These are my personal thoughts as a British spectator during the immediate media hangover from a shock election victory for the extremist right wing of US politics that has fundamentally changed America and will have massive repercussions for the world.
One of the things that has struck me most at this crucial post-election period media is the postmodern revisionism in the US Television. They are treating this shock verdict as well, unexpected, but now to be accepted like any other Presidential election… they admit ‘we were surprised at the outcome’ but ‘Trump voters feelings are just as valid as our feelings and they won fair and square.’
No ….this election was not about different but equal feelings and differing interpretations, this is about lies and truth, it’s about economic policies crushing most people’s lives for way too long, false promises, scapegoats, dismissing very realistic critics as too idealistic, resurging aggravated racism and changing what this country stands for. It’s a moment for serious reconsideration of everything we think we understand. The establishment logic has been invalidated and yet somehow the media today are trying to force an exceptional situation into a familiar frame.
The mainstream media are too shy to interrogate why this has happened, the huge injustices that led to this and will result. The media don’t want to show people’s anger at the outcome – the protests seem absent from TV – let alone validate or explain it. The media can’t possibly consider that they raised Trumps profile as entertaining TV in early days, beat Clinton up for a record that’s not good but is unexceptional in US politics, presenting a false equivalency between the candidates, then going all out to almost worship her at the last minute through fear of Trump. They only cared what the elites were saying, the elite supported her polite modified neoliberalism – so it was of course a done deal. This of course all lulling American Democrats into a false sense of security – the media conveyed an attitude that everyone thinks like them except of course impoverished ill-educated idiots who just don’t matter. But this election and how it was engineered matters a lot. And now we are meant to be accepting it when the media are normalising Trump as just another perfectly legitimate President. It’s painful to watch. The Democrats – and the US media – need to do some major soul searching as they move forward from this tragedy.
Conventional thinking that led America to this includes the assumption that for the Democrats to win elections, compromises are necessary. This must be seriously interrogated in the public discourse. The Democrats failed to provide a liberal progressive anti-establishment alternative to Trump at a time when people have been loudly demanding change. They did not heed the warnings from Europe and the rest of the world of the power of rising fascism. It was the elite self-interested orientation of The Democratic Party that led to a massive failure to heed its own supporters’ warnings about the country’s pain, its needs and concerns, as well as the right strategy for the moment. Democrats must now move forward with humility and introspection. What was dismissed as idealism may now be seen as realism. Lessons must be learned if the Democrats are to build a new future and viable party that is genuinely responding to and embodying the interests of the American people it seeks to serve.