How The Hell Did This Happen?
The US Election of 2016
By P.J. O’Rourke
Grove Press – £14.99
We the people of the United States, in order to dissolve what unity we have, establish injustice, insecure domestic idiocy, provide for the common offence, promote the general despair, and secure enmity toward ourselves by our posterity, do ordain and establish this obnoxious political spectacle, the election of 2016.
Donald Trump is a flying monkey. Except that what the flying monkeys have to say – ‘’oreoreoreo’’ – makes more sense than Trumps’ pronouncements. Better the she-ape of neo-Marxism than the flying monkey’s king on his 757, going to and fro in the earth, with gold-plated seat belt buckles, talking nativist, isolationist, bigoted, rude, vulgar, and obscene crap.
(‘I Endorse Hillary’)
The war is not between Republicans and Democrats or between conservatives and progressives. The war is between the frightened and what they fear. It is being fought by the people who perceive themselves as controlling nothing. They are besieging the people they perceive as controlling everything. We are in the midst of a Perception Insurrection, or, depending on how you perceive it, a Loser Mutiny.
(‘The Revolt Against the Elites’)
‘’An essential take on the stranger-than-fiction (and stranger-than-fact) 2016 presidential election from a quintessential voice on American politics and culture.’’ Indeed, P.J. O’Rourke is responsible for a number of exceedingly readable and amusing books – Modern Manners, Republican Party Reptile and Parliament of Whores to name but three – with these 213 pages (excluding Author’s Note, the aforementioned Preamble and Acknowledgements) being absolutely no exception.
And with this being another election year in the US, now could not be a better time to read and absorb this book in preparation – as if any were needed.
As is usually the case with O’Rourke’s writing, it is possible to flick through How The Hell Did This Happen? The US Election of 2016 and stop on any page at random, and be bequeathed something very bemusing, readable, gritty, funny and, unfortunately for many, many millions of Americans, true: ‘’The American government is of the people, by the people, for the people. And these days America is peopled by 320 million Donald Trumps. Donald Trump is representative of all that we hold dear: money. Or, rather, he is representative of greed for money. We common folk may not be able to match Trump’s piggy bank, but even the most high-minded and charitable among us can match his piggishness.
The Clinton Foundation accepted a $500,000 donation from the government of Algeria.
To cite, Amnesty International’s 2014/2015 report on Algeria:
Women faced discrimination… and remained inadequately protected against violence… Impunity prevailed for perpetrators of gross human rights abuses… and acts of torture.
And the other thing we hold dear is us. We, ourselves. In this era of the great and cherished self, admiration for which has become so fundamental to Americanism that self-esteem is taught in our schools, we can all match Trumps’ opinion of his own worth […]’’ (‘The Abominable Showman’).
I recently watched American children berating Trump and his vile antics on Facebook, which, in a round-a-bout way, substantiates why this book needs to be read – even if just for Trumps’ inexorable childish antics. A mode of highly inappropriate behaviour that not only beggars belief, but, from a trickle-down perspective, has become increasingly more influential and infectious within the US.
One need only listen to the thousands of Americans who just last week, equated the wearing of a mask with communism…
There again, as O’Rourke shares with us herein: ‘’Donald Trump got most of his campaigning done on the cheap by making a public spectacle of himself. He set his pants on fire knowing that reporters and camera crews would have to cover the blaze.’’
Nothing short of essential, courageous, and brilliant.