As an American/Australian I’ve become increasingly unfamiliar with the country where I went to University and spent some of my childhood.
Those days (1975-86) seem halycon ones from this time and place. Gosh, we thought Gerald Ford was a nerd and an idiot. And Jimmy Carter, God Bless him, got pilloried by the press for confessing he ‘lusted after women in his heart’. [Of course, his love of the Allman Brothers Band was pretty cool for a President!]
And in 1980 I remember feeling despair and horror with the assumption of the Oval Office by one Ronald Reagan. In fact, I think my sense of ‘gutted-ness’ was greater back then. How could we have elected a man of such shallowness and retro-ideas? And his bold jingoistic language at the height of the Cold War was truly frightening.
Of course, in hindsight, Reagan was a far preferable choice than the man Americans have just elected. Reagan may have been dim but he was grandfatherly. And old school. The idea of Ronnie bragging about grabbing any part of a woman’s anatomy, let alone her crotch, is incomprehensible.
I’ve willfully turned my attention away from this campaign so have no opinion on the soundness of any of Trump’s policies. Indeed, other than The Wall, I couldn’t name one. But even way down here in Australia it has been impossible to escape his crude, rude, inflammatory, sophomoric pronouncements. And on that basis alone, I feel sorry for the United States. Is this the man we really want to represent us?
How did this happen?
How did the pundits not detect the millions of disgruntled and angry citizens that came out of the woodwork like armies of termites to cast their votes for a man of such ridiculousness?
I have a cousin (quite a few, if truth be told) who is an ardent fan of the man. Early in the campaign she informed me that it was his business mind that would set America on the right path. She also offered some complaints about foreigners getting help from the government while people like her got nothing. Ever.
I didn’t argue with my cousin. Mainly because I like her and didn’t want a man like Trump to ruin family harmony. But it was my first real exposure to the deep feeling of resentment middle class Americans harbour towards their rulers in Washington.
The real narrative of this election is not Donald Trump, no matter how colourful the media and his team made him.
This is a tale of how truly disenfranchised the average white American feels. And today they expressed their rage. That the Donald is crass, gross and crude and has weird hair is EXACTLY the point. Those who voted for him are saying ‘ Screw You’ to the entire Establishment. This they could not have done with any of other 16 (!) candidates the Republican machine produced. Bush, Cruz, Rubio and the others were all part of the very system Trump’s supporters detest and distrust.
That the media and commentators did not sense a mighty wind blowing as each one of the other candidates fell by the wayside and Trump stormed through his campaign is an indication of just how far up their own derrieres their heads were.
So the angry white middle class and blue collar American has staged a revolution. But is there a coherent agenda?
There doesn’t seem to be and clearly those holding the pitchforks don’t care.
How many video clips have we seen in which Trump supporters admit they cannot name a single policy position of their hero? This is not because they are idiots. Policy is simply NOT the point in this election. It’s about revenge, pure and simple. Revenge for electing a black man perhaps. Revenge for a world that is changing so quickly. Revenge for an awful lifestyle. [Americans’ real wages have been on a plateau since 1970!]
Now that the anger has been vented, what happens next? Will this translate into real change? Will the forgotten white people of America get a bigger slice of the pie? Or will they be eaten by the system, yet again?
Two final observations.
First, when things started to tilt away from HRC today I came across an article by Paul Krugman. In it he bemoaned the disconnect between the Establishment and those Americans who were delivering a huge win to Trump. The article was insightful as most of his are. But it reeked of the very arrogance Trump supporters so detest. Here was a well educated East Coast liberal speaking about them and their ‘issues’ as if he knew what they really were.
Why, I wondered, don’t we let these people speak for themselves?
Then the penny dropped. They were speaking. Through their votes and their embrace of the comic grotesque mannequin Donald Trump.
Second. Why does Hillary feel she is exempt from doing the final task that is required of every politician in the democratic world who draws the short straw? What her refusal to meet her supporters and concede graciously revealed about her–disconnect, self-importance, arrogance and a sense of scorn for those unlike herself– summed up exactly why this was such a bitter election.