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Archive for November, 2016

First appeared in RURAL RANTS          

America has just now experienced a totally new and shocking approach to presidential politics.  By the time it was over, the Republican candidate had offended just about every group that existed as a potential voting bloc against him.  That list included African Americans, Mexicans, Asians, Latinos, immigrants in general, Muslims, women, POWs and the disabled, to mention just a few.

His manner, vocabulary and attitudes were mean-spirited, crass and completely unapologetic.  The Democrats, basking in his essentially unacceptable demeanor, figured they had the contest won.  Probably the one thing that made that unlikely was their own candidate.  If they had wanted to choose a weak candidate, they couldn’t have done better than the one they chose.  With her approval ratings among the lowest on record, it was going to be an uphill climb for the Democrats.

The first group to turn on the Republican candidate was made up of a number of more traditional conservative Republican politicians.  They either pilloried him for his baseness or refused to endorse his candidacy.

Nevertheless, he persisted in his indiscriminate attack on all those groups that conventional wisdom said were absolutely critical to any candidate who wanted to gain the Presidency.  How could that be?  How could an essentially intelligent man so callously attack the people and groups he would need if he wanted to win the election?

It is difficult if not impossible to believe that he didn’t know what he was doing.  Quite the opposite.  It is far more likely that he had identified the only group that could bring him an election victory and that all the groups that conventional wisdom recommended were exactly those that he did not need.  In fact, he needed to attack them if he was going to guarantee the support of his only important, potential support group – angry, disenfranchised, white, working class Americans who were preoccupied with inevitable, coming, demographic change   And so he did.

It is generally said that he is a reasonably nice guy and that the face he showed the electorate does not accurately reflect his true personality.  If that is true, it lends more credence to the observation that his pre-election personality and behavior were part of his realization that it was the tactic required to win over the one critical group he needed in order to prevail in the election.

And that was very likely the realization that determined how he would run his campaign.  He knew how unhappy and marginalized white, working class America really was.  They had not benefited, as a group, from the economic revival and job growth being touted by the administration in office.  Quite the opposite.  The newly created jobs were a far cry from the good old days of work in the factories where they made enough in good wages and benefits to live solidly middle class lives and even educate their children.  Instead, they got low wages without benefits at places like Walmart.  He and his followers would “make America great again” without identifying the year in America’s past to which we would be returning, but it clearly would be in the pre-Walmart era. How often has a return to the past worked?

Part of the dynamic that brought this unusual tactic to the electoral process was the depth of disenchantment within the white, working class.  He may not have realized it at the time, or may have simply decided he had no choice but to take the risk, but what he found was that no matter how ugly his statements about POWs, Muslims, Mexicans, Black Americans, women and everyone else he attacked and offended, his white Americans would all simply suck it up and take it.  Those attacks had nothing but a positive effect on the white, working class group he was courting.  Not only did they accept this mean-spirited behavior, they actually supported it.

The final and perhaps most fascinating part of this story is that when the actual election came around, the Republican candidate got the vote of not only white working class Americans, but of many women both white and black, and of Mexicans and Latinos as well.  They also picked up Sanders supporters who shared their views on economic fairness.

The overriding issue, clearly, was the state of the economy and the strong belief of his supporters that they were being excluded by the power centers in both the Democratic and Republican parties from their fair share of prosperity.  Given an inevitably changed demographic future, that should cause panic in the Democrat and Republican parties alike.

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