Thursday, 10 November 2016

Patrick French - The end begins now Trump’s presidency is year zero in a new world order // Keshava Guha - Trump’s victory will not 'Make America Great Again' – it will deepen its decline

The end begins now Trump’s presidency is year zero in a new world order
On Wednesday, the world changed. An idea of itself that the West believed in and promoted in the wake of two devastating world wars came to an end. Liberal values always work best when you are in the ascendant, and most Americans no longer feel in the ascendant. This is the start of the next stage of history, a triumph of the outsider. For Americans, the election result represents a victory for white nationalism, and for the idea that the majority can apply the values of identity politics to itself. Donald Trump’s attack on elites and institutions was secondary to this fact. His campaign made the majority feel as if they were a put-upon minority, and as in other countries, this won the vote. As a candidate, he was not a thinker but a reflector, a mirror. “I am your voice,” he told a delighted crowd when he won the Republican nomination.
Trump was able to articulate the fears of an American white majority that knows it will be a minority by the middle of this century. Barack Obama is the last black president for a long while. As Samuel P. Huntington predicted in 2004, ethnic intolerance was likely to resurface as a political force in America. “Historical and contemporary experience suggests,” he wrote, “that this is a highly probable reaction from a once dominant ethnic-racial group that feels threatened by the rise of other groups.”

This was a campaign ruled by confirmation bias, with a media that disliked what Trump was offering and so convinced themselves he would lose. His astonishing victory leaves his opponents wondering: Was it about Hillary Clinton’s weakness as a candidate, was it about misogyny, was it about the economically left-behind? I am not convinced it was any of these things. Trump won because he was an insurgent candidate, a disruptive antidote to both main parties and to politics-as-usual. Most voters who earn less than $50,000 a year voted not for Trump but for Clinton; and 52 per cent of white women voted for Trump. You can blame globalisation, neoliberalism, outsourcing, the establishment  - but above all, this was a reaction to the way the world has changed. Certainties about status have evaporated. What do investors do in a crisis? They flee to the safety of gold. What do voters do? They flee to the gold of ethnic solidarity and traditional social ideas, they flee to the cultural solidity of an imagined past. In this respect, the US is far from unique: We saw it in the UK over Brexit, and we see it with alarming force in the rise of Europe’s hard-right, nativist political parties, who were the first to congratulate President-elect Trump and climb on his bandwagon.

Trump may not be an isolationist president, but he will surely be an autarchic one. He sees alliances in transactional terms, as a businessman of questionable talent who is always focused on the deal and the short-term advantage. If he is not getting a financial return from the Baltic states, he may decide they are expendable. I’ll talk to President Putin. It’s gonna be beautiful. NATO, tomato. We’ll make a new alliance when we need it. As the US acts unilaterally, so other large powers will do the same. There is every reason for them to act in advance of the fact, and to create their own reality at a time of global insecurity.

If China wants to crack down on Hong Kong or extend its remit over the South China Sea and create a wider, Sino-centric sphere of regional influence, or Russia wants to annex some neighbouring territory, what better moment to do it than around the time of inauguration day? We do not know what President Trump’s foreign and security policy will be, because his statements during the campaign were strikingly incoherent. In a presidential campaign, the US media plays a game to see how much an aspiring candidate knows about the rest of the world. Remember how George W. Bush was caught out, unable to name General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan? The exception was Hillary Clinton, who with her experience as secretary of state could analyse global problems with acuity — and look how far it got her. If you read Trump’s answers on, for instance, the problem of Syria, Iraq and IS, all you see is an ignorant, randomly-generated word-soup of distracted remarks. We cannot go back and parse his speeches, his writings or his track record, because he has no experience in government. Trump is a zero, and his presidency is year zero in a new world order where rules may be disappearing... read more:

Keshava Guha: Trump’s victory will not 'Make America Great Again' – it will deepen its decline
Some years are branded for all time by their political events: 1789, 1848, 1917, 1989. It is too early to add 2016 to that list, or to speculate on the historical significance of a Donald Trump presidency. But Trump’s election itself is the logical culmination of a year that has ended, decisively, an era in the West that began with the end of the Cold War.

Liberal internationalism is in retreat, both in politics and in economics. White voters, especially working-class and rural ones, have rejected rule by elite consensus. Nativism, xenophobia, sexism and outright racism have been deployed more openly and effectively than for decades. The United States and its closest ally Britain have turned inwards.

Trump’s election has been widely described as a stunning upset. It is liable to be compared to Brexit. But such a view is difficult to reconcile with the facts. On the eve of the election, Trump was level with Hillary Clinton, or within the margin of error in national polls, and within striking distance in every battleground state. The most influential forecaster, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, rated Trump’s chances at 35% or over for much of the past week. A one-in-three shot – hardly Leicester City. As with Brexit, the idea that this was a shock result only reveals the extent to which expectations are shaped by wishful thinking.

A victory for bigotry: In this narrow sense, Trump’s win was unlikely but not unexpected. More generally, the fact that Republicans had a strong night isn’t surprising either. Since 1945, there have been ten US presidential elections in which the incumbent party had been in power for two terms or more. In eight of those ten elections, the challenging party won. Barack Obama is the third consecutive two-term president to be succeeded by a member of the opposite party.

But, in so many other ways, this is one of the most bizarre – and appalling – events in American political history. Donald Trump will be the 45th President, but the first true outsider, with no history of either civilian or military government service. Six in 10 voters, according to exit polls, regarded him as unqualified for the office. Majorities also doubted his temperament and judgment. Unlike every modern presidential candidate, he did not release his tax returns, and is believed to have paid virtually no income tax at all for the past 20 years.

Trump ran a campaign of open ethnic and religious polarisation, targeting Hispanics and Muslims in particular. Perhaps the most unsavoury aspect of all was his sexism – embodied in the leaked 2005 video in which he bragged about committing sexual assault. Over 60 million Americans have voted for a candidate who is brazenly racist and sexist. It is fatuous to absolve these voters of moral responsibility for his election – every vote for Trump is on the spectrum from tolerance of racism and sexism to an enthusiastic embrace of those things. His election is, thus, evidence of the enduring extent of bigotry in the US. A narrow majority of white women supported a candidate who has been accused of assault by twenty-four different women.

How we got here: Trump’s election is, rightly, the cause of such dismay that it is tempting, in pondering how we got here, to look not for causal factors but for people and institutions to blame. Such a list might begin with a Republican Party that has, beginning with Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, practiced dog-whistle politics and subtle racial polarisation for half a century. In the early stages of the Republican primary, Trump’s rivals refrained from directly attacking him for fear of alienating his voters.

Bernie Sanders and his allies pushed an agenda that was free of Trump’s bigotry but similarly protectionist and anti-internationalist. These outsider candidates of right and left shared the view that globalization, particularly in the form of free-trade deals, has disproportionately benefited the Third World at America’s expense. Liberal internationalism might have rejoiced in American policies that exported prosperity, but Sanders and Trump, in very different ways, embodied a new, inward-looking nationalism. Trump’s decisive victory in the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania depended in part on Sanders supporters who didn’t vote for Clinton.

Others will point to a primary process that rewards ideological extremism, and to the electoral college system, which renders the votes of a majority of Americans meaningless, and concentrates the campaign in a handful of “battleground states”. FBI director James Comey will be accused of having swung the election – unfairly, given the extent of Trump’s Rust Belt victory... read more:

The reasons for Trump were also the reasons for Brexit - John Harris
Trump’s Victory Was Not a Class Backlash From the Disempowered

Clinton's Democratic Party is more like Rahul Gandhi's Congress than we realise
Rahul Gandhi represented the accumulative authority that the Congress believed it possessed, and the concomitant faith in the institution of the bureaucratic welfare state. Hillary Clinton represented slowly acquired knowledge, and the related belief that facts and expertise were values in the service of public welfare. Clinton and Gandhi were not running as individual leaders, they were running as representatives of institutions of power. Voting against them – rather than voting for Modi or Trump – must be understood as a vote against institutional politics and the knowledge political institutions collectively possess rather than a vote necessarily in favour of far right regimes…. What is sweeping the globe, from India to the US, is not simply far right xenophobia – though that is one of the most serious and pressing issues of our time – but the simultaneous and devastating repudiation of centrist institutional knowledge and expertise in favour of individual authority...

see also

The rise of American authoritarianism

Michael Moore’s “Morning After To-Do List” 

The Trump Effect