The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy.
I believe, based on the presidential campaign that has just ended (and particularly from my own personal experience in the Democratic Party primary election), that the majority of the American people are demanding significant change, and that they profoundly distrust the governing elites (of both parties) who have been in charge of this country for the last 25-30 years.
To millions of Americans who feel that the system isn’t working for them, who haven’t been part of the nation’s economic recovery, who think Washington doesn’t listen to them, it was something that needed to happen ... Donald Trump was the imperfect vessel for their frustration. “The message to the elites (of both parties) is, ‘You’re out of touch,’” said Mo Fiorina, a professor of political science at Stanford University and author of “Disconnect: The Breakdown of Representation in American Politics.”
The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.
Many Trump supporters very legitimately feel that it is they who have been facing an unfair reality. The upper 20 percent of income earners, many of them quite liberal and rightly committed to the defense of minorities and immigrants, also believe in the economic meritocracy and their own right to have so much more than those who are less fortunate. So while they may be progressive on issues of discrimination against the obvious victims of racism and sexism, they are blind to their own class privilege and to the hidden injuries of class that are internalized by much of the country as self-blame.
Joel Kotkin, in "Trumping The Elites," claims that "the American people said “no” to oligarchy and ruling classes."
She had it all—the pliant media, the tech oligarchs, Wall Street, the property moguls, the academics, and the all-around “smart people.” What Hillary Clinton didn’t have was flyover country, the economic “leftovers,” the small towns, the unhipstered suburbs, and other unfashionable places. As Thomas Frank has noted, Democrats have gone “from being the party of Decatur to the party of Martha’s Vineyard.” No surprise, then, that working- and middle-class voters went for Donald Trump and helped him break through in states—Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa—that have usually gone blue in recent presidential elections.
Trump seized on the widespread sense that American life was destined to get worse from generation to generation. Americans wanted opportunity for the next generation, not a managed decline. Democrats—and I was one for over 40 years—once offered this to the working and middle classes that have now deserted the party.
More than anything, the Trump vote says “no” to oligarchies and ruling classes that not only hoard their wealth but also are convinced that they are morally superior.
The sickness of the American body politic remains untreated, and will remain untreated, or exacerbated, in a country run by clowns, conspirators, and collaborators.
That sickness is imperialism. America is an imperial country, and its decay might now be showing. The power that has brought so much benefit to the country — for white people — is now faltering in its ability to provide those benefits to all white people. The empire’s best hope is to be more inclusive, demographically and economically, but that runs counter to the imperial impulse to hoard power and profit.