American voters shocked the world when they elected Donald Trump to be their 45th President on November 8, a person with no military or political experience of any kind. A casual follower of US politics will be lured by the popular narrative that backward voters chose a misogynistic and racist television personality over the idea of electing a female President. Although there may be a sliver of truth to that narrative, there’s a whole lot more that went into Trump’s victory. Ironically, the rival Democratic Party deserves most of the credit for securing all three branches of the government for the Republicans well into the future.
This election began in the middle of 2015 when most candidates declared their aspirations for the Presidency. On the Republican side, 17 candidates entered the fray and the vast majority of them were either in public office already or had recently left office. To the surprise of almost everyone, Trump made short work of every other candidate and they consistently dropped like flies throughout the primary election cycle as he gained strength.
Three Democrats ran, but their competition quickly turned into a two-horse race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Both of the serious Democrat contenders had lengthy records in public office, but Bernie was a lifetime independent who wasn’t afraid to share his long-held socialist ideas for changing the status quo. This position contrasted immediately with the moderate position that Hillary wanted to take in order to appeal to the widest possible spectrum of voters. Bernie’s populist message about fixing income inequality and pushing for universal healthcare caught fire and invigorated the liberal base in a way that Hillary could never dream of.
Meanwhile, Clinton had just about everything else going for her heading into this election. Thanks to Wikileaks, we don’t have to speculate about that fact. Her campaign staff was having journalists over for intimate dinners, major publications would often hold off from sending articles out to the presses before letting her staff vet the material, and her own people took an active role in shaping the polling data. She even had the advantage of one CNN employee sending her the debate questions ahead of time. The big banks lined Hillary’s pockets full of easy money leading up to the election and donors funded group with close to $10 million to control any online discourse of politics.
Perhaps, the biggest advantage to Clinton, and the biggest disadvantage for the American people, was that her 2008 campaign chairman was in charge of the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders never stood a chance. The party changed rules, cancelled debates, and actively worked against him any time he began to gain momentum. Clinton became isolated in her own echo chamber with the big donors, the Democratic Party and media in bed with her staff from day 1. She was totally sheltered from message that 75 per cent of US citizens were expressing loud and clear by their support of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
The establishment democrats neglected the cries of voters this year. Millions of voters were cornered into a choice between submission or voting for the anti-establishment nominee of another party. Enough of them chose to fight back with the only tool they had left, their vote. Devoid of an opportunity to elect their favourite candidate in the general election, Donald Trump became the beneficiary of the Democrat’s unintentional benevolence.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2016.
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