Why the Republicans Won Big in November 2016, Part 4

Perhaps I should delete the word “big”. But still, Donald Trump and the GOP are poised not only to win the presidency but to keep the majorities in both House and Senate.

This sounds ridiculous, esp. with only 11 days left until November 8th. But it is not that improbable that this will happen. After the third presidential debate and at the high time of the Access Hollywood video scandal in which Donald Trump pretty much confirmed all the misogynistic qualities he had been suspected of, the polls started swinging pretty much in favour of Hillary Clinton. In early voting, women in particular cast their ballot; at times, Donald Trump even began losing support of working class white males who are said to constitute his main base.

And the polls narrowed again. In battle states, Hillary Clinton’s lead of at times 50% to 37% shrank back to a near toss, and nationally her lead of 10% and more after Donald Trump’s video scandal is now back again at 5%, even less. Not much a change, compared to prior the third debate.

The publication of the video came at a bad time. It came too late to replace Donald Trump with Mike Pence on the Republican ticket, and it came too early to convince enough young and female voters to rally around Hillary Clinton. As I wrote earlier, the younger voters are eager to vote in favour of something, not against something. Even as the Clinton campaign and both Obamas tried to urge young voters to rally against something all agree needs to be rallied against – misogynist and objectifying treatment of women – it is not an issue people like to be concerned with for a prolonged period of time. Had the tape come out on November 1st, things might have turned out pretty different, but now it is just fading. Heck, didn’t we know all along that Trump is a fuck?

So the Access Hollywood tape may have pushed some fence sitting women, otherwise not too enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, to vote for her in the early elections that have already started. But that is already receding. So what is next?

It depends on whether Democrats can find another scandal to drown Donald Trump in. After his debacle with the Khan family (which he could not have won), I thought there would be no more similar traps for him to fall into. I was wrong inasmuch as I underestimated how a scandal of sexual assault could come up and hurt him. As with the Khan family dispute, Donald Trump found himself in a confrontation he could not possibly win. Not just because of the undeniability of his attitudes and the claims of the witnesses who came forward, but because fighting back against the witnesses, i.e., fighting against women’s allegations of sexual harassment and assault, is a position Donald Trump cannot win. Because either he is guilty of the allegations, then he appears morally disgraced; or his harsh fight against women makes him look mean and unchivalrous, and he looks morally disgraced again.

So he could not win this either. And he lost terribly, in the polls, in public opinion, in support, presumably even in the ballots already cast. But he is still polling nearly as high as Hillary Clinton. Again. What is this?

If you watch the rallies of both, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, what is conspicuous is the differences of the audiences. At Clinton’s rallies you see a lot of younger, well-dressed middle class people, waving their smartphones. At Trump’s rallies you see a lot of older, shabbier dressed people. Worn sweaters and baseball caps against neckties, waistcoats and costumes. This is middle class against working class, and the different realities both candidates’ constituents live in.

In several speeches First Lady Michelle Obama took to the different “visions” both candidates seemingly stand for. Donald Trump’s “vision” is said to be a dystopian reality of crime, inner city warfare, racial antagonism, “us against them”, job loss, rising costs, the influx of all bad and evil, and the necessity to rage against living amidst the downfall of a world already having ended decades ago. Clinton’s “vision”, on the other hand, is said to be about the “we are stronger together”, of opportunities, jobs, education, better health care, fight against climate change, women’s rights etc. Hers is about the prospects, the things to be if people work hard and do not expect too much.

Only that these are not “visions” at all. These are perceptions of different populations, and different realities clashing.

Of course, many surrogates of Hillary Clinton keep reminding the audiences that she is the daughter of a working class mother who herself had been an orphan. Many suggest that, pointing to the Obamas as examples, origin and economic hardship do not mean to prevent anybody from “fulfilling his or her dream”, his or her “God given potential”. Anybody can become president of the United States, right? Well, no. In Logic this is called the fallacy of generalization. That is, although some people, perhaps even through hard work, may indeed rise from poverty to the highest office, it does not mean everybody can do so. Regardless how much they try. One cannot compete to become the president of the United States when one cannot even compete to land a job at Walmart when the latter has shut down the last outlet in the vicinity of 200 miles.

And it does not help either to identify the candidates’ respective constituents by identifying those who have and those who have no college degrees. Not with a given age discrimination of 40 years in the IT sector in Silicon Valley; not with unpaid internships; not with high volatility in social strata due to economic hardships and delayed recovery. This just is not about education. As the unemployment in certain rural areas is not about education. It is about poverty and what poverty does to people. So although there are a few exceptions to the rule that who is poor stays poor; these are exceptions, not the rule. The Obamas, the Clintons, they are exceptions, not the rule. And regardless how much they insist on being a living proof that the “American Dream” is alive and kicking, this is not true for the majority of people. Most poor people stay poor, no matter what. Hope is for the rich, not the poor; change is for the affluent, not the destitute.

So the poor do not have a chance. And they will not get another. The jobs they had was the best that has happened to them; and when these jobs leave, nothing follows, except despair and destitution. You cannot raise kids on despair; you cannot tell them life is worth living when your own life shows to everybody that there is nothing you may hope for. So the cycle continues.

Most evil does not happen because of bad intent or malice but because of exhaustion, hopelessness, despair, even bad luck. And when the affluent tell the poor that it is their own fault because if they just got their act together, they too could become president of the United States, then bitterness leads to “anger”. So, in a sense, it is not talk radio or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity who fan the anger and muddy the brokens’ mind; it is the ubiquitous propaganda of “due effort due success” that installs the sense of eternal failure, adding insult to injury, disparagement to job loss. And this Calvinist propaganda is shared not just by rude conservatives but by arrogant liberals alike. And so even First Lady Michelle Obama is unable to see how insulting her reminiscing about her own upbringing is to all those who did not succeed, regardless whether they tried or not.

The propaganda of “due effort due success” has maddening consequences. It justifies the actions of so-called Washington elites as well as Wall Street crooks. It can even be used to justify Mafia operations. And that is what makes the hurt and broken going mad: Not just that one cannot succeed when one “plays by the rules”; but that one cannot have it both ways, stay true to oneself, to one’s values and conscience, and still make it out there, somehow. Add the lecturing of those who managed to succeed (and became slick in the process), and exhaustion, hopelessness, and bitterness turn to what these successful call “anger”. This sense of unfairness. That the rules are broken. That the system is rigged.

That is what a fascist bully like Donald Trump reacts to but not creates. And that is what many of his supporters are no longer willing to bear. If one cannot live in decency and dignity, then what is it all worth anyway? Then we may equally shut it all down. That is why his supporters rally behind Donald Trump. And that is why all scandals will not hurt his standing. Because this is not about Donald Trump nor policies and arguments from which a “sovereign” might choose – as there are no choices left. Not only do Democrats not understand this; their posing just confirms what the broken already know: that with insult comes injury, that those who have will be given, that unfairness is the way life is. Rather die then live in that hell.

We do not know if Donald Trump supporters are numerous enough to decide the election on their own. Perhaps he is rightly trying to discourage some voting blocks of the Democrats from showing up on election day by keeping the race nasty. But as this nastiness is not due to Donald Trump’s character, but due to the Calvinist propaganda of “due effort due success”, it resonates with his voters regardless how much Democrats attack his character or talk about progress being made and futures being bright. This howling people react to in this campaign is the howling of the wind that rattles at empty store windows and empty promises. In a sense, Donald Trump’s campaign is far more realistic than that of Hillary Clinton, even if it bears less future. But listening to, even venting, the howl is what drives this election. And so Donald Trump and the GOP will prevail. And then turn on their voters whom they so utterly despise.

 

More?   Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

 

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