The confetti has been swept, the speeches given and stories written. On TV pundits will continue to opine on the national and local ramifications of this race or that, but for all intents and purposes our long national nightmare is finally over.
This presidential campaign has been the most vile, heated and vacuous in recent memory. Baseless accusations and adolescent name-calling were the norm. Regardless of who won, the loser was determined long ago — the public at large.
Voters have been denied any consideration of the issues and policies that affect Americans and the world.
Neither candidate was asked about climate change in the presidential debates. An outside observer could be forgiven for confusing email servers as the most pressing issue facing humanity today instead of climate change and the almost irreversible threat of global sea level rise.
Any conversation about the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, or any government endeavor to collect massive amounts of data from unsuspecting Americans also was absent from the national political debate.
The fourth amendment protects Americans from “unwarranted search and seizure,” yet programs exposed by whistleblower Eric Snowden continue, unexamined by candidates or the voting public alike.
As of Election Day, the U.S. military is involved in combat operations in seven countries — all majority Muslim. The U.S. is participating in ongoing bombing campaigns in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya. The method of attack for many bombings are drones, a controversial tactic that leaves people on the ground living in fear of the low-flying craft, never knowing if the mission is surveillance or bombing.
The U.S. drone assassination program is rife with problems. As found by The Intercept in 2015 after a whistleblower leaked details of the program, the targets of drone strikes are identified chiefly via electronic intelligence gathering. Civilians and even U.S. citizens have been killed inadvertently. Each assassination, or “targeted killing,” as government officials euphemistically call them, is made possible by the congressional Authorization for use of Military Force (AUMF). The AUMF was enacted by congress in 2001 to give the president the authority to use military force against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
Any debate on the drone war, targeted killing or ongoing bombing justified under the 15-year-old AUMF was also absent from the 2016 presidential campaign despite both candidates’ claims that fighting terrorism was a top foreign policy concern.
As of Nov. 9, the real loser of this election was the American people. Voters have been fed a reality-show, a prolonged episode of the Real Housewives instead of an election. They have been asked to consider the vulgarity of a populist madman against a career politician with a long history of cooked-up controversies.
Voters have not been asked to think critically about the real problems faced by their nation or the planet at large. No candidate has been asked to justify domestic surveillance or the continued extrajudicial killing of civilians and alleged terrorists overseas. It is safe to assume these problem policies will continue under the new administration with little to no public scrutiny.
But hey, it sure made for great TV.