This was first posted on our Facebook page on November 10th, two days after the election.
Putting the blame solely at the feet of third party candidates would be inaccurate.
Neither Johnson nor Stein were particularly good candidates. Johnson argued ideologically that the free market can somehow fix climate change, and seemed to argue that the Sun’s inevitable expansion meant dealing with the issue pointless. While not as overtly bad, Stein’s campaign misused basic terminology like ‘free trade’, and failed to work out a fixed policy on Brexit.
Although votes are still being counted, it appears that Trump will pick up fewer votes than Romney in 22 states; Clinton will pick up fewer votes than Obama 2012 in 46 states. Obama 2012 in turn picked up more than 3.5 million votes fewer than Obama 2008 – perhaps voters were disillusioned with a candidate and party whose message relied on ‘hope’ and ‘change’?
For all the criticism that should be made of Trump, there was a positive (if vague) message mixed in among the negativity – he claims that he will ‘make America great again’. Other than the opportunity to elect the first female president (which doesn’t seem to have been a high factor for most voters), what was Clinton’s equivalent? It’s easy to be critical of Trump’s substance, but his message was a somewhat positive one. Positive messages enthuse people. That’s probably how Obama 2008 and Trump were able to motivate relatively high turnouts, whereas Clinton (and Obama 2012) could not.
Clinton looks set to win the popular vote.
In 2012 Trump called for “a revolution” after Obama “lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election”. (Obama actually won the popular vote by a margin of almost 5 million votes. Small details.) As things stand Clinton is leading Trump in the popular vote, and looks set to pull further ahead. [Edit – as of November 23rd, Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is more than 2 million.]
This should be a nice easy way to judge Trump – will he back calls to award electoral college votes on a representative rather than winner takes all basis, making American votes more representative? Regardless, it’s a cause worth supporting – Americans who are interested in making all votes equal to each other should look into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
It’s time for centre-ground politics to die.
Right-wing politics in their most idealistic form, should be about freeing up room for talented individuals to innovate and try new things. Left-wing politics should, in their most idealistic form, be about protecting large groups from selfishness and short-termism of a selfish few. Right-wingers will generally favour low regulation (allowing innovation), left-wingers will generally favour higher regulation (preventing exploitation).
Following Reagan’s and Thatcher’s time in office it was natural that some left-wingers would see the benefit of moving towards the centre, and adopting a mix of left and right-wing policies. NAFTA and TPP were pushed by Democrats – the Clintons, Obama and in the UK Blair can be best understood as centrists rather than left-wingers.
Because of this type of policy, the Democrats and Labour have come to be seen by many as a party for the elites, who are out of touch with working people. This has allowed upper-class multi-millionaires like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump to pose as friends of the poor, while calling for lower regulations and lower taxes on the rich. The centre-ground has outlived it’s usefulness, and now does more harm than good.
Donald Trump is a corrupt political insider.
As New Jersey governor, Chris Christie struck a deal to write off $30 million of Trump-owed tax money for $5 million, and received $620,000 in donations from Trump at around the same time. As a US Attorney Rudy Giuliani began investigating Trump for money laundering, charges which were dropped around the same time that Trump promised to fundraise for a Giuliani mayoral bid.
At least $258,000 of Trump Foundation money has been spent on Trump legal fees that had nothing to do with the foundation, and the Foundation’s biggest single known donation was $264,000 for a fountain outside a Trump Hotel.
There are questions to be asked about the Clintons’ connections, but the accusations against Trump are more clear-cut.
Work has to be done to build a political discourse with roots in facts.
Even in the last week, after months of brutal back-and-forth, we’ve been battling the provably false claim that Clinton freed a child rapist and laughed as she did so. Over the final weekend of the campaign, Clinton was accused of being a Satanist because the brother of her campaign manager sent emails about attending a dinner with a performance artist, which ended up being dumped on Wikileaks.
Arm yourself with facts, and show the person you’re debating with how to check the evidence of what you’re saying. Be prepared to change your mind. Call out arguments which support your side, but which you know to be false. It’s the only way to a more fact-based political landscape.
More than 40% of both major parties’ voters consider the others’ policies to be actively endangering the country. We have issues with the Clintons as people and consider their politics too pro-corporate. But when a large group of people believe that she would cackle maniacally at helping a child rapist get away with the crime, clearly there’s a deep sickness in our politics.
Breitbart News and Infowars could become Trump’s Pravda.
Much of the misinterpretation of the aforementioned performance art was fueled by a popular Infowars writer named Paul Joseph Watson, who either deliberately or incompetently confused performance with Satanism. (He must really hate American Horror Story.)
Breitbart News, the ‘alt-right’ site who employ Milo Yiannopoulos and at the very least seem to have a virulently anti-Semitic readership has also been influential, with their owner taking on the role as Trump’s campaign manager.
Aside from these instigators there’s a broader swamp of alt-right paranoia that’s easily accessible on 4chan and Twitter, who seem to throw unproven claims around to see what sticks. One of these is the bizarre theory that Clinton’s campaign manager and his brother abducted Madeleine McCann. This is based on them looking like the photofits released back in 2013, and the fact that one of them sent a chain of emails talking about pizza. We kid you not. This mob, steered by Breitbart and Infowars when necessary, and allowed to run amok at other times, could very easily lead to some place very, very scary.
Trump should terrify us.
Trump spent three years suing a journalist for reporting that his wealth was between $150 million and $250 million. The American Bar Association were going to release a report classifying him as a libel bully, but censored it out of fear of being sued. Later this month Trump will be sued over claims Trump University misled customers by claiming to be a university. [Edit – Trump has since paid $25 million to end the suit.] He’s threatened to sue his rape accusers. Trump will have the opportunity to replace one member of the Supreme Court in his early months, and possibly more over the course of his presidency, shaping the nature of American law for years to come.
Trump has declared climate change to be a hoax and promised to cut spending on fighting it. In his ‘New Deal for Black America’ Trump has pledged to cut more money from climate-change schemes than America currently spends, and redirect the savings towards “infrastructure including clean water, clean air and safety.” Trump will almost certainly try to use this to present the situation as him standing up for working class blacks against middle-class lefties fighting an imaginary problem.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
Everyone needs to be open-minded.
If he keeps to his word and tries to govern on behalf of the entire country (putting aside a lifetime’s habits of demonising those who disagree with him) and makes smart long-term investments, fantastic. We’d be relieved to be proved wrong if Trump’s pseudo-anti-establishment politics turn out to be a genuine concern for the people.
But the evidence suggests that this will not be the case. We need to be ready to criticise him if he doesn’t keep his word, and not allow blame to be deflected. This applies particularly towards his supporters – criticism will have more power if comes from those who supported his message. Everyone’s ultimate aim has to be not to be proven right, but to end up with the result that improves the lives of the greatest number of people.