As I lift my jaws off the floor, contemplating the abject failure of a nation and its people to rise to their better angels in the 21st century, along comes the four horseman of the Apocalypse. At least, that’s how I initially felt too. Now that a couple of weeks have passed, and shock has turned to resignation, it only remains to try and understand how an angry nation willingly went headlong toward the dark side.
Echoes of the savagery of a blood-soaked 20th century still rings true. Horrifyingly, the U.S that supposedly stood at the very threshold, on the side of freedom and liberty against tyranny and oppression, has now conspicuously and violently veered toward cynicism, rearing its ugliest of heads. The sane world was supposed to have gone well beyond all of this. Yet, here we are, dragged right back into the depths of despair and dystopia, hopelessness and fear….as many among us, drowning in paranoia, are still all too eager to harness some of the worst and destructive instincts of our species.
Right…now that we can dispense with the emotional venting, it’s perhaps time to try and be as dispassionate and clinical about the how and the why. How could it happen and why was it allowed to? One has often talked and written about a sycophantic and near useless market based print, TV and now social news media who are primarily in the “business” of selling large audiences to advertisers. There is no earthly reason to repeatedly belabor the point, as we are all, at least those of us who’re trying to pay attention, witness to their calumny and deceit. However, a few other glaring stats and facts might help explain why the U.S is anything but a fully functioning democracy anymore.
First, and to the astonishment of many, both here and in the rest of the democratic world, the winning candidate actually lost the popular vote. This was the second such election result in only 5 presidential election cycles, foisted on us, care of a byzantine electoral college system put in place by a conquering group of colonials a couple of centuries or so ago. It’s almost as if they, these men of distinction and property, foresaw and knew then, that somewhere along the line and through the passage of time, the colonized and oppressed, might just rise up and alter the demographic balance, charging up that hill towards real power. And hiding behind the facade of protecting their precious “States Rights”, (which is just another crass euphemism for nullification), the same privileged ruling classes codified this system into law. In my view and in the view of many far more illustrious scholars and constitutionalists, the Electoral College remains a monumental piece of injustice, sadly still etched into the body politic.
Second, and another contradiction that may be construed as satisfying the democratic ideal, yet in my view is a universe away from adhering to the true spirit of if, is the composition of the Senate, one of the two Chambers of Congress. Here, the 2 Senators per State rule, projects another veneer of fairness. It has however, the very real consequence of apportioning power so unfairly and disproportionately. The prime example being that of the State of Wyoming, which is represented by 2 senators, while the State of California, with almost 40 million people or sixty six (66) times the population of Wyoming, has exactly the same number representing them in the Senate. It’s an old and staid argument, drum-beated into the national psyche, concerning the balance of power between the three branches of government, long since written into the constitution.
Third, and to some painful truths. White voters preferred Trump over Clinton by 21 percentage points (58% to 37%), according to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the National Election pool. In another study by Pew Research, among whites, Trump won an overwhelming share of those without a college degree; and among white college graduates – a group that many identified as key for a potential Clinton victory – Trump outperformed Clinton by a 4-point margin. Translation? The majority of the dominant culture, mainly white men, voted almost overwhelmingly for a man, seen in many a quarter, as a racist, misogynist bigot and xenophobe.
The most perplexing cut of all were women. While 54% of women as a whole voted for Clinton, more than half of all white women voted for Trump. According to the New York Times, the data indicates how deeply divided Americans are by race and gender: 94 percent of black women who voted and 68 percent of Hispanic or Latino female voters chose Clinton but fully 53% of all white female voters picked Trump.
The Asian vote too, was maddening in the extreme, as a solid 29% voted for Trump. I guess the world is chalk full of gandoos & gluttons for punishment. Sadly, some East Asians and many a South Asian too, while feigning consternation and denial, are known to be openly hostile to any sort of progressive feminist ideals while also being racist to people of an even darker hue. We can thank the Sangh Parivar and their Islamophobic cadres in the US for that.
How in the world could you vote for an avowed misogynist and racist and yet claim not to be racist? What part of the nation’s seemingly damaged psyche played a role in this angry and unrestrained lurch to the extreme right? Didn’t something akin to a conscience gene ever kick in? After all, even amongst the white working classes, a solid 29% of them, appalled at his dangerous antics, just couldn’t get themselves to vote for Trump. Why? Many more questions than answers I reckon.
And yet the media and their polling experts painted a completely different pre-election picture. Even during the shocking Brexit vote in Britain, the media pretty much called it as a neck and neck race. Their projections did even confirm that there was the real possibility that Britain might just go rogue, even as they railed against it. Reality sadly confirmed their apprehensions. It was no such thing here in America. Here, the paternalistic, cock-sure and smirking Press had called it for Clinton as a foregone conclusion almost. Yet…why were they so completely off the mark? It may be more complicated than we presently know, but I’ve a strong sense in the pit of my stomach, that a significant number of voters, just plain out and out lied to the media…saving face publically to avoid embarrassment and scorn, by pretending to support Clinton or someone else, while come election day, gleefully yet stealthily pulling the lever for that hideous vulgarian and proto-fascist.
There is however, some cause for optimism in the midst of all this malaise. Young adults who will eventually inherit this unholy mess, preferred Clinton over Trump by a wide 55%-37%. Our future is looking brighter in the hands of our children who are not as disposed to racial animus as their parents and grandparents. Moreover the word “Socialism” as one of many paths forward, is not anathema or as frightening a word to their ears.After all Bernie Sanders’s victory in 22 states during the primary, is proof of that. All of this makes for a more hopeful future of tolerance and co-existence, even as we precariously enter into an ominous time ahead.Another encouraging statistic is the Hispanic population, the largest minority in this country and the brunt of most of Trumps angst. They will grow from 17% of the population today to 25% in another generation. And they will continue to vote in increasing numbers.
My hope is that this Trump triumphalism, could be ushering in the last primal screams of a group of anachronistic dinosaurs, facing the clear and imminent reality of a population shift away from their entitled white majority culture. There is however, the very real specter of a tone-deaf neo-liberal establishment that is still failing to learn the biggest lesson of this election….that working people irrespective of race or gender, had for a long time, been sold a cruel shit sandwich by the high priests of neo-liberalism. Whether it’s a sandwich on rye bread, or whole wheat, or pumpernickel or even my favorite sourdough, it was and is still a cruel shit sandwich.
It further wasn’t helped along, by a fatally-flawed candidate in Clinton, who had worked tirelessly toward her own coronation. Aloof, arrogant and distant, using all of the levers of power and all the political machinery and money at her disposal, which incidentally was in orders of magnitude greater than anything Trump could muster, ended up losing to arguably the worst most inept candidate in the history of elections anywhere. There is a lesson in here somewhere. For me at least, it is that dynastic rule, anywhere in the 21st century, is not likely to last long, and will be resisted full on by the forces of the “common man” as expressed by one of my great American heroes, Henry Wallace. And that goes for the Clintons too, who, if fate would have it, should be thanked and then permanently consigned to the bowels of history. They have long inflicted enough sophistry, harm,dishonesty and callousness on this country and the world.
As for Trump, I refuse to add to the already overflowing media circus by waxing eloquent about his historic victory or his tactless chicanery ….it will suffice to quote the actor Samuel L Jackson in Jurassic Park….“hold onto your butts”. Although, I sincerely hope he can prove us all wrong. Hope, forbearance and healing is what we must cling to in this country of my choice.