Wednesday, 9 November 2016

I Know What You're Thinking

I mean, if you're reading this blog(1), you're almost certainly thinking, again, 'how did this happen?'

I think in part it happened because we don't know how it happened. Cracked ran an article about the reasons for Trump's appeal in rural counties which was an eye-opener for many people, but not - I suspect - for the Clinton campaign. Hillary Clinton was the safe candidate, the seeming sure thing, but perhaps she was too safe. She alienated the left by not taking a stand, and rural America by being exactly what they expected to see: Another city politician who would look after business instead of restoring pride to the ordinary American people.

For the record, I have grave doubts that Trump will restore the dignity of the American people, but I think the key thing is that it was seen as a gimme that Clinton wouldn't. Trump might be a racist, sexist homophobe; he might be a wealthy arsehole politician; but he was a very different kind of wealthy arsehole politician. He might screw over the little guy; Hillary, in the eyes of the little guy, definitely would. As was once said of Margaret Thatcher in comparison to her successor: "She had personality. A horrible personality, but at least she had one."

I mean, that's one reason. Racism, sexism - especially sexism, I suspect - homophobia and idiocy all have their place, many of them tied up with the modern drive back towards nationalism that was so eloquently demonstrated in the Brexit vote. Britain stepped up by an overwhelming majority of about 2% declared that we wanted out of Europe because subsidies and bureaucracy and straight bananas and all that. 'Let's Make Britain Great Again', the campaign ran, and it's telling that Trump was on the same message: 'Let's Make America Great Again.' It's all someone else's fault that we're in the crapper. It's the left, or Europe, or Mexico, or Islam, or the International Court of Justice, and if we were only left alone we would be the greatest country on God's green Earth again.

I'd mock America more for this, but at least they have a chance. Britain's greatest greatness was as a colonial power and that ship has sailed, been impounded and set on fire for fear that we'd never get rid of the stink and make it usable again. We're not an industrial titan or a bread basket, we lack the capital to adequately exploit the natural resources that we do have. The USA at least has scale to work from, even if the great nation that might emerge from their isolation would be terrifying. They can close their borders and not starve; isolate themselves and not run out of oil in a week.

Of course, the real problem with this new nationalism, long term, is that someone is still going international. Corporations aren't about to withdraw their extramural investments and confine themselves to a single nation when they can exploit the lack of political internationalism to continue using tax havens, taking advantage of weak labour laws and threatening to withdraw their investments if they don't have the right to sue governments for making laws that hurt their profits by forcing them to pay a decent wage or install adequate safety equipment. I believe that we have never been closer to the sort of corporate hegemony cyberpunk has long predicted, because ultimately isolationism hurts nations when vast, corporate entities are free to be international.

I know that this is just me rambling. It's not a tightly reasoned or researched political analysis; just my thoughts and opinions, as informed as I can make them. And I know they are mostly going out to my echo chamber, although I am going to post this publicly. I just felt I needed to get this out there. To say it, as it were, aloud, because I'm angry. I'm angry with the short-sighted voters who put Trump in office. I'm angry with the system that meant that people had to choose between a pragmatic vote for Clinton or a third-party vote as a principled stand or long-term investment in electoral reform. I'm angry with the liberal smugness that let us - yes, us; I'm part of this - think that this, be it Brexit or Trump, couldn't happen. I'm angry that there will one day be a Donald Trump Presidential Library; that there will be a library(2), of all things, named in honour of this hymn to ignorance.

I don't wish Trump failure, because that would be disastrous for the US, and I won't wish harm on anyone, but I do wish him frustration. I hope that he fights a long and losing battle for every one of his hate-fueled policies and leaves a chastened nation only slightly fucked at the end of four regretful years. I hope also that his next opponent will break the mould of the smug, city politician without being a smug, hate-filled populist. I hope that Parliament maintains control of the exit process, and that the damned country comes to its senses before we burn too many bridges.

And I hope that I can have the strength to confront hatred with reason and fear with courage, and to turn my anger to action, even if only to speaking my thoughts on a wider electronic stage.

(1) I know this because mostly my blog goes out to my metaphorical echo chamber, so you're probably either a friend or at least someone on the same political page.
(2) I know it's not like a public library, but still. I do take some solace in the fact that it may be a 'Presidential Centre'.

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