Regardless of where one stands on the 2016 presidential election outcome, we have borne witness to historical events this year. Not only did most people dismiss Donald Trump as a serious partisan candidate, fewer still thought he had a shot at taking down the powerful Clinton Machine last night. Indeed, one could almost feel the heat of contempt that Hillary Clinton resonated from deep inside at her presumed coronation being so unexpectedly challenged by this Washington outsider. This marks the second time she has been improbably and unceremoniously defeated at the hands of an up-jumped radical.
Again, regardless of what we think of his policies or personal demeanor, it is impossible to ignore the feat which he accomplished. He, more than any other candidate in my lifetime at least, had the most difficult of uphill political battles: going head-to-head against the House of Clinton; rejecting Big Money lobbyists, corporations, special interest groups, and foreign government sugar daddies; simultaneously fighting the Democrats, the mainstream media, Hollywood, and the Republican Establishment1; and, to some degree, fighting even against himself.
I have to be honest, it was truly fascinating (and, at times, frightening) political theater. Candidly, I have never been so happy to be on the losing side of a general election. To that end, I am not pro-Trump, as it were, but I am most certainly anti-Clinton.
The following are just a few of my reads on why Donald Trump just would not go away.
1) Unlike how otherwise commonly framed, this election was not about Democrats versus Republicans. This election was largely a referendum on globalism versus nationalism. Or, in other words, this was about centralization versus decentralization of authority and control. And this appears to be a much larger conflict and subsequent movement across the world, ironically enough, if we should interpret Trump’s improbable victory as a continuation of the recent “Brexit” referendum. The people – or at least enough of them to influence an American and British popular election – have had enough of top-down, cookie cutter policies and directions.
This anti-globalist sentiment most certainly includes the very real issue of uncontrolled (or, at least, de facto gerrymandering) immigration. Democrats consistently fail to win on the merits of their ideas; this is why they disproportionately employ violence as a means to influence policy. Indeed, it is also why in 1965 they changed American immigration policy, effectively reducing immigration from western Europe, a culture historically compatible with relatively smaller government and individual rights and that which generally rejected modern authoritarian statism, in favor of increasing third world emigration, that latter of which represents cultures historically unfamiliar with such individualism and which fully embrace more and more statism. The policy basically posits that if you can’t win on the merits, simply replace the demographic instead, and people are taking notice of these effects. Diversity plus proximity tends to equal conflict.
2) Everyday Americans are angry. Very angry. This anger is a general reaction to a wide range of potential stimuli – some real, some possibly imagined – but regardless, exit polls indicated that a considerable percentage of the electorate were looking for an agent of change. And considering this criteria, Trump handily contrasted with Clinton. In fact, it was not even close as Clinton may have represented the most status quo candidate in recent history.
3) Trump embraced being the first American anti-political correctness candidate. Political correctness has always been a product of a very loud minority of people who seek to control conversations and debate, effectively rendering dissention and disagreement with their positions very difficult or otherwise dangerous to express. Over time, political correctness has led to a “boy who cried wolf” syndrome, whereby repeated frivolous employment of bullying labels that end with “ist/ism” or “phobe” has led to a watering down of the general reaction to these tactics. They no longer mean what they used to, for better or worse. People have grown tired and, more importantly, intolerant of political correctness and are relatively unfazed by it anymore. Indeed, some have recognized that attempts to stay above the fray, so to speak, have been met with abject failure and thus have decided to meet their opponents squarely where they live: in the gutter. Trump tapped into this sentiment and used it to his advantage, something previous Republican candidates for president would not have dared. As to whether this is good or bad long-term – again, who can say just yet? – but, this tack has been undeniably effective at channeling populist agitation and mitigating heretofore (Right) voter enthusiasm deficits.
4) Trump’s supporters caught up to and mastered the power of social media. As aforementioned, the mainstream media sold its soul a long time ago to the Democratic National Committee. But, unlike past Republican campaigns, Trump’s did not waste time, effort, and resources pretending that this was not the case, and neither did his proponents. Instead, they turned to the unregulated and free market solution: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (etc.). Social media, in its brief history, has traditionally been the domain of the Left, but the so-called “Alt-Right” completely flipped the script on the Democrats and outworked, outmaneuvered, and just downright outplayed them this time around. Indeed, this result in part gave rise to a new phenomenon colloquially known as “meme magic.”
Perhaps this is due to an advantage of backwardness for the Right, owing to its historical underutilization of technological savvy relative to the Left. Perhaps this is due to complacency on the part of the Left, owing to its historical stranglehold on the mainstream media, Hollywood, and other more traditional means of political messaging in this country. Perhaps this is due to Clinton’s historic untrustworthiness amongst the general populace. Perhaps it is simply a case of “fighting fire with fire.” Perhaps it is due to some combination of all of these, or none of these at all.
Regardless of the reason(s), the “Alt-Right” (or maybe it is best to characterize it as the “Anti-Left?”) has outpunched the Left via these soft assets this time around, an outcome that has never happened before to my reckoning. Further, despite numerous attempts to silence such political (and presumably other) speech, these reactions have only seemed to help elevate some of these political dissidents to iconic status.
Whether this is a cause or effect is some matter for debate, but its impact nonetheless appears self-evident.
5) Riding the perceived tide of Barack Obama’s personal popularity and identity politics, the Left predictably overreached. People may have liked him, but they did not know him – at least, not from a substantive policymaking perspective. Now they do, and the left tilt has not generally been received well.
I once alluded – though admittedly Donald Trump never specifically entered my mind – that a notional candidate like him would emerge in the face of Obama’s (or anyone’s) relatively hard left representation. The pendulum always swings; so long as there is an institution of ultimate power to be had, there will be opposition parties willing to fight for it. There simply is no such thing as a battle that is done, where the prize of the State apparatus is concerned. In politics, as in nature, every action is followed by an equal and opposite reaction.
6) Trump promised to “drain the swamp” that is Washington, D.C. Whether or not this is a practicably doable feat at this point remains a matter of some debate, but being the sole candidate willing to put words to the truth of what a whole lot of Americans think of Washington is a powerfully ingenious populist tack. Hillary Clinton, like her husband, is very likely presiding over a corrupt, if not criminal, enterprise. But she certainly is not alone. The Department of (In)Justice continually refuses to pursue the people’s interests, as is its charter, in favor of political cronyism and protectionism. Virtually everyone now knows that the Big Fish are above the law, and therefore a rule of law in this country is dangerously close to disintegrating forever. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), like the mainstream media, has potential lost all credibility with the people forever as well.
7) FBI Director James Comey. I do not think there can be any credible argument that Director Comey’s actions just days before the election had at least some appreciable impact on its ultimate outcome. I reject President Obama’s suggestion at the time that he should not have acted on the information he apparently came across in the Anthony Weiner investigation. If someone has possibly broken the law, then an election cycle or that person’s status as a major party candidate should have no bearing on the decision to follow that trail where it leads. I do have a problem, however, with his communicating to the Congress the reopening of the investigation, only to close it again mere days later in a “nothing to see here” fashion. This suggests to me that he knew there would be no “smoking gun” in the newly discovered materials at the time of he communicated the letter and that he subsequently declined to pursue the case further at that time. This does smack of political engineering being behind the motive of his announcement.
For my part, I am firmly behind sacking Comey as soon as possible. Not only for his apparent and nevertheless unfruitful meddling in the election process, but also because he is unwilling to do his job as director and seriously pursue alleged Clinton-related fraud and criminal activity. Trying to play the middle ground is what is most egregious to me in this circumstance, particularly for a man who is supposedly “undeniably incorruptible.”
Here is to living in interesting times.
Donald Trump has done the impossible, and that makes him mighty. Now the real hard work begins; I just hope this does not turn out to be a pyrrhic victory in the long run.
1 While serving in the Marines, we often joked that it is better to be completely surrounded by the enemy. That way, we could fight in any direction without fear of injuring our own.