The president of the United States of America likes to win. So does his base supporters. They like the feeling of winning so much that it has become one of the major metrics of success in politics for Trum, his base and a big part of the Republican party. Winning, as it turns out, can come in many forms, but it always entails Trump sticking it to some group or person. In fact, winning to them can happen even without anything substantial being gained by anyone within the group just as long as another group, most likely ”liberals” (aka libtards) gets ”owned” (another thing Trump supporters love is when Trump ”owns” someone).
Now, a more adult and sober idea of success in politics would involve policy making that is beneficial to every citizen, and it’s not a bad thing if it turns out to benefit some who are not as well. Sure, you have to win the election, but after that, and after taking the oath to do so, most presidents move on to the role of trying to be a president for all of the people. Even though your more everyday politician may not always be able to implement policy that are gainful to everyone, she will try to make it so for as many as possible while avoiding hurting others. No politician in their right mind, up until recently would think of enacting policy that only serves to hurt specific groups or individuals without any benefit to anyone outside of the satisfaction of seeing people they dislike getting hurt.
Because this is what a large part of Trumps base is about – they dislike what they perceive as an ”elite” with such fervor that they go positively off the rails when their president says those things they have themselves shouted at the TV hundreds of times. Now, ironically, Trump is the one who was born into wealth, not Hillary, but still, Hillary Clinton to these people is the ultimate symbol of everything they hate. These people despise and disrespect higher education and scientific rationality. They hate the notion of a changing global economy which they see just as an excuse for immigrants stealing their jobs. They hate the progressive political center which wants to use the political platform to enact changes, not minimize it as they claim they want – again ironic considering the lengths to which Donald Trump go to strengthen his own centralized power. They hate immigrants and people of color and they hate anyone who doesn’t hate immigrants and people of color. All in all, these people are very aware of what they hate and they execute their hatred with passion, but what they don’t have are solutions. That is, progressive legislation that may improve upon the situation that make them so resentful. Why is this?
First of all, we have to understand who these people are. This have been established very well during the last couple of years so I won’t go into great detail and I will be generalizing a lot: These people are white, they are predominantly male, even though there are some females, in those cases often close relatives to males who fit the archetype. They have little or no education, live where they grew up, which is in rural US, likely somewhere where the once major employer was a big industry, mine or power plant which is no longer in operation. In many ways, these men are the big losers of the major shift in the world economy during the last decades where the jobs they hade are growing more and more scarce in rich western nations. They have been following in the footsteps of their father and fathers father which made them part of the middle class but now the formula no longer works. They feel entitled to the same rewards for the same efforts, but aren’t getting them. Someone must be to blame for this, and yes, of course there are factors which all add up to this situation, but those factors are often outside of the comprehension of these men.
They have been provided with far more simple targets in the form of immigrants, politicians, academics who thinks they know better than them. by the liberals who wants to take away their guns etc. They blame these groups for everything that is not what they feel it should be in their lives. They feel that if they themselves can’t be well off, then by god no one else should either! And thus the urge for hurting those groups they hate, even when they themselves get nothing material out of it.
Now this is by no means unique for the US. In pretty much every western nation of today there are groups of people who for one reason or another have failed to adapt to society changing around them, or have been unable (or unwilling) to face the demands modern western society puts on its members. We live in large expensive houses or apartments, drive cars, have fancy phones, TV-sets, you name it. We expect that we should have all of this, we feel entitled. But in a more global economy, we as individuals have been much more susceptible to competition. No longer can we expect to make ten times as much money or more than someone from another country simply because we are born in Europe or North America. We have to provide a value which makes the cost of hiring us worth while and if we can’t we will have to be willing to lower our standards. For people who have up until recently been (and in many ways still are) among the privileged few who realize they no longer possess this position by default this is a chock and with it follows anger, denial, sadness, and hopefully at some point finally acceptans and finding a way forward. These people feel cheated out of their birthright so to speak and are grasping for a cause of their plight. This is of course the age old, golden opportunity for populists to come along and provide one or several scapegoats – often based in fears and tensions already among the population – and to give voice to what they feel. The sense that finally someone is noticing them and speaking for them and is even suggesting a fix to the problem that goes right along the lines you always felt is of course extremely satisfying and liberating. Historically however, we have seen how badly things can get out of hand if these sentiments are taken all the way – and since there is no substance other than resentment and false explanations the goal can never be reached, giving the possibility to spin the same story over and over.
It is extremely difficult to come up with a solution to a problem like this. Though parts of the explanation for why things are changing are straightforward (you’ve been replaced by a worker in China or a robot) some are absolutely not and to understand the full picture of the global economy and why it is developing in the way ti is requires a lot more knowledge than what the average person, even those with academic aptitude is willing and able to take in. Saying to someone – ”Your reasoning is wrong but I can’t explain why because you are to uneducated” hardly ever leads to the results one would hope for (unless those results entail a fist fight). And unlike other complex fields such as astrophysics or molecular biology which we can safely ignore and trust the scientists to handle, the democratic system demands of us that we make informed decisions about sometimes complex issues. The fact that the real issues are to complex for even many of the politicians to grasp fully, let alone have a debate that will entice people to listen about is part of the reason why election debates often tend to revolve around totally inane issues while no one touches the more difficult issues which are actually important. The system of electing representatives are supposed to shield us from having to make a stance on every single issue, the problem is still that the skills it takes to get elected have nothing to do with the skills it takes to comprehend the intricacies of national economics or governing a nation. I wish I could say I had a simple solution, but I don’t. I just know that no positive change will come from ”winning” more in politics.