That’s what you get for ne­glect­ing the work­ers

The world is over­loaded to­day with com­ments on Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion to the US pres­i­dency. There are many an­gles to be con­sid­ered and one ar­ti­cle will ob­vi­ously not ex­haust the sub­ject.

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

ngrima@in­de­pen­dent.com.mt

To­day I want to con­sider one as­pect: Don­ald Trump won be­cause he trans­formed the Repub­li­can Party into the party of the work­ers, the party that ex­presses what work­ers feel and which de­fends their in­ter­est.

Tra­di­tion­ally, this role be­longed to the Democrats and the Demo­crat Party stood for the blue col­lar work­ers in the past decades.

But ever since the suc­ces­sive Demo­crat pres­i­dents chose to hog the mid­dle ground, be­liev­ing this led to elec­toral vic­tory, they for­got to fo­cus on the needs and as­pi­ra­tions, the prob­lems and dif­fi­cul­ties of the work­ers’

And then the Democrats chose Hil­lary Clin­ton who rep­re­sents any­thing but the work­ers. Her links to Wall Street are no­to­ri­ous, so too her po­si­tion at the top of the es­tab­lish­ment, through­out the years, in suc­ces­sive posts, as First Lady, then as Sec­re­tary of State.

Then Trump came along. A bil­lion­aire, a self-made man, a con­struc­tion mag­nate, a de­vel­oper of casi­nos, a man with a life­style work­ers could never as­pire to have. And yet he won pre­cisely be­cause he ob­tained the votes of the work­ers.

Be­cause some­how he got the work­ers to for­get ev­ery­thing about him and to see him as their cham­pion. The is­sues he spoke about res­onated with them.

There was his opposition to TTP, to all and any trade pacts be­cause such pacts, he held, take away work from the US and goes to other coun­tries.

Hence too his im­pla­ca­ble opposition to mi­grants be­cause he said they take the jobs of Amer­i­can work­ers. And this opposition soon be­came xeno­pho­bic against Mex­i­cans and Mus­lims in gen­eral.

The work­ing class had never turned out in such great num­bers to vote. This time they came and states which had been Demo­crat for ages sud­denly be­came Repub­li­can.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the Repub­li­cans were the party of the rich. Up till the time of the Bush dy­nasty they were the party of the oil­men. But they slowly took over Congress and the Se­nate and have shed the im­age of be­ing the party of the rich.

And through Trump they adopted a lan­guage that res­onated with the work­ers. I use work­ers in its widest sense.

Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ing suf­fered as a re­sult of the global cri­sis. Whole dis­tricts, in­deed towns and cities, suf­fer from lack of in­vest­ment. Other coun­tries, es­pe­cially China, beat US man­u­fac­tur­ing in prices and com­pe­ti­tion. Cities like Detroit, which was once the cap­i­tal of the car in­dus­try, suf­fered the ig­nominy of bank­ruptcy. The in­ner cities be­came un­man­age­able while the sub­urbs grew and grew. Hence Trump’s com­mit­ment to re­write the trade deals with China.

Along with the work­ers, he gath­ered as well the dis­af­fected vet­er­ans of so many wars who feel they were used and then aban­doned by an un­grate­ful govern­ment as if they were some­thing to be hid­den away.

Granted, Trump was gross and worse in his speeches, but so are the red­necks, and the blue col­lar work­ers.

For­tu­nately (at least for him) Clin­ton and the Democrats have not made a great deal about the fact that she got more votes than he did (but elec­toral votes are all that mat­ter in US democ­racy).

This is a time for re­crim­i­na­tion for the Democrats who, like Cameron be­fore Brexit, thought they had the re­sult stitched up. It is clearer and clearer now that Hil­lary Clin­ton was the worst can­di­date they could have but she sailed through the pri­maries and beat the other con­tenders hands down.

As the or­di­nary Demo­crat vot­ers con­tem­plate Trump as Pres­i­dent, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Se­nate all dom­i­nated by Repub­li­cans, they may well de­spair, as de­spair they did as the re­sults started com­ing in.

There is no doubt the Democrats will pick them­selves up and come back in the fu­ture, but they have been taught a salu­tary les­son in the fun­da­men­tal art of pol­i­tics: never for­get your base.

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