Dear Mr. Pie. I realise that in writing this I’m addressing a fictional character or at the very least an on-stage persona, but since this is the post-truth era, what difference does it make, right?
In your post-US elections video (below) you want the audience (in this case, me) to engage you. So I am. And while I enjoyed your delivery I should probably start by calling it what – in my opinion at least – it is. A very clickable load of bullshit. Well, not all of it, you make some very good points but on the whole it’s not unlike the Hillary Clinton campaign. Well-produced, highly compressed hot air. Not unlike this blog, which is why I’d like to think I can relate. Swear words included. So here goes.
First of all – Bernie Sanders? Why wasn’t he on the ticket? Because he lost the fucking primary, that’s why. I mean for all the fire of the Sandernistas and all the talk of the revolution the guy lost the vote by every measure. And if Hillary is such a shit candidate (and you’re right, she should have done better) and can still get more votes than Bernie…. well, you do the math.
So why did she lose? Should she have been a better candidate? Yes, absolutely. What is especially dumbfounding is how she made virtually the same mistake that cost her the victory in 2007/2008 primary against Barack Obama. Back then she ignored smaller states and concentrated on those that provided large delegate haul. Ultimately that wasn’t enough. And yet, this time around she made the same miscalculation, costing her some 50,000 votes that could have flipped Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and by that the entire election.
Also, she did not represent change (of whatever sort). It is, as you rightly point out, hard to figure out what she represented at all. She had about a zillion policies, most of them made sense, but no underlying message. No story. George Lakoff pointed out the dangers of that just after the conventions. His warnings went mostly unheeded.
On the other hand: public and private persona? Sure, it looks bad, but tell me she’s not right. It’s just that when a Clinton and a woman says that it’s somehow worse. It reminds me of an old joke where the guys who sleeps with five women is a player whereas a woman who sleeps with five men is a slut.
So yes, sexism played a part. Of course it did. She was, I think you’ll agree, held to a much higher standard than her opponent. Clinton was required to be near-perfect to be competitive whereas Trump only needed not to screw up too much. And that includes getting a pass for hurling abuse at Megyn Kelly, Pussygate and all the other cases of him being accused of groping and sexually assaulting women. That’s sexism, right there.
Emails? Puh-lease. Yes, not really sporty, but – as the FBI said, twice, nothing illegal. Trump on the other hand lied through his teeth regarding his taxes, was (and still is) on trial for swindling people out of their money with Trump university, was accused of not paying people for services rendered and flip-flopped on virtually every issue of importance, sometimes several times a day and it still didn’t matter. Clinton, on the other hand, changed her position once on the Pacific Trade Deal and got banged on the head forever.
In cahoots with them banksters? Maybe. But Steve Bannon is an ex-banker (as is Nigel Farage, by the way) and – nothing.
So yes, she wasn’t a stellar candidate. But neither was Trump. The difference being that he wasn’t a Clinton and he wasn’t a woman. Who’s to blame, then? Somehow you seem to believe it’s the Left and the media. Well, in the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar: It’s a trap!
My working theory, however pedestrian it may sound is that Trump was elected by … drum-roll, please… the Republicans. In between your publishing the video and my writing this it has transpired that Hillary actually won the popular vote. By a fucking million votes. Had the Brexit vote (which you likewise blame on the Left and the media) broken the same way, we’d still be “Prime minister Cameron” this, “Chancelor Osborne” that and your creator Tom Walker would get to keep the bits about both of them last June.
In the end it turned out that demographic groups that usually go Republican, well, went Republican. What is more, the demographic breakdown goes well along the lines of previous elections. The lower-income classes went for Clinton (surprised?) and suburban women went for Trump. It was a close election (at least I got that part right). The electoral college doesn’t show it, but there.
Basket of deplorables? Didn’t help, but didn’t matter, either. The irony is that by calling out his sexism, racism and misogyny, Clinton may have well emboldened the said element of Trump’s vote. As this thread notes, there is a breed of people, mostly young men who took to heart the image of 1950s America, segregated by class and colour, where everyone knew their place. But those votes would have gone to Trump, regardless.
What did Clinton do wrong? Paradoxically, it was the fact that she tried to talk to moderate Republicans, especially suburban women which were thought to be her “hidden votes”. No matter how hard she tried to appeal to their gender, their role in the society, their values even in the end none of that mattered. Class trumps gender. Pun very much intended.
So, talking. Talk to people who don’t agree with you, you say. You’ve no idea how much I agree. Safe spaces. Bob, what an abhorrent concept. Especially in the academia. Surely, issues need to be debated and conflicting view points heard. And yes, sometimes arguments get heated. A civilised and open society should be able to handle that. Admittedly, there are, in my opinion, grades to it, depending on clout and access available, but the basic principle holds. You can, however, talk as much as you like, if no-one wants to hear what you’ve to say, you lose. Case in point, again, suburban women. Or Jo Cox. Remember her? She tried to talk to people. About Brexit. We all know how that ended.
You see where I’m headed with this, right? Both sides in this argument (and for the sake of it, let us pretend there are only two sides in this argument) increasingly live in their own alternate realities. More and more we follow and propagate stories that strengthen our preconceptions rather than the ones that challenge them. Hence all the shouting (including yours) because no-one wants to hear otherwise.
But then again, isn’t accusing someone of retreating to safe-space a form of safe-space in itself? I mean, how can it be that “Killary Clinton” or “Trump that bitch!” is OK while “Fuckface von Clownstick” or “Groper-in-chief” is not? And while we’re on the issue, how is it that being called a “corporate stooge shilling for Hillary” or “libtard/leftard” (often both at the same time) constitutes free speech while calling someone a bigot over a bigoted statement constitutes hurling an insult? It takes an effort to break out of the bubble. And when you do, few people even acknowledge it. Because you’re not suppose to do that. Neither alt-right nor the alt-left want you to. They don’t really want you to talk to them.
They do want you to keep trying, though (cue Admiral Ackbar). Because spending your time and energy over-analysing yourself means less time and energy to do actual journalism. Or keeping the government to account. Or calling out lies and manipulations.
You see, mainstream media, for all their faults, performed quite admirably in this election cycle. OK, so maybe not all of them, since there was quite a difference between the TV networks which more or less served as Trump enablers at least throughout the primaries, but most certainly by the newspapers.
As Dave Pell notes here, the plight of the white working class was well documented in the mainstream US media over the years. The frosty relationship between the New York Times and the Clintons is a matter of public record. Sure, they got the polls wrong, but nearly everyone got the polls wrong. Whether the screw-up is with the media or with the pollsters still remains to be seen, but there is no denying there was some sort of Bradley effect going on. But as shown above, had a few thousand votes gone the other way, everyone would be bragging about just how fucking awesome their statistical model is.
That said, there is also talk about how quote-unquote mainstream media don’t really mater any-more. And there’s plenty of evidence to that effect. Expose Trump’s tax machinations? No dice. Pussygate? Likewise. Endorsements? Don’t make me laugh. Now, if the media don’t matter, just how exactly could they (we?) have caused this? You’re employing a bit of a double standard here, aren’t you?
And yet, the breitbarts of this world, both left and right would like you to believe that the mainstream media hold this enormous power which enables them to select the next president. And yet, evidence shows they can’t as much as they may think otherwise. But when that happens the fringe media will, for example say that Trump was elected in spite of mainstream media and in the next four years every time something won’t go according to his plans it will me the mainstream media’s fault.
Look. Both Brexit and President Trump are to a large extent protest votes by the people who lost out most over the last thirty to forty years. You could well make the case that the people at the bottom of Branko Milanovic’s Elephant Curve helped elect Trump and kick the UK out of the EU. But at the same time both were major political blunders and miscalculations by veteran politicians who chose to be too relaxed and to sure of themselves at a particularly wrong time.
It is, as you say. The moment you think he can’t do it is the moment he wins. But ultimately, at least in the case of US presidential elections it was the fact that the Democrats didn’t even bother to vote.
Which means that President Trump, just like Brexit is neither on the Left nor on the media. It is on the assholes who couldn’t be bothered to haul their asses to the voting booth and cast a vote. Period.