Why is Trump President?

It’s not that Trump voters are all racist, misogynists, finally coming home to a candidate who supports their singular world view. How can that be, when ethnic minorities and women voted for Trump in their millions?

It’s not that Trump voters are all uneducated, gullible fools, who fell for his schtick and didn’t know any better. How can that be, when millions of college educated and high earners voted for Trump in their millions?
We draw parallels between what Trump said, and wrongly assume that all voters aligned themselves with him based on that. Trump said Mexicans are rapists, so voters must support that. Trump said he grabs women by the p***y, so voters must support that. It’s wrong.
We don’t say that as Clinton wrote off half the electorate as deplorables, and Clinton voters believe in that. Or that Clinton supporters support dodgy email practices, or huge middle eastern donation to nebulous foundations? No. We accuse the right of seeing things in 2D, but then stubbornly refuse to see our own vision is similarly impaired.
It’s a testament to the complexity of human decision making when it is presented with binary options that one can sustain so many self-contradictions and still make a choice at all.

So why did Trump win?

Simply because he represented change, upheaval against the status quo. I say represented because the ‘change’ was all implied in his words- he talked openly about wild plans, promises no politician hoping to stay a politician would make. He railed against the media and the ‘elite’, despite himself enjoying huge media promotion and being practically born in a suit. His new cabinet will include two Wall Street bankers. There is no change, only it’s perception. 

But what did Clinton offer? The most concrete representation of more of the same as was humanly possible. Literally the woman in the White House 20 years ago. 

The problem the left have with understanding this, is that while they aren’t willing to hold their nose and vote for Trump on a principle; his racist and divisive campaign were truly abhorrent. The right are willing to vote for him, simply because they had something to vote for even more important than these values; change.

If you’re in a difficult position, and feel like society does not value you, and then someone comes along with a solution for you, no matter how wild or xenophobic or anything, but it’s the only solution really on offer, are you going to take it? I’d find it hard to imagine a person refusing on strong principle a chance to make their life and their families lives better.

Yes there are extremes attached to Trump, but perhaps that just reflects how broad a message he had, compared to Clinton who attracted no extremes at all. 

Protesting against the government is a democratic right, rights hard won and fought for. But ultimately it’s pointless- you can’t fight in your streets to change the mind of a voter 600 miles away. Channel that energy into building campaign momentum- and remember to offer something other than criticism of the actions or thoughts of others, however appalling to your principles. The right did it, wth the Tea Party, which eventually evolved into Trump. The status quo and progressive inequality in the country might be falsely blamed on immigration or Mexicans or ISIS, but if you don’t offer an alternative then don’t be surprised if you don’t win hearts and minds.
If you want to change a country you need the might of everybody, not just those you agree with. The same contradictions apply to Brexit.

– They promised Sovereignty – yet Parliament can’t decide, and EU law passed with 96% UK approval

– They promised cuts to Immigration- yet outside EU controls don’t change, and we already have border control. Leaving EU doesn’t change EU immigration either unless leaving single market as well.

– They promised money for the NHS- yet the NHS lost research funds and staff through Brexit and will collapse without funding
Yet Brexit told its leavers that they were offered something, when Remain didn’t offer anything but the same. And they lost.

Ignoring calls for change, no matter how flawed, will simply lead to further power gains for conservatism in this country. 

Corbyn’s gentle, polite politics isn’t inspiring anyone. His poor PR strategy isn’t appealing to the man in the street. But then nor was Labours acquiescence to the status quo, their capitulation to the complete falsehood austerity was necessary, that the deficit was due to ‘overspending’ government, and their persistent in-fighting.
It’s not sufficient to fight harder- this isn’t a fight. You won’t defeat opposing ideology into voting for you, you have to convince them to join you. In order to convince them you need to offer something that they want- a better life for themselves and their family. Building that vision is now the fight, carving out that politics is now the challenge, and the price of failure has never been higher.


1 Comment

  1. You are right. Even as a non-American outsider I can see that a change was wanted with many thinking he would be no worse than what was being offered by the opposing party. That as many as 49% eligible voters failed to vote is also an indictment of the political system.

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