trump became president, his children’s ability to be professionals would be questioned because their father happened to have been born in Ethiopia. I voted against Trump for that man and his three children.

But this isn’t only a Hispanic thing:

I voted against Donald Trump because of Senator John McCain. I consider him a national hero. Like generations of McCains before and after him, John McCain wore our nation’s uniform. He enlisted at the age of 17. He was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He spent five years in captivity being savagely tortured. Trump doesn’t consider him a hero. Trump likes people “who weren’t captured.” Yes, the same Trump who avoided the draft at least four times because of a foot spur. He doesn’t remember on which foot.

I voted against Donald Trump because of Serge Kovaleski. That’s the name of the reporter with a disability who Trump mimicked and mocked. And I voted against Trump because of Daniel Navarro, my severely disabled brother. My entire life, I have been pained and angered seeing young kids stare at him and mimic his disability. I had never seen a grown man mimic a disabled person. Trump did so in front of thousands of people at one of his rallies. In front of millions of people watching on TV. Most of us would punish our children for exhibiting such behavior.

And there’s this:

I voted against Donald Trump because of all women in my life who have been sexually harassed or assaulted and remained silent, bearing the embarrassment, even shame, for years. I heard Trump on tape boast and laugh about being a celebrity and getting away with grabbing women and not being able to contain himself from kissing women. He explained it away as “locker room” talk. Trump was not a teen-age athlete when he said those words. He was a 59-year-old businessman. Sexual assault is no laughing matter. It is a crime.

I voted against Donald Trump because of Megyn Kelly, and Rosie O’Donnell and Alicia Machado and Carly Fiorina and Heidi Cruz and so many other women Trump has called, “bimbo” or “fat,” or “ugly” or objectified and demeaned.

Now add this:

I voted against Trump because of Mr. and Mrs. Khan, the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, who lost his life in Iraq in 2004. I voted against Trump because of my friends, Retired General John Kelly and Karen Kelly, who lost their son, 1st Lieutenant Robert M. Kelly in 2010 in Afghanistan. I voted against Donald Trump for all the Gold Star families who have endured the unbearable and incurable pain of losing a child, a spouse, a parent, a sibling fighting for our country. Trump somehow managed to compare the sacrifice of losing a son to the “sacrifice” of erecting a building. I have no words.

And add this:

I worry that Trump brings out the worst in America. Division. Hostility. Racism. Bigotry. Misogyny. Things we used to hide. Feelings we used to try to overcome. Under the guise of not cowing to political correctness, some people are no longer embarrassed or ashamed to show the warts on their souls.

Some tell me that in 2016 we should no longer expect the president of the United States to be a role model. I refuse to accept that.

That’s just some of it. Donald Trump may actually believe we’re on the eve of destruction, or all of it may be no more than a clever strategy to win votes – it’s hard to tell what he believes – but none of it justifies any of what Navarro documents. And there are those of us who always hated that Barry McGuire song anyway. We’re all gonna die! We’re all gonna die!

No we’re not. We’re going to vote.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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