Trump’s Win Wasn’t Ideological. It Was Brilliant.

Eric Zuesse

CNN explained well “5 surprising lessons from Trump’s astonishing win”, and the historic crushing failure of traditional Presidential-year American politics, but it really boils down to one simple fact: In the battleground states, where most of the advertising dollars and get-out-the-vote money was being spent, the Trump organization made use of the Republican-Party organization in those portions of the campaign-operation that benefited from those established contacts and its tried-and-tested methods and techniques, but not in the portions of the campaign-operation that needed to be improved and to function better than in all prior U.S. Presidential elections.

The simple fact is that Trump’s understanding of U.S. national politics was transcendent, better even than that of the candidate whom all of the polls during the political primaries showed to be the most preferred by the most people and thus to be able to beat any of the other contestants in a one-on-one electoral choice against any of the others: Bernie Sanders. (See this and this for the evidence on that.) (And if there were any remaining doubt as to why he was, consider this report from Reuters near 3AM on Wednesday November 9th, right after the voting: “U.S. voters want leader to end advantage of rich and powerful – Reuters/Ipsos poll”. For example, this poll of 10,000 people leaving their polling-places showed: “75 percent agree that ‘America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.’” That had been Bernie Sanders’s message, too. Trump’s campaign brought people like that out to vote.) Sanders may have been right to think that highest net approval-rating is generally the biggest single predictive factor determining a Presidential candidate’s winning the White House (and he had the highest net-approval rating), but he (like his opponent Hillary Clinton) missed the importance of the emotional-intensity factor, which Trump made virtuosic use of. (This can be seen clearly when you look further at the exit-poll results: the actual people who went to the polls — the people sampled in the exit-polling — were fundamentally different from the cross-section of America’s ‘likely voters’ that were sampled in the pre-election polling! Trump trumped all traditional politics. This achievement is simply astounding.)

Whereas Sanders failed to recognize that in Democratic Party primaries there was more emotional intensity for the existing, Clinton-Obama, anti-FDR, Democratic Party, than there was for ideological progressivism (FDR’s legacy, which dominated the Democratic Party prior to Bill Clinton’s win in 1992) (and Hillary’s understanding of that turned out to have been correct), and so the incompetent but aristocracy-backed politician Hillary Clinton was able to steal the Democratic Party nomination from him, Trump was able easily to garner the most primary votes in a crowded 17-candidate field and so to become the nominee of one of the two major political Parties and go on to face the incompetent Hillary in the general election. From Bernie Sanders’s standpoint, such a general-election contest, between two candidates both of whom had hugely net-negative approval-ratings, couldn’t have made much political sense, and so he chose to endorse the thief Hillary and become a non-entity in the post-1992 and profoundly corrupt Democratic Party, instead of to found an authentically independent political movement — not political Party but political movement — which would honestly and without partisanship cherry-pick which candidates, from which of the two political Parties, will, on balance, as against the given candidate’s opponent, provide the highest benefit and least harm toward advancing the progressive cause. (That was the only constructive path forward for him after Hillary robbed him.) He chose the stick-in-the-mud route.

Sanders opted to become just a cog in an ugly greasy pro-aristocracy machine, the Democratic Party wing of the U.S. aristocracy.

After the Republican Party’s nomination was won by Trump (which he did honestly), he went on to build on that success an authentic anti-aristocracy (or ‘anti-Establishment’) movement, beside and outside the Republican Party. His basic anti-aristocracy message remained unchanged, and he, as the Republican nominee, faced the biggest decision-point in his entire campaign: whether now to reach out to the millions of Sanders’s voters (i.e., the largest of all voting-segments) by joining with now Hillary’s — the post-1992, Bill Clinton’s, Democratic Party’s — emphasis upon both race and gender over economic class as what’s posing the biggest barrier to achieving equality of economic opportunity in America (in which case, Trump would have adopted Hillary Clinton’s basic campaign message), or, instead, to stay with his original message that economic class (and the elite’s “corruption” behind that) poses the biggest barrier against achieving “the equal-opportunity society.” Trump — wisely, as it now turns out — chose the latter path (the original Bernie Sanders’ basic message): he was determined to retain the intensity-advantage (the ‘populist’ thrust), so as to be able to bring the largest numbers of voters to the polls on Election Day in the toss-up states and crush his opponent who was looking to win a ‘coalition’ of voting-segments: women, Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, etcetera. She thought that those people’s personal group-identification would sufficiently surmount any negative feelings they might have regarding her long history of corrupt use of public office to advantage her financial supporters, so that she would beat ‘the bigot’, Donald Trump; she turned out to be wrong.

What will be the important consequences of Trump’s win?

I, a Bernie Sanders voter, voted for Trump against Hillary, for the reasons that I have earlier stated, describing the consequences that a Trump win would have. (See: “I’m a Bernie Sanders Voter: Here’s Why I’ll Vote Trump.) I summed up, on that occasion:

Trump is rapidly moving America’s political center in the opposite direction from the direction that Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, did, which was toward conservatism, away from progressivism: those conservative Democratic Presidents and (now) would-be President, have moved America’s political center considerably toward the right (the international-corporate agenda). A President Trump would reverse the political direction that this country has been heading in ever since 1993.

If we progressives don’t help Trump to do that, we shall be throwing away the only such opportunity that the U.S. oligarchy (slipped-up and) allowed us to have. A President Hillary Clinton would have the support of almost all congressional Democrats no matter how right-wing her proposals are, and her big-money financial backers will buy enough congressional Republicans to make her the most effective most conservative Democratic President in decades if not centuries. The prospect is chilling.

The biggest objection I hear to that from my fellow progressives is: “But think of the people he’ll appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court!” And my answer to that is: “This Is No ‘Cold War’; It’s Far Worse Than That.” Hillary Clinton has been intensely committed to completing Barack Obama’s drive toward nuclear war against Russia, and even the question of the Supreme Court is trivial in comparison to that. Furthermore, as I argued in “I’m a Bernie Sanders Voter: Here’s Why I’ll Vote Trump, Trump might actually turn out to be a far more progressive President than he is expected to be. But, even if that turns out not to be the case, Trump is thoroughly committed to halting America’s aggression against Russia: the biggest loser in this Presidential election is George Herbert Walker Bush, the person who in 1990 secretly established the U.S. plan to conquer Russia, which plan every U.S. President since has been carrying out, and Hillary Clinton was expecting to complete that operation.

This was thus a historic U.S. election: finally, the U.S. government will turn away from the path toward war against Russia, upon which path the United States has been leading the world ever since 1990. I am shocked, and enormously relieved, at the result — even if Trump turns out to be a bad (i.e., a conservative, the opposite of a progressive) President on all other matters (including the Supreme Court).

Even in the worst-case scenario, Trump will be a much better President than would the neoconservative, Hillary Clinton.

Thank you, Donald Trump! Without your achievement here, the likely result now would be catastrophic, even worse than what Hillary Clinton did as U.S. Secretary of State.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • Hugh Edwards

    Thanks

  • kimyo

    Sanders opted to become just a cog in an ugly greasy pro-aristocracy machine

    the saddest part is that he made this decision long before the primaries.
    link

    podesta: (re: a 2015 cnbc interview in which sanders stated “When you hustle money like that, you don’t sit in restaurants like this” and “That type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world.”) This isn’t in keeping w the agreement. Since we clearly have some leverage, would be good to flag this for him. I could send a signal via Welch–or did you establish a direct line w him?

    • Eric Zuesse

      Neither you nor I have seen ‘the agreement’. The difference is that I don’t pretend to, but you do.

      • kimyo

        don’t need to see it. the other evidence speaks for itself:

        1) his tepid performance on the campaign trail and utter failure to call a crook a crook.
        2) his stunning lack of interest in determining who actually won california, brooklyn.

      • paul

        You are right, we should not use our common sense to speculate, reasonably, as to what that agreement might have been based on context, etc..

        Sanders was a sheepdog and has always been a block to the rise of a real progressive populist movement. That is the basis of his career.

        Like you?

        • wunsacon

          “No one wants to hear about your damn emails!”
          – Sheepdog Bernie.

  • TruthTime

    Don’t worry, either way Hillary or Trump inherit Gitmo and Drones. Will you do the first report when Donald drones a wedding party like Obama Mr. Eric? Will you report when Donald kneels before Israel?

  • Brian McKeever

    I don’t think Sanders expected to win the nomination, let alone the presidency. As a virtually unknown senator from one of our smallest states, even a year ago the idea that he could seriously challenge Clinton seemed laughable.

    As a 74-year-old, likely soon to be retired Senator, he was probably hoping he could score maybe 10-15% of the primary vote, win some delegates and maybe nudge the party back towards the left a little. A great way to finish a long career in politics except oops, he almost upended the whole apple cart, which he was totally unprepared to do.

    • Army of Addicts

      So, he lied to his supporters by saying he wanted to be president when that was not his intention? I don’t think he would stoop to that.

      I think it was a combination of his age plus he got spooked by Hillary and her entourage.

      He would have made a really great president, I think.

      • paul

        His role all through his career has been to block the rise of a genuine progressive populist movement. He does it well.

  • animalogic

    OK, we can agree the lesser evil got in.
    Now, let’s get back to reality.
    I HOPE Trump winds back American Imperialism, esp re: Russia. I hope he drowns NATO in bath…I hope he chucks all the current trade deals to the shithouse.
    But, lets remember: he wants MORE tax cuts for Elites (B/C we all KNOW trickle down works). Nor does he appear to have any belief in climate change (in itself, symptomatic of insanity or typical class warfare)
    Dodge one bullet…& , then dodge the next….

  • wunsacon

    Eric, because you linked to it, I overcame my reluctance to visit CNN to read that article you linked to. It was not worth it.

    The first few sentences make me want to puke: “The polls were wrong. Projection models were wrong. Veterans of previous presidential campaigns were wrong.”

    You think that’s “explained well”?

    These “lessons” from CNN are IMO superficial evasive rhetoric to deflect CNN reader/viewer criticism away from where it belongs: CNN for its disinformation campaign.

    CNN is garbage.