Voices from Russia

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Sneering Response to Trump’s Victory Reveals Exactly Why He Won

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THIS is what the “herd” voted against… the studied hatred of them by their “betters”. It was a revolt against the entrenched Bush/Clinton oligarchy and their Upper Middle minions. Shall it succeed? Only time will tell us…


If you want to know why Trump won, just look at the response to his winning. Look at the lofty contempt for “low information” Americans. Look at the barely concealed disgust for the rednecks and cretins of “flyover” America who are apparently racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. Look at the haughty sneering at the vulgar moneyed American political system, and how it allowed a wealthy candidate to poison the little people’s mushy malleable minds. The suggestion that American women, more than 40 percent of whom are thought to have voted for Trump, suffer from internalised misogyny… that is, they don’t know their own minds, the poor dears. The hysterical borderline apocalyptic claims that the world is now infernally screwed because “our candidate”, the good pure person, didn’t get in.

This response to Trump’s victory reveals why Trump was victorious. Because those who do politics these days… the political establishment, the media, the academy, the celeb set… are so contemptuous of ordinary people, so hateful of the herd, so convinced that the mass of society can’t be trusted to make political decisions, and now those ordinary people have given their response to such top-down sneering and prejudice. Oh, the irony of observers denouncing Middle America as a seething hotbed of hatred even as they hatefully libel it a dumb and ugly mob. Having turned America’s “left behind” into the butt of every clever East Coast joke, and the target of every handwringing newspaper article about America’s dark heart and its strange Bible-toting inhabitants, the political and cultural establishment can’t now be surprised that so many of those people have turned around and said… well, it begins with F and ends with U.

The respectable set’s allergy to Trump is fundamentally an allergy to the idea of democracy itself. To them, Trump’s rise confirms the folly of asking the ignorant, the everyday, and the non-subscribers to the New York Times, to decide on important political matters. They’re explicit about this now. In the run-up to Election Day, big-name commentators wondered aloud if democracy is all it’s cracked up to be. Andrew Sullivan said that Trump’s ascendancy showed we need better checks and balances on “the passions of the mob”. He went on to say:

We should cool and restrain [these] temporary populist passions. We shouldn’t allow feeling and emotion to override reasoned deliberation.

The little folks only feel and wail, you see, and it’s down to the grown-ups in the system to think coolly on their behalf. Elsewhere, a writer for the New York Times asked Americans to consider installing a monarchy, which could rise above the “toxic partisanship” of party politics… that is, above open, swirling, demos-stuffed political debate. In a new book called Against Democracy… that says it all… Georgetown philosopher Jason Brennan argues for an epistocracy, an “aristocracy of the wise”, who might decide political matters for those of us who are “low information” (i.e. stupid). This echoes the anti-democratic turn of liberals in the 2000s, when it was argued that daft Bush-backing Americans increasingly made decisions, “not with their linear logical left brain, but with their lizard, more emotional, right brain”, in Arianna Huffington’s words. Such vile contempt for the political democratic capacities of the ordinary person has been in great evidence following Trump’s win… across Twitter and in apocalypse-tinged instant responses… it’s likely to intensify. Anti-Trump will morph more explicitly into anti-democracy.

If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same kind of pleb-fearing horror that greeted the Brexit result four months ago. A headline in the Guardian said, “Why elections are bad for democracy”. A writer for Foreign Policy said that the people are deluded and it is the task of those with “reason and expertise” to “un-delude” them. A pained George Monbiot wondered, “What if democracy doesn’t work? What if it never has and never will?” Boom. That’s it. The secret and not-so-secret cry of the élites and the experts and the observers over both Brexit and Trump is precisely that… “What if democracy doesn’t work?” It’s not so much Trump they fear as the system that allowed him to get to the White House… that pesky ridiculous system where we must ask ordinary people… shudder… what they think should happen in the nation.

The anti-Brexit anti-democrats claimed they were merely opposed to using rough simplistic referendums to decide on huge matters. That kind of democracy is too direct, they said. Yet, now, they’re raging over Trump’s election via a far more complicated tempered democratic system. That’s because… I know this is strong, but I’m sure it’s correct… it’s democracy itself that they hate. Not referendums, not UKIP’s blather, not only direct democracy, but also democracy as an idea. Against democracy… so many of them are now. They fear the engagement of the throng in political life. They dread and disdain the people… ordinary, working, non-PhD-holding people. It’s what got Trump to the White House… the right of all adults, even the dumb ones, to decide about politics… that gives them sleepless nights. This nasty reactionary turn against democracy by so many of the well-educated both explains the victory of Trump, which neatly doubles up as a slap in the face of the establishment, and confirms why democracy is more important today than it has ever been. Because it really would be folly, madness in fact, to let an élite that so little understands ordinary people, and in fact loathes them, to run society unilaterally. Now, that would be dangerous, more dangerous than Trump is.

9 November 2016

Brendan O’Neill

The Spectator


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