Sunday, October 30, 2016

America vs. Trumpism - A view from across the pond

The Guardian opines on the latest email furor, Clinton vs. Trump, and Trumpism, The Observer view on Donald Trump’s malign influence on the world. “Despite the latest twist over Hillary Clinton’s emails, she is ahead in the polls and remains the sane and reasonable choice.” h/t Paul McCreary, who says “Marvelously articulate. Something to which we should all ascribe. A pleasure.” He’s right.

The latest furore over Hillary Clinton’s alleged misuse of private emails when she was secretary of state in 2009–2013 has thrown a tumultuous and unedifying US presidential election into even greater confusion, with little more than a week to go before voting day.

The FBI’s unexpected and very public revelation that it is recommencing its investigation into Clinton’s conduct may not be politically motivated, but its timing certainly makes it appear that way. The row represents yet another hammer blow to a democratic process whose credibility has been repeatedly challenged, principally by the unscrupulous Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

Despite this new firestorm, stoked by Republicans and rightwing media, it remains likely that American voters will deliver a clear, possibly resounding, rejection of Trump on 8 November. Although opinion polls show the race tightening nationally and nothing is certain as a febrile campaign climaxes, Clinton is ahead almost everywhere that matters – and she is the sane and reasonable, if uninspiring, choice. A Trump defeat will be richly deserved. As we have noted previously, he is not a fit and proper person to serve in the White House. His behaviour during a long, raucous and often embarrassingly vulgar campaign made that abundantly plain.

The Observer goes on to deliver an insightful analysis of Trumpism, its origins , its adherents, and its prospects after November 8th. While skipping a lot of The Observer’s reasoning, these snippets get at the essence of the essay.

Trumpism appeals to the worst in people, cynically exploiting and fanning the anger, grievances and prejudices of the economically disadvantaged, the embittered, uneducated and plain ignorant. It appeals to base instincts, to lowest common denominators. Its is political dumbing down writ large. It is underpinned by a pervasive and comprehensible insecurity, engendered across the west by post–2008 economic injustice and social division, the growing gulf between rich and poor and incompetent, unfeeling or corrupt governance.

… His unexpected success in winning the nomination, despite the Republican establishment’s hostility, reflected his close identification with mainly white, working-class and lower-middle-class voters who, like him, feel angry, undervalued and alienated. While public figures such as Barack Obama, Trump’s failed Republican rival Jeb Bush and Clinton appear to this constituency to be remote, out of touch and uncaring, Trumpism peddles the delusion that the candidate is “on their side”. Again and again, in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, disaffected voters claimed that only Trump could be trusted to tell the “truth”, only Trump would keep his promises, only Trump could make America great again.

The explanation of the rise of Trumpism rooted in economic inequalities certainly applies to those “mainly white, working-class and lower-middle-class voters who … feel angry, undervalued and alienated. ” But there is another group of much more well-to-do voters, mainly white I suspect, who support Trump. Do they do so out of “fear”? Perhaps. If so, it is fear of change.

But The Observer sees reason for optimism.

More than anything else, Trumpism will fade and fail because, ultimately, it is a minority pastime, pandering to bigotry, which runs against the grain and spirit of the times, Brexit notwithstanding. Trumpism decries the impact of globalisation, yet globalisation, for all the dislocation and often unwelcome change it brings, is the inescapable way ahead for a more integrated, more connected and more mutually responsible and caring world.

For good or bad, this clock cannot be turned back. Closed borders and closed minds, crude nationalism, trade barriers, xenophobia, religious, racial and sexual discrimination – these are old mistakes and old hatreds that, while still in evidence everywhere, belong to times past. The world is moving forward, not back. In the end, Trumpism and all its ghastly incarnations, dwelling in fear and darkness, will, like Trump himself, be exorcised.

Trumpists want us to go back to the future - the 1950s. But those were years of relatively high marginal tax rates and reasonable valuation of worker productivity resulting in a robust middle class and minimal economic inequality - minimal at least when compared to that in existence today. I’m betting Trumpists do not really want that. And Trump will not recreate those economic times.

The nation’s hope lies not with Trump but with Clinton and progressive Democrats who promise to hold her on a center-left course toward a more equitable America. The Observer one last time: Clinton is the “sane and reasonable” choice to lead us there.

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