The U.S. presidential election stunned a lot of my friends. It stunned me. There was no way I could see an openly xenophobic, racist, and misogynistic candidate actually being elected the President of the United States. Indeed, that is exactly what has happened. It is a small salve, to me, that he did not win the popular vote. But it is equally sobering that the vote shows a very polarized nation. And now we have to wait and see what happens, like the rest of the world.
I pondered this election for many a sleepless night and have a few thoughts I’d like to share with you. I’ve been voting since 1972. I’ve watched a lot of elections. I actually remember elections as far back as Johnson vs. Goldwater in ’64. But this has been one of the craziest elections I’ve ever seen. Being an armchair amateur of U.S. politics and elections, I will attempt to write about what I see, in retrospect, that might help explain what we’ve all just witnessed. Perhaps it will bring solace and hope. Perhaps not. Either way, take it with a grain of salt.
Without further adieu, here are my thoughts:
- Hillary (and her hubby Bill) couldn’t escape the baggage of the now forgotten Democratic Leadership Council which proposed a “Third Way” of mixing conservative and liberal ideas together to create a new economy that would offer benefits to business and workers back in the late 80’s to early 90’s. This was the beginning of the Corporate-Friendly Democratic Party.
- The move toward corporations for support of Democratic goals changed the Democratic goals, as evidenced first by NAFTA, and the embracing of free trade agreements.
- The move toward big money for funding campaigns made the corporations, celebrities, and other rich folks much more influential in setting priorities for the Democratic party. Worse still, the voices of the working class were eventually ignored while the leadership chased dollars of the rich and famous.
- The free trade agreements decimated factories, which decimated the working class.
- The free trade agreements required concessions from labor to keep their factories open, which again decimated the working class.
- The rise of automation had an incalculable effect on the working class.
- And the love of money, celebrity, and status became the Democratic Party’s, the Clinton’s, and Obama’s eventual downfall due in large part to the plight of the working class not being addressed.
- Have we all forgotten that Obama, when in the Rust Belt some years ago, mentioned how the folks there, the working class who were no longer working, “cling” to their guns and their bibles? Well, what else did they have?
- And no one can forget Hillary’s “deplorables” statement because, while partially true, it also was aimed, again, squarely at working class whites. (Nothing like kicking ‘em while they’re down.)
- The Democratic Party leaders embraced corporate crony capitalism with the goal of bettering all citizens. I have no doubt they believed this was the best way.
- But in so doing, the Party left its roots behind: the working class.
- Working class whites rebelled. They gave into fear and hate of that which is different. For they had 35 years of continued economic erosion.
- Working class people of color are rebelling due to the Democratic Party not keeping it’s promises to create better lives for all people who have not known economic opportunity.
And here we are.
Hillary, who makes more in a speech than I do in several years, trying to convince voters, and the working class, that she cares about them. I believe she does. But her ties to corporate influence, celebrities, and rich folk appeared more important than issues of the working class.
Obama tried. But he too was consumed by his own “celebrity” status and loved coming to my city, Los Angeles, for fundraisers. Gawd, he and Hillary and myriad other Democratic leaders flew in to L.A. so often to raise money from the rich and famous that it became a running joke every time traffic was jammed on the 405 freeway!
Would that they had spent more time flying in to Pennsylvania, Alabama, Mississippi, and Ohio to commiserate with the working class as often as they went to fundraisers. Just to let them know they care and they are trying.
I’m sure Democratic leadership cares. But then again, I think Republican leadership cares. But I’m also sure they didn’t try very hard to address the issues of the working class.
To me that’s the lesson. Jettison the corporate fundraising, the corporate approach to influence, and get back to your roots, the Working Class, now!
If not, we’re all in for a very rough ride from a charlatan who took advantage of human suffering without having a lick of sense on how to alleviate it.
But hope is not lost. Perseverance and patience are the order of the day. Human kindness is still the biggest salve on the planet for bettering ourselves and resolving issues. Don’t forget, behind all these phobias that are now being expressed; behind the bullying and the hate speech are people who are basically fearful, not knowing their place in society, and in the future. They’d rather “burn it down” than face an unknown future. That’s what they’ve told us, in my opinion. Give them hope. Give them an economy that does allow them to provide for themselves and those they love. And, finally, give them compassion even when it is very difficult to do so. It is our only way forward.
(Clarification: I am not a member of any political party)