President Donald Trump. The pundits and the commentators don’t know where to start. They never saw it coming, and now they are in a spin to explain the outcome. This is not a definitive answer. As with any good social science thesis it is framed with the admission that the facts (which prove nothing), are explained by my own socialist values and political theories.
First, it has to be appreciated that Trump’s team were savvy with social media. The key target was not the electorate, but the conventional media. Team Trump took the dark asides that are common place in the honky tonk bars, “I know how we’d keep those dammed Greasers out… .we build a fooking waal “ . Trump duly tweeted the solution, it went viral as it sparked a feeding frenzy amongst a lazy fourth estate, and soon they were hooked on creating sensational stories around his daily tweet.
This tactic had two corollaries: When Clinton stooped to Trump’s level it backfired badly. On the 9 September she rolled her eyes and in a shrill hectoring rant described Trump’s supporters as “baskets of deplorables”. She later tried to apologise and retract the insult, but the damage was done. Until the votes are cast, all the electorate must be regarded as potential voters. Clinton had alienated large sections of working class America.
The mudslinging and personal nature of the abuse also created a bitter vacuous atmosphere that impacted on the turnouts. Neither candidate was able to dispel the negative feelings that their candidacy generated. This was reflected in the low turnout as 46% of eligible Americans failed to vote.
The Democratic Party can blame no one but themselves. They had a choice between Bernie Sanders and a woman with zero charisma, a ton of political baggage and financed by Goldman Sachs. In the rush to be politically correct and put a woman in the Whitehouse, they knowingly chose Barabbas.
In a useful analysis of the voter demographics the LA Times (Nov 10) identifies Clinton’s popular vote was with supporters tightly packed into dense urban clusters, with heavy immigrant diversity, loose religious affiliation, greater educational and economic opportunities than the average American.
By contrast the Trump trail to the Whitehouse spanned the country, largely bypassing the metropolises as it meandered via the Bible Belt, the vast rural heartlands of small town America, and the old post industrial ‘rust belts’ of the north. A staggering 56% of unionised workers voted for Trump. With jobs, trades, skills and dignity disappearing, they have bugger all left to lose.
The loss of these once staunch Democratic States like Iowa, demonstrates that the much vaunted 1990s post modern centralism of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair has been the ideological victim of the 2007 banking crash. The Liberal Third Way did nothing to protect citizens from austerity.
Clinton and New Labour’s modern liberalism always had thin superficial understanding of people and societies; it too often regards society as an arbitrary collection of individuals without any particular ties or alliances. It’s the ‘cruise liner’ theory of a nation, in which people come together for a voyage, but have no ongoing relationship. To this kind of liberalism, people are rational, selfish and self-interested individuals obsessed with the politics of lifestyle.
They are easy to manage with an opium of sport, celebrity culture and X factor stardom. Citizenship has been replaced with consumerism and cosmopolitanism has banished internationalism. If the Spanish Civil War was fought today, we would be encouraged to post a few “likes” for the Republican forces as opposed to joining the cross community Connolly Column.
And yet there are signs that the 21st century proletariat are stirring from the neo liberal spiked trance. In America workers had no electoral choice but to go with a resurgent populist right. Is it not time in Ireland for the Left to put aside the ideological and personality differences, and for the common good find solidarity to make a difference at the ballot box?
In 2007, veteran Republican and Socialist Tommy McKearney predicted that the world was entering a process of change. The point [for Socialists] is to influence what is happening.