On presidential election day, November 8th, I was traveling in the northern part of Portugal and staying in the city of Porto. At bedtime, the newsreaders on the TV had projected a huge lead for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. They were supposedly using exit polling. (The U.S. is five hours behind the time in Portugal.) It looked like a Clinton win was a done deal. Wrong!
The next morning, a stunning reality had set in. The election from Hell was over! Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee, had won the day in a bitterly fought political battle filled daily with the most unsavory kind of vitriol. What the heck happened?
Cutting to the chase: The so-called “deplorables” have spoken, that’s what happened! One of the major gaffes, Clinton had committed during her failed campaign for the highest office in the land was referring to Trump supporters as the “deplorables.”
“Deplorables! Who Knew?”
Into that basket, she recklessly tossed the “racists, sexists, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.” Clinton’s gratuitously branding millions of Americans with a hateful tag was one of her dumbest mistakes. It may have cost her the election.
The fact that many voters also didn’t trust Clinton added to this mix, as did her inflammatory anti-Russian, anti-Putin rhetoric. She came off as an agent of the Oligarchs.
Simply put, the demonizing of Trump backfired badly. I believe also that the polls were off so much because his backers (a neo- “silent majority” if you like) simply didn’t want to go on record as being in his camp.
Clinton’s “deplorables” crack also represented an out-of-touch “elitist” view of a huge segment of the voting population in our America. It was mirrored in the heavily-biased reporting and commentary sections of the know-it-all Establishment-controlled press, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.
These ivory tower media dudes looked down on the Trump brigade as mostly unwashed rednecks, losers from the Rust Belt and gun nuts. This gave journalism yet another black eye.
Keep in mind that both of these newspapers were also wrong on the Iraq War. They were asleep at the wheel as the Bush-Cheney Gang deceptively dragged the country into the lethal, immoral and illegal Iraq War. The current chaos in the Middle East can be traced to that reckless decision by Dubya to invade Iraq over Saddam Hussein’s supposed possession of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
Closer to home. Who are the deplorables? Post-election analysis shows them as an emerging Populist Movement comprising many blue-collar workers and huge segments of the Middle Class. You can call them “The Forgotten Americans,” if you so choose.
What do they want? They want a bigger slice of the pie. They are sick and tired of: the shenanigans of the 1Percent Gang; their stooges in the media; the endless wars; the unfair trade deals; and, the outsourcing of jobs that have devastated our manufacturing base.
Trump ran as an outsider in his own party. Now, he’s its leader. He also has a Republican-controlled House and Senate at his beckoning.
Both major parties were clearly out of touch with the vast majority of Americans. If you thought House Speaker Paul Ryan was a reactionary in this last session of the Congress, just wait for 2017.
I recall a few months ago a labor leader saying: “There’s a lot of anger out in the country.” Little did he know just how right he was. And, if this angry populist uprising doesn’t get that bigger “slice of the pie,” they are seeking from Trump, there’s going to be hell to pay.
Many in the Liberal/Left column wanted to see Vermont’s Bernie Sanders in the White House. When he stumbled, they were forced reluctantly into the Clinton camp. Not that many were happy with that association. Chances are, if Clinton had won the election, the U.S. would have been at war with Iran within six months. Her Mideast track record reeks of blood-stained, impetuous warmongering.
Now for the really bad news. Trump is a card carrying member of the 1 Percent Gang! If you didn’t know that, you soon will.
Beginning with a new appointee to the Supreme Court, Trump’s policies over the next four years, on issues as varied as: the economy, environment, health care, consumer protection, military spending, foreign affairs, immigration, border control, labor unions — and, the privatizing of public assets, will define our nation for decades to come.
There is little, if anything, to be optimistic about, except at press time, this: Trump indicated he was looking to make a rapprochement with Russia, re: Assad’s Syria. Good news, indeed, if he, in fact, follows through on it.
All of this, however, can be taken as a challenge for the Liberal/Left and their allies in the Labor Movement. Suggestion: Stop whining about the results of the 2016 election.
Instead — the Liberal/Left should get out in front of the Populist Movement which brought Trump to power. Grow it, re-direct and re-organize it, to include their progressive concerns and agenda for our America.
Bottom line: Buckle-up your seat belts America! You are in for a bumpy ride.
Photos by Bill Hughes unless otherwise noted.
Bill Hughes is a native of Baltimore. He’s an attorney, author, professional actor and hobbyist photographer. In his salad days, he worked on the docks as a longshoreman. Bill also played on three championship soccer teams: sandlot with Jules Morstein; high school at Calvert Hall; and college at the University of Baltimore.