In a few days the election, and what to many Americans is a political nightmare, will be over. But will it? Who can imagine Trump graciously disappearing from the scene if he loses, or for that matter Hillary. He is likely to parlay his greater celebrity into a new enterprise, and she into another run with the same political cronies at her side. The character of these candidates and the language of politics both outrage, although the seeds for the latter were sown a long time ago.
Rush Limbaugh was a disc jockey in the 1980s, until he initiated a career in radio commentary. No holding back was his style. Blend in humor, extreme right-wing positions and a gloves-off stance in his criticism of his opposition, and he now commands an audience of 13 million listeners and numerous imitators ranting on local radio across the nation. It has accustomed vast numbers of Americans to a tone of disrespect alien to civil discourse and polite disagreement.
On the television front, Roger Ailes a long-time Republican political operator helped Rupert Murdoch in building up his Fox News into the top rated cable news channel. Mr. Ailes’ formula used the Limbaugh script jazzed up for television. Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, the loud conservative commentators, delivered the red meat to an increasing viewership, while serious journalism supplemented them with increasing respectability. The previously invincible Ailes might have been forced out due to numerous sexual improprieties but the channel’s significance is now undeniable — it hosted one of the presidential debates in this election.
Andrew Breitbart, after stints at the Drudge Report and Huffington Post, started Breitbart.com. With current Alexa rankings of 134 in the US and 746 globally, it remains one of the most successful right-wing sites. Its formula also appeals to the outrage of the deprived — Donald Trump’s favorite demographic. Again, in the footsteps of Limbaugh, the site targets liberalism — ‘limousine liberals’ taking advantage of hard-working Americans, shipping jobs overseas often in league with RINOs (Republicans in name only) who have betrayed their constituents.
Young Andrew Breitbart died of a heart attack in 2012 at he age of 43. The site has been run since by Stephen K. Bannon, who is now the official chief executive of the Trump campaign. It was Mr. Trump’s poke-in-the-eye to the Republican establishment.
Should he lose the election, can anyone seriously believe this penultimate spinner of outrage will retire in silence. No, his enhanced celebrity and his billions open up another business opportunity an entrepreneur like Trump is unlikely to miss. Trump TV comes to mind. If Andrew Breitbart did do well without any financial backing, the prospect of a well-funded Trump media behemoth is not difficult to imagine. After all, the time is ripe as the audience for Fox News and Limbaugh et al continues to age.
The new investigations of Hillary Clinton’s emails attached to a sordid case has cut her lead into a virtual tie, and there is now a distinct possibility Trump will win. And if he wins?
Well, we have come to expect the unexpected. Obama’s ‘change’ became ‘more of the same’ and the Nobel Peace Laureate has bequeathed seven wars, a refugee crisis in Europe, hundreds of thousands dead, and confrontation with Russia, the other major nuclear power. Amidst all the spewed hatred, Trump’s views on Putin and Russia might well diffuse this dangerous tension.
Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor. A frequent contributor to the print and electronic media, his work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.