I have been a Democrat for all of my American life. Even before I earned the right to vote I, repulsed by the senior Bush, campaigned for Bill Clinton’s first election. Until six months back, I would have said that a vote for a third party, even the idealistic Green Party, was a wasted vote. I have a democratic and compassionate heart: philosophically, I am far more aligned with the Democrats’ positions than with the Republicans’, even though there have been individual Republicans that I have liked and respected as human beings and friends.
However, I became disenchanted with Obama and his over-compromising nature, militarism, his responsibility for the deaths of so many non-American civilians, and his distancing himself from black Americans and their suffering. He was too Republican and Establishment for my tastes; and Hillary Clinton seemed even further to the right of him.
Then, Bernie Sanders’ candidacy inspired me in a way that no candidate, not even Obama had. Had Bill Gates matched my contributions to Sanders’ campaign proportionate to his net worth, it would have cost him a couple of billion dollars. Bernie’s exit was a deep personal loss, especially as it became obvious that both the DNC and the media had worked for his opponent.
Still, I expected Hillary to win; Trump’s victory surprised me … though not completely, for I had also been listening to non-mainstream media viewpoints. Some possible explanations for Trump’s victory (they don’t necessarily supplant other explanations, but perhaps just add some complexity to the picture).
–According to someone I know who is very well read and speaks with a few people in offficial circles, and who I asked to make a guess as to who would win in the election 2 days later: he said that Hillary Clinton, the original choice of the Deep State, had become too damaged, and too much of a liability thanks to the existing and potential FBI and congressional investigations. He said, “The Deep State will not let her win. They now favor Trump.”
–From my conversations with a young white American, who felt alienated from America: he blamed, partly, the divide between white working class men and white women, particularly college-educated women who are vocal promoters and enforcers of political correctness.
–Though Hillary Clinton was initially the candidate of Wall Street and the billionaire class, she had burdened herself with promises of fairness towards social causes and more economic opportunity for the lower classes–promises she couldn’t entirely ignore once in power, and which would be a drain on the profits or existing wealth of the elite.
–A well-educated German friend said, “I think the Trump tapes actually helped Trump. He came across as a real person. Hillary–she had told so many lies that I could no more believe a word she said.”
–A power-mad, elite-and-money-courting Clinton and the Democratic establishment betrayed the rest of us; their lies and insincerity repelled enough people as to abstain from the election or to vote for a Third Party.
–Had I only viewed this short George Carlin video (George Carlin on why he doesn’t vote. ) 18 months back, I may have not wasted over 1000 hours following this exhausting, emotionally draining campaign.
–Actually, if we can step away from black-and-white thinking for a moment: During the campaign, Trump was funny and real even when he was, at times, also offensive. What political correctness and know-it-all liberalism may have done is to suppress the real racism within us, and to deny it, because it is no longer “cool”, in elite and educated circles, to be perceived as racist. This is why, despite the absence of surface racism in the Northeast and in the Western states, blacks continue to be poor, lack opportunity, go to prison more often, and die younger. I write about the sophisticated (meaning, not crude or open) racism of the Western elite in my books Impressing the Whites and The Killing of an Author.
All or a few of these, including the perception, among Sanders voters, that Bernie Sanders was unfairly cheated of his candidacy, helped Trump, who won by just around a 3-4% margin (or less) in many battleground states, get his required electoral vote majority with the help of blacks (who felt that Obama had betrayed them during his 8 years), Latinos, Sanders Democrats/independents, and white women voters who voted for Trump. Not a majority of these groups by far, but sufficient numbers as to give Trump the margin he needed to win.
The lesson for the Democratic Party is clear: put your house in order, be more democratic, be less beholden to the corporations and special interests and to big money. Hoping against hope, I hope Bernie Sanders and his followers (and even his ex-followers) are energized by this defeat to work against Big Money in politics. (Which, by the way, was also part of Donald Trump’s pitch to voters: to vote out Big Money, and to stop the corruption of politicians by lobbyists and special interests.)
The lessons for the country, IMHO: Go for proportional representation (any other method promotes the tyranny of the majority, and makes possible such travesties as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II); abandon the electoral college or wasteful primary system for presidential elections; restructure the Senate (equating Hawaii and Vermont with California is insane); free college education, because an educated population is more likely to resist bad candidates and to demand uprightness and intelligent, coherent positions from their would-be leaders.
Incidentally, I just looked up the Deep State.
Make what you will of it. And let’s hope that Trump, practical businessman, New Yorker, epicure, and cosmopolitan playboy at heart, said all that he said merely because he was a shrewd reader of people and said it to get elected. And that he tells his followers, “Forget it, I won’t tolerate xenophobia or racism from you or anyone else; I’m now the president of all Americans.” In any case, I know I would rather risk a President Trump than a conservative zealot President Pence.
[A few weeks later: How deceived most of us were! And will the surprises never end?]