“I am a master of the obvious. I mean, if there’s a hole in the road, I will, viciously, outrageously, say there’s a hole in the road and if you don’t fill it in you’ll break the axle of your car. One is not loved for being helpful.”
While it would epitomize futility, and perhaps constitute insanity, to try to make predictions about what Trump is going to do as president, one thing is fairly certain. It seems ridiculous to have to say it, but despite shrill noises coming from the more hysterical quarters of the left, Donald Trump is not going to waltz into the White House, suspend the Constitution and start rewriting our laws to his ego’s content. That, I’m happy to say, is not how the American political system works.
With that out of the way, one hopes the hordes of liberals who feel so gutted by the result of the election, and who have taken to the streets to protest it, will ultimately direct their “anger and frustration,” as CNN is fond of calling it, where it ought to be directed: at their so-called representatives in the Democratic Party, whose slavish devotion to our corporate masters all but guaranteed the present horrorshow. If it wasn’t Trump it would have been somebody else, equally bad.
There is of course a temptation to come up with novel and elaborate explanations for why “it” happened. But the truth of the matter is, as I suspect nearly everyone understands, very straightforward. (I would say that it’s not brain surgery, but I’m pretty sure Dr. Ben Carson has rendered that expression obsolete.) Are you sitting down? OK. Here it is: Hillary Clinton was downright dreadful candidate, a veritable dud, who failed to inspire the confidence and enthusiasm she needed to win the election. That’s on her and her alone; not Jill Stein, not Julian Assange, not James Comey, not Vladimir Putin. Despite the media’s damndest efforts to sow mass fear among the electorate by casting her opponent as Hitler, Caligula and Satan all rolled into one, Hillary received five million fewer votes than Obama did in 2012—and nine million fewer than he did in 2008.
So smug and condescending are the movers and shakers of the Democratic Party, so disconnected are they from reality, that they believed they could get away with nominating an arch-establishment candidate in a violently anti-establishment election. In a year characterized by populist rage and revolt, liberal voters were offered one of the most corrupt, compromised and charisma-deficient candidates in US history. Thus, when Election Day finally arrived, millions of them said, “Fuck that.” And who can blame them?
The only thing (we thought) Hillary had going for her was what Trump, in his usual ham-fisted way, called “the woman card.” But that, along with everything else we took for granted, proved to be a terrible misapprehension. In spite of Trump’s misogyny and Hillary’s “feminism,” there was no surge in voter turnout among women. In fact, Hillary’s numbers with women didn’t even match Obama’s, let alone surpass them. Here again the geniuses managing the Democratic Party totally missed the boat. They figured identity politics would be sufficient to carry the day, and boy were they mistaken.
For many years neoliberal Democrats, in league with their corporate ventriloquists, have been exploiting social issues as a means of stamping out class consciousness. Indeed, as long as people are busy fighting each other on things like gay marriage and gender equality, an organized popular movement against their common enemy—the plutocracy—remains impossible. Thus, identity politics functions, and is intended to function, as an instrument of diversion and division. It keeps people distracted and it keeps them warring. That gay rights and gender equality are important issues is beyond question; but it’s equally important to understand how and why politicians, on both sides of the aisle, use said issues to perpetuate the economic status quo, which in turn perpetuates all forms of inequality and injustice. From economist Rob Urie:
Barack Obama never spoke ill of immigrants, even as he imprisoned and deported more than any other President in U.S. history. The Clintons used ‘law and order’ and ‘personal responsibility’ as coded language to affect radically racist and classist policies. The effect of both was creation of human misery on a truly monumental scale. These policies were hardly less savage in their effect because they were courteously put forward. The Democrats’ strategy ‘works’ in the sense that racist chatter (and policies) dressed in the garb of bourgeois respectability effectively conveys bourgeois respectability to their intended audience.
On November 8, the Democratic Party got a rude awakening: identity politics isn’t enough anymore; not even close. The American people are done casting symbolic votes; they did it twice with Obama, and despite his best rhetoric, nothing changed. Now they know the score. This is a positive development, a small consolation, although there’s no good reason to believe that the idiots who tried—not once, but twice—to give us Hillary Clinton will heed the lesson. They’re completely incapable, after all, of seeing themselves objectively.
There are undoubtedly other consolations here as well, even if most people are too sore to acknowledge them. Predictably lost in all the post-election commotion is the fact that, with Hillary the Terrible finally vanquished, the whole world has dodged a bullet, or rather of series of bombing raids. Again, heaven only knows how Trump will govern (chances are good he himself doesn’t yet know), but war with Syria, and thus Russia, appears to be off the agenda—at least for now. If that’s not occasion for celebration, it’s at least one for breathing a collective sigh of relief.
How on earth so many people interpreted Hillary’s no-fly zone lunacy as good, tough realpolitik is beyond me. That was a certifiably crazy idea, with potentially apocalyptic consequences, and hardly anyone batted an eyelash. It felt like I was living in The Twilight Zone. The woman who was supposed to be our next president was threatening military confrontation with a state whose nuclear arsenal rivals our own, and yet anyone who responded with a bit of trepidation was derided as a crackpot doomsayer or, horror of horrors, a Russian spy.
Much more alarming to everyone was Trump’s perfectly sober observation: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get along with Russia?” Of course, nobody could actually say why it wouldn’t be nice, but that was somehow beside the point: Trump was being “dangerous” again, and if you didn’t agree, well, you were a Russian spy again. In reality, as any honest, levelheaded person has a duty to concede, if President Trump manages to facilitate a meaningful rapprochement between the US and Russia, the entire world will owe him a debt of gratitude.
We can rest assured that the war fetishists won’t go down without a fight, but Trump’s early comments regarding Syria are promising. Speaking recently to the Wall Street Journal, he intimated that, on his watch, the “moderate rebels” waging holy war against Assad’s secular government will have to look elsewhere for support.
“My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIL, and you have to get rid of ISIL,” Trump explained. “Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria. Now we’re backing militants against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.” Furthermore, if we start dropping bombs on Damascus—as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey (a quartet of wholesome, democratically-minded states) want so badly for us to do—”we end up fighting Russia.”
Do you know what that means, fellow liberals? I’ll translate for you, since you may not yet have recovered your critical faculties. It means that Trump, unlike Bush, unlike Obama, is serious about fighting terrorists, and ISIS in particular. It also means that, fundamentally speaking, he’s thinking about maybe, just maybe, doing so in accordance with international law—that is to say legally, in cooperation with Syria’s internationally recognized government. That this commonsense policy is being articulated by a narcissistic creep who gropes women doesn’t make it any less coherent.
So here’s hoping that, on this crucial point, Trump sticks to his guns and tells the neoconservative swine infesting the State Department to go to hell. If he does, once again the entire world, strict nihilists excepted, will be very much obliged.
Would the forgoing be enough to offset the damage his other policy ideas (e.g. slashing taxes for the rich, rolling back environmental protections, repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with something worse, deporting eleven million people, shredding the Iran nuclear deal, etc.) are likely to cause? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It depends on how serious he is about all these proposals, and, ultimately, who he brings into his administration. In any case, it seems plain, at this juncture, that when it comes to the most pressing issue of all—War—Trump stands firmly on the side of reason. The same could not be said of his erstwhile opponent, no matter how much we (or perhaps at this point I’d better say you) would like to pretend otherwise.