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The Media And Clinton’s Campaign Are Big Reasons Behind Trump’s Victory

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By Angad Singh Bachhar:

Despite what the mainstream media had been telling us all along, Donald Trump defied all expectations and polling to win by a substantial number of congressional college votes, becoming the President of the USA and the most powerful man on earth, leaving all of us gobsmacked and scratching our heads as to how the media and pundits got things so wrong. Below are some reasons that might explain why Donald Trump won the election.

The Role Of The Media

“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” said Leslie Moonves, executive chairman and CEO of CBS. Over the course of his Republican primary campaign, Trump received over $2 billion of free coverage by the mainstream media, far more than any of his competitors. However, the excessive coverage wasn’t the only problem. The real problem was that the media failed to highlight any of the issues that Democrats might have liked them to cover, such as his six bankruptcies, the alleged scams he has run or the sexual assault allegations levelled against him by his ex-wife. In fact, the extremely corporatized mainstream media in the US has replaced objectivity with neutrality, so much so that it tries to draw false equivalencies between issues where there is none in an effort to avoid being called liberal. An accusation levelled at the media by Republicans and conservatives. An accusation that is considered to be a serious knock against the establishment credentials of a journalist in Washington. The corporate media, which is more concerned with putting on a good show to attract ratings than actually reporting the news properly, has sacrificed good journalistic standards.

The Democratic Establishment

Evidence has emerged that the Democratic National Conference (DNC), which is supposed to be impartial, headed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former aide to Hillary Clinton, took a series of decisions designed to favour Hillary Clinton and stifle any opposition to her during the primaries. The DNC colluded with journalists to publish negative pieces about Bernie Sanders, conspired to attack him on his faith, took advice from a Clinton campaign lawyer and plotted a narrative about why Sanders’ campaign failed. The DNC’s joint fundraising committee with the Clinton campaign was found to be laundering money to the Clinton campaign instead of fundraising for down-ticket Democrats, who incidentally were defeated by the GOP, which kept control of the Senate. The primary debate schedule, also decided by the DNC, was designed in a way to minimise viewers, in a bid to keep people from becoming aware of Sanders’ anti-establishment and anti-donor message and to protect Clinton’s name recognition advantage. The majority of the 700 super delegates, the majority of whom were establishment figures in the Democratic party, sided with Clinton before the primaries even began. Despite the deck being stacked against him, Sanders, who had no name recognition on the national stage and was between 60-70 points behind Clinton at the start of the primaries, came extremely close to defeating her and could have possibly done so had it not been for the DNC’s underhanded tactics. After public outcry against Schultz caused her to resign from the DNC, she was employed by the Clinton campaign. By the way, her replacement, Donna Brazile, who was also a contributor on CNN, was recently forced to resign from CNN after it was revealed that she leaked questions from the CNN presidential debate to Clinton. The tragedy is that Sanders, with his clean image and reputation for honesty and being principled, polled far better against Trump than Clinton did.

Misjudgement Of The Mood Of The Country

Perhaps the biggest sin, committed jointly by the political and media establishment, was the fundamental misjudgement of the mood of voters in the country. The huge gap in productivity and worker income and the extreme level of income inequality in the US, which has not really improved under Obama, has led to strong anti-establishment and a populist sentiment among the people. In response, the Democratic establishment thought it was a wise move to promote a hated pro-establishment candidate while undermining democratic processes to stifle the Sanders campaign. Bernie Sanders’ anti-Wall Street and anti-big-donor message resonated strongly with the common American, who saw him as an alternative to pro-corporate candidates who had been disregarding their interests and wishes. Hillary Clinton made in one paid wall street speech what Bernie Sanders makes in one year. Sanders drew far greater crowds than Clinton throughout the primaries. On the other hand, the Republicans, even with all their faults, did not try to mess with the will of their voters and allowed the anti-establishment Trump to become their nominee. Ironically, this meant that the Republicans ended up fielding a populist candidate while the Democrats chose someone who is pro-corporate. The tragedy is that Sanders, with his squeaky clean image and reputation for honesty and being principled, might have beaten Trump in the polls.

Going Forward

The Clinton campaign showed utter contempt for the legions of young Sanders supporters, making no meaningful attempt to reach out to them. Hillary Clinton continued to propagate the same old corporate policies and refused to promise to adopt progressive policies that made Sanders so popular. This led them to vote in large numbers for third party candidates like libertarian Gary Johnson and Jill Stein from the Green party. Clinton’s unfavourable ratings were second only to Trump’s. However, the pro–Clinton media blamed the electorate for the low poll numbers Clinton was getting for some time. Thus, going by their past conduct, it is highly likely that they will again turn around and blame the reluctance of pro-Sanders voters to vote for Clinton rather than her policies. As for Trump supporters, they will all be denounced as racist xenophobes. While that is true to a distressingly large extent, it is the same mistake the political and media establishment of Britain made during the Brexit fiasco. Voters vote for  sane candidates, like they did in 2008 for Barack Obama and would have this time for Bernie Sanders if they were given a chance to do so. The unwillingness of the elites to consider the views of ordinary people and their blanket dismissal of their legitimate grievances will only serve to alienate them further instead of uniting them against what may prove to be a tough four years.

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Image source: Drew Angerer/ Getty Images
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  1. Uday Shriram

    I agree with your points about the role of the media. One can argue about the failings of the DNC, but I really don’t think that was the cause for this outcome. I disagree that it was direct income inequality that led to this Trump victory. The most impoverished people in this country are either in prison (the US has ~25% of the world’s prison population, over 2 million people), or they are people of color living in urban areas, for the most part, or in practically segregated rural communities like in Louisiana. In fact, the average income of Trump voters was significantly higher than their Clinton-supporting counterparts. This is because income and race are inextricably tied in this country, with exceptions, of course. Trump had a lot of rural supporters, sure, and all in the right places (Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania), but they are often land/farm/asset owning, and firmly middle class. Race was way more the issue, and so was gender, specifically blatant and internalized sexism towards Clinton. These factors are the exact “gut feeling” described by a lot of Trump supporters, who I have spoken directly with, as I knocked on hundreds of doors while volunteering for the Democratic Party of Virginia in the past week (incidentally Virginia went blue). The “legitimate grievances” are/were in no way addressed by Donald Trump, who still doesn’t have a coherent plan. His whole campaign was coded racist and sexist language that brought out existing prejudices in people, and the numbers show that these people were mostly White. It began with the Birther movement and Mexicans as rapists, and included xenophobia, anti-Islamic sentiment, and White supremacy. The amount of misinformation fed to these people was appalling and entirely manufactured by Trump and his posse, not to mention by the Russians (there is direct evidence and undercover interviews from these agents). This will probably go down in history as the single largest instance of a foreign power (successfully) interfering with American politics to-date. Basically since the Revolutionary War.

    Trump’s victory is a direct result of racism. He was directly endorsed by the KKK. Yesterday, David Duke tweeted “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life -> make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump”. It was not “unwillingness of elites to consider their views”, though I totally agree that there is clearly a disconnect between Washington and rural America.

    The stark differences in demographic voting are because this time White people voted as a cohesive demographic group bloc (77% White men, 66% White women, and 48% White millennials voted for Trump). Every single one of those Americans decided that they would rather vote for a literal rapist than for a woman. The consequence, and I’m not trying to be alarmist here, but this is going to be very very bad or people of color, women, lgbtq, immigrants, internationals, basically anyone who is not a straight white cis-gendered man. We might lose marriage equality, a woman’s right to choose, who the fuck knows what else. And as much as I don’t agree with everything Hillary Clinton says or does, I think she is a far superior choice to the genocidal demagogue we have released. There has been a co-ordinated smear campaign against Clinton, who has never been indicted for any of her supposed slights. The democratic establishment is functioning like any other political organization in that it is corrupt and thinks only to the next election, but they are puppies compared to the wolves that lead the Republican Party. I would much rather have another 8 years of continued development of Obama’s mandate than any of the non-scientific, feelings-driven (as opposed to data driven) agenda that the Republican establishment purported. The “taking back” of the country was much less from a hatred from a perceived-equal opponent, and much more a retaking of power from the Black President. And as far as Sanders is concerned, his message was initially a breath of fresh air, but ultimately part of the downfall of the Democratic Party. His campaign went sour during the second primary debate, and Clinton’s moved towards a much more positive and hopeful note. Look at the demographics of the primaries and again, you will see that the most impoverished people voted for her. Sanders support was largely white and upper class, even though is message was socialist. I also cannot say with any certainty whatsoever that Sanders could have beaten Trump, there is just no evidence to suggest that. In fact, the Clinton campaign was often accused of pandering to young people, trying to make her look trendy etc.

    This needs to be a paragraph in itself: 3rd party voters are fucking idiots in this election.

    White people have always had a voice. How is Donald Trump the “sane candidate”, what alternate reality are you living in? They were just feeling a little bit of their white privilege being eroded away by years of tireless activism that was leading to real change towards equality, not even close but still moving. Now this turned this country back 100 years. I would call on White people to take responsibility here, #yesallwhitepeople and to listen to the people of color around them and ask why they unequivocally voted against his coded racist/sexist rhetoric. This is not whining, it is a concern/plea for the bodily safety of me and my own. If you spit on that you are part of the problem.

    The irony is that the very people who claim to now have a voice, the people who voted for him, are never going to return to their former place. Coal mines will continue to close, the rust belt will continue to move away from industrialization and towards the tech economy. Trump has always thrived on making money off people who want to be a part of the corruption, people who want a slice of the pie and see no other way than riding on the coat-tails of a tyrant like him. This is an illusion, and the only people this will serve is the very select few right at the top. As usual.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-mythology-of-trumps-working-class-support/

    1. Uday Shriram

      Needless to say the entire organizing team and all the volunteers in Virginia Beach were passionate, driven, and open-minded. My entire point, and serious apologies for the essay, is that there was genuine love and support in/for the Clinton campaign, as well as for Hillary herself, but we just lost. Not sour grapes, just the realization that hate crimes and sexual assault has gone up since the 24 hours… America must look to its conscience now. Unfortunately one has to hope that it goes well. Really all one can hope for is to be wrong and for his presidency to cause the least harm. And that hurts so much more because the “I told you so” of nuclear holocaust would the alternative.

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