You're fired

I woke up in the middle of the night in the early hours of November 9th to hear, as I had increasingly started to expect a "surprise" Trump victory slowly taking place in the US.  I have to say I was neither shocked nor surprised.  I had mixed feelings about the polls that had largely showed a strong probability towards Clinton and the DNC, although I also persistently just had a feeling that things were being missed, sentiments were being lost in the hubris.  To me it seemed like a sign of deep anxiety that so many media organisations, many for the first time in history, were endorsing Mrs Clinton. 

I would say, I regard Mrs Clinton with deep respect, a hard-working stateswoman and a "safe pair of hands".  Her husband's infidelities, I feel, is her own affair, not mine.  I would regard most of the blatantly partisan attacks on her as just that: in any case, none of the ridiculous level of investigations into her alleged misuse of power have resulted in anything more than spurious rumours that don't go away, and no official actions being taken because no real wrongdoing was done.

So what were HRC's sins?  It seems, the deepest sin of all was simply the contamination of a lifetime spent in the public eye in mainstream politics, as it were, "doing the work."  The "corruption" was that of working relentlessly, quietly, without shouting hot air to broadcast what wasn't being done (and simply getting things done instead).  The cardinal sin, it seems, was having the temerity to be a woman in a man's world, bereft of the manifold excuses that permit a man to make oodles of stupid mistakes but go unpunished.  That brass neck alone, for some, anyway, seemed to be the most hotly contested "rationale" of them all against HRC.

Most of all, she wasn't an "outsider".  She belonged to the "global elite."  She wasn't even duplicitous enough, hadn't sufficient brass neck (unlike Teresa May and her banker friends, alongside Führer Trump and his British fascist buddy Nigel Farage) to deny being very fortunate indeed.  Indeed, it seems to me, perversely, that Hill was denied the top job because she told the truth, understood the limitations of her post, didn't make promises she couldn't keep, and was generally polite about her opposition, in contrast to Führer Trump's echoes of Uncle Adolf's commentaries on having a Jewish Wotan in Bayreuth in the 1920s.  HRC's sin, then, was to be too much of a "politician" whereas, the electorate, intent on electing a man with no background of actual political work, were determined to introduce a quasi-idiot and alleged racketeering rapist into the highest office.  The last laugh is that her opponent was able to repeatedly bleat about the "elite" and "rigging" of everything from the media to the election itself, despite being born into the so-called "one per cent", being a property developer (a group who do more harm to the inequity of western wealth than all the bankers, fund managers and insurers of the world combined in my opinion), a business failure and reality TV "star."  HRC's simple honesty about not being (well not now anyway) actually experiencing the harsh realities of western life somehow managed to obscure that Führer Trump never has, and never will, have to experience what it is like to actually have to "get by" on a modest earned wage.

After Hill's now notorious "deplorables" comment, I couldn't help but think the obvious, and unthinkable: is she actually right?  Have these people "done badly" in life not because of misfortune and lack of opportunity, but out of sheer stupidity?  Are they actually undeserving of success because of their rampant hatred of "the other" and propensity to blame anybody but themselves for their predicaments?

We appear blind to this in Ireland.  Yet we have suffered the consequences of populist sentiment right from the early years of the state in 1921.  By 1925 the formation of the state had begun to include the kind of socially regressive policies we became infamous for later on.  In the Senate, WB Yeats made this famous speech:

"It is perhaps the deepest political passion with this nation that North and South be united into one nation. If it ever comes that North and South unite the North will not give up any liberty which she already possesses under her constitution. You will then have to grant to another people what you refuse to grant to those within your borders. If you show that this country, Southern Ireland, is going to be governed by Catholic ideas and by [436] Catholic ideas alone, you will never get the North. You will create an impassable barrier between South and North, and you will pass more and more Catholic laws, while the North will, gradually, assimilate its divorce and other laws to those of England. You will put a wedge into the midst of this nation. I do not think this House has ever made a more serious decision than the decision which, I believe, it is about to make on this question. You will not get the North if you impose on the minority what the minority consider to be oppressive legislation. I have no doubt whatever that in the next few years the minority will make it perfectly plain that it does consider it exceedingly oppressive legislation to deprive it of rights which it has held since the 17th century. These rights were won by the labours of John Milton and other great men, and won after strife, which is a famous part of the history of the Protestant people."

There are basically two narratives going around now about "why" HRC lost (i.e. 1. that there are millions of bigots with a vote and 2. we didn't listen sufficiently to white working class suffering), and really they've lost the obvious element: Trump, a disaster from day one, drove expectations around his own performance so low that the almost disbelieving media was generally kind to his bumbling, idiotic, if dark and menacing, methodology.  As a result he pretty much could say whatever he liked, enabling him to draw "unconventional" support from undesirable sources such as racists, misogynists, heterosexists, boring middle class conservatives, pro-lifers, evangelicals, homophobes, conspiracy theorists, anti-Vaxxers, climate sceptics, gamers, the "uneducated" - basically most of those baulked at by polite society.  Unfortunately for polite society, by the time you tot up all of these groups (not all of who cross over) they make up a large if unruly constituency. A constituency who were hungering for a champion of change, which they found in the unlikely arms of Trump.  HRC was simply too much part of the furniture to be a believable agent of change.

Add to this the pernicious revenge of Julian Assange's Wikileaks and a delighted Russian meddler, and you can see how the mainstream media struggled to portray fact from fiction, extrapolate myths and rumours, and handle the difficult environment.  The persistent criticism of Obama and HRC for not being radical enough from the left did not help.  Now its laughable to see Dr Angela Merkel receiving the sainthood award as the last bastion of democracy when Celebrity Economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman have been vilifying her for the last 8 years.

The big lesson is that you cannot have it both ways.  Liberalism has to be about building coalitions, reaching out across difference, and not silencing inconvenient voices.  The penalty will be very dear for the minorities who will now have the full force of the backlash unleashed upon them, and it will fall disproportionately hard on them.  It might be late for the US and UK, but it might not be too late to avoid another race to the bottom to attempt to find the most puritanically perfect candidates to challenge the GOP and Trumpism, and if the rest of the world continues to fall, the alliances built between the hard-line populists may be much more difficult to dislodge.


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