The Pied Piper

Written By: - Date published: 11:55 am, August 6th, 2018 - 32 comments
Categories: campaigning, capitalism, class war, Donald Trump, elections, Hillary Clinton, International, journalism, Left, liberalism, Media, Russia, social democracy, us politics - Tags: ,

Hilary Cinton’s campaign team had an idea. They thought that if they promoted the most unpalatable of the bunch in the Republican primaries then the Presidency would be a shoo-in for Hillary. They dubbed it “The Pied Piper” strategy.

To that end, they worked to push the likes of Carson, Trump and Cruz to the forefront of the Republican primary race. (The run-off, in case you’ve forgotten, was between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.)

The rest is history.

But two things. If the Democrats were deliberately pushing the Republican Party further to the right, then what ground did the Democratic Party have it in mind to occupy if not that newly vacated ground sitting off to their right?

And if we’re to believe that Trump was the preferred candidate of Putin and Russia, and that they had been grooming him since well before the primary races, as most reports suggest or claim, then should we not also believe that Putin and the Kremlin nobbled the Democratic Party and had powerful figures formulate, promote and implement their “pied piper” strategy?


Maybe we should just concentrate on why powerful actors – and not just in the US – are seeking to drift politics further into the territory of fundamental liberalism and fascism*.

Maybe we should concentrate on why those same powerful actors – and again, not just in the US – are so keen to destroy or deny any progressive pull on politics, in part by promoting the profile of fairly despicable right wing movements and people with the presumed end goal of corralling frightened or alarmed voters back to their preferred, regressive liberal platform. (Le Penn, UKIP, Trump…etc)

And maybe we should concentrate on why it seems “our” media is all too happy to aid and abet in that promotion of right wing stuff at the expense of covering progressive or social democratic stuff in any positive light.

It seems to me that liberalism doesn’t necessarily progress to its arguably natural fascistic state by way of overt aggression. Eliminating the prospect of “left”, while promoting the spectre of some frightening “right”, allows liberalism to sidle stealthily towards its fascist home by way of “lesser evil”.

* I’m mis-using the term “fascism” somewhat. As Mussolini envisaged it, fascism was to be a viable alternative to liberalism with the state as the principle focus of all political actors. It seems fairly obvious though, that Mussolini’s fascist state would have succumbed to market forces and been brought to serve the market after a period involving a realignment of power.

32 comments on “The Pied Piper”

  1. Gosman 1

    The idea that what the Democrats did or did not do would influence in any meaningful way what the Republicans decided to do in their own Primary is fanciful. They could attempt to influence the other side all they want but ultimately it was up to Republicans to decide themselves if they want to support a candidate or not.

    • Bill 1.1

      From the memo – We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to them seriously.

      But if you don’t think the Democratic Party has any sway with media, then of course, no meaningful influence could have been exerted.

      It wasn’t the first time the Democratic Party had run with the strategy btw. And according to this news story they are going to run with it again.

      For the 2018 midterm elections, the Democratic Party is strategizing to elevate far-right Republican candidates to provide Democrats with easier paths to victory.

      • Gosman 1.1.1

        In what way did the press specifically help Trump as a result of what the Democrats told them to?

      • Dennis Frank 1.1.2

        For the record, I think your thesis is entirely feasible. How long since Chomsky popularised the notion of manufacturing consent? Ad agencies have been making political attack ads for as long as anyone can remember (I vaguely recall making them when I was at Vid-Com, mid-seventies).

        Given that the MSM there is notoriously pro-dem, all they’d need to do is call up their buddies in top management & suggest that the dems are more likely to win if dead-cert loser candidates get media exposure. A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse.

    • Adrian Thornton 1.2

      @gossman, true the voters would ultimately decide, however it is also a fact that the DNC wanted to run Hillary against Trump in the run off, and actively used their influence to help make that happen

      • Gosman 1.2.1

        Trump was/is a master at playing the media regardless of what the Democrats did or didn’t do. Trump defeated his GOP opponents not because of help from Democratic leaning media but because his opponents were unable to counter his tactics.

        • arkie

          Over the course of the campaign, he has earned close to $2 billion worth of media attention, about twice the all-in price of the most expensive presidential campaigns in history. It is also twice the estimated $746 million that Hillary Clinton, the next best at earning media, took in. Senator Bernie Sanders has earned more media than any of the Republicans except Mr. Trump.

          You don’t read the links people post in response to your inane questions do you?

        • Stuart Munro


          The right-leaning media, notably Fox but also most of the print newspapers, gave Trump passes on practically everything. With Obama they chased all kinds of nonsense smears like his birth certificate. But Trump failed to release his taxes, lied about practically everything, and a substantial part of his questionable past, his dubious banking deals, never saw the light of day prior to his election.

          We saw the same kind of thing in NZ with Key – constant smears of Left figures like Little and Cunliffe, but free passes for the kleptocrat Key.

          Tell the truth – Trump has no talent to speak of. But he aligns with far-right figures like the Koch brothers, and large media organisations leave him alone as part of their log-rolling alliance to keep moving the US to the right to suppress taxes and regulatory initiatives like Kyoto.

          Same as NZ’s worst media prop up the consistently non-performing Gnats. Simon Bridges doesn’t seem to have a brain in his head, and there’s little reason to believe he’ll be leading the Gnats in their next election. But, day in and day out media trivia trots him out and solicits his opinion, seldom or never fact checking him even on his most obvious errors. It’s a sweetheart arrangement – the only way a government as useless as Key’s was able to survive even a single term.

        • Nick

          I thought it was the Ruskies

      • dukeofurl 1.2.2

        The DNC ?
        The story is about Clintons campaign staff not ‘The DNC’- if you looked it up the DNC is a)Committee b) All the federally elected senators and congress, ie the Superdelegates. It would be like herding cats
        The US doesnt have a centralised party system like we do , virtually all the fund raising is done by each candidate and they can have their own policies.
        The DNC makes the rules for the primaries- run by each state organisation- and organises the national convention and in concert with the presidential candidate has a very vague policy platform.
        You far overate what ‘The DNC’ can do and does. You Think of it like some people think ‘The Standard’ does or says , when of course it just hosts various authors.

        • Bill

          You’re right that the story is about Clinton’s campaign team and strategy.

          But I think you over-estimate the degree of autonomy enjoyed by Democratic candidates, or at least the influence exerted by the “party machine” in deciding who those candidates will be (preferred platforms and evidence of agreeable sums of monies having been raised securing ‘official’ endorsement) .

          Also. It appears, somewhat ironically, that the DNC has had to pay Hillary Clinton’s “Onward Together” millions of dollars for access to email lists and other electoral materials that Obama handed over for free.

          That’s all an aside to the main thrust of the post though, which is about a deliberate push by liberals that promotes and enables people generally associated with the term fascism; how that’s not limited to the US, and how it means our politics inevitably inch towards fascism (unless you treat McFlocks suggestion below seriously)

        • corodale

          Bilderberg style committees can do-the-does – major media representation

    • marty mars 1.3

      Yes I think they have individual (party) objectives that align every now and then. And when they do the minions work hard to generate the outcomes the party wants including generating media and everything else they can throw at it. Myopic idiots with poor strategic nous. The grand theory of conspiracy doesn’t cut it for me.

  2. McFlock 2

    Maybe the dems wanted to push the republicans right so as to alienate centrist republicans into nonvoting.

  3. Adrian Thornton 3

    @Gosman, I agree that Trump is pretty good at playing the media, and also that his GOP opponents had no defense to his style ( although I am also sure Sanders would have destroyed him in an open debate ) but I also think Trump was enabled in no small part on his path to the White House by the ‘liberal’ media who’s main goal it must be remembered, is to make money for their owners/shareholders, and covering Trump did just that.
    So my point still stands.

    • Bill 3.1

      Perhaps they should have called it the “Frankenstein’s Monster” strategy 🙂

      Essentially, they were able to achieve what they set out to achieve, except they forgot to pay heed to exactly what it was they were creating. Trump was already a media celebrity for Christ’s sake. In that regard, and given that US mainstream politics seem to be largely media driven, he had a head start.

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        Hindsight. He did have a head start on the basis of celebrity, but the pied piper strategy wasn’t stupid. His pulling the electorate to the right did indeed leave the centrists for Hilary to take – problem was not enough centrists thought she was worth their vote. Too many had been trashed by the establishment she was campaigning for.

        • Bill

          You obviously understand that Hillary’s team thought they’d gain electoral advantage if they pushed US politics to the right, and that they deliberately sought to promote or elevate Trump and other Pied Pipers for that precise purpose, yes?

          And on that basis, the Pied Piper strategy isn’t just stupid, it’s vile.

          As I ask in the post – on the basis that no-one ever creates a political vacuum with the intention of leaving a political void, where was the Democratic Party going to position itself if their strategy had worked? (Hint: to the right of their previous position)

          • Dennis Frank

            Yes. Not stupid from their point of view. Vile is an understandable reaction if you’re someone who believes the dems are good guys.

            Re second question: don’t agree with your assumption. No need to reposition, from their perspective. Present the dems as sensible centrists, you win both left & centre votes. This neolib formula worked just fine for Obama & her husband, didn’t it? So all she had to do was be her robotic self.

          • McFlock

            on the basis that no-one ever creates a political vacuum with the intention of leaving a political void,

            In a two-party system, why wouldn’t you? You don’t need to run faster if you kneecap your opponent.

            • Bill

              The “spaces” left in politics are always located beyond the parameters of “acceptable” politics – the space occupied by the disenfranchised. There is never an empty space running through the arena of “acceptable” politics – not in a two party set up and not in a multi party set up.

              • McFlock

                I’m not so sure about that.

                The natural policy inertia of any party and the fact that any policy expansion must by definition be reactive suggests that even if the Dem party spirit were willing to follow your scenario, it’s responsiveness was too weak to not leave a political vacuum as the repubs collapsed into the ultra-right repugs.

                And then we factor in Sanders pushing them in the opposite direction with results far more tangible (Clinton adopted more policy from Sanders than she did from Trump), the space between the dems and the repugs looks to be unsurvivably low in pressure…

        • Adrian Thornton

          I think you have hit on the most important aspect of that election and pretty much every western election since, the fact that liberalism has stripped voters who have been punished by both sides of liberalism (GOP/DNC, Tories/New Labour etc) of a left wing safety valve…and when this safety valve doesn’t exist, hurting voters want to hit out at something, so they go Right…witness most of Europe.

          Then look at the UK, a western country with a real and variable Left wing alternative…Ukik down to 7% in the polls, they were running at around 25% before Corbyn…turned Labour Left!

          Must be a lesson in there somewhere for us?

          • Dennis Frank

            It’s not just me, this analysis has been issued by many in western countries, and here it goes back to Rogernomics. Anderton created New Labour, then proceeded to sell it to voters as if it were old Labour, because he was clueless about how brand psychology works. The con failed dismally, as I expected.

            Corbyn’s problem is that nostalgia is insufficient. He has to devise a program that reinvents the left. No sign of that yet. Could be he expects disgust with the Tories to suffice. A gamble that may pay off, but only in the short term.

      • Adrian Thornton 3.1.2

        @Bill, “Frankenstein’s Monster” you got that right, all the political junkies around here were saying that exact thing in real time…that these fucking idiots are creating some sort of monster, although that being said I still lost a bet (a pretty big one too…damn you Felix) that Trump would actually win.

  4. adam 4

    My guess, apart from the out social democratic candidates, the democrats are going to get mauled in these midterms. This double negative campaign has no track record of working. If anything, it seems to help the republican vote, and rally the base.

    • Bill 4.1

      I don’t know whether they’ll get mauled or not. I do see they’re apparently running with the Pied Piper thing again though.

      On their own nominations, Abdul Al-Sayed is a self described Progressive running in Michigan. The vote is on the 7th. If he wins that nomination, it’d be a bomb shell (a welcome one).

      Here’s a 30min interview with him. He’s got some interesting stuff to say.

      • adam 4.1.1

        I like him, which probably means he will get so many attack ads we could feed the homeless with the cost of them.

  5. AsleepWhileWalking 5

    Gerald Celente predicted a Trump win, as did the Evolution 4.0 software (predictive software which has a 96% accuracy with geopolitical events) about a year ahead of the election.

    The climate for change was there.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Maybe we should concentrate on why those same powerful actors – and again, not just in the US – are so keen to destroy or deny any progressive pull on politics, in part by promoting the profile of fairly despicable right wing movements and people with the presumed end goal of corralling frightened or alarmed voters back to their preferred, regressive liberal platform. (Le Penn, UKIP, Trump…etc)

    Quoting Why we can’t afford the rich:

    TV programmes like the Jerry Springer and the Jeremy Kyle shows, Wife Swap, Benefits Street, From Ladettes to Ladies and We Pay Your Benefits provide a regular diet of poverty porn – of public humiliation in ‘the theatre of cruelty’, as Phil Mirowski calls it.156 They reaffirm viewers’ sense of superiority, offering them a safe zone of snobbery, schadenfreude and self-righteousness. And they keep their audiences’ contempt focused downwards, blaming the effects of structural inequality on personal failings, or ‘lifestyle choice’, while, out of sight, the rich get richer.

    My bold.

    ‘Our media’ is, of course, owned by the plutocrats and pretty much do want the plutocrats want. Holding power to account is not the job of the MSM any more. Their job now is to hide the powerful from the public so that they’re not held accountable for their actions.

  7. corodale 7

    Well written article. And to answer the question; the industrial-military-complex (or deep-state-security, or call it what you will) has enough media-n-cyber power that they significantly influence most significant democratic settings. To date, the priority has been empire wars, but it’s conceivable they could refocus on planetary survival and sport.

    Interesting to read in Trump’s favourate newspaper; the popularists are just as concerned about us socialists. Wander how we could make peace? Could we unite to slowly reform the deep-state-security sector?

    “Henry Kones grew up in the 1980s and has noticed a socialist, progressive movement chip away at many aspects of American life, including traditional values, work ethic, and the family unit.”

    From the same paper but more positive, regarding peace progress between Chicago gangs. The well-written article says many gangs started as community projects, but went violent under the pressures of industrial life. The story hints; “if you’re a gangster, go Christian” And I’ll hint; if you’re Christian, do like Jesus, and be critically-clear about many Churches’ having two-faced positions regarding politics. Politics should be considered as too material for Churches, their purpose is to focus on the spiritual –

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