A remarkably diverse array of “explanations” of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory have been aired, representing both the conventional political spectrum and well beyond.
Let’s start with the conventional mainstream media “explanations”:
#1: Trump was elected by intolerant Americans, i.e. “deplorables” who are intolerant of immigrants, Muslims, women’s rights, gays, etc. while being overly attached to firearms and the Christian religion.
This sort of broad-brush slander is emotionally appealing to those who lost the election, as it enables the losing party to claim the high moral ground. (It’s also classic propaganda, a topic Chris addressed in a recent series.) But it overlooks the many Progressives who voted for Trump but did not dare announce their choice to their hysterically intolerant Democratic loyalist friends. For example, consider this female voter’s account: Liberals Should Stop Ranting And Seek Out Silent Trump Voters Like Me.
Another “explanation”, though satisfying in terms of self-righteousness, has no credible explanatory value.
#2: Trump didn’t win the election, Hillary Clinton lost it.
This “explanation” constructs a narrative from polling data: African-American voters did not turn out for Hillary in the same high percentages as they did for President Obama, a surprising number of higher income households voted for Trump, etc. If Hillary had drawn the expected percentages of voters, she would have won.
#3: The unprotected Americans (to use Peggy Noonan’s term) who have seen their incomes and security decline in the age of neoliberal globalization voted for Trump to reject globalism, unfettered immigration and free trade.
This narrative is ably dissected in this 5-part series from Spiegel.de: Inequality, Market Chaos and Angry Voters: A Turning Point for Globalization
In the U.S. media, this narrative is typically characterized as a sports event: the “losers” of neoliberal globalization struck back at the “winners.”
This explanation draws upon well-established economic trends: sharply rising inequality, the hollowing out of the Rust Belt and rural economies in “flyover” America, etc.
#4: Trump’s victory is another manifestation of the global revolt against elites.
#5: Trump has been set up as the fall-guy for an economy that is teetering on the edge of recession or even depression. The coming recession/depression will discredit Trump and the populist/nationalist movement, setting the stage for the neoliberal globalists to return triumphantly to power in four years.
#6: The Clinton campaign was a “quiet coup” of corrupt elites intent on solidifying the merger of private-sector/philanthro-capitalist pay-for-play and government functions. A “counter-coup” staged by elements of the Deep State (i.e. the unelected permanent government that remains in power regardless of which party is in office) foiled Clinton’s quiet coup.
As far fetched as this might sound, Clinton insider Sidney Blumenthal accused the FBI of staging a “coup” by reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails.
Conclusion (to Part 1)
Can we summarize these narratives (some competing, some overlapping) in any instructive fashion? I think we can roughly divide them into three categories:
- Moral claims: the neoliberal “progressives” are morally superior to the “deplorables” and so the neoliberals (the remarkably intolerant “tolerants”) deserved to win on moral grounds; alternatively, the pay-to-play Clinton camp is ethically bankrupt and its claims to the moral high ground are hypocritical.
- Elite machinations: insiders either set up Trump as the easy-to-beat opponent or as the fall-guy for the coming depression; alternatively, the Deep State was split into two camps, the neocons who backed Hillary and the insurgents who saw Hillary as a threat to national security.
- Structural economic/social issues: rising wealth/income inequality and the decline of the bottom 95% finally had political consequences.
Full article: The Power Struggle Unfolding Before Our Eyes (Peak Prosperity)