11.09.2016 05:09 PM

My first column for CBC: “Electing Donald Trump was America’s way of lashing out”

Right here.

 

 

36 Comments

  1. The Doctor says:

    Re your points #6 and 7:

    This was a classic “fuck you” election result. When a significant chunk of an electorate gets into that FU mode, the results can be unexpected and dramatic. We’ve had some FU elections here in Canada too, where the electorate becomes disgusted with an incumbent regime, and doesn’t really care about the alternative it’s casting a vote for. The intent is to lash out and punish. Canadian examples would include Ontario electing the NDP in 1990, Alberta going NDP in 2015 and Rob Ford’s first victory.

    I disagree with you on the hope vs. Fear analysis. Hillary in fact ran an extremely negative campaign and harped and harped about how awful Trump is. In 20/20 hindsight, she should have let that thing speak for itself. Her stump speeches and soundbites were light on, or devoid of, policy proposals. Most people on the street could easily tell you at least one thing Trump actually intended to do if elected, e.g., build a Wall, repeal Obamacare. Not so for Hillary. Even the minimum wage boost was something forced on her in order to get Bernie’s support and she hardly led with that or wore it with any pride. In terms of messaging, she ran a terrible campaign.

    • Nbob says:

      I wouldn’t say Alberta was an FU result – to be sure there was disillusion with the PC’s but it was more in a sense that they were past the due date coupled with a feeling that a petrobucks government wasn’t right for a time when petrobucks were starting to run dry. In addition Notley out performed the others to the point where many people were willing to forego party ideology in favour of the better leader. Her approval rating has slid some over the summer but at the time I’d say she was more a gasp for fresh air than a flipping of the bird.

      I’d agree that your second point has some merit

      • The Doctor says:

        “Her approval rating has slid some over the summer. . .”

        You get the prize for understatement of the day. She’s in third place in the polls, despite a divided right opposition FFS.

    • Vancouverois says:

      We’ve had some FU elections here in Canada too, where the electorate becomes disgusted with an incumbent regime, and doesn’t really care about the alternative it’s casting a vote for.

      Like October 2015, for example.

      • The Doctor says:

        I disagree. October 2015 obviously was a sharp repudiation of the incumbent, but many if not most Liberal voters were very enthusiastic about Trudeau, in a positive way. So it wasn’t really a FU phenomenon of the sort I was describing.

  2. godot10 says:

    8 years of worse than neglect of working people by Bill Clinton, followed by 8 years of worse than neglect of working people and stupid wars by George W. Bush, followed by 8 years of worse than neglect of working people by Obama, and 8 years of stupid wars by Obama and Hillary.

    Add the dissolution of the white working family unit over those 25 years plus the opioid crisis.

    Add all the happy talk from the establishment media about how great things are, when they look at their communities and see that the establishment is lying.

    Why wouldn’t you want to throw the bums out?

    Trump wants to end stupid wars and build stuff. Working people can get behind that. Their kids don’t have to die and they and their kids get good jobs.

  3. monkey says:

    I think in most Western countries you are seeing a strong rise of populism and hatred towards the establishment and the only way to win as an establishment candidate is if you have a strong personal touch people connect with. Obama much like Justin Trudeau has this, Clinton much like Ignatieff and Dion does not and thus faced the same problems they faced. Both were amongst the most qualified prime-ministerial candidates ever in Canadian history, but they couldn’t connect and paid big time for it much like Clinton did. Right wing voters always how up based on habit, but to bring out progressives you need to excite them. Obama and Trudeau did this, Clinton, Ignatieff, and Dion did not.

  4. Lyndon Dunkley says:

    At some point, the campaign made the poor tactical decision of letting up on the poor businessman line of attack (TrumpU, bankruptcies, not paying creditors, etc) and elected to go all-in on the “grab her by the pussy” crap. His supporters knew he was a creep but if she had effectively and relentlessly mocked his business acumen, that would have had a much greater chance of diminishing his support than trotting out the nth opportunistic attention grabber. More successful entrepreneur surrogates like Cuban and less 99 problems but a bitch aint one or I kissed a girl surrogates.

    • Vancouverois says:

      I remember thinking this myself last week. A lot of his appeal seemed to be the idea that he’s a politically incorrect, no-nonsense businessman; instead of emphasizing the political incorrectness which is part of that appeal, they should have worked harder to explode the myth that he’s a good businessman. For example, when he told his supporters to vote on Nov 28, they should have pointed out that he got it mixed up with election day on Nov 8th because Nov 28th is the date of his trial for the Trump University fraud.

      I remember a few ads like that early on. Why were they not continued? Did marketing research indicate they weren’t hitting home?

  5. Bill Malcolm says:

    Neil MacDonald got it more correct by repeating what Michael Moore said weeks ago. In the American heartland, the offshoring of jobs, the ruin of Detroit and Cleveland as showpiece results of predatory capitalism, means tough times and poor jobs, multiples of which people work at to get by. Trump understood that – how I do not know seeing he lives the life of a bird in a gilded cage – but he did. Meanwhile elite America spends half the budget on the Military to rampage about the world grabbing oil fields while neglecting people at home, so that almost half don’t pull down a living wage. Even regular folks could see what was going on, let alone prognosticators.

    Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio. You should have knocked on doors there. Living wage jobs come first before airy-fairy progressive ideals and the overseas wars/hawkish neocon nonsense that Clinton stood for. Instead, jobs come first. First.

    So, if you get a chance to slip a word in that upper class twit Morneau’s ear, he of the telling Canadians that they have to get used to short-term contract jobs with no benefits and little hope of a stable decent life going forward, propounding aloud such lack of future hope will rebound to politicians’ regret here in the future as well. Proper jobs come first.

    Trump figured out what bugged heartland America and ran with it in his inimitable brutal style. He won. Sure he’s a complete donk. But he got the message. Clinton said nothing I could understand that made any sense, just more of the same neocon overseas/neoliberal bankers trust oligopoly at home that promised nothing for the average person. She paid zero attention to Sanders and his followers because she’s only interested in herself and becoming prez while becoming filthy rich.

    Now Trump has to deliver, and since he probably cannot because we’re so far down the oligarch neoliberal line, there’ll be real trouble in a few years. That’s if the deep state doesn’t off him first and make him a martyr, in which case it’ll be sooner.

    • Brammer says:

      For reference: Michael Moore’s talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKeYbEOSqYc

      Damn hard to find any holes in his logic. The ultimate “FU”.

      As Warren has said on many occasions, “it’s the economy, stupid”

    • The Doctor says:

      Your narrative is undercut somewhat by the fact that rich Americans voted for Trump in droves. Business and Wall Street Republicans voted for him in droves. So much for this being some harbinger of a glorious proletarian revolution. And btw, please enlighten us all as to who and what exactly constitutes the “deep state”.

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    What a strange electoral system. Hillary, like Al Gore, takes the popular vote while the illegitimate Electoral College casts the die for president. Something seriously wrong there.

    • doconnor says:

      This sometimes happens in Canada, too, in provinces with two dominant parties.

    • Eric Weiss says:

      Funny how people only care about an electoral system when their candidate loses. Kind of like the people who complained that Harper wasn’t legit when he was elected to a majority with 38% percent of the popular vote, but have no problem with it when JT wins with the same numbers. And vice versa.

  7. Lukelele says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised by the outcome, but I’m still dumbfounded. I understand an antiestablishment tide – – hence me thinking that Bernie was the more viable option – – but how can that sentiment override all that is terrible about Donald Trump? I wouldn’t have it in me to vote for that.

    Also, if Hillary Clinton could have appeared as humble, eloquent, natural, wise, gracious, and just amazing during the campaign as she did during her concession speech, perhaps she could have won. I was floored by the stunning quality of character. Amazing. Dumbledore-like. What a missed opportunity.

    • Doris says:

      if you are convinced that politicians are crooks who are only in it for themselves and never tell the truth or do what they say they will do – then you vote for the one that will do the least damage to you and may be promise you something that is appealing.

  8. lou says:

    I’ve said many times here that people were angry and wanted change. The Democrats promised them more of the same and paid the price. Clinton had always been a centrist and had to bend left to gratify tree-huggers and millenials with useless degrees. In doing so, she lost the blue collar union workers that were the backbone of the Democrats for years. She was for Keystone, but had to flop to satisfy the party. She gave Warren and Sanders more say than they should have and lost the centre. When you give away the centre, you get left on the outside. Since Reagan, Americans have voted for the more charismatic leader. Even Bush Sr had Dukakis beat there. Politics is retail, not intellectual. It gave them Obama over the greatly more qualified John McCain, and has given them The Donald. What do they say, the people are always right.

  9. Charlie says:

    One thing that gets on my nerve is when intellectual liberals start rationalizing a catastrophic political event.

    It happened after Brexit and the narrative that immediately followed was along the lines of:

    – “oh, well, there were just so many angry people”
    – “the frustrations were real”
    – “this was an anti-establishment vote”
    – “we under-estimated the discontent amongst the hicks”

    Well no-fucking-shit. But none of the above reasons even remotely justify the results.

    We all knew that people hated the EU before the vote; we all knew people hated Washington before the vote. In both cases, we feigned an epiphanic moment where we try to diminish the role of severe misinformation, under education and raw xenophobia played by trying to validate the results.

    No.

    This is exactly the kind of elitist know-it-all-ism that got us to each of these situations and its incredibly condescending to pretend like these events were anything but disastrous mistakes. There is no rationalizing Donald Trump’s success and any attempt to do so is simply an exercise of self-absolution done by liberals.

    The perpetual need for the intellectual liberals/centrists to placate the extreme fringes and validate their anger is why someone like Donald Trump can commit seven deadly sins of politics, and still become President.

    Truth is an increasingly important resource, we need to learn how to confront it:

    Dumb, aggressive and ill-informed Americans were bamboozled by an equally stupid man. America has shown its true colour and its very, very white.

    • Luke says:

      I tend to agree with you on the topic of the truth being important (and scarce), and that indeed America’s choice (well, less than half of American voters’ choice) was the shits. I do not understand why you direct such ire towards so-called intellectual liberals when your grievance evidently lies with those who elected Trump (or didn’t bother voting). Plenty of liberals felt and understood this anger, and hence attempted to put Bernie Sanders on the ticket, but establishment Democrats and the more invested Democratic Party membership chose otherwise. If this large group is equivalent to your ‘intellectual liberals’, I get your complaint. Also if the media, who failed over and over and over and over again to stop underestimating Donald Trump’s vile appeal, are in this group of intellectual liberals, I agree with that too.

      In any regard, there most certainly is a case for rationalizing Trump’s success, because his success is the truth, that same truth you revere. The present truth is always the effect of prior cause, and so I do not understand why attempting to comprehend it offends you. Those of us unhappy with this result should attempt to understand it, even if it is as obvious as people being fed up, angry, latently-to-overtly racist and sexist, etc. Coming to terms with the result and how it unfolded is natural and prudent, and is entirely different from justifying the merits of the outcome. (There are few to none.)

      I think your post irks me a little because your choice of words further demonizes intellect, which I submit is a good part of what propels the likes of Trump and Ford to power. Intellect is a good thing. Voters should respect it and desire it in leaders. If they did, and if intellect had not been successfully demonized by the right wing over the years, there would have been no contest.

      • Charlie says:

        “Also if the media, who failed over and over and over and over again to stop underestimating Donald Trump’s vile appeal, are in this group of intellectual liberals, I agree with that too.”

        Precisely this.

        My frustration comes from the distanced observationalism that intellectual liberals seem to fall into when we’re attempting to adequately process the vitriolic exhibition of dog-whistle politics. Its almost a willingness to fall into defeat and perpetuate the stereotype of intellect as being a weakness as opposed to a strength.

        My intention was not to demonize intellect; far from it. My contention is with the need intellectuals feel towards being sensitive to nuance versus confronting simple, non-negotiable and explicit truths. Its the most identifiable trait amongst liberals that is non-existent amongst the right-wing. Liberals accept the guilt hoisted upon them as being aloof elites while far-right counterparts are absolutely unwilling to accept any assertion of their own sins.

        What I’m trying to say is that IL’s need to stop projecting rationalism onto devastatingly stupid political events and approach truths the way many on the right do: uncompromisingly. What America did this week was wrong, it was stupid and it was a shameful mistake. The shame of defeat cannot just fall to open, progressive and liberal minded because accepting any degree of responsibility severely undermines those values.

        What is right, is right; what is wrong, is wrong. In the current American political environment, injecting sincerity into the messages of people like Trump or Farage is why they succeed in eroding trust in intelligence.

        I hope I was able to better articulate my thoughts.

        • Lukelele says:

          Yes, I understand you better now. The unwillingness to admit being wrong and acknowledge nuance drives me insane. Always those who are more reflective and tend to know more about something are more aware of the realities of their weaknesses. Which of course makes those people sound weaker. Very frustrating.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Wow.

      Seems to me that your condescending attitude illustrates one of the reasons why Trump won.

      • Charlie says:

        I’m an incredibly condescending asshole; I won’t deny that.

        But you’re an idiot if you think condescension is what propelled Trump to office.

  10. Fraternite says:

    As far as I (mid-30s white guy who would have voted Obama last time and Trump this time if I were American) see it, Nate Cohn said it best:

    “How to think about this election: white working class voters just decided to vote like a minority group. They’re >40% of the electorate.”

    I go on my facebook, and all of the goddamn posts from the multicultural multiple-degree people I work with are either 1) complaints and anger about white voters turning up at the polls in bigger numbers than they previously did (imagine the horrors of people being engaged for the first time in decades and participating in the democratic process!), or 2) assertions that uneducated white people are racist and/or blinded by privilege (again, this is coming from supposedly enlightened professionals making six figures and is directed at unemployed and/or poverty-line wage folks who didn’t graduate high school), or 3) apocalyptic and complete paranoid fanfiction about how Trump is going to be responsible for millions of deaths (all the while ignoring that the carnage in the Middle East and Northern Africa is a product of Clinton’s interventionism and instantly stops if Trump manages to make a deal with Russia).

    I’m sure as hell now ultra-aware of my race and sex in a way that I wasn’t not even 4 years ago, and I can’t help but gravitate toward against people who seem to hate me because of things that I can’t control. I think we’re only seeing the beginning of identity politics among whites (especially rural whites!), and that over time rural whites will increasingly block vote very similarly to the way that we see block voting in Latino and African-American populations.

    It’s a very sad situation, but I don’t see this going away in any sense any time soon.

    • MikeTO says:

      Was out for a hike with a group of 5 men (and our children), all expressed the EXACT SAME sentiment. Interesting times the progressives have ushered. Seems they forgot to inquire what Pandora kept in her box before opening.

      • Bill MacLeod says:

        Exactly so.

        Also, I suspected Trump would make a serious run at victory, despite the polls, because:

        #1. The polls were close.

        #2. I’ve found that I — a pretty normal fellow — found it easier not to express any opinion about whom I might vote for, had I been an American, than to say Trump was hitting some strong points very effectively. In fact, I often took the silent route when people around me were all: “Hillary this and Hillary that.” But, the voters’ box is a place of solitude.

        #3. For anyone watching the results Tuesday night, you were likely fixated on Florida. I was focused on Pennsylvania. Philly came in among the first, with a massive lead for Clinton, like 82-18 or so. From there, it was a relentless game of catch-up. And catch up Trump did, because while the predominately black areas were strongly Democratic, they weren’t quite so strong, and in not nearly so great the numbers as when the — and let me be clear about this — when the “racists” casting a vote on the basis of colour did not have a dog in the hunt.

        I’m sorry, but that’s what all this “social justice warrior” crap, a blatant overreaction to isolated incidents and the ills of previous generations, attempts to villify a particular gender and skin colour.

        Cheers,

        Bill

      • Maps Onburt says:

        Yup… having all these PC types tell me I’m a racist is not a good way to get me to want to vote for their position. What were they thinking?

    • Luke says:

      I am of your demographic and, although I think you are right about the onset of white identity politics, I think your rationalization of a Trump vote is shaky. (Not that it matters, because people vote as they wish, neither of us are American, and the election is over.) Disadvantaged and historically-to-presently discriminated minority groups have a certain righteousness in the block voting you describe. The Republican and conservative end of American politics has seemed to me to be pretty hostile towards racial and sexual minorities (and women) for some time. And so minority block voting for Democrats is arguably a natural consequence of individual self-respect. There is nothing wrong with having self-respect.

      Championing white rights in a white-dominated and white-priveleged society is another matter entirely. Being white does not seem to precipitate de facto institutional discrimination, justified mistrust of law enforcement, and a great likelihood of being economically disadvantaged. Being white does not come with the inherited baggage of generations of discrimination and its associated cross-generational fallout (like our aboriginal people face). The case for white identity politics is tenuous. I think it arrises entirely from disadvantages white folks who are out of work or are stuck in precarious labour, and see things like affirmative action and illegal immigration as directly responsible for their hardship. I can kind of understand that point of view, but it is a small-minded, petty, and lazy one.

      Poor and disadvantaged white people can feel rightly angry with their society, and can understandably feel that politicians are utterly unaware of their lot in life. But mistaking those legitimate grievances with white discrimination, and a justification for explicitly pro-white identity politics is incorrect and not a good idea at all. Their lot is a matter for America’s approach to poverty and unemployment, and I’d agree that Hillary Clinton never came across as really having much of a feel for that. And yet, she was leading the party that would have done most for that group. Trump, off in his fantasy world where facts are those things he chooses to say, offers nothing but some kind of twisted change, to be implemented by a self-admitted perpetrator of sexual assault, vocal racist, philanderer, sociopath, charlatan, idiot, and creep.

      The answer to economically disadvantaged Americans (white, black, native, hispanic, etc.) was neither Trump nor Clinton, but Sanders. Either dump identity politics or leave it to those who have a case to make (minorities).

  11. Randy says:

    I don’t necessarily agree with #4. Hillary didn’t lose because she’s a woman……she lost because she is Hillary. If an honest, competent female Democrat had been the nominee, I’m not sure her gender would have even been part of the conversation. I think the misogyny and sexism argument around why Hillary lost, is a convenient excuse.

  12. Ridiculosity says:

    Any bets on how many days it is before Kevin O’Leary announces he’s running for the Conservative Leadership?

    • Maps Onburt says:

      Oh come on… all these stupid articles and opinions about Conservative leadership candidates wanting to imitate Trump’s supposed racism is getting really old. Conservatives expressed concern about bringing hundreds of thousands of undocumented and unproven people with radically different views of human rights into our country. Doesn’t make us racists… it makes us practical just like the 75% of Canadians who agreed with us. Relying upon these stupid arguments is one of the big reasons Hillary lost.

  13. Ron says:

    “It is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right, sometimes wrong, but no matter, the crowd follows it.”

    ~ Mark Twain, on humanity (The Mysterious Stranger)

  14. Tod Cowen says:

    Let’s keep a couple of things in perspective:

    1) This was a “cycle” election. In the States, we almost always switch parties every eight years. From 1952 to today, we’ve only skipped the pattern twice: Reagan over Carter, and the first Clinton over the first Bush. So, any Democrat starts off behind.

    2) Clinton actually won the popular vote, by about 300k votes. The math in the Electoral College tilts slightly towards rural voters, which cost Clinton the election. But that’s exactly what the Founders (as opposed to Fathers of Confederation) intended.

    That said, the Democrats obviously failed to connect with a key constituency that has historically supported them. But I doubt that the Donald will deliver for that demographic, any more than Obama and his predecessors going back for some time. In the US, we may pay attention to “white working class voters” at election time, but sadly we could care less in between. I can’t imagine that a Trump presidency will change the situation.

  15. Maps Onburt says:

    Oh Warren… running home to the paragon of leftist journalism in Canada… 🙂 Its good to see you moving along to recognize that Hillary wasn’t all she was cracked up to be (frankly I’m surprised more Democrats haven’t gotten around to lynching her yet) but I still have issues with many of your points.

    1. The media were Trump’s best friend – I think you get this but they hated him and he was smart enough to turn it around on them and get the free coverage. Hillary spent almost $2B… Trump spent a small fraction of that. Trump used the media to get to power without having to bow to the Koch’s and like which was part of his appeal (although there is still a disturbing amount of PAC/Super PAC funding there).

    2. He took risks, she didn’t – Agreed. She spent so much time covering her tracks she looked shifty even before the Email/Bengazi stuff is taken into account.

    3. Campaigns don’t matter – May be misreading you, but I’d say nonsense to this one. Trump had 10 times the campaign effort than Hillary did. She wandered around on autopilot, never talked to the media, had crappy little, tightly controlled rallies and didn’t focus on areas where she could have taken out some of Trump’s red base. Trump went into her blue states with a targeted plan to disintermediate her from her core voters with the Wall (stop those illegals from taking our jobs) and against NAFTA (stop those foreigners from taking our jobs). In the rust belt, this was a deadly combination for Hillary.

    4. Sexism played a part – ABSOLUTE NONSENSE. I believe in my heart of hearts that if Trump had been a woman and Hillary had been a man, Trump would still be sitting in the President Elect chair. Americans were ready for a woman President – they just weren’t ready for a lying chronic two faced nominee. I’m an old white male and I’d have absolutely no issue with voting for a woman. I’d vote for Rona any day over Trudeau. In fact my top three candidates for the PC leadership are Raitt, Remple and Ambrose. Using her sex as a reason she wasn’t doing well was a cop-out. The majority of Americans just didn’t like or trust her.

    5. Racism did too – Nonsense again. Trump is the ONLY candidate that even showed any interest in fixing the Inner City problems and giving African Americans a chance. Again the left took the easy route and used some of his words and the words of the most extreme of his supporters to show him as a racist despite the fact that his employment history shows the opposite.

    6. Change trumps the status quo – I won’t argue this one… Hillary tried to do change but it was from a position of supporting Obamacare, NAFTA, TPP, Iraq/Iran/Syria/Libya, etc. She just wasn’t credible and her plan was same-o-same-o.

    7. Fear often trumps hope – Exactly backwards. Make America Great again was all about hope. Hillary was saying it wasn’t going to get any worse. Trump was Trudeau in last election and Hillary was Harper. Hillary was peddling FEAR of Trump.

    8. Sanders supporters kept away – yeah, they went to Trump or stayed home.

    9. In dangerous times, Americans don’t want ‘dialogue’ – I’m not sure you are right here… Trump has not been advocating American imperialism as Clinton was… but he is definitely a president that people will know if he gets hit, he’s going to flatten them in response. He’ll be carrying a big stick and Americans are sick and tired of having muslim terrorists inflict casualties and then having lefttwing nuts immediately make excuses as to why this has nothing to do with Islam. He’s not going to be PC that’s for damn sure – and Americans don’t want him to be.

    10. Democrats underestimated the anger – completely agree… they had been sleepwalking through this whole campaign. They thought they could count on their own supporters to blindly continue supporting them and their only efforts to keep them in the tent was to spread ridiculous stories about how bad things would be under Trump. Harper/Trudeau election all over again. It didn’t work out for Harper and it didn’t work out for Clinton.

    The REAL reasons Hillary lost:
    1) She was the single poorest presidential nominee since I don’t know… Jimmy Carter?
    2) She couldn’t stop lying all the way up to the day before the election
    3) Trump knew he couldn’t win without breaking the blue wall around the great lakes and he was smart enough to figure out how to break the majority of the people in those states into his camp – The wall and anti-free trade

    Trump was an idiot, he’s the least articulate president of all time. He’s a lout and frankly the least impressive presidential candidate since Joe Clark but he was still better than the alternative for 50% of the voters.

  16. Dan Calda says:

    No sir.
    Clinton was Ignatieff…or Martin.

    More human, passionate and real in their concession speech then any time during the campaign.

    Trump did not increase red numbers.
    Clinton lost blue numbers.
    47% stayed home.

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