The majority of Americans tuned into the televised Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Pundits across the country are still grappling with the reality that Trump, the Republican candidate and real estate tycoon may yet become the nation’s 46th President. The belief held by most of the punditry is rooted in the cult of personality.
Trump’s personal embodiment is that of a boorish, unrefined, racially insensitive, misogynistic, and megalomaniacal demagogue. Clinton on the other hand is teaming with years of political experience, tenacity, levelheadedness, and quite clearly presidential nous.The line of thinking one can attribute to media commentators and the political class is simply one of shortsighted denial.
Another observation is that the experts are simply out of touch with the sentiments affecting a large demographic number in the country and the world. The assumptions held by this largely privileged clique are anchored on the unexamined expertise of the currently entrenched oligarchies. They are also at the core of the neoliberal ideologies mesmerizing most of the western political establishment since the seventies.
The political class has failed to grasp the discontent gripping many voters. The malaise is fundamental to understanding the distrust aimed at the elites of both main parties. A mistrust stemming from the formulaic dispositions of the ruling voices, moreover the persistence of pursuing policy prescriptions allied to the discourse of globalization.
Free trade and capital mobility seems to have its positives, limited advantages incurred by businesses profiting from cheap labor and by a further dwindling consumer class. In America and especially in the post-industrial rust belt people are facing wage stagnation. For them the median income has fallen far behind the rate of inflation with even the prospect of an education failing to reap its touted promise.
Besides the over 70% of college graduates with student loan debt, a great number of graduates are dealt a very common possibility of prolonged joblessness. Social mobility in many instances has become a far fledged hope. This is where I assert that Trump’s supposed weaknesses are actually his strengths. His abrasive mannerisms rather than comically isolate him from the sympathy of voters, has endeared him to those disheartened by a political culture that seems to dispense with their concerns.
I believe these individuals are motivated not so much by what Trump offers or says but by what Clinton represents. The engineered campaign of democratic dogmas has left many voters feeling a sense of ostracization. Politics as usual has reaffirmed an anxiety that the political system is rigged. For these often overlooked constituencies the political center has left them bereft of representation.
When the Democratic candidate uses language such as “uninformed basement dwellers”, it can only serve to further marginalize voters. Especially those who would have preferred Bernie Sanders as the Democratic candidate. Clinton’s descriptive portrayal of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables” couldn’t have helped her campaign’s “down to earth” strategy.
Quite predictably the media and party elites are far removed from the issues affecting many forgotten Americans. Across the globe voters are expressing their frustration. Europe in particular has paid witness to strong opposition to centrist positions. The disenchanted seem keen on sending a message. For the establishment this general upheaval probably won’t bode well in November.