It’s not about one man.
Reeling from the long predicted “surprise”, many are emotional but uncertain. The victor is magnanimous, the process continues. The winners are joyous, but realising next steps have not been planned or prioritised. The losers are distraught and fearful that regression will be prioritised over progress.
In this breathing period some signals are clear.
People voted. A lot of people. People who rarely vote, voted. They voted for change. They voted against a system that seems to keep them down and voted for a symbol of change, a voice of change. The result came about because of many people voting, not just one man. On the world stage this is the second time this year. The emotional voice of Brexit has been amplified in the vote for President of the United States of America. This is a popular cry for change.
The election result was almost inevitable. A year ago analysis said that only Sanders would beat Trump. Sanders was a louder voice of change, but he was sidelined and graciously accepted that fate. Once Clinton was selected there was only Trump calling for system change. While his past and his rhetoric portray a braggadocious, capitalist, conservative with a tenuous grasp of political process, he represents half of America. (The popular vote was won by Clinton, but the Electoral College votes were won by Trump. The Electoral College must go – it detracts from democracy.) Maybe some of his passion is reflected in more than half of Americans, including many that voted for Clinton who also want change. What underlies the popular feeling is that the system must change. The popular call for system change is growing louder. The need is deafening.
But it is unclear whether change will be regression or progression. The American political machine has suddenly taken on a very red hue. Republican control of executive, congress and senate, plus a deciding appointment at the judiciary means the elite is in control. This seems ironic because the surge in popular voting supported this tightening of conservative power, rather than the apparent populist, equitable option.
What does the future hold? In terms of policy and economics, probably not too much change. There are fears of rolling back progressive policies, and that might happen, but the emperor and his courts might prefer to be magnanimous. Expected changes which would be bad include rolling back affordable care (which harms the electorate that voted red), liberating fossil fuel industries (which might promote jobs but will hinder the growth of new industries which are critical to long term employment as well as economic strength), regressive tax policies (which favour elites over the majority), and promoting a belligerent foreign policy (weakening the national budget and jeopardising lives of the people that voted for him).
The issue that matters is whether the system will evolve or regress. The popular vote for change appears to be to “go back to the old ways”, but the reality is that this is a vocalisation of the growing inequality and inequity in people’s lifestyles. Income stagnation and decreasing job satisfaction as technology replaces people and capital becomes ever more concentrated is what fuels the primitive passions for survival – the need to eat and be sheltered. The angry reaction to growing wealth of elites is compounded by the ever-present reminder, spread by media, that our lives are mundane and others’ lives are fantastic. If conservative, regressive policies are encouraged, America and the world will be weaker and more fearful.
The solutions, and the system change that go with them, are very different from the kind of regressive, insular policies upon which Trump campaigned. While the change is multi-faceted and complex, in simple terms it demands that those at the top of the pyramid relinquish power and that people’s capacities to live fulfilling lives are encouraged by enlightened curriculum and pedagogy in schools, homes and work places.
Can Trump deliver?
Well he is clearly a family man. He keeps his children close and they are his trusted advisers. That’s a good sign.
He’s a master of BS, so he can recognise it when he sees it. That’s useful. He can say no.
Analysis of his positions and those of Clinton prior to her conversion by Sanders, shows striking similarity, so if you like Clinton, Trump’s probably ok.
What about the bigotry? Let’s hope it is emotional and remains personal because it is clear that these sentiments have been roused by his rhetoric among many people with violent tendencies and if violence and vigilantism is encouraged, chaos and regression will be the cost.
Whether you are red or blue, remember to breathe. Don’t allow your behaviour to be angry, oppressive, violent or careless. Think about solutions and collaborate to enlighten systems because the alternative decadence of humanity will hurt us all and our world.