There all sorts of reasons being offered for the election of Donald Trump to the White House. People want to blame the Green Party, Libertarians, the rightward shift in American politics, and provolone cheese for this. Yet the answer is quite obvious and clear to anyone with half a clue and enough bravery to contemplate this. Last night white working class non-union voters repudiated the eight years of Barack Obama’s objectively awful policies.
The key point to grasp here is that Trump’s appeal was not defined by a rightward shift in the body politic. All the surveys and statistics show clearly that the country is overwhelmingly pro-choice, anti-war, pro-civil liberties, and pro-LGBTQQI. There is a discernible level of white supremacy in the population but that crosses party lines. As I said previously, Trump advocated for several positions to the left of Clinton and I think it is clear that those positions handed him a victory. Despite anti-working class identity politics the Clinton campaign invoked, the reality is that Trump spoke to bread-and-butter dinner table issues for workers. When you go to the parts of Appalachia and speak about jobs to communities that were hollowed out by Obama’s pivot to fracked natural gas, you win working class votes. When you go into the old industrial centers in America and talk about re-negotiating NAFTA and scrapping the TPP, you score electoral college votes.
Clinton also notably lost several states Obama had won. Some of this must be attributed to voter suppression (this was the first contest since the gutting of the Voting Rights Act several years ago) but much more needs to be laid at the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Face it, Barack Obama has been a colossal failure and this is born out by last night’s election. He was awful in regards to civil rights, foreign policy, and fiscal policy. He was too far to the right, an establishment figurehead who played everyone for fools while giving away the farm to the financial sector. When exactly this happened is tough to say.
Michael Hudson points to Obama’s appointment of Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers in the Treasury. The late Robert Fitch says it was much earlier, when Obama was gentrifying historic black and brown neighborhoods under the auspices of “community renewal” on behalf of real estate interests connected to Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary. But however you square it, Obama’s absolute refusal to bail out Main Street and instead give the farm away to Wall Street caused this. Let me repeat, there is a discernible level of white supremacy in the body politic on both sides of the aisle. But any Marxist can see the obvious factor of economics at play. Obama and Clinton have both been screwing workers over for a total of three decades and make no bones about it.
But just to review, let’s look at the things Clinton could have done so to insure a win:
- She could have not been so obviously and blatantly antagonistic to Bernie Sanders given the fact there was never a chance the super-delegate system would be overturned
- She could have been gracious enough to select Sanders as Vice President, a job that FDR’s first VP, Jack Garner, said “ain’t worth a bucket of warm piss”
- She could have apologized to the Sanders base instead of carrying on with her full-steam-ahead neoliberal corporate attitude that mocks feminism and everything gender equality has ever stood for
- She could have pivoted to the left after the convention instead of embracing her ridiculous ‘big tent’ idea
- She could have honestly pledged to reject the TPP and privatization of Social Security after her speeches to Goldman Sachs were disclosed
- She could have not been such a power-mongering micro-managerial disaster
Yet all these things were not to be. Hillary Clinton’s hubris lost her the election, nothing more or less, and we now get to suffer under the reign of Donald Trump because of it. Like Brexit, the white working class have forever smashed the political legitimacy of neoliberalism. And they have used the most white nationalist implement known to do it without recognizing that, behind all the bluster, there lies simply more neoliberal policy.