Where Trump’s Support comes from

In my previous post,  I wrote about how much of the American working-class, in general, reject the ideas of both Clinton and Trump. Where, then, does Trump’s support come from?  In an earlier post I also wrote about how the middle-class is generally more conservative when it comes to things like inequality and climate change, and so members of this class are therefore more likely to be Trump supporters.  The following passage from a recent Guardian column by Sarah Smarsh confirms this:

Earlier this year, primary exit polls revealed that Trump voters were, in fact, more affluent than most Americans, with a median household income of $72,000 – higher than that of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders supporters. Forty-four percent of them had college degrees, well above the national average of 33% among whites or 29% overall. In January, political scientist Matthew MacWilliams reported findings that a penchant for authoritarianism – not income, education, gender, age or race –predicted Trump support.

These facts haven’t stopped pundits and journalists from pushing story after story about the white working class’s giddy embrace of a bloviating demagogue.

Mainstream media is set up to fail the ordinary American

Based on Trump’s campaign rhetoric and available data, it appears that most of his voters this November will be people who are getting by well enough but who think of themselves as victims.

The column is well worth reading in full.

American Presidents

From the two most prominent runners for US President, we could perceive that “anyone can be President – even one of these two”.   You may understand where this kind of argument comes from.  The fact that Trump and Clinton are the forerunners for the Oval Office is surely a perversion of the concept of American freedom?  Hasn’t this concept become stretched and twisted and distorted?  It is surely positive that anyone can campaign to be President, but these two, making it all the way through that great American democratic system?  Surely this is a sick joke taken too far?  Is this an absurd level of democracy?  Too much democracy?  Are we to blame, or is it the stupid half of the country?  America, the land where anyone can be President – it’s the American Dream, right?  And it is reality for Clinton and Trump, in front of us now, in its fantastical magnitude.

Conversely, this so-called race between Clinton and Trump is an example of how unlikely it is for anyone to become President, let alone be able to campaign for election.

Poor people, ordinary working people, and even moderates who fight for the needs of ordinary people may find it nigh impossible to campaign effectively for Presidency.  Even the mildly left-wing Bernie Sanders was swimming against the much stronger establishment current; With all that has happened to the US and its economy in the past few years, the establishment still had no appetite for Sanders.  Of course, millions of people actively supported Sanders in a movement not seen in the US in recent history, but the lives of those activists and supporters, their needs, ideas and voices are of little concern, and the media did not air them.

The central point here is that although anyone can run for President, the main discriminating factors are not intelligence, truth, ethics; They are wealth, power, and ruthlessness, with a dedication and loyalty only to people and institutions who share these traits and the system which encourages it.  Anyone who does even slightly differently, like Sanders, is instinctively expelled by the system itself.

Alas, Sanders was betrayed by his own party whose interests are always corporate, and thus, were choking politically and financially on the very moderate policies Sanders espoused.  He should have known – others did.  Sanders was as bad for the Democratic Party as Trump was for the Republican Party, even if it was for opposite beliefs.  Better, then, for the media to portray him as a crazed radical (or,at least, misguided, during kinder moments) who may have had good intentions, but was not the sensible choice.  Ordinary Sanders voters were not coaxed though.  Unlike Sanders in his defeat, his movement of followers remain convinced that Clinton is not a genuine alternative.  Her being the lesser-evil to Trump is not a point the many newly politically mobilised people find endearing .  They can think for themselves – now more politically sophisticated and experienced than ever.  And they’re talking to each other and convincing each other.  Many thousands of them actually transferred their allegiance from the Democratic Party to Jil Stein and her Green Party.

The resultant argument and movement against voting for the “lesser evil” is the most pervasive I have yet witnessed from the US, and it may not merely be because of visibility on social media (though social media likely helps); In 2008 social media was awash with support for Obama, including from my naive self – there was very little talk then of a third alternative to combat capitalistic trends; Now, social media is awash with confusion and enlightenment in equal quantities firing off in every direction.  This (like everything) is of course potentially very good and bad, and contains the ingredients for social effusion; Disillusion; Revolution; Reaction. Let’s wait and… no.  Let’s discuss, and read, and write, and protest, and see.

 

Why Bernie Sanders Is Important For Ireland

During a conversation with an acquaintance recently, I mentioned that we hear a lot about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Ireland through our media, but virtually nothing about Bernie Sanders, as if Trump and Clinton were the only two campaigning for the US presidency.  The fact that we don’t hear about Sanders seemed innately important to me and I was (and am) concerned by it.

“It doensn’t really matter though, we can’t vote for them anyway”, was his quick answer.  His reply seemed at first quite clever due to its quickness and his assured tone, but it left me dissatisfied.  It dismissed my concerns as irrelevant.  I was irked by his off-handedness to the issue and the concerns one may have about it.  “Surely, this is an important and relevant issue?” I thought to myself.  At the time, I could not think of a response quickly enough (I was heading out with other friends for a few social drinks and I had not much time to talk).  I knew it was an important thing that we hear about Sanders – it seemed instinctively important – but I had never really given any thought to why it is, and so I could not think of a quick answer to the argument that “it doesn’t really matter” to Irish people.  “Why does it matter?”, I asked myself.

So why then, is it important for people outside of the US to hear about Bernie Sanders and his ideas, as well as Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s?  It is because Sanders represents a political alternative which is relevant to us all, regardless of our nationality, if we come from an ordinary background.  But this political alternative does not represent the interests of corporations and powerful interests in the US or elsewhere around the world.

Sanders has the potential to inspire the Irish working class, to influence our ideas and represents how the working class across the world are actually connected by these common interests.  Much of what Sanders says, is reflected in what Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger, et al say in Ireland, or what Jeremy Corbyn says in Britain; despite some political differences, all their arguments rotate around the broad idea of socialism and a re-working of how we organise the running of our society.

The fact that socialism is being discussed in the context of the US presidential election on such a large scale is surely an important thing to talk about too; the US, arguably the most advanced capitalist country on the planet.