Friday, 11 November 2016

Why he Won

President Trump. These are two words which, less than six months ago, many thought would never be said. Trump seemed to a lot of mainstream commentators like a ridiculous candidate, not worthy of anyone’s vote. Trumps victory has been greeted with howls of outrage by many who say that they are ‘stunned’ and ‘shocked’ at the result.  It is for these reasons that I think we have been taking the wrong approach. Trump was never a joke and treating him like one simply strengthened is position. His election represents a cry of anger from the millions of people who felt abandoned by the USA’s rotten political system. The only thing that makes this in the least bit shocking is that there was no strategy or coherent movement around Trump. A broad range of people from ex coalminers to middle class business owners, came out to vote for Trump in what was perhaps the biggest ‘fuck you’ to the political establishment in American history. The same establishment who have spent the last four decades pandering to the mega rich and allowing the erosion of the American Middle Class and American industry.

The Racists, Sexists, White Supremacists Fascists and Xenophobes obviously came out to vote for Trump. Why wouldn’t they? Since Trump launched his vile campaign, he has been pandering to them for votes. Trump has always been one of them, and always will be. However there is more to Trumps victory than just Racism. Of course the bigots in America, won the greatest victory of their lives, but they clearly didn’t achieve it on their own, there’s simply not enough of them. Indeed, as Nate Cohn in the New York Times rightfully points out, this election was decided by people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, they can’t all be bigots. Clinton won only 65 percent of Latino voters, compared with Obamas 71 percent four years ago. She performed this poorly against a candidate who ran on a program of building a wall along Americans southern border, and who kicked of his campaign by calling Mexicans Rapists. Clinton won 34 percent of white women without college degrees and she won just 54 percent of women overall, compared to Obamas 55 percent in 2012. Clinton, of course, was running against a candidate who has gloated on film about grabbing women ‘by the pussy’. To believe that Trumps appeal was entirely based on ethnic nationalism and misogyny is to believe that a near majority of Americans are driven only by hate and a shared desire for a far right political program. I certainly don’t believe that, and the facts don’t bear that out.
Finishing his campaign, Trump promised to break the control of Washington and ‘Drain the swamp’, it was a message that appealed to many people. However, all these that voted for Donald Trump because they saw him as an outsider need to take a closer look at who Trump has recruited to help him set policy. The Trump transition team is run by former contender for Republican Presidential nominee Chris Christie. Furthermore, the team is nothing more than a who’s who of influence peddlers including energy advisor, Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist for Koch industries and the Walt Disney Company; Eric Ueland, a senate republican staffer who has previously lobbied for Goldman Sachs and William Palatitucci, an attorney in New Jersey whose lobbying firm represents Aetna and Verizon. The group has held regular meetings at the Washington offices of Baker Hostetler, a law and lobbying firm. On the last Thursday before the election, the group hosed a meeting attended by Microsoft’s Ed Ingle and Steve Hart, two lobbyists who have worked to promote the Trans Pacific partnership that Trump so passionately ridiculed in the debate. Other meetings have included briefings with Lobby groups that represent Wall Street Interests, as well as with groups that represent Saudi Arabia and the South Korean Government. Trump of course is not alone in relying on entrenched political insiders to shape his future administration, but it is undeniable that Trumps portrayal of himself as an alternative is nothing more than a lie that many Americans bought into, hook, line and sinker.
So who is responsible for Trump winning the election? The most obvious Culprits to start with are the republican elite who allowed their party to be hijacked by a far right and brutally unsuitable demagogue. A few notable exceptions such as Mitt Romney and former president George W. Bush, refused to endorse Trump, but the majority of republicans decided it was in their own political self-interest clamber onto the Trump bandwagon and cheerlead for him, despite knowing full well that he is one of the most dangerous candidates ever to run for office in the USA. The problem with blaming the republicans however, is that their recent history is stuffed full of terribly incompetent presidential candidates. Richard Nixon is rightly remembered as the most dishonest president in history. Ronald Reagan was a B movie actor, who went on to wholeheartedly apply neoliberal pseudo economics throughout his time in office. Ten there was George Bush who made Reagan look like a towering intellect by comparison. Then in 2012, there was Mitt Romney, just imagine who thought it was a good idea to put forward a vampire capitalist like Romney at a time when the nation was still suffering from the fallout of the fallout of a Global financial sector meltdown! Trying to blame the republicans for selecting terrifying, dishonest and outright moronic presidential candidates is like blaming the sun for setting at night or attempting to stop the tide coming in by shouting at it. It is just what republicans do!
If you’re looking for a particular voting demographic to blame for Trump, then there’s a much more obvious one than the white working class scapegoats. The white evangelical Christians came out to back the least Christian candidate the US has ever seen, and they are getting an astonishing free pass from the majority of the media elite for their hypocrisy. The exit polls suggest that Trump won the evangelical Christian vote 81% - 16%. In the key swing state of Florida, which arguably helped to secure the presidency for Trump, that margin was an even more emphatic 85% - 13%. Trump is a divisive, arrogant, intolerant, sexist, abusive, casino building, multiple times divorced, sexual predator, yet millions of so called evangelicals flocked the polls to give him the strongest evangelical endorsement of any candidate in decades. It is actually pretty easy to understand why millions of working class Americans would want to stick two fingers up to the political class that have oppressed them for years on end, but what I can’t wrap my head around is why people who claim to uphold the principles of the bible would want to vote for such a ludicrously immoral candidate, especially when a number of evangelical ministers specifically told them not to vote Trump. Then again, blaming white evangelicals for their abject hypocrisy is as fruitless as blaming the republicans for putting forward an even worse crackpot candidate than the ones before Trump. White evangelicals flocking to the polls to vote Republican is as reliable as the Republicans picking terrifying presidential candidates for them to vote for.
In my view the most blameworthy people of all for this result are the Democratic Party elite who worked tirelessly to undermine Bernie Sanders and rig the Democratic primaries against him. These people deliberately crushed Sanders campaign simply because they believed that it was Hillary Clintons turn to be President. The polls clearly showed that Sanders had a much better chance of defeating Trump, but the Democratic Party elite and pretty much all of their anti-democratic super delegates, sided with Clinton, but it is much worse than that. The evidence is absolutely clear that elite democrats deliberately rigged the contest to ensure that Sanders couldn’t win the nomination. The incredible misfire of derailing a grassroots democracy campaign in favour of appointing the most pro-establishment Wall Street friendly candidate imaginable is all too obvious now Trump has won, but it was always a deeply risky move, especially considering the revolutionary mood that has been growing in global politics since the global financial sector insolvency crisis of 2008. People all over the world have been crying out for alternatives to complacent political elites who allowed the global financial sector meltdown to happen in the first place, then even more unforgivably loaded the cost of the crisis onto the backs of ordinary people whilst allowing the super-rich minority to make themselves even richer. Incredibly the Democratic Party elitists decided to completely ignore this revolutionary mood and install their favoured Wall Street backed puppet candidate rather than support the candidate who was running an inspirational anti-establishment campaign that was tapping into political anger at a political system that does not serve the interests of ordinary people. We will never know whether Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump, because the Democratic Party elites colluded with Clinton to prevent the possibility. However, we can be sure that Sanders message of change would have done a lot more to take out of Trumps ‘make America great again’ message, than Clintons constant ‘more of the same’ rhetoric.
Overall, there are two responses to Trumps victory, one is to blame the people of America, and the other is to blame the elite of the country. In the coming days and weeks, many political pundits will be doing the former. Frightened liberals have already written explainers on how to move to Canada: On the night after the election the Canadian immigration website went down after a surge of traffic. The people who brought us to this precipice are now planning their escape. Blaming the American public for Trumps victory only deepens the elitism that rallied Trumps campaign in the first place. It’s unquestionable that racism and sexism played a role in Trumps rise, and it’s horrifying to contemplate the ways in which his triumph will serve to strengthen the cruellest and most bigoted forces in American society. Still, a response to Trump that begins and ends with horror is not a political response, it is a form of paralysis, a politics of hiding under the bed. This is a new era that requires a new type of poitics, one that speaks to people’s needs and hopes rather than their fears. Elite liberalism, it turns out, cannot defeat right wing populism. We can’t move to Canada or hide under the bed. This is a moment to embrace democratic policies, not repudiate them.

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