As scientists of many stripes have pointed out, it’s best not to rely on gut instincts. Our brains are wired a certain way thanks to evolutionary processes, thus, while our instincts were good for avoiding dangerous animals and eating poisonous plants, they are often ill-suited to understanding our modern world. That is why I’m not terribly upset that I trusted polls and logical explanations from people with established credentials when they predicted Hillary would win the election. My instincts told me Hillary would lose, and Michael Moore made a compelling argument as to why she would lose, but what would have sounded better- I trusted data and experts and they were wrong, or I trusted a hunch and Michael Moore and was wrong?
Of course I wasn’t alone in being wrong about the results of this election- it certainly turned out to be an upset. But I have to say it doesn’t impact me the same way. That’s the beauty of subscribing to a political philosophy that essentially wants to see the destruction of the entire existing world order (to replace it with something better; I’m not the Joker). A Hillary administration would have just meant more of the status quo. The dark reactionary side of America would continue to fester and grow and they’d get another shot at the White House in four years. If they didn’t win yesterday, they probably would have won then. And while I realize that this is going to impact certain groups of Americans far more than it would myself, even if I were living there, the simple fact is what’s done is done, and it’s time to start thinking about how to react. Without having much to go on now, here are a few observations.
In Defense of Putin
Already the Anne Applebaum-types are screaming about how this is a victory for Vladimir Putin. Do you know what happens when a Western liberal pundit does that? A Russian media source picks up on it and then they publicize it in Russia- “Look! The liberals are in hysterics! Putin does it again! We’re a great power!” In short, when you do this, you are essentially indirectly creating Kremlin propaganda.
What is more, perhaps if the Hillary campaign and their partisan pundits had learned to shut the fuck up about Putin a few months ago they might have won this election. Trump, for all his terrible non-solutions, focused on domestic issues. Americans don’t give a crap about Putin or Russia. Droning on about how Russia is now a threat and Trump is a Russian agent makes most Americans think “Huh? What? Why are they talking about the Russians?”
The thing about the Putin issue was that it was something like a sliding scale. There was a right way to talk about it and a wrong way. There were also limits to how much one should have talked about it. The Democratic Party went way into the red on both counts. Look what happened.
To all those lamenting the collapse of your precious liberal order and laying it at Vladimir Putin’s tiny feet, please shut up. Your liberal order collapsed because it was a rotten structure. Putin, and a whole host of other dictators and corrupt figures are by-products of your system.
You didn’t lose because of Putin, trolls in St. Petersburg, Sputnik or RT. You lost because you are defending a bankrupt system that needed change, and because you barred the way to positive change, you opened the door to reaction. This is a result of your Munich betrayal. Own it.
After 2012 it was said that the GOP needed to do some serious soul-searching. While the GOP establishment might have been displaced in this campaign, it’s clear that the Democrats are the ones who ought to start asking question. Now would be a good time to start re-thinking the strategy of abandoning the white working class and rural whites which began in the 90’s, ironically under a Clinton administration.
What I really love now is that us radicals, including the Bernie supporters who constantly suffered condescending lectures from “reasonable” people with fancy degrees, now get to dictate terms to the Democratic party. Anyone would be stupid not to. These dipshits insisted that both Trump and Sanders were unelectable. Yeah, that turned out pretty well, didn’t it? Those polls that showed Bernie crushing Trump? They’re looking a lot better than expert projections just a few days ago. The Republicans ran an anti-establishment candidate against an unlikable, entitled candidate who shamelessly promotes the status quo. That means no more lectures from DNC people or their pundits. You keep your mouths shut, listen, and take notes.
Sowing and Reaping
Since the days of the Tea Party I’ve had a growing feeling that one problem with American right-wing populism is that these people never get what they are demanding. They want “small government” and “fiscal responsibility,” but they still end up with Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, farm subsidies, federal contracts, federal emergency relief, and massive military spending.
Trump won the primaries because in the past, the aforementioned people didn’t get what they wanted from their own candidates either. They listened to enraged carnival barkers but got mild, moderate conservatives peddling the same tired old rhetoric. Now they got what they wanted.
Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump not only totally jettisons all his supposed “policies,” but actively denies he ever made them. I think that’s just fine. Let his supporters chew on that, since many of them won’t be able to afford as much food anyway. But even if he does attempt to follow through on some of his promises, the economic fallout would probably be even more devastating. Either way, his supporters lose.
Perhaps it sounds cruel, but sometimes these people need to learn the hard way. It certainly worked for me. What can you do when you tell a child the stove is hot dozens of times and they keep reaching for that red, glowing burner? Stop badgering people and let them have a life-enriching experience.
Some people will learn from this and be receptive to better ideas, others won’t do quite so well. Welcome those who repent with open arms.
I’ll come right out and say it- America’s left is weak. It’s divided and dominated by idiotic identity politics theories cooked up in academia with very little application in the real world. While these theories aren’t entirely useless, yesterday showed us how truly incapable they are of transforming America for the better. Results are all that matters, and Trumpism got results.
Now the left has a golden opportunity before it. It can go on an all-out attack and the Democrats can’t say shit about it. If they say something is too radical, remind them of 8 November 2016. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
At the same time, much of the American left needs to toughen up. I don’t want to sound like one of those millennial-bashing clickbait columnists, but yes, I’m sorry- the American left is too weak. I don’t mean weak in terms of numbers, but rather mentally, emotionally, and physically weak. There are simply too many leftists, even in radical circles, who fit the 4chan stereotype about “Social Justice Warriors.” I can tell you from experience that right-wing thugs and militia types aren’t going to give you any trigger warnings beyond the sound of a safety coming off.
If you just read that and you’re thinking: “OMG! Here he goes with cis-hetero-normative toxic masculinity crap!” you are part of the problem. This isn’t about masculinity. A Ukrainian woman, Ludmila Pavlichenko, killed roughly 309 men with a sniper rifle. I don’t care about your sexuality or your gender identity- you may very well need courage, discipline, mental fortitude, and emotional control to survive. Most fascists are basically bullies who prefer easy targets. Knowing that there’s a large, militant leftist movement that is also armed and trained will keep these people in check. The standard liberal toolbox surely didn’t. What you learned in college doesn’t work. Your intersectionality, call-out culture, and “solidarity” didn’t do shit.
On that note, it’s really time to start re-engaging rural and working class whites. Contrary to what the liberal elite will claim for the next few years, Trump’s victory wasn’t their fault. But he couldn’t have won without their support. Writing them off as racist and backward doesn’t help. You have to get to the root of that racism. Yes, you have to listen to them. No, you don’t have to accept everything or in some cases anything they say as true or correct, but a dialog needs to take place. For more on why this is the case, I suggest listening to David Wong on this Cracked podcast.
The bottom line is you can’t claim you’re for an inclusive equal society while writing off such a massive demographic.
The way I see it, you can either whine about this election or go out and do something about it. It’s no loss for me- I hated Hillary and this election has proven that instinct to be absolutely correct. Part of me is glad I won’t have to feel any responsibility for whatever bullshit she might have got up to had she won.
I’ve resigned myself to 2016 being utter shit worldwide. Bring on 2017.