The Wizard of Oz Moment in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections


When you are an anthropologist and you look back at your own society, or at any society, you know that there is the stated reality and then a deeper truth. There are the common wisdoms and explanations of what people say they feel and why they do things, and there are the reasons that outsiders see after they study what cannot be said aloud about how things really work. Sometimes the truths can be told in children’s stories or in fantasy literature or in comic release where there are outlets to reveal what is fearful or taboo. Some children’s stories are about Western politics, like Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, George Orwell Animal Farm, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Others are often so disguised or far removed from their times that some of the deeper points go by without notice. Now, as the social fissures and dislocations from the failures of globalization and corporatism with a “representationally diverse” face begin to shatter the fabric of our lives, and as the daily events of collapse and political revolts and angst begin to play out around the world, one hears the macabre echoes of the children’s stories and comedies and of magic realism…

If you listen to what “grown-ups” say, they say that the 2016 U.S. Presidential election results left everyone who heard them in “shock”. What exactly was this shock and to whom, other than perhaps to the beauty contest winner, himself, that newly crowned Master Wizard Donald Trump, who treated the election itself as a playful joke to further his business interests? We can all thank, for Mr. Trump’s role as a “Pied Piper” (but maybe not “Pizza Pied”), those other Wizards, the Clintons, themselves, who promoted him as the only candidate they believed they could beat.  Perhaps it was a delayed wedding present from his golf buddy Bill and from Bill’s wife Hill; wedding guests at Mr. Trump’s third wedding.  Wonderful friends they were,; those “good people who suffered” in Master Wizard Trump’s words.

It was “the media” (these clairvoyant “mediums”) who declared the election results a shock. For months the candidate whom they had been advertising and promoting—while claiming every day he would to drop out, be replaced, or would lose by huge margins—actually won. To anyone who saw the crowd sizes and knew the pain and frustration throughout the United States and who saw what happened in the Brexit referendum in Britain, what exactly was this “shock” and to whom? Master Wizard Trump had handily beaten every well financed establishment candidate in the Republican Party. In the general election, he had run against another establishment candidate backed by the same donors and representing the same policies. Was the shock that the press was not merely in on the scam—in league with the Clinton and Democratic machine, which few seemed to mind—but that they were not puppet masters able to pull the strings of the election levers through mass hypnosis, in doing their “jobs”, acting on the tacit directions of those pulling another set of strings (corporate and military leaders); fulfilling the “words of our sponsors”?

The press didn’t press on their role in the “shock”.  Their real inability to perform their acts of mass hypnosis nonetheless did help create the mass hysteria.  Perhaps to them, that was the shock. As they told it, the shock was that their reporting and polling were flawed. Dewey didn’t beat Truman. Perhaps you hadn’t heard.

So, what exactly was the shock? Americans have not trusted the media for decades, though they have dutifully acted on behalf of the same masters as if in a trance. Most adults in the U.S. have long known that bullets do not change course in mid-air; go through bodies of those political leaders who are not hollow, and come out intact, even when government commissions headed by the most honorable men, some of them very “AccomplICed” in a backwards kind of way, all say so. Nevertheless, such fantasy stories are just so entertaining, and are performed so well and with such technical artistry that one cannot help but be awed. All around us, little piggies, in their (our) piggy worlds. Infidels.  Semper fideles and infidels and who can tell.

Was this more of a shock then, say, “Landslide Lyndon’s” stolen Texas elections and subsequent rise and JFK’s electoral victory in 1960? No one today doubts that JFK benefitted from a bit of help from the Chicago Machine, or question’s Richard Nixon’s explanation that he didn’t contest the election because he rigged a few states on his own.  Few are surprised by JFK’s words about his tycoon father only buying a close victory; “My father said he wasn’t going to pay for a landslide” Where was the shock when the courts elected Bush Jr.[1]  in 2000? Which is the American norm? Rigged elections or “fair” elections? And, which diversion causes the shock? Was the shock that the 2016 election wasn’t rigged in the way people expected it? Was the shock that candidates like Dr. Jill Stein would challenge the process to uncover and seek to prevent future rigging? Or, is the shock that the other candidates all just agreed to walk away and note that their elite cabal just didn’t do as successful a job in rigging? Richard Nixon wrote that is what he did in 1960 and that this was one of his “Six Crises”. That is basically what Vice President Al Gore did in 2000, which was one of his at least six “Inconvenient Truths”. We don’t know why Senator Bernie Sanders didn’t challenge the apparent rigging of the 2016 Democratic primaries, though there are hints in Wikileaks that he had already made some kind of deal with the Clintons that prevented him from doing so[2].


Americans have long known that the political process has been rigged to favor big money and petty dynasties. They recognize that the courts and justice system are also rigged to allow a former President’s wife to run for President after violating stock market security laws to hide kickbacks, profiting from insider deals on FCC licenses, working for a law firm with cases before her husband as a Governor, selling off access as the country’s Secretary of State, taking kickbacks on weapons deals, and putting “national security”—whatever that means other than security of the corporate elites—at risk. Of course, criticizing this treachery when a woman does it, like Imelda Marcos or Eva Peron, is sexist.

All of this work in her “profession” (one might say “professional criminal” if there were actually still enforceable laws) is preferable to her just baking cookies. The public knows that U.S. laws are not enforced against banks, against torture, or against violations of international law. They know there is no such thing as rule of law, and that is what makes America so “exceptional”. Americans know their system is rigged, which is indeed exceptional, though these days when compared to tyrannies everywhere perhaps it is not so exceptional after all.  It was this sense of desperation and frustration with this “exceptional” system that led so many to vote for Master Wizard Trump with the de-rigging and maybe de-rigeur magic wand, not to mention some hair secrets that can really make your hair stand on end. He said his wand was a big wand, and he guaranteed that everyone would like it. And if you don’t, well, then, you might just be sued in courts that do work in such cases, but usually only in one direction.

So what was the real shock? The shock was that this rigged system was somehow not rigged the way everyone seemed to believe it was and would be. And that, indeed, is a shock. It changes everything.

Political discourse in the United States has degenerated in our peaceful homeland into what it has always been abroad with weaker peoples: venomous frothing, bullying. demonization and hate.  In following the prescription of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, we live in an era of mass media doublethink, doublespeak and a daily 15 minutes of “the hate” against demonized figures in visceral appeals to animalistic emotions for vengeance and war. But in the prelude to the recent election—with elite control so out of control and with the results of their rape of the planet and their dismantling of civilization, of the starvation of the intellectual mission of universities and of rational thought and rule of law and equality and opportunity all so blatant but with the façade of “representation” and “diversity” hiding the agenda—they needed to turn up the volume to a shriek in order to try to drown out all of the internal pain.

Even the surprise candidate for sanity, Bernie Sanders, who had once focused methodically on “the issues, the issues”—of course while abandoning the real issues of endless war and the assault on rule of law that has rigged the system—abandoned his focus on the issues in the general election to swim in the cesspool of the organized hate and demonization. His message that the system was rigged was seemingly reinforced by his campaign’s failure (or his preliminary “deal”) and then by his own actions and Orwellian doublespeak and doublethink message to his supporters that the only way to bring change was to accept the elite rigging and then to work to change it from within after you helped reinforce the rigging and closed your eyes to the lack of laws and legal standards that might change it. Explain to me how that works again.

And then the election happened. For a day, the bullying and hate seemed to be suspended as people took stock (not financial stock; that was already gone), but only for a day. The era of free love is over, sorry Bernie and Jill, and today we only know the daily hate. Who could live without the comfort of endless war carried out by the United States in so many countries that no one can even name them, except for maybe a few political prisoners, such as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, who are banished to their private zoos for people without forked tongues.

The shock was not that the polls were wrong. During the 2016 primaries, the polls were continually wrong, underestimating the strength of the anti-establishment candidates and over-estimating that of the elites. At the same time, the recorded votes always seemed to promote the elites in ways that didn’t reflect the exit polls. Did anyone really believe the polls? Did anyone really believe that they weren’t rigged and that the Democratic Party outcomes weren’t rigged?

What was the shock? The shock was that the election results were not rigged in favor of the Democratic Party and Clinton machine. This was the Wizard of Oz moment that at least for a minute, changed everything. This “Great and Powerful Oz”, this omnipotent political machine that people viewed with a kind of hysteria—as if it had the power to silence the whole government, to bully and cow the electorate, to evade every law, and to commit what is a list of criminal activities that goes beyond that of families of organized crime, that seemed to have the world at bay—did not really have so much power at all. If it didn’t have that much power, and if the election were not corrupted in the other direction by some stronger power, that meant that ordinary citizens, the cowardly lions who for decades had shown no courage, the scared scarecrows who refused to use their brains, and the rusted tin populous marching along to orders as if they were heartless, had to face the fact that they really did have the power to change things all along but had not.

The shock was an outpouring not of fear that Trump-Pence did not get their come-up-pence, though there certainly were elements of that given the months of daily hate and the knowledge of what establishment powers had done and will continue to try to do. The shock was a sense of guilt and of fear of having to face and accept responsibility. It was the sense of shame at being bullied and duped by the media and by the Democratic Party. As Wizard Trump chooses his cabinet of Wizard’s Apprentices of people he refers to as “terrific”[3], but who are likely to continue their kleptocratic and violent ways, those citizens in shock will eventually be joined by the Trump voters with their sense of shame and guilt and fear at being scammed again. They will all be searching in every direction for scapegoats for the daily hate.

Wizard Trump is laughing at Americans, and there appears to be a widespread sense of shame and wounded pride. “You see, I told you so,” he seems to be laughing. “The Clintons didn’t really have the power of Wizardry after all. The Emperor really has no clothes, even beyond what I may have said about Bill Clinton in the Oval Orifices. Although you are all shamefully fat and lazy, your fat bellies are still gutless, and you were all too gutless to do anything about it.  You could have had Bernie or Jill or Gary or any other leader but you were bullied; the sign of losers. So now, I and my children shall sit on your throne, thank you very much, after I dismantle it and move it into my tower penthouse. I’ll take $1 in salary… and all I can steal…. Hmmm, what’s this button for? Whoops. Sorryyyyyyyyyyyy…. Well, we don’t have any hotels in Beijing or Moscow, anyway, right?” Part of the public outrage is the inability to deal with the mocking.

“You can dream big again,” Mr. Trump said. “We can make America great again.” It rubbed salt in the wounds of people who, for 50 years since the targeted assassination of the “Great Society” and the death of exploration and hopes for peace, had lived in a climate of constant fear and paranoia and self-interest and narcissism. Their vision has narrowed to a feudal one: to protect their own group and little else, believing that they were allowed no choices and no real hope and no real change. They had no choice but to do as they were told in the cause of self-protection. If they had really dreamed big, of course, they would never have settled for choosing between the lesser of “Two Weevils”. That is what it means to be losers. It was a mockery of impotence and learned helplessness and addiction to fear and hopelessness and pettiness and lawlessness; complicity in destruction of the human spirit when they could have elevated it.

It wasn’t the election, itself, that pulled back the curtain on the Great and Powerful Wizards to show them at work with smoke and mirrors and amplifiers and Hollywood props. Wikileaks pulled back the curtain to show the power that people feared and to reveal it for what it really was. Wikileaks pulled back the curtain on the State Department as a cash only business and with open “secrets” that were open to everyone. It showed the so-called Department of Justice and its definitions of criminality as law.  It showed the FBI “crime fighters” at work as just another batch of dirty cops, though perhaps no longer in drag as in the Hoover era. Wikileaks pulled back the curtain on the Democratic Party and its ‘agit-prop” relationship with the press, harking back to the role of “the Party” in the Soviet states. It pulled back the curtain on the President, typing away on his e-mail to Hillary’s private server and claiming not to know what was happening as the country was sold off in bits to dictators to put money into a private fund that could be called “Bill Clinton, Inc.” Wikileaks pulled back the curtain on arms being sold and transferred directly to the “enemy” as well as to the creation of false “enemies” in the service of every political need for scapegoating, diversion and fear. Every day, the stolen White House silverware seemed to be falling out of the sleeves of all of the principle players in the fashion of Harpo Marx, with explanations that sounded like the tooting of a rubber horn. Hail, hail Freedonia! This government that everyone had feared was little more than a theater of the absurd, albeit with a few nuclear weapons under the seats. There is little chance they will actually be held accountable to any law, since no one will recognize them having committed any crimes for which they cannot be pardoned. Do not expect the silverware to be returned but do be prepared for the nuclear missiles to be launched.

Political power is largely a cultural construction. It depends on myths and fear, as well as a few high-profile assassinations and disappearances every now and then, to maintain itself. When power is revealed for what it is, a comedy routine worthy of the Three Stooges where one or two lunatics hold the other 99% at bay, people have to accept responsibility for agreeing to be its enablers.

All it seemed to take was a bucket of water to melt away the Wicked Witch, but who could face it? Far easier to round up the usual “deplorables,” to use a newly created word of the Clinton-Bush-Obama era that is not in the spell check.[4] If the citizenry had the power all the time, for 30 years, 40 years, then they were all responsible for this fate. They had been addicted to these marvelous Parties and their bullying; and the daily hate and the comic artistry and performances of the “Two Weevils”. Now who would protect them from what they had created? So they came out into the streets to try to find something to blame and to try to re-establish a sense of powerlessness and impotence that had made them so securely, insecure. It is time again to blame the messengers and maybe try to start World War III with the Russians or the Chinese or some other Enemy for a Day to reassure oneself that one is really in chains and that terrible things will happen and that they are all outside of individual control.

If the Clinton Machine could lose to a novice, the billionaire Forest Gump Trump, Chauncey Gardner, Zelig, born with the winning lottery ticket and not much else; so shielded in his bubble that he doesn’t notice the change in climate, this “everyman” with a silver spittoon, then, of course, we could have had any one of those other candidates who made their careers out of helping people, but who “could not” be supported.  Those other candidates obviously “could not” win, because they were not criminals or unknowing; they weren’t Hollywood actors or President’s wives or sons of political figures.  People who love nature and peace and good health and their neighbors are “crazy” or “kooky”, which are the current words used today and are easily translated: Jewish, compassionate, law-abiding, humane. Americans and the rest of the world went along with it. They “didn’t have a choice”. The problem with this narrative and the moral of the Wizard of Oz is that it appears that people really did have the ability to make responsible choices and probably have for decades.

There’s no yellow brick road. We’re in a global tornado of our own complicity and cowardice; our turn away from law and belief in the long term and the triumph of fear and anger and hate.  The so-called swamp that needs to be drained seems to be slightly bigger than Washington, D.C., extending from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast of North America and including Alaska, Hawaii, and a few other inconsequential land areas quickly sinking into the lower depths of depravity. “We’re with her” really means that everyone has been on the side of law-breaking and dismantling of the system in one way or another. The road to recovery starts with facing these realities and not being crippled by the shock.


[1]  Some of the Dynasty’s disloyal subjects refer to Bush Jr. as “George II” or “Bush II”.

[2] The Dynastic succession rules of the Kingdom and the secret laws on coronations seem to have permitted only the ritual illusion of competition.  The emails of the manager of the Clinton campaign ritual, John Podesta, indicated that he would inform Sanders when Sanders violated the “agreement”.

[3] In Trumpkin(g) land, this word is likely just another in a series of involuntary contractions that are now increasingly commonplace, in this case it is a contraction of the words “terrifying” and “horrific” and including the meaning of both.

[4] The addition of this new word to our lexicon may be the Clintons’ highest contribution to Western civilization and the only one that will be remembered after they are gone.  Note that for proper usage of the term, “deplorables” usually come in “baskets” like newborns brought by storks; such as “baskets of deplorables”.  These may have been first sited by Hillary Clinton when she “came under sniper fire in Bosnia”.

This article is the first part of a two-part article. The second part, on Life in Trumpkin(g) Land is available from the author and may appear in the future if there is any demand and humor among fellow anthropologists and if such work is not outlawed as not fitting within the “current debates.”