US Election: Thoughts & Analysis

What’s up everyone? Back from our multi-month hiatus, TTB has decided to jump on the bandwagon and talk about the recent election result. That being said, it’s worth pointing out that I was covering the election quite heavily during the primaries and unlike a lot of major outlets I wasn’t limited to “omgz Clinton gonna win, take that Drumpf”. So first things first; I was wrong, I thought the 2016 presidential election would’ve been Sanders v Cruz. Had it not been for the straight up corruption and black mail within the DNC I would’ve been half right (Sanders v Trump), regardless the election ended up being Clinton v Trump. Being entirely honest I couldn’t think of a worse choice, Hillary Clinton is the absolute worst example of a career politician; someone who has dedicated their life to eventually holding power, Donald Trump is for the most part a sleazy businessman who says awful shit and retires to his tower to sit atop his pile of money like Smaug the dragon. I could go to the effort of proving that both of them sucked, but let’s ignore that and instead tackle what I have called “The Five Dragons of Defeat”.

So what the fuck are “The Five Dragons of Defeat”? Well, basically five key factors led to American voters choosing Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton and I felt like using dragons as a metaphor because I fucking love dragons. Let’s go!

The First Dragon: Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

In conversations surrounding the election I could always get some information, from even the most casual observers here in Australia, about Donald Trump. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing something about Trump, whether it was comments he’d made, policies on immigration and terrorism or the antics of his family members. Comparatively, even within my circle of friends, a circle in which nearly half studied politics and journalism and those that didn’t are still quite actively involved in political discussions I never heard a word about Hillary Clinton’s actual campaign. The only thing I heard from the media was that Hillary was winning and Trump had no chance. Not once did I hear her policy on healthcare, on student debt, on the cost of housing, on crime, on public services, on unemployment, terrorism, foreign policy and the list goes on. I went all the way over to her personal campaign website and even then the policy information was supremely limited.

A lot of people love to say that politics has nothing to do with policy, but in recent elections around the world we’ve seen the exact opposite. The Labor party in Australia nearly unseated the Liberal Party after a single term because of heavily publicised healthcare policy, targeting poorer voters by pointing out that under the Liberals they would lose their healthcare. The pro-Brexit side won their referendum to leave the EU because they campaigned toward the poor pointing out that a mass influx of foreign labour was reducing their job prospects. Donald Trump did the exact same thing, targeting poorer Americans in the mid-west, south and rust belt states pointing out that close to ten million illegal immigrants were working in the US, for illegal wages and limiting their job prospects, he promised people that had lost out jobs in manufacturing that he’d bring them back and whether he does or doesn’t, people believed him.

Clinton did no such thing, Clinton’s entire campaign boiled down to two strategies; reminding everyone at all times that she wasn’t Donald Trump, and that not being Donald Trump was a good thing because Donald Trump is bad and her other strategy revolved around identity politics constantly reminding everyone that she was a woman, that electing her would be a victory for women and that if you didn’t vote for a woman you were a sexist. That second strategy was so ridiculous that the Clinton campaign went as far as to gender her slogan; “I’m With Her”. Just for comparison Trump’s slogan was “Make America Great Again”, which of those two sounds more inclusive? Regardless of your views on Trump, you can’t really argue that Trump’s message was aimed at all Americans while Clinton’s was steered directly at the sort of people who feel that having a female president was a bigger issue than having a president with a plan. Clinton’s attempted gender strategy was trying to echo Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” and “Change We Can Believe In”, it’s a well-known fact that during his first presidential campaign Obama played up on the idea among progressive voters that electing the first black president would be a big deal, but Obama didn’t rely solely on telling people “Hey guys, I’m black if you don’t vote for me you’re a racist”, instead Obama backed up his strategy by outlining plans to improve healthcare, employment and reduce debt.

This is where Clinton fell in a hole; she never backed up the progressive slant of electing the first female president with any concrete policies, whether the assumption was that it wouldn’t matter or the reality that her policies amounted to being basically the same as Obama’s with a little more direct support of Israel, it doesn’t really matter; if your best argument is “I’m a woman, so vote for me” then you’re only going to win over people who place higher importance on a woman being president than whether they can afford to eat dinner this week. Clinton’s campaign, or lack thereof was a key factor in Trump’s victory, a victory bolstered by Clinton attempting to appeal to voters with some of the most bizarre and out of touch methods possible e.g. “Pokemon Go to the polls” or having celebrities like Katy Perry and Beyonce endorse her. Hate to break it to Hillary’s campaign managers but people who are having a shitty time don’t usually jump out and say “oh cool, those rich celebrities told me who to vote for, better do it”, generally if a wealthy star tells you to do something you do the opposite because their priorities aren’t the same as yours.

The Second Dragon: Political Correctness 

Political correctness is a pain in the ass of a term; for just about every person on Earth it means something different and due to that if the term comes up in conversation you’ll witness a split not unlike the red sea during Moses exodus from Egypt. For some, political correctness means not being an asshole, for others political correctness means a small group of cultural elites telling you what you can and can’t say. Make no mistake, the first definition might be the one you’re thinking of but the second definition is the one that has incensed voters across the world to vote in favour of politicians who “tell it like it is”.

Allow me to give you an example of the second definition in action; I’m twenty six years old, like a large number of people in my age group I’m not hugely fussed by transgender people, if someone wants to identify a certain way that’s their business and I play no role in it. At the same time I can also acknowledge that recent efforts in various countries to pass laws allowing anyone to use the gendered bathroom of their preference can be very off putting to some people, my older sister for example is still very much bothered by the idea that theoretically she could send one of her daughters to the bathroom at the supermarket and a grown man could walk in claiming to be a transgender person thereby giving a potential sexual predator easier access to their victim.

That example may seem a bit extreme, but a large number of parents have shared that concern, whether you think it’s valid or not is irrelevant the point is that there’s nothing wrong with people expressing a concern for the safety of others. Except in today’s day and age there are a million and one things wrong with expressing that concern, if you hop on over to the comments section of any major news article discussing that specific subject you’ll bear witness to a verbal warzone with anyone who even suggests that the law could be dangerous being set upon by a rabid opposition threatening to report them to their place of employment for having an opinion they don’t like. This is the political correctness that steered many voters toward Donald Trump; people were sick of being told what they could and couldn’t say, people were sick of being told what they could and couldn’t wear and people were definitely sick of being called racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and any other vague label designed to shut down conversation. It’s worth pointing out the blatant hypocrisy in these actions as well; if you tell a woman not to wear short skirts because she might be targeted for sexual assault you’re often told to go fuck yourself for controlling other people’s choice of clothes (and you should be, because people can wear what they want), the supreme irony of course is that many in the PC crowd are quite happy to dictate what other people can and can’t wear.

Demanding control of other people’s clothing is particularly odd; in 2015 the NASA scientist who successfully landed a probe on a moving asteroid was the centre of a media storm because he wore a shirt that had drawings of scantily clad women on it. The same people who’ll accuse people of “slut-shaming’ someone for wearing certain clothes suddenly decided to shame someone over the clothes they were wearing. This sort of insanity contributed to the anti-PC backlash that helped drive voters toward Donald Trump, other examples of this include the demands from Yale University students for a professor to stand down because he cared more about academic performance than whether his students felt like Yale was their home. Just gonna run that one past you again, students complained that a teacher was too focused on teaching and that teacher ended up quitting because of it. The PC backlash had a particularly large impact on young voters with many young men and women moving toward the Trump movement as a result of being bullied by the “cool kids” for not being “woke”. The result of this pushback was that young voters either voted for Trump or just didn’t vote at all, ignoring Clinton as they felt the democrats would simply continue to push the message that thinking things is wrong.

The Third Dragon: Economy

Since the party realignment during and after the Great Depression, the Democrats have positioned themselves as the party of the working class. Up until the 1980’s this argument held up relatively well, unfortunately during the Reagan years, when the cost of elections went through the roof, the Democrats, much like British Labour, Australian Labor and Canadian Liberals ended up ditching their preferred source of finance (Unions) in favour of the same big money backers the Republicans had been using. With support for the Democrats since Bill Clinton’s run in the 90’s coming from the likes of Warren Buffet, George Soros, Goldman-Sachs and a number of other insanely rich special interests, the Democrats ties to the working classes were stretched further and further apart.

By 2012 the Democrats and Repbulicans were separated in identity politics only; the Republicans courted socially conservative voters and the Democrats courted socially progressive voters. Parties no longer became differentiated by economic standing, instead opinions on gay rights, religion and other social issues became the deciding factors. In this sense Trump played a very smart game by moving the conversation back to the economy, for all the claims that Trump was a racist, the reality is that nearly all comments attributed by his opponents and the media as racism were made in the context of immigration reform. While the comments that illegal immigrants from Mexico were bringing drugs and violence with them might have seemed like a broader attack on Mexican and Latino Americans in general, he never outwardly said “I hate all Mexicans”.

The connection to racism could only ever be implied and for swing voters it was easier to pay attention to the aspect of the statement that appealed to them; immigration reform would help them get jobs. This method worked incredibly well; Trump never stated a distaste for black Americans, he just took the side of the police in the media’s manufactured war of black Americans V. police officers. Fun fact; the majority of people in any western country think positively of the police and it didn’t hurt Trump’s vote when a shooter decided to murder a group of Dallas Police Officers who were protecting a group of anti-police protesters.

Trump’s continued focus on economics was a brilliant strategy that appealed to the poorest of Americans, especially those in the rust belt states who have spent the last 40+ years watching waves of federal and state policies based on free market neoliberalism result in the continued outsourcing of jobs to overseas markets like China and Vietnam. Clinton never touched the economy, that entire realm was Bernie Sanders territory and it showed in his voter turnout that the people in the states Trump won the swing vote, were the same voters who preferred Sanders over Clinton. Money talks and bullshit walks, when it came to Hillary Clinton there was a whole lot of bullshit and very little money.

The Fourth Dragon: The Moral Highground

Donald Trump has said awful things over the course of this election; whether it was making fun of disabled people, the infamous “grab them by the pussy” comment or any other thing he said that made headlines, this is not a secret, his whole campaign was built on saying things you can’t say, he made a point during the primaries that he could shoot someone in the middle of Times Square and he wouldn’t lose a vote. Donald Trump made no suggestion that he was a morally righteous character, the problem is Hillary Clinton targeted him on the basis of morality anyway.

Here’s why that fell apart; Hillary presented herself as the moral choice…Hillary didn’t really have a leg to stand on in that regard; whether you care about the emails or not, in terms of base fact a government official deleting thousands of emails that included information relating to national security is not in a morally righteous place. Hillary’s use of the DNC to bully Bernie Sanders was again a violation of the moral code she was trying to hold Donald Trump to and of course the elephant in the room Bill Clinton. Donald Trump said he could grab women by the pussy, disgusting as that is he never got caught out actually doing it, on the other hand Hillary Clinton’s husband who was a key player within her campaign is on legal record as having used his position as president to sexually manipulate other women. Many people like to point out that Hillary didn’t commit Bill’s acts, but that’s not really the point, the point is about trust; how can Hillary Clinton condemn Donald Trump’s attitude towards women while being married to a convicted sexual predator who admitted to sexually penetrating an intern with a cigar?

This is where the moral high ground tactic fell apart; Trump never claimed to be a paragon of virtue, so when Clinton targeted Trump on a moral level it just brought the focus back to her as the supposedly “clean” candidate who had a history of involvement with a sexual predator among other unscrupulous activities. In addition to this Trump played the deleted emails controversy incredibly well; in post-9/11 America national security plays a very emotive part in people’s lives and positioning Hillary as a threat to national security swayed more voters toward Trump.

The Fifth Dragon: Media Woes and Classist Snobbery

If you’ve made it this far then be glad we’re almost done; the media were undoubtedly biased throughout the election. Don’t even try to debate me on that one, the media were all over Clinton from the beginning of the primaries. Media coverage from CNN, NBC and ABC was blatantly in favour of Clinton as a nominee, during the primaries she received double the coverage of Senator Sanders, during the presidential race she received almost exclusively positive coverage from anyone not named FOX News or Breitbart. Average, ordinary people do not like the media; people don’t trust the media, it’s just a reality of life.

In addition to the media itself, a lot of people don’t like media personalities/celebrities either. Just today Lena Dunham posted a blog about how Hillary was entitled to the presidency and how no one should have to try and understand why people voted for Trump because anyone who voted for him was an idiot. Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks News Network went on a blitzing rampage during the election coverage calling any woman who voted for Trump “a fucking idiot” repeatedly. MTV’s Laci Green started election night calling for unity between all Americans and when Hillary Clinton lost she flew into a rage calling everyone who didn’t vote for Hillary a racist, sexist, piece of shit.

This sense of entitlement and disdain for people “dumber” than themselves is another factor that divided voters. I’m not sure what the intended strategy of media groups was, but historically calling people idiots and insulting them for months on end doesn’t lead to people changing their mind on who to vote for, if anything it simply causes people to double down and stand by their original choice as a way of telling you to go and fuck yourself for being such a condescending ass. This classist attitude went overboard the longer the election season went on; Van Badham from the Guardian wrote an article disparaging anyone who didn’t vote for Clinton as a sexist and racist person. In particular Badham targeted Bernie Sanders voters who refused to vote for Clinton, claiming that they were all white men and labelling them as “brocialists”, Badham would later go on to complain when the people she labelled as sexist assholes didn’t adhere to her instructions on who to vote for. (As a little side bar regarding Van Badham, I would like to take a moment to laugh heartily at a person who describes themselves as a “hardline communist” supporting Hillary Clinton who is about as much of a communist as she is a grizzly bear.)

The continued attitude displayed by media personalities when it came to insulting Trump voters did little to persuade them to change their mind; John Oliver’s “Make Donald Drumpf Again” failed spectacularly as Oliver apparently failed to recognise the irony in hating Trump for his stance on immigration while simultaneously insulting him because “your immigrant grandparents had a name that sounds funny”. This irony was lost on a lot of Clinton supporters as well as social media was loaded with people constantly calling Trump “Drumpf” as an insult, the supposedly pro-multiculturalism, immigration and anti-racism voters were basically okay with engaging in ethnic prejudice if it meant they would win the election. This hypocrisy continued to piss people off and in some ways confused potential Clinton voters. When you’re trying to rally people against a supposedly anti-immigration candidate and you do so by bringing up their migrant background you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Once again Trump played the situation like a fiddle; he routinely criticised the media for biased coverage and it struck a chord with voters. He made a point that at any time of the week you could find someone from a major TV network insulting him and while media elites continued to write off Trump’s comments as “whining and complaining”, voters saw truth in what he was saying. Saturday Night Live ran a month’s worth of episodes centred around insulting Donald Trump and praising Hillary Clinton, which led to anyone who saw them saying “Huh, sure does seem like they’re on her side”. This failure by the media to recognise that their constant attacks on Trump did more to push people towards him rather than away was yet another factor in his victory.

Concluding Thoughts:

I didn’t want Donald Trump as President. I didn’t want Hillary Clinton as President either. I can openly tell you that I voted for neither of them, I can also tell you that as a registered Texas voter my votes in the House of Reps and Senate for Democrats meant nothing because my constituency voted Republican in massive numbers. Tired and over done as it is Donald Trump’s victory was the result the USA deserved for years of pushing a societal agenda that punished people for being poor, punished people for being uneducated and punished people for having opinions outside the mainstream accepted point of view. Hopefully by 2020 the Democrats will have experienced a massive realignment not unlike British Labour’s recent upheaval under Jeremy Corbyn and actually put forth a genuine progressive option rather than a identity politics driven elitist who felt entitled to the presidency.

PS I would like to take the time to condemn supporters from both sides of the fence who post-election have decided to engage in violence. I’m talking about the group of men who pulled a pensioner out of his car, beat him to the point of brain damage and stole his car because he “voted for Trump”. I’m talking about the two douche high school students who ran around saying “White Power” while waving a Trump flag. I’m talking about the girl who beat up a fellow school student and justified it because she deserved a beating after her parents voted for Trump. I’m talking about anyone who might target another person regardless of who they voted for because they feel justified in doing it, if you engage in violence against people who have a different opinion then you are a legitimately bad human being.

PPS can you believe Clinton didn’t even prepare a concession speech? My God the arrogance in that campaign was disturbing.

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