By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Racist. Bigot. Ignorant. Sexist. Homophobic. Islamophobic. Angry. White. Men.
If you’re going to insult people repeatedly, and you are running an election against them, you’d better make sure that either they aren’t listening or they don’t vote. But white people do vote in America. The US election hinged on an alienated and dispossessed electorate that has grown tired of being portrayed as ignorant racists. Similar trends were behind the Brexit vote and other populist voting patterns in the West.
White vs. white to the 11/9 and 9/11 narrative
On social media the Trump election is being interpreted as a victory for racism and sexism. However, prior to the election the stereotypes, hatred and derision toward “uneducated white people” and particularly “white men” had become mainstream in popular media in the US and to a degree throughout the West. This racial divisiveness has become standard fare media discussions, reinforcing views on both sides and creating a caricature of both. Many white people on the left take part in building the perception of that this election has been about the rise of white, populist racism; in a strange self-flagellating irony where they deride themselves to fit in to the larger multi-cultural narrative. The good, enlightened whites against the old, racist, whites.
Whereas more urban, educated, white people tend to feel that it’s “cool” to mock “old white man’s history” and claim that white people are “stupid, ignorant, know nothing about the world, dumb, and religious,” their poorer and less educated peers don’t get the wink-wink-nod-nod joke. For educated whites the more they talk about “white privilege,” the more they tend to be privileged, and the more they talk about institutionalized racism, the more they tend to be a cog in the racist structure. For educated and more left-leaning white people the dislike and mocking they have for other whites is a way to maintain their white supremacy. For them elections in which “the other whites” are the enemy is merely a way to maintain their power. They realized long ago that minorities were a key ally to keep them in charge, so they exploit racial divisions in order to pretend that the “good whites,” the ones who laugh at the “ignorant whites,” should stay in charge. In that sense, elections in the West are primarily between two white power structures.
This elite white cosmopolitan belief in their own secure position in power has been challenged by the new populism. The bubble of people in liberal cities, who learned a second language in school, who have passports and have a checklist of diverse friends for every party, is a self-fulfilling prophecy that creates an imagined community that sees itself as the natural ruling party. Sacred cows, such as the European Union cannot be called into question. Of course global warming is the greatest threat to the world, not ISIS and its fellow travelers (some people claim that the Trump victory on 11/9 is a new 9/11, as if murdering 3,000 people is the same as having an election in which your candidate fails and a distasteful alternative comes to power). The non-Trump crowd wonder why their opponents see every Islamist terror attack as being caused by people feeling dispossessed and alienated, it’s never caused by them being intolerant, ignorant and bigoted. White terror, such as the KKK is caused by intolerance, Islamist terror is caused by poverty. It couldn’t possible be that Iran’s Ayatollahs are more of an ignorant, bigoted, fascist, racist abomination than the “ignorant, racist Trump supporters.” They wonder why the Inquisition and Crusades are seen as morally reprehensible Christian acts, but Islamist Jihad and the current inquisition in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia is seen as almost acceptable, often excused for various reasons. A common meme floating around asks “if you don’t blame white people for the KKK, don’t blame Muslims for ISIS” or another version, “if you don’t ask white people what they’ve done to fight the KKK why do you ask Muslims what they’ve done to fight ISIS.” But white people are blamed for the KKK (and rightly so, they created it) and it was primarily white people in power who defeated the KKK, including white men like Bobby Kennedy, white lawyers who bankrupted the KKK and white college students who protested it. Black people were the victims of the KKK, but without the full force of whites fighting it on the legal and cultural battlefield, it would not have been made mostly marginal as it is now.
But for many voters, whether it is Brexit or Trump, they think they aren’t great bigots. They resent always being tarred as anti-semites and homophobes. They don’t know what the “alt-right” is and they couldn’t understand the ADL’s theory that Trump’s closing add anti-semitic. They wonder why it is the rage directed at them in media seems less directed at those extremists who carried out 9/11 or committed genocide against Yazidis in Iraq. They ask: “Why does my civilization hate me?” They wonder: “Why do I work so hard to build my country’s economy, raise its children, pay its taxes, and go to war when it calls, only to be called a ‘deplorable’, derided as unnecessary and unwanted, as an enemy of the state which I prop up?”
Pompous paternalism and taking minorities for granted
CNN noted that Clinton “failed to energize African-Americans, Latinos and the young.” Only 65% of Latinos supported Clinton. While 88% of black voters went democratic, the depth of that support was weak. In Virginia 13% of black men voted for Trump according to exit polls. In some states 40% of Hispanic men went Trump. That tells you that there were hidden demographics that were assumed to be for Clinton and were supposed to be offended by Trump, but when the time came they choose him for a series of underlying reasons. The fact is that for the white elites, African-American voters have always been taken for granted. No one cared to address the Black Lives Matter movement. It was Clinton’s demographic to lose, because African-Americans often vote Democrat by 90-95% margins. But instead of speaking to their issues Clinton and Democrats ignored them. “You need a public and private position,” was one of the quotes from the Podesta emails exposed by Wikileaks. But in this case there wasn’t even a fake public position of caring for the black minority. This “public-private” campaign strategy where you tell one interest group one thing but don’t mean it leaves them alienated and feeling used. For instance, Clinton’s advisors told her not to mention Israel, lest it offend another constituency.
For a long time politicians have felt that most people simply do not matter. They feel entitled to power, born to “serve the people,” which actually means the people serves them. Within the bubble the view is that voters are idiots and they can be mocked and laughed at like the show Veep does. It’s not that the main character on Veep is a bad person, she’s a perfectly good person, but she and her staff have contempt for the public. Reality is not a TV show. As wonderful the cynicism of House of Cards is, the fact is average voters don’t want a shyster like Frank Underwood. Voters want someone to care about their issues. Hispanic voters don’t want to be told “well, you’ll vote for me anyway, Trump hates you.” When told that one must vote for something, simply because the other thing is bad, people are turned off. If you went to a restaurant and someone told you “you have to eat here, so we will serve you tasteless and tough meat that is well done, but you’ll eat it because the fish we have is rotten,” what would you say? Of course you wouldn’t accept a waiter giving you that choice.
Politicians have decided that providing the public either no choice or only bad choices is a recipe for success. “Screw them,” is the view among many cultured and intellectual people. There is no sense of the film Easy Rider here. No one is “looking for America.” They want as little to do with Americans as they can. “I’m ashamed I share the same planet with scum like you,” a woman wrote on Facebook after seeing a Trump supporter. The thing is when you have an almost genocidal-loathing for others, often based on imaginary reasons such as “they are all racists” the others know that, they know you hate them and they don’t appreciate it. “Those moronic, ignorant masses can be fed a few quotes and then they should sit down and shut up, they’re children anyway,” some think. But people don’t want to be treated like ignorant children and told to just shut up.
When people see their insurance premiums climbing, their wages stagnating and they feel alienated from being told they must accept certain changes in society, they eventually rebel. What’s sad is that the same left wing voices who ensconced themselves totally in the wealthiest 1% elite society actually have the tools to understand the white rage that leads to electoral upsets. When one is told that there are Islamist extremists operating in the ghettos of Europe, the natural reaction among intellectuals is to say that poverty and alienation led to radicalization. But if I show you angry white men, then you just disregard them. No excuses for their anger, right? There is an excuse for every other group in the world, except for them.
The left which once fought for the rights of workers and tried to improve the lives of common people has almost entirely abandoned those people. Whether it is the Old Left in Israel on its feudal oligarchic kibbutzim, becoming landed gentry, or the wealthy Wall Street crowd that hams it up with Clinton in speeches worth $50,000 an hour ($7.7 million for 39 speeches to major banks), or the wealthy in the UK who mock people concerned about immigration (after all, they live in zip codes without immigrants). Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump by a margin of two to one, she had plenty of money on her side, but lower class, especially white voters, weren’t interested in buying what she was selling. Franklin Roosevelt or Teddy Roosevelt, who both came from the bosom of the elites, were able to build coalitions that included the poor and workers because those workers felt that the politicians cared about them. And in fact the lives of workers improved as the trusts were broken up, under the Square Deal or the New Deal. But what was the Clinton plan for the middle and lower-middle class? Donald Trump, an elite from New York City who went to a preppy military school, was seen as more connected with many average Americans because he was seen as the anti-patrician, the anti-status quo. He’s no FDR, , maybe he’s the Andrew Jackson, but his voters felt that the status quo wasn’t working.
Too much crying wolf
We’ve seen this political dysfunction before: The rise of extremism in the 1920s and 1930s. What’s odd today is that many of those who opposed Brexit or Trump diagnosed the similarities with the 1920s. Dispossessed people. Working class anger. Nationalism. Xenophobia. But then instead of addressing it, they in decided in 2016 that there were enough other voters to simply ignore the rage. They were almost right, about 50% of voters in the UK and US preferred the status quo.
In the 1920s and 1930s the radical left that confronted fascism was very active on the streets, leading to the kind of chaos that encouraged old elites to side with fascism against communism. But today the opposite is true. The elites don’t side with the populist surge. They deride it. There is no radical left pushback because in many ways the source of radical left support is entirely bourgeois. It is students on campuses who have their own rage for safe spaces and other concepts but who also live in a dream world bubble where their world of extreme privilege has no commonality to that of the populist voters. This wasn’t the case when labor unions were fighting scabs in the streets, or garment workers and coal miners were fighting alongside progressives. Today’s safe space radicals would never consort with an “ignorant” working class person. They have total disregard and paternalism for others. Among their supposed minority community allies, such as African-Americans in the US, there is an extreme sense of entitlement and racism among those who claim to care for minorities. They view those minorities as ignorant, but in their worldview the ignorance of the minority is authentic, whereas the ignorance of white working class in West Virginia, for instance, is inexcusable.
To energize her voters Clinton consorted with exactly the kinds of celebrities that the populists don’t have any connection to. Lady Gaga, Jay Z and others. This is the celebrity class and circles that she was able to call upon. It’s the same one that Trump was also living among up until recently. Usher and Don King attended his 2005 wedding. The New York Times revealed the friendship between the Trump and Clinton “clans” that included wealth and privilege and celebrities. It also revealed the speaking fees Clinton was paid, more in an hour than people make all year. CNN revealed the Clinton circle of wealthy foundation money and Wall Street executives, payments from a family foundation for a wedding, and a revolving door of former political friends who all seemed to have their own family foundations. This world is unapproachable for the average voter. Trump of course comes from a similar world. But as with the issue of African-American voters, this was Clinton’s election to lose. All Trump had to do was seem like an outsider. And in this contest he was an outsider. He was the “sexist, old, white, male; the racist, the fascist, the anti-semite, the new Hitler.” Those were the daily depictions in media and online. But voters who recall that they were all called racist, sexists for voting Mitt-‘women-in-binders’-Romney and were called ignorant fascists for voting George W. Bush, stop caring about these labels when they know they are not only inaccurate but so blithely used. Most Republican Presidents or contenders have been compared to Hitler. It’s a common trope. But they can’t all be Hitler. When you cry “Hitler” too much, like crying wolf, no one listens. Those being told they are voting for Hitler don’t listen. The ADL’s decision to label a Trump closing ad “anti-semitic” was seen as yet another partisan attempt to smear Trump with anti-semitism when the ad was not anti-semitic. The ADL lost its luster and its objectivity, Trump kept moving. You can’t shout “anti-semite” about everything, or people stop listening.
Because deep inside most white American voters know they aren’t anti-semitic, vicious racists. They work with minorities. They have gay family members. They know Muslims. Not so long ago many Muslim Americans were Republican. Many of them shared Republican views on family values and opposition to abortion and gay marriage (71% opposed gay marriage in 2001). Pakistani convenience-store owners liked the second amendment as much as others. So when these voters are depicted as a new Reich it doesn’t make them stop voting.
American voters have been abandoned for years. Candidates won’t ever discuss the war in Afghanistan. They won’t discuss the numerous special forces casualties from last week. They don’t want to talk about Guantanamo. Remember Obama was going to close it? And what about costs of health care, which they were told would go down. No one wants to ask why hospitals can charge almost whatever they want for routine visits. Why an aspirin in a hospital is $30 but a few cents outside. No one wants to discuss issues with voters and treat them like adults. Talk about the hard choices America must make. The easy fix of “we want jobs” is parroted by both sides. But Americans lived eight years under Obama, and they think something else will work. Just like in the UK around 50% of the voters said Brexit would be better. They tried the EU and it didn’t bring them much, at least not things that they could articulate. When they are told that banks may suffer, what do they care? The public is deeply divided.
There is a view that the millions of Americans, half the country, that supports Trump are all unsalvageable racists. The hatred for Trump supporters on the left is far more than the hatred for ISIS. One can see that on social media. If a person changed their Facebook to an ISIS flag they might be banned by Facebook, but most left-leaning people wouldn’t block them. Change your photo to Trump, and that’s offensive. That causes people to even have trauma.
Why is that? ISIS committed genocide and sold thousands of women into slavery. You’d think those concerned about sexual assault would be offended by that. But actually the knee-jerk offense doesn’t rise to the top. The reality of Trump supporters is that the vast majority are far less intolerant than the majority of people in the world, that means far less intolerant than the Saudi family members who get a red carpet welcome, the family members who own real slaves but get bowed to by the US President, and who US politicians cover their hair for. Trump supporters wonder why. Why is Saudi Arabia, which owns real slaves, where there is official sexism, gets a seal of approval, but not them? If Trump supporters just converted to Wahhabi Islam would they be adored and tolerated?
Giolitti, the death of liberalism and disenfranchisement
“The support for Trump comes from white men who have been left behind by globalization and multi-culturalism,” someone wrote on Facebook. This attitude was paired with a thinly-veiled argument at The New Yorker that voting rights should be taken away from the ignorant and poor, along the lines of a proposal from John Stuart Mill. This would be enfranchisement in reverse. Disenfranchise the poor whites, while talking about voter suppression of African-Americans. J.S Mill was discussing voting rights in a time when less people had them and his concerns for what it would mean to give them to the peasantry.
But now we have poor masses who have been enfranchised in most cases for more than 150 years. America has been extending the voting privilege, not reducing it. The view that the “whites” have been “left behind” paints them as a small voting block. How can the majority be left behind? Aren’t the majority the ones who leave others behind? It’s like pretending that the rowboat left the sailboat behind, rather than is being towed by it.
The miscalculation among those on the left who see the white majority as being left behind, is one that helped dig an electoral grave for Clinton and also for the anti-Brexit crowd. But there is some nuance here. The Trump voters, some commentators noted, voted like an angry minority. If African-Americans are 13% of America and Hispanics are 17% of US population, when one includes women as a kind-of-minority group, the total percent of white males is 35% of America. So in a sense white male voters are a minority and seeing them as voting like a minority for what they believe their interests are may be a useful model for understanding some of what underpins Trump success.
What does a politician do when 30-50% of America says they feel left behind? These voters say they feel that the elites don’t even bother to acknowledge them at best or deride and mock them at worst? Clinton’s campaign mostly just wrote these voters off. She sought to appeal to women and wealthy whites. In Italy the same thing happened after a new elite came to power in the wake of the Risorgimento. Men like Giovanni Giolitti were not bad men but they represented a liberal (in this sense classical European liberalism) elite that was out of touch with the streets. The same thing happened in Israel with the Labor party in 1977 when a backlash of poorer people who had been abandoned by the wealthy relaxing by their swimming pools were swept aside and the same thing happened in Italy in the 1990s when the old Christian Democratic party was destroyed by the new politics of Lega Nord and Silvio Berlusconi. You can look to Thailand and Philippines politics for examples of the same, or the election of Modi in India, where a paternalistic nepotistic Gandhi-family elite was removed from its perch. The punishment meted out to cobwebbed patricians is not the preserve of left or right. When Hugo Chavez swept away Venezuela’s old politics it was a revolt from the left, even though it was led by a bombastic, bullying, in some ways a Trump-like figure (his leftist admirers won’t admit that the same machismo drives Chavez as Trump). The ANC will eventually fall in South Africa. Robert Mugabe withered on the vine. All elites are destined for a Trump-moment. The Deep State in Turkey also had its day and was removed. Are AKP voters so different than GOP voters?
Taxes, email and Evangelicals
There were other myths that played into the Trump camp. Republicans are portrayed at one and the same time as rich whites who don’t pay taxes and poor, uneducated whites. Are they truly both. The reality is that a large percent of the wealthier white and educated Americans, such as those on Wall Street or Hollywood, are democrats. When it comes to the concept that Republicans don’t pay taxes, the reality is that in the closeted halls of the inner circle of the Democratic party the same disregard for tax paying exists. There are trust fund, family foundations and complex financial instruments that allow people to get out of pay taxes. Does Lady Gaga pay taxes the same way a small business owner pays taxes. A salaried employee in Iowa pays a much higher percent of taxes than the major bankers. And who are the Trump voters? They tend to be taxpayers. Trump himself is not a taxpayer, but as noted above, for many of these people it is a question of the lesser of two evils, and presented with two non-tax payers, Trump was seen as caring about them.
The Clinton email controversy was often portrayed as “ridiculous” by her supporters; unimportant. A common meme said that one had to choose between a crazy, racist, fascist, unqualified bully, and a woman who used the wrong email. Another compared the choice to having either a pizza deliveryman perform a surgery or have a doctor who was once charged with malpractice. The insinuation was that Clinton is highly qualified but made a mistake. Trump is nothing. Others pointed to sexism. Here is a classic example of a highly qualified woman being forced to compete on equal footing with a mansplaining brute. A serial sexual harasser, a sexual predator as one FoxNews host called him.
But that’s not actually how politics works. George Bush Sr. was more qualified in 1992 than Bill Clinton, but he lost. Maybe Howard Taft was more qualified. He lost eventually. Lots of people lose elections, and populists such as Andrew Jackson sometimes win them. And they bring a giant wheel of cheese with them. Some of those populists go on to achieve major and important changes because they are willing to see things in an unorthodox manner. Clinton told voters to expect the status quo, and voters who didn’t want the status quo said “no.”
Headlines claiming that “only two majoronly two major newspapers” have endorsed Trump or “only six newspapers” endorsed him played into the revolt of the populists against what they see as a rigged, corrupt system. When you tell people “no one agrees with you,” one better make sure that those people don’t actually turn out to vote. It’s like a sports team that has been told it can’t win. It has nothing left to lose. Sometimes the losers do win. The fact that large numbers of people were told by media that no one agrees with them, and yet they knew that large numbers of what used to be called the “silent majority” does agree with them, all the newspapers in the world can’t help the assumed winner. One writer at Huffington Post mocked Nate Silver’s polling, claiming that even a 35% chance for Trump was “skewed.” The real numbers were 98% chance of winning for Clinton, he claimed, pompously. But the real numbers were not 98%, they were 50%. Like all those in media who got it wrong, who just “knew,” they got it wrong. I was one of them. I wrote people emails before election day saying “just assume Clinton wins and write your oped that way.” Whoops. But then again 98% of my media friends thought Clinton would win. 98% of people in Washington, D.C voted for Clinton. Perhaps it’s time to get out o the house and see America, like in On the Road or Easy Rider?
There is a narrative that the election has “tarnished America’s global image (NYT).” CNN claimed “American used to be the world’s last safe refuge. Trump changed all that.” The New Yorker wrote that Donald Trump represented the “death of American exceptionalism.” These were headlines before the election. For many of these writers the death of exceptionalism was a foregone conclusion, a self-fulfilling prophecy. How was America exceptional in July of 2015? It was exceptionally good at droning people. It was good at running an illegal prison in Guantanamo for eight years while pretending to close it. It was good at fighting an endless war in Afghanistan. It was good at ignoring the deaths of its Green Berets in foreign wars.
But all this supposed reverence for the Bill of Rights or Constitution? When I was in high school I had to read a paper about Abraham Lincoln called “Honky or egalitarian?” Honky? Abraham Lincoln was called a racist by my high school teacher. Another teacher claimed America was responsible for the Holocaust because it didn’t allow in Jewish refugees. Is this the supposed American image that Trump ruined? Many people I knew in University hated America and considered Noam Chomky a kind of biblical figure. America was responsible for genocide in Indonesia, for genocide in Cambodia (“we bombed them so much it made them crazy”) and for 9/11 (“blowback”). America collaborated with Saddam Hussein and then was responsible for the rise of ISIS. America was responsible for Al-Qaeda because it supported the Mujahideen against the Soviets. America was responsible for Pinochet and for everything that is wrong in Latin America. These are among the things I was taught or heard from many people at the University of Arizona and in Verde Valley high school.
Rather than seeing the freeing of the slaves and the shame of the internment of Japanese as bright spots in US history, a way in which America has struggled to be a better country, many people already saw American history as one long litany of black marks. The theory that Trump is an embarrassment and makes America look bad and tarnishes its image ignores the historical reality. The world hated America during the Vietnam war, Richard Nixon’s car was stoned in the 1950s, Reagan was loathed, George W. Bush was despised. Richard Nixon even made that a key point in his 1968 acceptance speech; “And when the President of the United States cannot travel abroad or to any major city at home without fear of a hostile demonstration — then it’s time for new leadership for the United States of America.”
What does this all mean for the American conservative movement and Evangelicals, two important parts of the Republican party. The conservative movement and its intellectual side rejected Trump. Many of those conservatives were also doyens of the party, they too had become cobwebbed elites. Libertarians deserted the party and supported Johnson, although it seems fewer of them than expected. Johnson received about 3% of the vote when normally it would have been less than 1%. Evangelicals accepted Trump, a point for which they were mocked by critics. People put photos of a nude Melania on Facebook and asked how Christians could vote for her. But the reality is that many Evangelical voters believe in forgiveness. For all the stereotypes about them, all the claims of what they think and how they believe, a central aspect of their faith has tended to be an understanding of the flaws of men. The fact is that the Evangelical and Conservative wings of the Republican party have had to go through a fire by trial in this election. They have had a road to Damascus moment in which a sword of Damocles hung over them. But they must know the party is no longer theirs. Just as the masses burst into the White House with Andrew Jackson, the old GOP elites will have to sit aside and watch the new GOP, much as happened in the 1960s, the 1980s and the 1990s. There have been Republican Revolutions before.
Can the GOP repair it’s ties with Hispanics and expand its base beyond white, disproportionately male voters. The sense that this is a declining demographic may be accurate, but it isn’t declining that quickly. The reality is that the Democratic party, for all the apoplectic stories about a new fascism in America, have not provided any answers or solutions to the issues facing African-Americans, Hispanics or others. Donald Trump didn’t deign to even address these groups, and when he did he was either patently offensive, or seemed to know little of their way of life. Trump is from New York City where there are large numbers of minorities. Unlike the white America that produced many of his opponents in the Republican death-by-boredom-primaries, he actually grew up in America’s most diverse city. So why is he so blissfully aware of his offensive comments and his inability to bother with large segments of America?
There could be a healthy silver lining in all this, in that he might speak to minorities not as child-like the way paternalistic elites do, but as equals. The fact is that undocumented migrants need to be documented. They need to receive citizenship and follow the laws that others do. One cannot have millions of people who are undocumented. One cannot have a system like in Arizona where free health care is given to undocumented foreigners who crossed illegally into the US, but citizens have to pay. The fact is that many black communities have been abandoned and the left has done little for them, except make money off them by running NGOs and “non-profits” in which the whites profit and the black people get handouts and “hope.” Trump of course offers little in the way of hope at the moment. Since expectations are zero (in fact the expectations are he will inflame racial tensions), then maybe he can accomplish something. There was no expectation Clinton would do anything but maintain the Ferguson status-quo.
There may be scary times ahead in America. Perhaps the country is becoming more inward looking. But in a world in which it has become a common trope to blame America for many problems, it can be healthy for Americans to shrug their shoulders. Georrge Bush saw Putin’s “soul” and Clinton did a “reset,” so Trump’s new policy will simply go down a troweled road. In Cairo in 2009 Obama sought to create a new relationship in the Muslim and Arab world. But he is as hated today as Bush was in 2008. That is because of a culture that has grown up in which the US is constantly supposed to acquiesce to every complaint and where local people are rarely asked to take responsibility for their actions. Why won’t America solve the Syrian conflict? Why won’t America do this or that with Iran? Why won’t America stand up for rights here and there? It’s time local and regional powers take responsibility for the actions in their neighborhoods. Blaming the rise of ISIS on America is a symptom of entire swaths of cultural norms across the world where it is easier to say “the CIA did it” than say “I am responsible.” The fact is that the EU is responsible for allowing 5,000 ISIS members to go to murder people in Iraq and Syria. Turkey is responsible for letting so many people transit its territory in 2014. Very rarely will you hear voices in the EU or Turkey say that. Of course America can do better and should have a moral foreign policy. It’s policies on Iran and Saudi Arabia have been disastrous. Of course it could use its policy to pressure Israel to provide Palestinians rights. There is much it could do. But there is also much America is not responsible for, and the tendency towards self-flagellation and constantly trying to re-work failed policies has led towards zig-zagging and fed the perception that America can fix it, the “world’s policeman” can fix the problem. Perhaps it cannot. It cannot even fix its own health care problems.
Trump is likely not the cure for any of this. He is part of the symptom. But an energized and chaotic electorate and a democratic party doing some soul searching will be a good thing. At the very least stop dismissing all uneducated white people as racists, and find a way to discuss their complaints like an adult with them.