Political Change and Political Corruption III

The Aftermath: revolt of the “Nobodies”

Having a lot of company when you are wrong on a forecast is not consolation. It is simply evidence that it never pays to be insufficiently skeptical of the American media’s constant attempt to paint conjecture as fact. The Media got it wrong; the Clinton campaign got it wrong; the professional pundits (that is the ones who get paid for telling people what they should think) got it wrong. Misery loves company, but I would prefer to pick my own friends!

Yesterday morning, when I voted in New Hope, I was struck by the length of the queue waiting in line at 6:45 to vote. I had never seen such a long line at the polls. I should have paid more attention. What was driving people to the polls in a state well programmed to be Blue? Apparently, even No Hope has a lot of Nobodies, voters who were angry with what they sensed was passing for governance in America. I did chat up one or two but of course I had no way of knowing that some in this long line must have been part of the “great unwashed” who generally didn’t vote. This time they had an opportunity to tell their “betters” that they weren’t happy with what they saw in America. At the margin, a few extra voters who generally didn’t always show up on election-day made a difference. The popular vote may go for Clinton—we won’t know what the actual numbers are for a number of days—but Clinton was defeated in the Electoral College in a shocking fashion. The States that put Trump over the 270 needed electoral votes were those “swing states” that had confidently been predicted to fall into the Clinton camp: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Despite significant “minority’ votes, the Nobodies, who didn’t go to college, were mad….and ‘they weren’t taking it anymore.’

At the end of the day, Trump’s understanding of the pulse of America was far better than the professional punditry. Forget the polls, look at the crowds. Yes, it was entertainment and Trump had a long TV career. The “betters,” despised his architecture, his self-promotion, his truculence, his coarse language, his infrequent lack of knowledge about the intricacies of geopolitics. He had a very simpliste message. “Make America Great Again,” but above all, tell his audience that he was going to change things for the Nobodies. They weren’t going to be ignored anymore.

The Nobodies had not done well in the great transition toward globalization. They were trapped in their old houses, with jobs that didn’t allow them to keep up with their “betters.” They weren’t sophisticated about global trade and finance. All they knew was that their lives seemed less rewarding than they had imagined when they were youngsters. They knew their government was very distant and run by people like them. They were mad and Trump’s focus on how diminished their lives had become was appealing. They wanted change, a big change at that.

Some of the punditry are bemoaning the apparent success of his crudity, disguised racism, and xenophobic rumblings. They see ‘darkness’ and ‘whitelash’ striking back against the limited progress made on poverty, on civil rights and global warming. What that illustrates is how education has created such a great divide in America with the less well-educated less able to compete and to cope in the modern world.

Education and personal progress has also created estrangement and alienation among many in America. Somehow, the America the Nobidies knew wasn’t anymore—it was a society governed by economic and political elites who spoke differently, thought differently and were far removed from Joe the Plumber (in the election of 2012). It was a time for change and as Trump said with such staged humility, “I am only your messenger.”

Bottom Lines: there indeed will be intraparty restructuring. The progressive wing will shout that HRC was a weak and imperiled candidate, far removed from Sanders supporters who also clamored for change. Had there been no Superdelegates, Bernie Sanders’ legions might well have triumphed. Within the Democratic party, there will be a thoroughgoing revolution—-and it may lead to departures of centrist elements within the Democratic Party. The central question will be, where do they go?

Similarly, the Republican Party is now in great disrepair—the Tea Party elements will be less cooperative with the centrist leadership of the Republican Party. The Republican Party was not completely supportive of Trump. Significant Republicans actually refused to support him. Some ran away from him. Results have consequences. It will take delicate leadership by Trump to bind up the wounds in the Republican Party.

An interesting question to ask is whether the two “centers” have more in common with each other than with their nominal party members. Both Parties are now convulsed, one with victory and the other with defeat.