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.
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.