By Pranav Prakash:
On November 8, when Donald J. Trump was voted President-elect of the world’s most polarised democracy, there were few anywhere in the world who could claim, without being disingenuous, that they weren’t surprised.
Despite the unprecedented partisanship of some of the United States’ leading newspapers, both liberal and conservative, the endorsement of some of the Republican party’s own ranks and the incessant barrage of insults, comprising primarily of name-calling, that were hurled at her opponent by the media elite, Hillary Clinton lost the election, unable to secure a decisive majority of seats from the electoral college.
Having won the popular vote, her vote count is anticipated to continue rising over the next few days with mail-in votes and absentee ballots being tallied. Essentially, Clinton lost the election despite the fact that over half of all eligible voters who actually exercised their franchise picked her.
Families awoke the following morning to news that nearly every pollster had predicted as an unlikely outcome – that Trump had won. The incapacity to comprehend, leave alone explain to the younger generation, how the pernicious demagoguery of Trump’s campaign managed to land him in the Oval Office, began to ebb through the millions who were simply unprepared for this eventuality.
In retrospect, though, it could be argued that when Clinton was chosen as the Democratic Party’s preferred candidate for office instead of Sanders, it decimated any remaining hope of peaceful transition for a resurgent politics and a contrarian ideology to the previous administration.
For all of the dilemmas that the white middle class blamed the Obama administration, including the financial crisis, the decline of the manufacturing industry and the impracticality of rising health insurance prices for those in blue collar jobs, Bernie Sanders’ movement would have put the blame where it’s due without being fueled by the radicalism of an aggrieved mass that Trump had managed to exploit in the most malicious of ways.
That the Democrats failed to recognise the possibility of a backlash to Hillary’s nomination and the remarkably heightened odds that Trump, then, stood of winning the election simply on account of not being Hillary is as astounding as it is ironic, since most presumed Hillary would win by a landslide simply on account of not being a racist, sexist, xenophobe like Trump.
The failure of the Democratic Party to have recognised this comes from its unmistakable atrophy over the last few years, losing its majority in both Houses, fourteen gubernatorial seats and thirty state legislatures during Obama’s eight year Presidency.
This cannot however be conflated with strengthening of the GOP either, since Trump was always an outsider who managed to win voter support despite nearly every other major candidate from the Republican primaries declaring Trump unfit for Presidency and unqualified to represent conservatives.
Both parties have never been weaker and Trump simply capitalised on the fact; this much is clear. Partisanship, on the other hand, seems to have an uncanny ability to outlive the parties themselves.
To presume that anyone who voted for Trump shares his deplorable sentiments towards women, minorities or Muslims is only fair insofar as we presume, also, that anyone who voted for Hillary has hawkish inclinations on foreign policy, supported intervention in Libya, has blatant disregard for security protocol or is indifferent to clandestine cocktails of political and corporate partnerships that all but border on cronyism.
That is not the case with Hillary’s support base and neither is it the case with Trump, certainly not with 60 million people. To support the candidature of a man whose political propaganda is as revolting as Trump’s is reckless, irresponsible and precipitous but not stupid, as the left has a tendency to presume of the other side. This dangerous trivialisation is precisely how the left has ended up in this mess.
On December 19, the electoral college will cast its votes and legally elect Trump as President. Where wishful thinking abounds, a good many are still hopeful that some of the electors will defect and vote for Hillary instead, with a change.org petition to this effect garnering nearly 4.5 million signatures. The outcome of an election being overturned this way is unprecedented, but so are many other things about the 2016 Presidential race, it could be said.
Meanwhile, divisiveness along the lines of race, religion, nationality and sexuality seems to have disclosed its vile facade in the days since the results were announced, as reports of vandalism and racially motivated attacks come in from across the country. When the person seated in the most powerful office in the world validates and legitimises intolerance, the nation will begin to develop a new identity, defined by those who are excluded from it. Prejudice may not have been the cause for circumstances we find ourselves in, but it may well be the consequence.