WTF Trump?!

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John Haly discusses the circumstances that led to President-elect Donald Trump.

WHEN even Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph leads off the day after the U.S. election with the letters “WTF”, you know something major has happened. 

Given how supportive the Murdoch press was initially for Donald Trump, it is disingenuous for the Telegraph to be milking the global shock reaction. But of course, such a response will sell papers and, as usual, the profit motive “trumps” ideological approval of the result. 

In Australia, PM Malcolm Turnbull very quickly – as he does so often – capitulated to the ultra-right and affirmed his alignment with the new administration.

Two rather interesting and telling reactions to the growing realisation Trump would win were the markets plummeting and the Canadian immigration website collapsing. While the markets have made something of a recovery, there is an element of nervousness in the future because of his unpredictability. Regarding the Canadian immigration website, one can only infer Americans began immediately exploring their options of leaving America. Like our Australian Census website, the Canadian site was not built to withstand so much “natural” traffic and failed.

When my father was alive, he made a number of efforts to have me and my family relocate back across the border from NSW to Queensland. As he pointed out, over 1,000 people a week were moving up to Queensland from NSW — my father promoted it as the choice sane, rational and smart people were making, and I agreed with him. However, since my wife as a psychologist, made a living out of treating dysfunctionality, I countered that the migration of smart and sane people to Queensland meant greater opportunities for my wife to ply her trade in NSW. He replied with “Touché!“ and so we stayed put. 

Perhaps now we should hurry to America. I suspect Canadian immigration will still be inundated once they restore their website. The Chaser is suggesting the Mexican border may also be swamped with fleeing Americans.

President-elect Trump, embraced so wholeheartedly by middle America, is fueling anger amongst democrats and socialists in America. Although there have been riots, anger is not leveled so much at Trump but at the failures of the Democratic Party (DNC). Many articles have reflected that the choice of Hillary Clinton was the lesser of two evils. 

Clinton was not the popular choice, although she was the corporate choice as evidenced by her significant corporate donors list. It is becoming apparent that many Bernie Sanders supporters either simply abstained from voting, voted for minority candidates or even switched to vote for Trump.

This, however, was offset by another ironic development — many Trump voters couldn’t vote. This, as evidenced by the many complaints on the right-wing 4chan online hangout, was because they didn’t register to vote. A major part of Clinton's strategy, on the other hand, was ensuring supporters registered, which Trump had largely neglected.

The question of the offset difference between Bernie voters abstaining or voting for Trump, versus non-registered Trump supporters, remains. Certainly, the overall effect did not hamper Trump’s success. The Democrats, however, created a rod for their own back. The DNC undermined Bernie Sanders despite his greater following, as he refused corporate money and was not beholden to them. 

Hillary gladly accepted her donors and the Faustian bargain was completed — she got the nomination. The DNC have only their own corrupt internal arrogance to blame for this failure to beat Trump. Sanders was never behind Trump in the polls, although neither did the polls predict a Trump win. If the final choice weren’t so disastrous for the Democrats, I would say it served them right. Their arrogant complacency and willingness to bend over to bow to the will of their corporate donors has handed America over to a racist, misogynist, incompetent liar and failed business man who has a trail of corporate wreckage behind him.

Political parties need to wake up and start listening to their supporters, not their donors and internal lobbyists. It’s the same in Australia — corporate political donations are well overdue for review.

The media was also complicit in handing America to Trump. As former Democrat Senator and now Greens member, Arthur Chesterfield-Evans observed:  

But if the level of disgust in the process of government is enough to turn a US Presidential election, one must also wonder about the effect of the media. For years, news has been replaced by infotainment.  What is important is replaced by what is titillating or exciting. News is trivial, what is important is often not covered, particularly things like falling middle class jobs and stagnating wages …

So the non-expert, pontificating and criticising overcomes the expert discussing sensibly- how many of those are on TV? The shock jock has become more important than the politician. So why are we surprised when it now happens in real life? The shock jock beat the politician. And the pollsters got it wrong again  just like in Brexit.

The American political élite were not inclusive of what they regarded as the "hoi polloi". The people who once engaged with Obama have turned on the Democrats, who have continued to cater to corporate interests. The grass roots support for Bernie Sanders demonstrated this. Given the turnaround in voting patterns, there had to be many former Democrats who changed their allegiances, not merely because of a racist or misogynist agenda — even if Trump represented that. 

There were other influences that guided Americans.  The hoi polloi saw an establishment that bailed out banks rather than implement banking regulation on Wall Street. The brutal destruction of the Occupy Movement by a coordinated effort led by the FBI, won no favourable impressions. Despite long-term unemployed Americans having dropped by 614,000, there were still 761,000 more unemployed than at the start of the Great Recession in 2016. Home ownership dropped and while worthy projects, such as the Heidelberg Project, converted abandoned houses into art works in Detroit. (That such a project even exists is telling of the U.S. economy.)

The myth of the great "American Dream" has been dashed as the government has failed to provide genuine opportunity for social mobility amongst Americans. The government also failed to facilitate educational opportunities for the majority. 

Interestingly, the largest significant characteristic of Trump voter demographics was an absence of a college degree.  And foreign policy during the last administration, which resulted in America bombing seven countries and adding to the huge worldwide mass of refugees, is winning few friends. (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria, in case you weren’t keeping track.)


Exit polls have shown that Trump maintained a strong lead amongst white men, supported by the conservative religious right. Which leads us into examining the category of folks who had other reasons other than their disillusionment with the performance of the current administration. There is also the group of white men and women who aligned with Trump’s core values. They sought to assert their claim to racial dominance and hierarchical social control. As in Australia, many Americans rejected egalitarian pluralism for bigotry, misogyny and racism.

The “right to be a bigot” (as Brandis lobbied for) has been implanted in the moral ethos of three major western democracies. Brexit for Britain, Trump for America and Turnbull’s capitulation to the neo-conservatives of his party for Australia. All the progress in values, morality, fairness and equality which so many folks at the grassroots in this generation witnessed, have been dashed on the shores of hatred, pettiness and division.

The blow to egalitarianism that Trump represents has been a crushing blow many are still reeling from. But having been hit so hard we cannot stay down. We cannot surrender to the hatred. Like the followers of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu or Martin Luther King, we have to pick ourselves back up off the ground. We have to face that they defile our hopes and stand for true freedom from oppression, racism, bigotry and misogyny.

The battle for a more progressive, egalitarian and inclusive society continues and we cannot let this defeat define us.

You can follow John Haly on Twitter @halyucinations or on his blog at auswakeup.info.

Celebrities discuss a Trump win.

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