Well, this is a sad fucking day.
Not only is an election being won by a puffed up buffoon with tiny hands and massive insecurities but the people who are supposed to make sense of this chaos have decided to take leave of their reason and blame the whole thing on bigotry.
But that doesn’t make sense.
America has a problem with bigotry, sure. But it’s not like the place suddenly got more bigoted over the past few years.
No, this election wasn’t won by bigotry.
It was lost by elitism, from both the Democrats and the Republicans.
Let’s start with the basics. This US election was shaken up by two people: Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders.
In fact after Sanders was eliminated many of his voters announced that they were going to vote for Trump.
That should have been a gigantic red flag that something strange was happening. Trump and Sanders are political opposites. They don’t agree on much of anything. They only have 1 thing in common:
They are outsiders.
Switching a vote from Sanders to Trump only makes sense if it’s a reaction against the political establishment.
Now why might that happen?
Well, Paul Krugman kinda predicted it. In his book ‘Conscience of a Liberal’ he accurately predicted that the Republican Party would start to fall apart because its voters were starting to realise that Republican politicians don’t actually give a crap about them. They are more interested in pandering to lobbyists, bribes (sorry, I meant “contributions” and “free speech in the form of money”) and other ways that they can benefit personally.
What Krugman didn’t realise was that the Democrats would get fucked for exactly the same reason.
See, here’s the thing. Most Americans want fewer wars, reduced income inequality, and for the influence of money in politics to be reduced.
But even though America’s people want this America’s politicians do not, so none of it will happen.
Every time someone said that “even if Bernie Sanders wins they won’t let him change anything” they were admitting that America’s politicians don’t actually care what America’s voters want to happen. They have their own agendas that they think are more important.
So point 1 of this article is that a lot of people in the US believe that the political establishment doesn’t speak for them, and they’re right!
And point 2 is the fact that both the Democrats and the Republicans have been ignoring the plight of rural America.
Liberals on the whole have not ignored it, but they mostly talk about it in order to make fun of it. Every time there is a character on TV with a ‘rural’ accent you can predict that they are going to be the stupid comic relief guy.
It constantly annoys me that American liberals can say “we support poor Americans and the Republicans don’t!” and then turn around and post deeply insensitive, classist memes about “white trash who live in trailer parks”.
Ummm…you do know those are pretty much the same fucking people, right?
US Conservatives might not play to that trope, but they sure as fuck ignore rural Americans almost as much as the Democrats do.
And that’s a problem because the rural areas are in the shit right now, and have been for a while.
Small towns in the US were traditionally sustained by a single large industry like a coal mine, a car factory, or whatever. Now all those industries are closing and moving their jobs overseas.
The Republicans don’t care about this because they’re all about big business.
On the other hand the Democrats…also don’t care, because they are also about big business.
The flight of jobs from the US to other countries kicked into high gear because of NAFTA, an agreement that was created and pushed through by none other than Bill Clinton who felt that America could best be served by moving its skilled labour jobs to cheaper countries.
Hillary Clinton feels the same way, as do most Democrats.
So you have rural areas where jobs are steadily declining, and then you get a financial crisis that punches everyone in the gonads.
And despite what Bill Maher might have you believe America as a whole has not recovered from the crisis. The cities have recovered, heck thanks to Obama some of them are booming. But the rural areas haven’t seen any of that improvement. They still haven’t gotten over the Great Recession and it’s been almost ten years now.
So you’re left with a situation where rural Americans, who make up about half the country’s population, are under economic and cultural pressure and who feel that none of the regular politicians have any interest in helping them.
From their perspective the only rational response is to choose someone who isn’t a member of the political establishment.
And in this election that means Trump.
I’m hopeful that perhaps this will make the Democrats do some soul searching that goes beyond assuming that Trump only won because of bigotry. I am hoping that they decide to take rural areas and rural problems more seriously going forward.
But they probably won’t. Right now they’re probably thinking to themselves “Trump won by being a bigot…we should be more bigoted!”
Because everything I’ve seen from them so far suggests to me that they are using cries of “bigotry!” instead of asking the hard questions about what they might have been doing wrong.
Like being classist and elitist for example, when they’re supposed to be the party that supports ‘the little guy’.
[Standard Disclaimer: this post was entirely my own opinion and was not paid for in any way, directly or otherwise, by anyone or anything that stands to gain in any way from the ideas expressed herein.]