Sept 16, 2016

‘What is this anyway?’ Such were my thoughts when I saw an article on the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner. Here is Clinton actually shaking hands with Trump at an extravagant dinner just 24 hours after the third debate, after having been called ‘the Devil’ by Trump in public debate and this time ‘a nasty woman.’ During the dinner, both Clinton and Trump take turns on stage to roast each other to the amusement and giggles of their gentrified patrons. Trump is pretty much booed off the stage but does he care?

I don’t know how long this unprincipled event has been taking place, but wouldn’t anyone find this public display of usually secretive aristocrats bizarre? My first reaction was to think, ‘so it is rigged!’ I then discovered that the  Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, as you may or may not know. is a charity fundraiser for children. But I found this ostentatious display of America’s oligarchs gathering together to pretentiously bestow charity on the neediest of human beings quite disgusting. I then wondered whether the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner is simply an event to show unity within the ruling class, using charity as a mask about as transparent as the handheld eye masks toyed with by the bourgeois waltz in classical Europe: no one is really hiding their privilege or arrogance. They are simply there it would seem to congratulate each other and say, ‘whatever your affiliation or manners you are rich and powerful and so have a seat among us…’

There are many historical instances of staged events to provoke coups and wars: the Gulf of Tonkin, the burning of the Reichstag, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. This is what the right-wing does to expand their power and with the passage of time the truth comes out. The Alfred E. Smith Foundation Dinner was another instance of American ruling class unity on display for all to see; it was even televised for public consumption.  It has been a crazy election, unprecedented in key aspects, and Trumpism has definitely affected the collective psyche. I’ve never felt the weight of living history in my lifetime as strongly as I have in these election months. Are we supposed to get used to this? Because what I saw was not a conspiracy after all but a time-honored tradition held among the elites.

The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner is held annually on the third Thursday in October and is generally the “the last event at which the two U.S. presidential candidates share a stage before the election.” There are no plans to discontinue it.