Sunday, January 22, 2017

Can the Democratic Party be Blamed for Trump's Success?


"Those values upon which our success depends -- honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.  
What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.  
This is the price and the promise of citizenship." Barack Obama 2009
I'm hearing a lot, from liberals, that the primary reason for Trump winning the election was the failure of the left to deliver. It's good that Democratic politicians are questioning themselves and self-evaluating, but were they really the problem? I don't believe so.

Firstly, the electoral college win was due to a lot of factors that were in place before the election. Past gerrymandering gave red, rural areas disproportional over-representation; laws and policies were put in place made it harder for (Democratic leaning) minorities to vote.

Then there's the blurring between truth and fiction, and the appetite for it. Apart from the fake news fiasco, the GOP and Fox news promoted a narrative that Obama was the epitome of every worst thing in a human being, let alone a leader, and they targeted Hillary Clinton very successfully. Also, RT, Russian state-owned media, has targeted populists for a while, left and right, creating a narrative that the 'establishment' is all evil. Bernie Sanders die-hards bought into it, believing that Hillary Clinton was a rapist and a murderer, and Obama a monster. And now many of them are saying "what's wrong with Russia and Vladimir Putin?"

It's impossible to tell the difference between the far left and the far right sometimes, for the mindlessness and the hatred that's spewed out, all in the name of democracy. So the problem in this aspect has nothing to do with Democratic politicians not delivering. It's got everything to do with far left liberals believing and promoting the same myths that the far right got riled up by. Try to point it out and you'll be told you're stupid.

Then there's the underlying racism in the US that reared its ugly head again during the Obama Administration, and the not so underlying sexism that also surfaced with a vengeance during Hillary Clinton's campaign which, together with the GOP culture of discrimination, bigotry, exclusion, inequality etc, created fertile soil on which to sow the seeds of untruth.

Also, conservatives who fear losing status quo are very motivated to fight for it. They band together, are tremendously loyal, and they make no effort to try and understand liberals. They fight to kill and they play dirty. But Democrats are a different animal. They often feel morally obligated to see all sides, so they're not as blindly loyal to their own as conservatives, and can even be quite easily disillusioned. It takes a lot to make them fight, and historically, they don't turn out in the mid-terms. If they had, and Democrats had held onto Congress, Obama would have been able to achieve more, and more people would have felt the effect.

Bernie Sanders' inability throughout his whole political career to generate a huge following would have continued. The myths generated by the GOP, Fox News and RT, wouldn't have landed on any liberals. They would have appreciated Hillary Clinton and been inspired to vote for her, and not simply because she wasn't Trump. It would have been a landslide.

In reality, Barack Obama and Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, worked themselves to the bone, during the Obama Administration. What more could they have done?

The voters didn't do the same. If all the blame is placed on the Democratic Party for inadequate delivery nothing will change. But if voters ask, "How did we fail ourselves? How did we fail Obama and Hillary Clinton? What more can we do to protect our values?" then things will change and the change will be sustainable. Even those of us who aren't American citizens but who are devastated at the results of this election could ask ourselves that question, because Trump's win will affect us directly.

We all take power into our own hands only after disaster has struck. If only we could all somehow learn to be awake and aware enough to do it as prophylactic… After all, Obama was only echoing what John F. Kennedy said in 1961 at his inauguration.

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."