On November 8th, America elected its 45th American President Elect, Donald Trump. In the later hours of the evening, when most of the polls across America had closed, the trend of the Electoral College was baffling and heartbreaking to roughly 50% of America. Despite all the media propaganda, despite the slanted data of pollsters predicting a win for Hillary Clinton, and all the “common sense” that told us that Mr. Trump would never win (Barak Obama included), Trump won.
Did this actually happen? Across the Internet, there was shock, outrage, disgust, and fear (there still is). Celebrities on Twitter voiced their collective bewilderment and protest. Katey Perry tweeted dramatically, “Do not sit still. Do not weep. MOVE. We are not a nation that will let HATE lead us.” Paris Jackson wrote, “I’m genuinely very terrified for all females, lgbtq+, and immigrants.” Cher tweeted, “World will never be the same. I feel Sad for the young. [Trump] will never be more than the toilet, I’ve used as a symbol for him. You can’t polish [shit].” Miley Cyrus, in an emotional video post, said, “I just wish she [Hillary Clinton] had an opportunity because she fought for so long.” Seth MacFarlane tweeted, “Some didn’t like Bush. Some didn’t like Obama. But this is different. Forget dislike. Many are genuinely fearful now. This is new.”
Of course, these celebrities and public figures, among others, had a lot to say about the republican candidate prior to November 8th. Who can forget Jennifer Lawrence’s classy “hey trump, fuck you!” gesture on the Graham Norton Show, complete with middle finger? Or the mockery from Barack Obama himself at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011? Many were laughing in the room at the time, but who would have thought that the man sitting in that room getting roasted by the President would, in an ironic twist of fate, turn out to be his successor? How many are laughing now? There’s certainly a parable to be had here about mocking your enemy. Sun Tzu and Niccolo Machiavelli would have something to say about it, I think.
But beyond that parable lies a deeper lesson to be learned that I suspect hasn’t been learned by the Left or the media establishment, overall. When pundits, pollsters, and media figures started mulling over the failure of Hillary Clinton, they did so in broad, vague terms, like “Clinton failed to galvanize the democratic base,” or, “Trump succeeded in courting the evangelist vote.” Some comment on the “whitelash” that made up the President Elect’s voting constituency, or Secretary Clinton’s inability to wrest free of her email scandal. While I don’t believe these statements are wrong, I also don’t believe they complete the picture about why the leftist agenda, so sure of itself, came up short in the electoral votes for its candidate to win and only narrowly won the popular vote, to boot. How could this have happened? How could it be that almost half the nation rejected Hillary Clinton and what she stood for?
I believe the answer to that question lies more in the faults of the established Left. Our nation, while painfully slow moving, seems to be growing a little more aware of the pitfalls in embracing its out-of-touch superficiality. More specifically, there seems a rising wariness over the Left’s overplayed, if not downright subversive attempts at rose-colored social engineering in every corner of our society. The slanted poll data by slanted pollsters, the cockiness of the media establishment in clearly favoring the democratic candidate in nearly every rant they could publish or broadcast, and the skewed sound bytes of musicians and actors created a collective media echo chamber that was impossible to escape. Michael Moore’s “Trumpland,” a movie he made prior to election to sway the vote, or John Oliver’s 20-minute tirade about the republican candidate stand as general examples of this push in the media. Clearly, the American people were well informed about who they were supposed to vote for. But then it was realized in the final hours that Hillary Clinton would not be our first female president. People were shocked, outraged, saddened, and panicked. Some described it as a surreal moment, shaking out of their stupor to ask if we really did elect such a bully as our next President. So how did Hillary Clinton, with years of experience of service in Washington and the support of the Democratic party, lose to a rich, white, male sexist and narcissist who never held a single office in his life? Here’s how I see it:
Hillary Clinton, and in fact the entire movement of leftist progressivism, has relied too much on the cheap bonbon of celebrity endorsement.
Mrs. Clinton attempted to exploit her close ties to celebrityhood with the likes of Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, Taylor Swift, and Beyonce, to name a few. While there is an obvious sway over the electorate a politician may grab in doing so, focusing too much on the low-hanging fruit of actor and musician endorsements is a mistake, for it is, ultimately, courting superficiality. Further, grandstanding with the garish boneheadedness of celebrity feminism runs the risk of alienating the values and priorities of a serious constituency, and I do believe that serious constituency is slowly eroding on the Left, finally, due to glitzy girl power hoedowns that grow increasingly out of sync with the reality of female freedom and opportunity today.
Celebrity endorsement is alienating because it’s a generally smarmy tactic, making it feel like a candidate is purposefully standing next to popular people because his or her policies, packaged plainly, may not be so popular. We value celebrities for their talents, not necessarily for their political opinions. While some people may be swayed with a candidate boogieing on stage with their favorite musician or actress, others who require a little more substance than that will be clearly alienated, and it’s quite possible this is one of the reasons Mrs. Clinton lost the majority of the working white female vote—something she didn’t forecast as possible, apparently.
There is an uneasy paradox to the Left’s concept of inclusivness.
Left-leaning voters were stunned and saddened by the news of a sexist white patriarch taking the presidency over the woman they stood behind to represent their allegedly purer, nobler interests. At least, this is how they often perceive and package their political intent. What the Left fails to recognize as it panders to feminist, LGBT, and racial groups is that its call to action necessitates a villain, and that necessary villain is the convenient caucasian “ruling class” target, or more specifically, the evil white male. When Katy Perry ignorantly tweets, “we are not a nation that will let HATE lead us,” she abysmally fails to recognize, at least in her own public statements, the ironic presence of underplayed hate in the very movement she represents. She and others like her fail to see the reverse discrimination of favoring anything that isn’t white and male.
The above words of feminism’s Hollywood darling, Jennifer Lawrence, provides an example of the paradox quite succinctly. Of course her claim is absolutely ignorant and absurd. I’d invite Ms. Lawrence to descend from her movie millionaire bubble and try living as an ordinary white man for a little while. While doing that, she might want to consider how death rates have been going up for white Americans, fueled by an epidemic of opioid abuse, alcoholism, and suicide. The problem is particularly acute among working class whites, who have lost their livelihoods due to automation and outsourcing—automation and outsourcing that has taken place during the past twenty years under the establishment of which the Clintons were certainly a part.
It’s my suspicion that the electorate has come to recognize that attitudes like Lawrence’s represent a glaring contradiction of the Left and its ploy to woo voters into its fold under a selective (and thus morally bankrupt) mantle of inclusionism. It’s no surprise that the largest group supporting Donald Trump and the Republican party today is caucasians—male and female.
The Left’s designs seem too maternalistic and socialist.
As the first female President, Hillary Clinton would have taken the Oval Office as an authoritative embodiment of feminist special interest and the moral authority for her to invoke a flood of legislation that would further advance power grabs for women in government (as if we actually need more) would have been unprecedented. The growing religious movement that is feminism is ubiquitous and has enjoyed a politically correct unassailability over the past few decades, infiltrating colleges, generating bogus advocacy research, creating patently false statistics, and attempting to engineer culture through its ties with media, but its influential hold over western imagination (and subsequently tolerance) has begun to unravel, at least a little bit. With pay gap disparities debunked and the “1 in 5” college rape myth dispelled—two canards the Obama Administration ate right up and naively used to shape its own policies, mind you—there seems increasingly less need for such a left-leaning firebrand in a candidate. While the Left attempts to remind the populous that it’s a necessary rebel, it is, in fact, part of the established norm deeply embedded in our increasingly sensitive and political correct culture.
There is still much to improve in America, and as a self-described rationalist, I can see a great deal of room for that change. While I recognize the good of socialism on some level (or at least the good of its intent), there’s something about mixing socialism with feminism that feels decidedly creepy, and I know I’m not alone in repudiating the safe, rule-laden, maternalistic governance that would surely follow in her shadow. I suspect that some Americans, while not exactly able to articulate why Hillary Clinton disturbed them so much, nonetheless found her off-putting for this very reason.
Deception, corruption, and propaganda, even if you think it’s for a good cause, is not the way toward true progression.
In a move that actually undermined democracy, the Democratic National Committee broke its own charter rules by prematurely favoring Secretary Clinton over her rival in the primaries, Bernie Sanders. As a result, the agenda of the Left was tainted by a corrupt spirit, and subsequently lost thousands of Sanders’ potential supporters. Throughout the Democratic primaries, DNC officials, and most notably DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (a woman and a staunch feminist, no less), manipulated fund allocation and voter data access to help Clinton build and maintain a lead over Sanders. Ms. Schultz’s zeal to use her power to discriminate against Mr. Sanders in order to elect the first female president certainly poisoned the well of Hillary Clinton’s legitimacy. In its fervor to elect her, the DNC lost its credibility, too.
And then there is, of course, the dreaded email controversy that dogged Mrs. Clinton’s campaign throughout. FBI Director James Comey was summoned before Congress to discuss Hillary Clinton’s unprotected emails that potentially put US security at risk. Comey’s refusal, twice now, to indict Mrs. Clinton astounds some pundits and observers, and for good reason: her entitlement to remain beyond reproach is a result of her Washington insider status, again demonstrating the paradox for an established member of the establishment to portray herself as a game changing champion of change.
All of this is not to say Mr. Trump’s character is unassailable. Hardly. Was Donald Trump honest during the course of his campaign? No. A great deal of his claims were debunked in fact checking during and after the debates. Are his representations of “automatically” repealing Roe Vs. Wade honest? Although he is “pro-life” and vows to elect Supreme Court justices, his claim extremely oversimplifies the process of overturning law. Is he going to build a wall to stop illegal immigration from entering this country and make Mexico pay for it? Extremely doubtful. Does he get “tremendous support” from women, as he claimed? Not quite. Have the accusations lodged against him for groping women been debunked, as he asserted dismissively? Absolutely not. And yet, despite all his mistruths, womanizing, bullying, and xenophobia, Donald Trump is President today, and he won nearly 50% of the popular vote. What would push America to vote for such a man? What is it about Hillary Clinton that made her an absolutely unfit choice? Why wasn’t she embraced more wholly by the popular vote, at least, especially considering the accomplishments of the Obama administration, which currently holds a very optimistic approval rating of 55%? This is something to reflect upon, indeed, and I hope the Democratic party does just that in the years to come.
I’ve done a little reflecting myself, and here’s what I think: the path to productive, truly compassionate, and satisfying progressivism cannot be won through a political vehicle that demonizes a group, even if that group happens to be white males. Misogyny cannot be corrected with misandry, no matter how well veiled. Racism against African Americans or Latinos cannot be solved with merely reversing that racism and packaging it up into hip and palatable social justice warrior anthems. We can’t grab our inspiration from the empty superficiality of movie stars and pop musicians who only court popular opinion’s feedback loop. Liberalism—true liberalism, not the hijacked version of it from the Left—is open and all-encompassing. It considers all points of view and works to build a better humanity for all. It’s also not afraid of doing some tough math and conceding to truths that might not be the most politically convenient, either, and that’s where we, as a nation, need to grow up a little. The Left’s authoritarian progressivism needs to go away so that advancement and progress isn’t so politically polarizing. In short, we need to get rid of our distracting “isms” on both sides of the political fence.
Until we figure out how to truly work together, both parties, Democrats and Republicans alike, will continue to play the dysfunctional populist game with the electorate as they mill in and out of the White House and Congress, getting in the way of real progress, and gouging into the pockets of the middle class until there isn’t a middle class to be had any longer. If we truly want to have a unified nation in the future and not just a series of social justice coups and counter-coups, I strongly recommend we mull over the above soberly. When the effort for civil rights demonizes and unfairly discriminates against a group, no matter how politically correct it may be to do so, there will be an inevitable backlash.