November Nightmare: The US Presidency Will Be Won By The Candidate Selling The Most Convincing Fantasy


Many of Donald Trump’s policies are as fanciful as they are terrifying, but Hillary Clinton’s establishment embrace is also delusional and dangerous, not to mention a terrible election strategy, writes Liam McLoughlin.

“I play to people’s fantasies. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.”

– Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal

“Truth is irrelevant. Those who succeed in politics, as in most of the culture, are those who create the most convincing fantasies.”

– Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Donald Trump lies once every three minutes and fifteen seconds. He lies at least four times as much as Hillary Clinton. Who do voters see as more “honest and trustworthy”? Why the man with the “winning temperament” of course.

If this woman-hating, immigrant-bashing, self-aggrandising, lie-peddling reality TV star who would be President has taught us anything, it’s that truth is largely irrelevant to contemporary politics. The capacity to craft convincing fantasies is far more valuable.

Who will sell the more believable fantasy?

Will it be the racist demagogue who promises to “Make America Great Again” by building walls and deporting immigrants?


Or will it be the consummate political insider, who after years of courting Wall St, lobbying for polluters, bombing civilians and inflaming terrorism, promises progressive social, economic and environmental change?

In the first debate, Clinton said Trump was living in his own reality. Makes sense, considering in his reality he’s “much more humble than you would understand”.

But the same could be said about Clinton.

The Democratic Presidential nominee positions herself as a harbinger of change. According to her website, “we need to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top”. She promises to “make sure the wealthy, Wall Street and corporations pay their fair share in taxes”.

Judging by her record, this is an unpersuasive fable.

It’s hard to believe that a candidate whose top donors have included JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup will be too keen to take on Wall St.

It’s hard to accept Clinton will be a champion of fairness when as first lady she advocated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and to this day defends her husband’s economic record.

Especially when you read former New York Times foreign correspondent and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges’ analysis:

“The rise of a demagogue like Donald Trump is a direct result of the Democratic Party’s decision to embrace neoliberalism, become a handmaiden of American imperialism and sell us out for corporate money. There would be no Trump if Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party had not betrayed working men and women with the North American Free Trade Agreement, destroyed the welfare system, nearly doubled the prison population, slashed social service programs, turned the airwaves over to a handful of corporations by deregulating the Federal Communications Commission, ripped down the firewalls between commercial and investment banks that led to a global financial crash and prolonged recession, and begun a war on our civil liberties that has left us the most monitored, eavesdropped, photographed and profiled population in human history.”

In Clinton’s reality, she will “tackle the threat of climate change and make America the world’s clean energy superpower”.

It’s hard to trust that a woman who as Secretary of State promoted fracking around the world through the Global Shale Gas Initiative, and personally lobbied for Chevron, will be too fussed with a clean energy revolution.

Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. (IMAGE: iprimages, Flickr)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. (IMAGE: iprimages, Flickr)

It’s hard to have much faith in a candidate who, according to author and climate activist Bill McKibben, opposed “a fracking ban, a carbon tax, a prohibition against drilling or mining fossil fuels on public lands, a climate litmus test for new developments, [and]an end to World Bank financing of fossil fuel plants” in the drafting of the Democratic Party platform.

It’s hard to credit Clinton’s commitment to climate justice when she “dropped climate change from speeches after Bernie Sanders endorsement”.

The former Secretary of State is also selling her ability to “combat terrorism and keep the homeland safe”.

Her escalation of the war in Afghanistan, support for intervention in Libya, calls for strikes in Syria, support for ongoing military activities in Iraq, and cheerleading for Israel’s policies in Gaza seem a funny way of going about it.

And let’s not forget the 200-1000 civilians killed since 2008 in drone strikes in countries where America was not at war.

This contest is much less about the truth of America’s broken economic and political systems, as it was in the Sanders campaign, and much more about competing fantasies for America’s future.

Considering the election will be won by the candidate who spins the most convincing fairy-tale, the fact that Clinton’s establishment fantasies are so unconvincing is deeply troubling. By clinging to the illusions of the status quo, Hillary is betting the American people will find Donald’s fantasies even less convincing.

I wouldn’t put money on it.

Though both candidates speak of deceitful fictions, there’s no doubt some fictions are more damaging than others.

US presidential candidate for the Republican Party, Donald Trump. (IMAGE: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)
US presidential candidate for the Republican Party, Donald Trump. (IMAGE: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

Without a progressive mass movement, another Clinton presidency portends worsening inequality, an ever more suffocating corporate stranglehold on US society, global climate destabilisation, nuclear proliferation, escalating militarism, terrorism, and the prospect of World War Three.

President Trump promises all these things too, he’ll just deliver them more efficiently.

With a progressive mass movement, at least President Clinton will be forced to back away from her more aggressive neoliberal fantasies.

Trump will just bring in the storm troopers.

Liam McLoughlin teaches English, politics, and media, and writes a bit. You can find his stuff at Situation Theatre or on Facebook and Twitter. He still can’t decide which quote is more profound: Karl Marx’s “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness” or Stewart Lee’s “David Cameron and Ed Milliband are about as different as two rats fighting over a courgette that has fallen into a urinal. The main difference being that the David Cameron rat is wearing chinos, in an attempt to win over the youth voter”.