President-elect Trump routs the liberal establishment
White van man is on the march. Trump’s victory in the United States presidential race is a victory for disaffected white men – opinionated, racist misogynists – who have decided to give the establishment a kicking.
One thing is for sure, 2016 will go down in history as a watershed year. First Brexit and now Trump, reactionary forces are in the ascendant. The liberal consensus – that has dominated post-war politics – is broken.
Mrs Clinton was a flawed candidate. She carried baggage, was too close to corporate America and failed to connect with the voters. But she was the standard-bearer for liberal values and should have won. Her victory would have secured President Obama’s legacy – so he is a big loser too.
The FBI did Clinton no favours, but its intervention over her private emails only confirmed unease already there.
Like Brexit, the campaign bombed in part because those who had most to lose did not get out and vote. The working class, African Americans, millennials and women failed to give Clinton the backing she needed, and deserved.
But this was not the only reason for Trump’s triumph. He successfully mobilised voters who previously did not function as a group. Older white males gravitated to him. With his leering and hubristic bar-room campaign, he became their standard bearer.
There have been suggestions that Trump the president will be different from Trump the candidate.
But there is no reason to believe that this leopard, who scapegoated vulnerable groups to win the White House, will change his spots. Hubris, and his enormous ego, will always rise to the surface. Trump cannot help himself, he behaves like the spoilt reality TV celebrity he is.
He put on a show to win the White House; and he will ensure the show goes on. Trump will govern using the script of The Apprentice.
America has made its choice, and has a right to pick who it wants as president – even a complete amateur who has never been tested by high office. But this election is not just about America. What happens in the only remaining superpower resonates around the globe.
The world is now a more dangerous place. Volatility is the enemy of peace and security; and the leadership of the free world will soon be in the hands of an unstable demagogue.
And Trump has his doppelgänger. In Russia’s President Putin, the leadership of the unfree world is also controlled by a man who cannot be trusted – a man who believes self-preservation is the same as the national interest.
So where from here? It’s hard to see how the genie can be put back in the bottle.
Those who voted Trump and Brexit imagine there are simple solutions to complex problems. But there are no easy answers, it will take time for that to sink in. Trump will disappoint.
In the meantime, the left must find its voice again. It must find a way of reconnecting with the electorate. And it must find a champion who has a vision of a world that is positive and inclusive.
The hard right has successfully crafted a narrative that presents liberals as an out-of-touch elite. It has demonised migrants. And it has tapped into the nasty underbelly of petty nationalism.
The last time these forces were abroad, Adolf Hitler rose to power.
Trump is no Hitler. But as the rising tide of violent racism in post-Brexit Britain has demonstrated, there are risks that the demons that destroyed Weimar Germany will be unleashed.
I hope I am wrong. But on this morning after the night before, it is difficult to dispel pessimism.
President Obama was elected with “Hope” as his one-word slogan. With Donald Trump’s election, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” has become the catchphrase of modern America.