The future of America is Trump. If it hadn't been today, then it would've been him or someone like him in 2020 or 2024. The mainstream liberals and moderates were too blind and couldn't see what Trump saw. It was obvious to those who dared to look.
Trump is a charlatan. He's a tax dodger, a draft dodger, an ignoramus, and a chancer but alas that doesn't matter. He looked deep into the underbelly of America and saw the discontent lurking under the surface of American society. He saw a gap in the market, ready to consume his brand of brash populism.
Like him or loath him, he 'got it'. He tuned into the anger of Americans. He articulated the disillusion with the status quo. He started to talk to the disaffected and the dispossessed, not at them. Like a true salesman, he feasted on the discontent and grew stronger.
His masterstroke was to sell himself as the anti-establishment candidate. He was the antithesis of political correctness. Trump said things that the mainstream wouldn't. His message was clear and simply, "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN", buy into me and I'll bring back the good old days!
Trump's win didn't come out of nowhere. It's been decades in the making. Neoliberalism failed to deliver for much of American society. Too few had too much, and too many had too little. Trump shouldn't have been in with a sniff, but a complacent mainstream took their eyes of the ball for too long.
He made the Rust Belt communities his core. The one time home of the aspiring blue collar worker. Steady jobs. Strong unions. The chance of a decent living and the hope that your children would be better off than you. The home of the good old American Dream.
It had been solidly Democrat in the past. But the once proud, industrial heartlands of America were now rotting away in a post-industrial wilderness. This was the cradle of Trumps success. The withering of the American Dream helped him into the White House.
If this sounds familiar, then it should do. The parallels with Brexit are striking. For the Rust Belt is the the post-industrial English midlands, the north, and the Welsh valley's. (remember how the this used to be solidly Labour?) The anti-establishment Trump, is the American incarnate of Farage.
These situations are fertile ground for illiberal populist politicians who are happy to talk of radical changes. Slogans like "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" and "TAKE BACK CONTROL" appeal directly to those left behind by globalisation, with promises of a return to better days of the past.
Trump matched the Ukip strategy stroke for stroke. He by-passed the liberal agenda and spoke directly to the disaffected, the hopeless and the forgotten. Those who probably felt like there was little left to lose, so why not give him a shot at it? He couldn't be any worse could he?
Yet, the easy option for the liberals and moderates in the mainstream is to lash out at Trump supporters and call them racists, bigots or fools. This would be myopic and far too simplistic, nothing more than a cop out. It would in fact be a dereliction of duty. The truth is most of them aren't. They've simply had enough of the way things are.
The liberal mainstream needs to accept its culpability. The Democrats since Bill Clinton, like New Labour in the UK, pushed an increasingly metropolitan, socially liberal agenda, focusing on the 'third way' and neoliberalism, whilst simultaneously abandoning their traditional heartlands.
Whilst major cities boomed off the back of financialisation, the industrial heartlands suffocated and with it their communities suffered. This allowed cultural fractures to set in. Seeds of discontent were sewed and from this grew the support for populists.
The financial crisis was a tipping point. Once unemployment really ballooned and wages stagnated, the floodgates were opened. Something had to give. For large swathes of the American population the country was broken. The same thing happened here with Brexit.
This is the failing of the mainstream, of the liberal elite, the metropolitans or whatever you wish to call them. They failed in America and they are failing in the UK too. Until they see what Trump sees in the US, and what UKIP saw in the UK and really try to understand it, they won't be back in power.
Liberals and moderates must wake up to the fact that the system that they've adopted with gusto is busted. If the economy is cracked, then they must see that political correctness and a socially liberal agenda isn't a priority to those worried about their livelihoods and their families futures.
There were signs that the Democrats and even the Republicans were waking to this, but it's probably too late for the US now. It's not yet too late for the UK despite Brexit. Labour in the is stirring, as are some liberal Tories, but they must do so more quickly. Corbyn and McDonnell, Glasman and some others have cottoned on but they need to be louder and clear, and supported by the rest.
Brexit was a systemic shock to the mainstream who are still struggling to get their head around it. Trump was the second hay-maker. What will be the third blow? People are rebelling against the status quo. It's imperative that the there is a genuine alternative offered by the left and the liberals.
The mainstream must understand the context and counter the creeping right wing populism. This will be done by addressing the issues it feeds of. If they don't, then come the next general election the UK will be in dire trouble.
Redistribution, protection of industry, investment in the reinvigorating of communities, acceptance of civic pride and a respect for traditional values are all part of it. This will relieve the economic stress that the disaffected fell, and in so turn off the tap that waters the seeds of the right wing populists.
The mainstream must see this and understand that uninhibited liberalism has had its day. Until they do that, the future for us all, on both sides of the Atlantic is Trump.
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