About 59 million Americans voted to give the most powerful office on the planet to a self-proclaimed billionaire endorsed by members of the Ku Klu Klan and lauded by the country’s largest white supremacist group as its ‘Glorious Leader’. That his name is Donald Trump is something the world will be coming to grips with for a long time.
It’s tempting to continue down that route, to wonder how his improbable rise ended as it did last night with the keys to the Oval Office, as we recall the nativist, racist, sexist, xenophobic and misogynist rhetoric and behavior he put on display throughout the campaign. He certainly unleashed and emboldened some from those fringe elements in US society, welcoming even white supremacists and neo-Nazis into his tent.
Sure, there are more nativists, racists, sexists, xenophobes and misogynists in the US than most care to admit –plenty more– but that’s not why he won. He triumphed because Hillary Clinton and the current version of the Democratic Party deserved to lose.
Woefully out of touch and so lacking any real vision or direction for most of the past two decades, the Democrats couldn’t even beat someone so profoundly unqualified, unprepared and out of his depth. The most enthusiasm she could muster was from people who were convinced she was the lesser evil.
I sided with those originally behind Bernie Sanders in the primary, but only forced to settle for Clinton for, to borrow a close friend’s term, containment.
That doesn’t do it for most voters though, especially when the anointed candidate is named Clinton; that should have been crystal clear to the party establishment with the energy emanating from Sanders in the primary. Since the mainstream media was largely ignoring it at the time, they did too. Why burst their own bubble?
Clintonian politics, the neoliberal anti-progressive philosophy that began the party’s pronounced shift to the right with Hillary’s husband 20 years ago, is now dead, the party in many ways a shambles.
The post-mortem will need to address the real shift back to truly representing their traditional working class base and roots, one that Sanders’ primary campaign managed to energize and inspire. And one that the post-Bill Clinton wing largely turned their backs on in favor of moneyed interests and Wall Street. That bubble, much like the echo chambers many of us inhabit on social media, has finally shattered.
In the meantime, the challenges will be immense, with the future of the entire planet –and the state of the planet itself– very much uncertain with someone as unpredictable and clownish as Trump at the helm.
With majorities in both the House and Senate, the reality TV star whose business portfolio includes a well-documented history of scamming and cheating customers, contractors and associates, will essentially be unchecked. Who he’ll surround himself with is a mystery, since so few from his own party’s establishment warmly embraced him or his candidacy.