Read the first version of this post – on BREXIT – here.
If you listen, you can hear the questions echoing around the echo-chambers of the left.
Why President Donald Trump?
Why did Donald Trump win the election?
What were they thinking?
Over the last few months, I’ve tried to explain why I thought Donald Trump had an excellent chance of winning the election and, after the election, to try to explain why he won. In hindsight, I think that most of my answers were generally accurate. Trump was a fighter, which the Republican base loved; Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate, with so many problems that – in the end – it’s hard to say which one really brought her own. And now, with riots on the streets, I think the average American has good reason to be relieved that Clinton and her cronies lost. What would they have done if they’d won?
But I think there is a more fundamental reason why Clinton – and everything she represented – was rejected. And, in many ways, it’s deeply personal.
If you want to guarantee that I will not pay any attention to you, there are three easy ways to do it:
-Talk to me like I’m a child.
-Talk to me like I’m an idiot.
-Talk to me as though my opinions don’t matter.
The problem with the first two should be obvious. No one likes being treated as either a child or an idiot. This is all the more important when the person doing it doesn’t really understand what’s going on. If someone condemns me for putting my books on kindle, rather than waiting for an elusive shot with a big publisher, that’s a fairly clear sign that that person doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That doesn’t necessary mean they’re trying to deliberately mislead me, but it strongly suggests that their opinions are of limited value.
This problem did serious damage to Hillary’s campaign. If someone believes, genuinely believes, that Trump’s supporters are idiots (or racists, or sexists, or bigots, etc) it undermines their ability to understand how Trump’s supporters tick. Worse, it makes it hard to consider that they don’t consider themselves to be idiots (etc) and that they may have reason to support Trump. For example, if one has no qualifications and no prospect of getting them, they will not support immigration because these equally unqualified immigrants are the competition!
But this leads neatly to the third issue.
An individual Trump (or Hillary) voter is immaterial, in the grand scheme of things. One vote isn’t likely to make much of a difference. But a mass of voters spread across the states can and will make a difference. Hillary did not need to win the popular vote (whining to the contrary aside). She needed to take a majority of the states. In doing so, she had to pitch her appeal to as many states as possible and refrain from things guaranteed to upset fence-sitting voters.
In this sense, calling a vast number of Americans ‘deplorables’ was a colossal own goal.
On one hand, it convinced countless thousands of Americans that voting for Trump was a strike against a woman who had never made any secret of her disdain for the average American (and his intelligence). On the other hand, it called Hillary’s judgement into question. What sort of idiot insults hundreds of thousands of people who might – might – be turned away from Trump? Even a pretence at empathy (as Bill Clinton correctly noted) would have given Hillary a better shot at the White House.
If you are dependent on someone – and politicians are dependent on voters to elect them – it is sheer stupidity to alienate them. Or, for that matter, to convince them that your judgement is basically faulty. And that is exactly what Hillary did.
But the problem goes far beyond Hillary Clinton.
Over the last twenty years, the political elites have grown more and more detached from the populations they rule. And, as the distance between the people at the top and the people at ground zero has grown wider and wider, their decision-making has become increasingly poor, based more on untested theories and an idealistic view of the world rather than what is actually happening. The great unwashed – everyone else, in other words – has become more and more aware of the disparity between what we are told and what we see. For example:
Claim: Minimum wage laws are good for employees.
Observable Reality: Minimum wage laws destroy small businesses and cause unemployment.
Claim: Government regulations and bureaucracy are good.
Observable Reality: Government regulations and bureaucracy destroy small businesses and ruin lives.
Claim: Affirmative Action is good for society.
Observable Reality: Affirmative Action is bad for everyone, particularly the people it claims to help.
Claim: illegal immigration is really no different from legal immigration.
Observable Reality: illegal immigration is a crime that goes unpunished.
Claim: Identity politics are an important part of social justice and therefore good for society.
Observable Reality: Identity politics are tearing society apart.
Claim: If we don’t provoke our enemies, they won’t attack us. And when they do attack us, its somehow our fault.
Observable Reality: Weakness invites attack.
I could go on, but why bother? All that really matters – now – is that a growing number of people are no longer listening to the elites. Why should they?
Trump’s ‘surprising’ election is merely the latest stage of an ongoing rebellion against the political elites. And part of the reason this rebellion is underway is because the political elites have failed. They have lost their grip on events, to the point where they have become both self-interested and unable to even comprehend why others might disagree. Their mistakes – and their complete refusal to admit they were mistakes – led directly to the election of Donald Trump.
This is not the time to insist that Donald Trump is not a ‘legitimate’ president. Trump won by the rules. Nor is this the time to demand that the rules be changed to handicap any future challengers. This is the time for the elites to get out of their gated communities and get back in touch with the rest of the population …
… Or resign themselves to permanent irreverence as the world goes on.