They said he wasn’t going to run. Then they said he wasn’t running seriously. Then they said he’d do poorly in the debates. Then they said he wouldn’t win a primary. Then they said he wouldn’t win the nomination. Then they said he wouldn’t win the Presidency.
Time and time again, this election cycle has proven virtually every pollster, pundit and expert wrong.
As thanks to America’s once forgotten silent majority, political norms and conventions have been shoved aside, in place of the new, conservative, populist brand of Trump politics.
Placing the shock waves that Donald Trump’s election has sent through the world off to the side, what are we to make of this victory and the broader implications for US and global politics?
Undeniably, a vote for Donald Trump in the eyes of many voters, was the ultimate rebellion and rebuke of the political establishment.
Tired of perennially unfulfilled promises, in Donald Trump voters saw a man despised by political elites on both sides of the aisle. In truth, the Bushes and Clintons are more similar than they are different, given their heavy association to the Washington establishment and the corruption Americans have grown so tired of.
Political correctness so too played its part. Americans, as are millions of others across the west who have voted for similar movements, have grown tired of hearing accusations of racism, sexism and bigotry, when facts state their societies to be the most tolerant in human history. They are sick of lectures from the out of touch, elitist, over- educated segments of society, who readily shame their nation’s ancestry and demand that all hop on their SJW train, or face the abuse- hurling ramifications.
However, this election represents far more than one big middle figure aimed at the political elites, and their demanding that our language suit.
This is about the Trump brand of populism, that has also been replicated in movements across Britain, France, the Netherlands and Australia, that threatens to upturn politics and political ideology as we know it.
What is needed to realize the extraordinary nature of the current predicament, is a short trip back in time to the Republican party’s 2012 internal autopsy, after Mitt Romney’s loss of the Presidency to Barrack Obama.
At that time, the future outlook seemed hopeless. Polls had been wrong and Romney lost the election by a landslide, winning only 206 electoral college votes to Obama’s 332.
In response to this painful loss, the RNC made a number of recommendations as to how the Republican party must change if it were to survive. Crucially, this review warned future Republican party leaders to move towards immigration reform, and to specifically seek the appeal of minority communities.
“By the year 2050 we’ll be a majority-minority country and in both 2008 and 2012 President Obama won a combined 80 percent of the votes of all minority groups,” RNC chair Reince Priebus said in a press conference debuting the report. “The RNC cannot and will not write off any demographic or community or region of this country.”
And yet, it was from the depths of this loss and these assurances that immigration reform and policies suited to minorities was a matter of survival, emerged a winner in Donald Trump, who famously commenced his campaign decrying the consequences of illegal immigration.
The reason this victory was possible, was not through pursuing Hispanic support en masse that would have never eventuated. Rather, the victory was realized through Trump’s particular brand of conservative politics.
In fairness, Trump wasn’t the first conservative candidate to run on an overtly anti- globalist platform, as Pat Buchanan did in the 1990’s.
However, Trump was the first to popularize on such a broad scale, the populist opposition to an open and aggressive US foreign policy, as well as anti- free trade and anti- immigration sentiment. Essentially, this is the basis of what paleoconservatism is about, and although Trump was no thoroughbred conservative, it is from these basic principles which earned him his great success.
But what is so crucially important about Trump’s style of politics, is that it won over habitually Democrat, left leaning voters.
These working class, predominantly white voters with no college education, who once found refuge in the Democrats as a party who stood with the workers and unions, abandoned these historic ties to support Trump.
It was this very group, which proved tantamount to victories in the traditionally blue states of Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Clearly, in the identities of these working class Americans, a seismic identity shift has taken place.
These people realize that after all this time, the so called ‘progressive’ party, does not stand for their interests. Further, there is something of an unholy alliance, between the socially progressive and economically progressive tenets of the movement.
They claim to represent workers, and yet through Obama and Clinton, they support free trade policies which send jobs overseas. They support excessive environmental regulation in response to the impending global warming ‘catastrophe’, which results in massive losses of blue collar jobs in coal and related industry. They advocate for open borders and soft approaches in response, which drives down wages, results in losses of local jobs, and leads to rising economic inequality. Moreover, they seek to heavily tax every business almost to the point of insolvency, which further damages the capacity for working people to develop small businesses and prosper. They have also gone from the party of slavery to the party of enslavement, as seen in the massive issues of welfare dependency that have developed among poor and African- American communities, since the onset of the so called ‘Great Society’.
In all of his imperfections and all of the still- present concerns I have about how Trump could serve as President, that he was able to brilliantly expose how the Democratic party has abandoned working people, and simultaneously juxtaposed this with his own policies, was what won the Presidency.
No other Republican could have won these traditionally blue states as Trump did, through combining anti- trade messages with a populist tone to great effect.
Of course, some will argue that Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate from the start and should the Democratic party have fielded another person, victory would have been imminent.
This narrative is to some extent true. There is no doubt that the ensuing controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server, the Clinton foundation and perhaps even her health played their part in her unexpected loss.
Likewise, the weaknesses in Donald Trump are aplenty. Throughout the course of his campaign, he insulted war veterans and disabled people. Segments of women, Muslims, Hispanics and other groups were also offended by his incendiary use of language.
And all of this came before the release of the 2005 tape, in which Trump bragged about his sexual conquests, infamously claiming; “I just grab them by the pussy.”
Despite all of this, in addition to an at times disorganized, poorly run campaign, Donald Trump pulled off the most improbable of victories.
So for all of Clinton’s many weaknesses that could be exposed on the public stage, Trump also carried with him an abundance of controversy.
Another accusation leveled at the Trump campaign, is that white nationalism and racist ideology was the only way he propelled to victory. True, voices such as David Duke and the Klu Klux Klan, have found some voice in supporting the candidacy of Trump and his policies on immigration.
But to state that racism was the main or only factor behind Trump’s victory, is to bury one’s head into the sand.
For if throughout this election Trump’s popularity was exclusively due to being seen as the great saviour of White America, how could the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio that he won, have voted for Barrack Obama in 2012?
Surely, Hillary Clinton as detestable as she is, could not possibly present a more frightening prospect to racists, than would a black President.
Donald Trump’s catapult to the US presidency is an incredible occasion for so many reasons.
But to my mind, it is most significant as this anti- globalist, Trump- like platform should set the tone for similar movements across the world, as the hour of the neocon appears over.
These Trump messages which appealed to both wealthy and non- wealthy individuals, and seek to place the needs and interests of established inhabitants of a land above newcomers (America First), have proven a winning formula.
And should we as conservatives emphasize this doctrine, and make clear that it is only our movements who represent the true interests of the native peoples of our lands, regardless of if they be rich or poor, white, black or other, then patriotic, traditional political parties, will be set for many future victories.