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A Simple Observation

New Mexico has been a battlefield state in past presidential elections, most recently in 2000 and 2004, but Obama carried it easily both times, and of late it has been trending blue. So much so that until very recently it was considered safe for Clinton this time around, which meant that neither side was paying us much attention.

That's changed in the last couple of weeks. All of a sudden, it is thought that the Land of Enchantment is in play, and we're seeing campaign commercials for both sides daily, often hourly. All summer our airwaves were blessedly free of those, but now one can't escape them. Some of them are positive ads, about the wonderful things the candidates is going to do for us... but the vast majority are negative, attacking the opponent. Sadly, that seems to have become the default setting for politics in this 21st century of ours.

Watching them, however, a very huge and basic difference struck me.

The Trump commercials are all fairly standard political attack ads. You've seen a thousand like them. Find some bad pictures of the opponent, in this case Hillary, pictures that make them look ugly or angry or crazed (easily done, there are thousands of unflattering pictures of any public figure floating around these days). If they are not bad enough, put them up in black & white, which always seems to make them worse. Juxtapose them with negative imagery, maybe some out of context headlines. Use a faceless narrator's voice over the pictures telling us that the candidate is corrupt or a liar or "too extreme." The latest Trump ad manages to add Anthony Weiner, who is called "Pervert Anthony Weiner." The blatant name-calling -- flinging around words like 'pervert' and 'crooked' -- is not something we have often seen before in American politics, unless you go back to the 18th and 19th centuries; that's Trump's own original ugly contribution to lowering the tenor of political discourse. The rest, however, is Attack Ad 101.

What's notable here is that the whole thing is accusation. It's one side calling the other side names. If any political positions are presented, they are usually distorted. Smith says Jones is corrupt. Jones says Smith is a liar. Smith says Jones voted for something unpopular. Jones says Smith favors something vile. Trump's ads against Hillary tick every box here. They are made of assertion, innuendo, and name-calling, but there's no substance to them.

Clinton's ads are something else. Very different, and -- to my mind -- much more truthful. The star of all the Clinton ads in Donald J. Trump. There are no deliberately unflattering photographs, however. Nothing in black and white. Just video clips, full color, professional footage from news cameras at his rallies, interviews, television appearances. There's no name-calling either. Clinton doesn't need to label Trump as "crooked" or "a liar" or link him with "perverts." Clinton's ads just show Trump being Trump.

So what we have here is not Smith claiming that Jones said terrible things. What we have is actual footage of Jones saying and doing those things. No one has to accuse Trump of anything, he has laid it all out there in public for the world to see.

Yes, he mocked a disabled reporter. There he is, doing it.

Yes, he told Billy Bush he liked to kiss women without their consent and grab them by their pussies. There he is, boasting about it. When you're a star, you can do anything.

No need to accuse Trump of going into the dressing rooms of Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pagaents when the contestants were changing so he could see them naked. There's Trump himself, telling Howard Stern about it.

Yes, he said women should be punished for having abortions. There he is, telling Chris Matthews. His own words, his own face.

Yes, he said he wants to ban all Muslims from entering the US. Here, see the clip.

Yes, he's in favor of Japan and Saudi Arabia and South Korea having nukes, here's the clip where he says so.

And on and on and on and on. The Gold Star family, the bad hombres, Judge Curiel, the Miss Universe contestant... his own speeches, his own tweets, his own words.

The usual pattern in election is that Smith says Jones said something terrible, and Jones denies it. Not so here. Hillary does not need to use the sort of hoary attack ads that Trump is using. She only needs to present him as he is, and let his own words condemn them.

And they do.

In my lifetime, there has never been a presidential candidate more unfit to lead this nation.

You don't need to like Hillary. You don't need to listen to what Hillary says about Trump, or what I say about Trump. You just need to listen to Trump. If you can do that, and still consider voting for him... well...

Pappy Bush lost an election by looking at his watch. Michael Dukakis lost an election by riding around in a tank. Howard Dean lost an election by giving a yeeeehah scream. Trivial things. Insignificant things. Trump, on the other hand, has said the vilest things any presidential candidate has said since George Wallace, and he's rising in the polls.

He has boasted that he could shoot someone dead on Fifth Avenue and still not lose any votes. I am beginning to think he was right.



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Nov. 4th, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC)
Hello Mr. Martin
If anyone knows about politics it's you!
Truer words have never been spoken. I, too, live in Santa Fe and I, too, am nervous about the election. I lost my "I voted" sticker and I was really looking forward to the free popcorn. I am too shy to say hello when I see you in town, but next time, maybe I will. Hugs!
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:00 pm (UTC)
I'll just say I'm happy I don't have to make this choice. Really don't envy the Americans this time.
Blair Batchelor
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:01 pm (UTC)
Well said
Very true George,

If you could come over to the UK and simplify our situation for some others it would be appreciated.

Anthony Callahan
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:07 pm (UTC)
George, I understand that you favor Hillary over Trump, but when you start telling lies you make yourself look as bad as them. There's 3 of them you just listed that stood right out as blatantly false.
1. Trump did not say "ban all muslims". He said to temporarily ban them until we find a way to vet them. That's a big difference from straight up banning them. Almost every high ranking Defense expert has said that ISIS will infiltrate the refugee flow. Are we racist now if we dont let the enemy onto our shores?
2. Trump did not mock that disabled reporter. He did the same exact thing talking about Ted Cruz and him being flustered and no one said a word. The reporter in question had a deformed arm. Trump is clearly shaking both arms and stuttering the same way someone who is panicking would be. If the reporter had cerebral palsy I would say yes. But come on, when I see that I do not see how that is making fun of someone with 1 deformed hand.
3. This is your most blatant one. Chris Matthews asked Trump a hypothetical, saying if abortion were to be outlawed, should there be punishment for those who get them? Trump clearly responded that the law is the law and you shouldn't be allowed to break them even if you disagree with them. Just because you don't like a law doesn't mean you can break it and get a free ride.
I'm not big fan of Trump myself, and I wont even begin to defend some of the other insane things he has said. But can we atleast be truthful and not misleading?
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:20 pm (UTC)
There are no lies in my post. The videos are right there for everyone to see.

1. Yes, if we ban all Muslims -- even "temporarily" -- for fear a few may be ISIS sympathizers, that's racist. And unAmerican. Vet them, sure. We already vet them. The vast majority are desperate people trying to get AWAY from ISIS, many of them women and children. Will there be a few bad guys in there? Sure. There have been bad guys in every wave of immigrants to come to America, a handful in among all the good ones. Bad Irish, bad Germans, bad Italians. That doesn't mean we shut the doors. We're the land of the free and the home of the BRAVE, remember?

2. So mocking a guy with cerebral palsy would be a no-no, but mocking a stutterer with a deformed arm is okay? Really?? No, sorry, it was disgusting and offensive. Can you imagine Ronald Reagan doing that? John F. Kennedy? Obama, Eisenhower, ANYONE?

3. Again, the tape is there. Hypothetical question or not, that was his answer. Hypothetical questions are still questions, and the way one answers them gives insight into the way one thinks.

Edited at 2016-11-04 08:42 pm (UTC)
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Traci Bear Thiele
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:09 pm (UTC)
Need a word.
My friends and I have been having a lengthy discussion in the last few days. We are discussing ways to talk to people with opposing viewpoints without making them feel insulted. We have tossed about key words that might open people up, to a new way of thinking. You cannot use most words that normally mean "someone who believes lies" because the moment you let someone know you don't agree with them anything you say will sound like an insult.

Words normally acceptable like 'naive' or 'gullible' are considered too abrasive. I am climbing the mountain to speek to the wise master You are the Maester of Words.

Do you have a word or two, that might let someone know you think they may be wrong, and you want them to consider another view. Its a balancing act. Just one word, or two, or a simple sentence? MUCHAS GRACIAS.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Need a word.
Ah, would that I had the magic word you seek.

Alas, I'm just a writer, not a jedi. If only that "these are not the droids you want" thing worked, we could just tell Trump voters "this is not the president you want."
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Nov. 4th, 2016 08:09 pm (UTC)
I'm a South African living in Ireland - I have no direct stake in this election, yet the last couple of days I walk around with a knotted stomach, because it looks like the unbelievable might be possible, that it actually has become possible for Trump to win.
Nov. 5th, 2016 12:15 am (UTC)
The tragic thing about an American election is that the whole world has a stake in it. It isn't like when the Phillipines gets taken over by Duterte, who proceeds to make a fool of himself and run the country badly. The Phillipines isn't big or powerful enough to make that much of a difference.

By contrast, the United States is simply too important for bad decisions made here to not effect everyone else. If the United States has a President who thinks climate change is a hoax, and he withdraws from attempts to fight it, the rest of the world will suffer for it. If the United States defaults on U.S. debt, the whole world economy will suffer fo it. If the United States stops caring about nuclear proliferation because the President isn't intelligent enough to understand why it's an issue and isn't humble enough to listen to advice from more knowledgeable people ("I know more about ISIS than the generals!"), then there will be more nuclear proliferation.

So yes, we should all be walking around with knotted stomachs until the danger has passed.

Edited at 2016-11-05 12:19 am (UTC)
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Nov. 4th, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC)
George, this post was absolutely spot on. Bravo for speaking up, as a public figure I hope more people will see reason with what you've written here. As someone in the always constant battleground state of Florida, I can empathize with the sickening ad's that are non-stop. Last night while watching the big bang theory with my 10 year old son a new trump commercial came on and this one was a cartoon. Yes a cartoon, it was vile and revolting and my son immediately wanted to know why they would do that. I wish I had a good answer for him, but I don't. In any case I would like to show you a campaign ad that is 1 minute long, and great. I don't know anything about the guy in the ad aside from he's not in my state. I hope you like it as much as I did. https://youtu.be/wzjRwNUQDRU

P.S. Please do not make a character in any of your book series that is Trumpeske, real life is too much. We can't handle it in fiction also.

Edited at 2016-11-04 08:27 pm (UTC)
Jim Garrett
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:12 pm (UTC)
Don't be right, George
I remember how stunned I was in 2004; I had thought "there's no way people could be so myopic and wrong". This is on a whole other level. Let the Trump train derail and fade away. Please.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you
I hope, that as many people as possible realise this. I wish you luck on 11/8. We, in the Czech Republic, voted a president whose courtesy level is at zero and it is hell, I am disgusted by him and disappointed in him, his scandals are just worse and worse.
Greetings from Prague I hope you don't end up like we did.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
could not have been better stated- i hope the land of enchantment stays blue -)
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
Great Observations
You are so right on every point. He is doing it to himself and the thought anyone could support him is beyond me. He is disgusting. And like you said, no one else had to say it, he's laid it out there on the table for everyone. This election is one that frightens me. I fear for all of humanity if this monster wins. I'm a dual citizen of Canada & the US, but if I were only Canadian, his reach could still extend. Thank you for pointing all of this out...though you shouldn't have to. It is glaringly obvious!
David Levin
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:18 pm (UTC)
Can you imagine President Trump in charge of our military? In charge of our nuclear arsenal?

Do we need a climate change denying administration? The coral reefs. Species extinction. Environments wiped out. Eventual fight for food and water by all.

We can stop crazies runnng our country. We can work on turning back global warming.

So..... VOTE. Please vote.
Christopher Phillips
Nov. 4th, 2016 10:49 pm (UTC)
RE: Commander-in-Chief
Active duty military prefers trump 3 to 1
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Nov. 4th, 2016 08:20 pm (UTC)
The fact that Trump has gained in popularity with all the terrible things that he has said and done, the fact that he is going on trial for fraud in November and child rape in December, and people still say things like: "Hillary is just as bad" or "There's no good choice" sickens and terrifies me. Hillary is not perfect, but she is by far the better candidate and the fact that Trump is so closely tied with her in the polls makes me truly terrified for our country. I will be casting my vote and praying that America wakes up. This is NOT the year to throw away votes on third parties . . .
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:33 pm (UTC)
I second that!
I second everything you say. Hillary is nowhere near the level of depravity and general lack of any kind of ethical though as Mr. Trump. He's a loose cannon. And I cannot understand the thought driving the mindset you mention. Beyond that, she is so qualified. I LOVE this article, which points that out beyond any kind of reasonable doubt: http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fbenbosophy.blogspot.ca%2F2016%2F10%2F178-reasons-hillary-clinton-is.html&h=dAQFvHgnW
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:22 pm (UTC)
Not one mention..
Not one mention in this article about how Hillary is the most crooked politician to ever run for President! She broke the glass ceiling alright, she's the first candidate to be under multiple FBI investigations. She's lucky the DOJ saved her but last time, but this time I don't see that happening. None of the Clinton cronies can save her from Weinergate.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Not one mention..
The amount of ignorance displayed in this one short comment is breathtaking.

Hillary is NOT "the most crooked political ever to run for president." You obviously have never taken a history course. That's just the sort of empty name-calling that typifies the Trump campaign.

Hillary is under FBI investigation, sure. So is Trump. Trump will be on trial for rape in a few months. The Clintons have been investigated more than any other public figures in recent history, and NONE of the investigations have ever found proof of anything.

Anthony Weiner's sins belong to Anthony Weiner. And Trump has far more in common with Weiner than Hillary does; Trump is the one who has been accused of multiple counts of sexual assault by a dozen different women.
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Nov. 4th, 2016 08:23 pm (UTC)
I feel like I'm speaking a different language or living on a different plane than half the country. It's heartbreaking to know so many fellow Americans can hear his words, look at his record and think he's fit to lead this nation.

Thanks for posting this, you rock
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:28 pm (UTC)
I'm jealous
I live in Ohio and we've been bombarded by these ads since, well, since before Hillary had even locked up the democratic nomination. I for one can't wait for this election to be over. Isn't that a sad notion? Seems like I should be excited about the election, but instead I'm just so tired of it.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:28 pm (UTC)
Interesting Take on the Election
I just stumbled your article on the election and I found it engaging and I honestly can't bring myself to vote for either major party candidate at this point.

I live in a solidly Blue (Dem) state and my vote won't push the election one way or another but both major party candidates are deeply flawed and I refuse to support either one.

What I'm most concerned about is that we might not be able to come together after this thing as Americans...we've gone to our corners and I think we've overlooked the flaws and downsides of our political party's candidates. As a person who leans right I just can't ever support Trump, he's unacceptable and I'm disappointed that those on the left don't see Hillary in the same light but that's fine that's their own prerogative. Where I see it so glaringly is in the media, yes Trump is awful and we need to know every awful thing he has done but we need the same about Hillary, since I think it's likely she'll be our next president. I'm seeing almost nobody on the left stand up and suggest that Donna Brazile is unacceptable as the head chair of the DNC after the scandal with her giving questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign...maybe no one wants to show anything negative up to the election but I want dozens of op-eds in the media showing how she MUST step down from the DNC after that clear rigging of the Democratic primary. Here's a link to the Donna Brazile story if you haven't heard about it: http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/31/media/donna-brazile-cnn-resignation/index.html

Anyway, I think we need a bit more balance in the media and we need to maintain our integrity with non-partisan slant even if it makes our chosen candidate look bad. I'm in favor something called "diversity of thought" to at least open up the media (and other important institutions) to allow it to be more transparent about bias/unbalance in their political make up. Here's an article I've written about it:

I hope that we can all come out of this election with our integrity intact. I appreciate the fact that you helped to reinforce my view that Trump is unacceptable and I really do hope above all else that after this election is done, no matter which way it turns out that we can all come together and get things done and push for more cooperation in all aspects of our lives as Americans.

BTW, you're the best author I've ever read, keep up the good work!

Edited at 2016-11-04 08:49 pm (UTC)
Nov. 4th, 2016 10:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Interesting Take on the Election
I share your hope that we could all come together after this election and get things done... but, alas, I have become old and cynical and I fear that will never happen.

Every candidate since Nixon has declared how they wanted to be a "unifier" and "bring the country together," but instead over the years we just get further apart. Obama tried to reach out to Republicans during his first term, but instead just met with a stone wall.

A big part of the problem, I think, is the polarization of the two parties. Even a few decades ago, Congress included plenty of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. They were minorities in their own parties, but they existed, and they were ones who crossed the aisles as often as not to vote with the other side. In hindsight, I believe they were an important factor in getting compromises done.

But they are all gone now, or mostly so. Both parties have become more ideologically pure, and woe to anyone who crosses the aisle.
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Nov. 4th, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC)
Great post from an oberver across the pond. George. I've been meaning to ask, as an "anglophile" what are your thoughts on Brexit, if indeed you have any?

As a "remainer" i am still devestated by the Brexit result. However Trump says "Britain will be at the front of the que" when it comes to negotiating trade deals with the UK. The Obama administrtion and by association Clinton would have the UK at the "back of the que". As a Britian i have distain for Donald Trump and everything he stands for but i also want the best for my country in these difficult times ahead.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:52 pm (UTC)
I think Brexit was a mistake.

Putting aside the specifics of the situation, and taking a long-range look, I think history shows that we do better when we join together into larger political units that embrace diversity, rather than building walls and breaking into smaller units. Alexander's empire was better than the squabbling city-states of ancient Greece that preceded it (a pity he did not live long enough to make the union with Persia permanent, and twice a pity that his successors broke it all up into smaller countries to war on each other). The thirteen American colonies were wise to join together into one large country, despite their differences, than they would have been as thirteen small ones. The nations of Europe have been fighting each other for centuries; joining together into one great multi-national nation represents real progress.

Eventually I do hope we will be one peaceful world, like the SF writers of my youth once predicted. Terra, Old Earth, call it what you will. We're all human.

Edited at 2016-11-04 09:06 pm (UTC)
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Nov. 4th, 2016 08:45 pm (UTC)
Very few people are voting for Trump...
It's been decades since the general public has voted for a candidate; they are all voting against someone. There are no rational reasons for voting for someone as vile as Trump. All the arguments are that Hillary is worse.

When the general elections started, people were suggesting that this would be the lowest turn-out of any election because both candidates were so hated. I expect the opposite is true--we'll have a huge turnout because fear is a better motivator and easier to understand than hope or reason.

It makes you wonder how viable our two-party democracy actually is.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:46 pm (UTC)
Astute commentary -- particularly on the ads and NM suddenly becoming a battleground
Thanks for this George. Will definitely share.

This insightful post will age well.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:50 pm (UTC)
Brilliantly put. Thanks for voicing your opinion.

It's interesting how people tell celebrities to "keep it to themselves" or "stick to acting" when they voice an opinion they dislike. But what are you going to tell grrm? Stick to writing?

This is writing.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:56 pm (UTC)
I have never been so terrified about an election before, and I lived through 2 Reagan terms. What scares me the most is that, even if (and I pray this is true) Hillary Clinton wins, the people who have supported the orange lunatic will still be here. He has given all of these racist, willfully ignorant jackasses license to parade their insanity up and down Main Street. He's made it acceptable to behave in a way I would not have thought possible and they are proud of it. I've even seen bumper stickers that advertise "I'm a deplorable and proud of it!" It has shaken me to my toes.

Somehow we have to find a way to heal, to come back together as a nation, to find common ground again. We certainly won't do that under a Trump presidency.
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:56 pm (UTC)
Don't forget the time Trump declared his personal view that POWs are not war heroes or worthy of his admiration because they were captured. I hope the ads highlighted that one as well...

Edited at 2016-11-04 10:01 pm (UTC)
Nov. 4th, 2016 09:25 pm (UTC)
What about the big issues?
You begin by noting how this election has been reduced to a game of one candidate attacking the other, and political issues being nearly absent from the discussion. Yet, you go on to make the point that nobody should vote for Trump because of the awful things he has done, and for some of the crazy positions he supports. While I agree that nobody in his right mind should vote for Trump, your conclusion that people should vote for Hillary as the more savory option in this election seems to be of the same fallacious reasoning with which you began the post. If it's supposed to be about the issues, then why should Hillary earn anyone's vote?

Donald Trump says some pretty reckless things about bombing ISIS and letting other countries have nukes, but Hillary's stance on Syria is truly terrifying. Her staunch defense of a no-fly zone in Syria is pure warmongering with Russia, a country that could literally bring about nuclear Armageddon if provoked too hard. All this baseless talk of Donald Trump starting World War III or the end of the world, when the most likely cause of either of these things is a war with Russia. And here is Hillary Clinton accusing Russia of espionage with no proof and poking them with her stance on Syria, and very few people seem to care. Even Dick Cheney wasn't this much of a war hawk. A Feast for Crows was a wonderful portrait of just how awful war is.

I think the only morally acceptable thing to do is to urge people not to participate in this election, or to vote for a third party candidate like Jill Stein. Hillary Clinton will have blood on her hands, and anyone who votes for her knowing about her hawkishness will have blood on his hands by extension.

I know Jill Stein isn't going to win this election, but I voted for her anyway. I think if voters had any idea about who she is or what she stands for, then she would surely be a viable candidate for the presidency. Getting someone like her to win only requires that her candidacy be put over the tipping point between obscurity and the mainstream. Popularity is extremely contagious, so putting her over this tipping point would not actually be that difficult, so long as the people who do know about her and support what she stands for don't write her off as a loser at the beginning of every election cycle and declare for one of the big two parties.

A third party candidate will be seen as a viable option for voters when he is seen as an option at all. As soon as he is seen as a viable option, then a huge chunk of voters from the big two parties will vote for him, and a huge number of voters disillusioned by the lack of choice between the two big parties will vote for him as well. But it all comes back to making him be seen as an option at all for the voters, putting him over that tipping point between obscurity and the mainstream. The only way this can happen is if people support the third-party candidate through and through and speak out in favor of him even when he has no chance of winning. Losing a battle doesn't mean losing the war, and winning the war doesn't mean not losing a battle. But losing everyone's support because you're going to lose a battle definitely means losing the war.
Nov. 4th, 2016 09:56 pm (UTC)
Re: What about the big issues?
You make some valid points, certainly, and at certain times in my life I have also supported third party candidates (though I could never support Jill Stein, who would be a terrible president IMNSHO). I made the same arguments myself in 1980, when I supported and campaigned for John Anderson.

Maybe at some point in our history the two party system will break down, and we'll have more choice. If Trump were to lose in a landslide (one can dream), it might happen sooner or later if the GOP broke apart, into the Trump Party and the Ryan/ Romney Republicans.

That day is not here, however, and in this present election the gulf between the two major candidates is too wide to permit the luxury of casting a third party vote. War is indeed awful, you and I agree on that, but unlike you I believe Trump is much more likely to get us there than Hillary would. And there are other issues... so many other issues... on which she is right and Trump is wrong.

Trump himself has said that Hillary would be like having a third term for Obama. Good by me. I'm down with that. Obama was a good president, and if the GOP had worked with him AT ALL, he might have been a great one.
RE: Re: What about the big issues? - Mike Orenji - Nov. 5th, 2016 02:13 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: What about the big issues? - grrm - Nov. 5th, 2016 04:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: What about the big issues? - redguardricky - Nov. 5th, 2016 12:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2016 09:33 pm (UTC)
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Lincoln Narcelio Thomaz Noronha
Nov. 5th, 2016 03:10 am (UTC)
Trump wont win
Hillary's campaign staff has an easy time making adds against Trump. Its just show people his clips. Guy is nuts.

He won't win, though. No worries about that. He never played to win the election, he played to get the nomination, and the only way he could do it - coming from outside the party - was by appealing to the worst and most extreme right.
Re: Trump wont win - bigbadbruin270 - Nov. 5th, 2016 05:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Trump wont win - Collin Heisler - Nov. 5th, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Trump wont win - grrm - Nov. 5th, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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