Clinton’s failure guarantees a rough ride for Ireland, and most of the rest of the world…

Fortune, good night. Smile once more. Turn thy wheel.

Lear, Act 2, Scene 2

So what to make of the victory of Donald Trump. Or was it the defeat of Hillary Clinton? Well, despite the collapse of the so-called ‘blue wall’ and the now customary villification of pollsters, another 1% on Democratic voter turnout and things could be have been reversed.

But the truth is the weakness of the Democratic position was barely publicly recognised beforehand. Aside from any consideration of the candidate herself, there are few instances of any candidate of the same party as a retiring two-term president getting re-elected.

Moreover Clinton was a candidate who had failed once already. Despite this, the Democrats convinced themselves that the great prize of filling a vacant seat on the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) was worth throwing everything at getting the first female President (POTUS) across the line.

But as Glenn Reynolds (not her or the Democrats’ biggest fan) noted recently, “Someone somewhere should have told her no.” In insisting on having her turn at the Presidency, Clinton sucked all the political air, patronage and money from any other mainstream rival.

She lost 22 Primaries (and 47% of the vote) to a 74-year-old  socialist Jewish Independent Senator called Bernie Sanders. She grabbed the nomination using super delegates. Perhaps someone should have told her, but even the mild insinuation that she was, er, not a good politician risked social Siberia.

So the Democrats ambitious strategy of stealing the White House, the Senate and that spare SCOTUS seat backfired badly. They lost their shirts in all three respects. With Obamacare and the President’s private order on the block, there may be very little to show for his eight years in office.

And now, according to Matthew Yglesias, the whole Democratic Party is a smoking pile of rubble. All for the want of scraping another just 1% in the national vote. But that might as well be 10%, given the substantial scale of their collateral damage.

Fears Trump would alienate conservative voters forced the GOP to play the more defensive strategy in the House and Senate. House leader and conservative – in both the fiscal and social sense – Paul Ryan kept his distance from president-elect Trump right up to the very end.

Towards the end of the campaign, the tensions began to show when Trump made it known that he was not pleased with Ryan’s transparent lack of loyalty. Ryan’s victory party in Wisconsin was reportedly very subdued. He may yet pay for his disloyalty.

In the event, whatever about their leaders, the conservative voters stuck with Trump despite some of his not very conservative promises. In fact in rural areas and small towns (see David Wong), he pressed buttons that the GOP had not pressed since Reagan (albeit in a very different manner).

Yes, the Democrats still took a big chunk of those on less than $30,000, but there was also a 16% swing to Trump amongst a group where the Dems traditionally kill the Republicans:

If Trump’s a loose cannon, then many voters at the bottom have come to believe they stand a better chance with a billionaire, who incidentally spent far less money and had far less mainstream media support than with the Democrat.

Yes Obama may have saved what’s left of the car industry in Detroit by bunging it a huge amount of subsidy, but many of the subsidiary industries (just like in Europe) are made by specialist firms elsewhere.

For the record, even though car manufacturing is top of his 100 day hit list, it’s not yet clear how Trump thinks going to comprehensively reverse that trend towards global networking, but a significant chunk working class voters think he’s a stronger bet than their traditional champions.

As Robert Riech notes in the Guardian this morning:

Recent economic indicators may be up, but those indicators don’t reflect the insecurity most Americans continue to feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and unfairness they experience.

Nor do the major indicators show the linkages many Americans see between wealth and power, stagnant or declining real wages, soaring CEO pay, and the undermining of democracy by big money.

Median family income is lower now than it was 16 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Workers without college degrees – the old working class – have fallen furthest. Most economic gains, meanwhile, have gone to top.

These gains have translated into political power to elicit bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, special tax loopholes, favorable trade deals and increasing market power without interference by anti-monopoly enforcement – all of which have further reduced wages and pulled up profits.

Wealth, power and crony capitalism fit together. Americans know a takeover has occurred, and they blame the establishment for it.

Senator Elizabeth Warren in a post she made last night on Medium (note, not big media) made some of the right noises:

Working families across this country are deeply frustrated about an economy and a government that doesn’t work for them. Exit polling on Tuesday found that 72 percent of voters believe that “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.”

72 percent of ALL voters — Democrats and Republicans. The polls were also made clear that the economy was the top issue on voters’ minds. Americans are angry about a federal government that works for the rich and powerful and that leaves everyone else in the dirt.

But as this paper on why Trump won from a UK Labour point of view makes clear none of the policy that will tackle any of this in a private sector context is, yet, place. But his plan for his first 100 days already has alarm bells ringing in Dublin.

Trump may be popular with longer established and legal Irish immigrants, but his promise to do away with Sanctuary Cities creates a problem for those arrived more lately and without a green card. Trade too and cuts in US corporate tax rates, means matters could get sticky further down the line.

Together with Brexit, Trump’s ascendency to the White House represents what John Authers in the FT called yesterday, a bonfire of certainties. America’s working class is feeling the pinch, and re-balancing is on its way, come what may.

It’s going to a rough ride for everyone else. Brace yourselves.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Korhomme

    Tried to post a graphic chart showing that the republican vote has held steady over the last 3 elections while the democratic vote has fallen. The graph disappeared.

  • On the fence!

    So while there’s all the rhetoric about a misogynist being President, ironically feminism played quite a part in him being there?


  • Megatron

    1. Hillary did not win the nomination using super delegates.

    2. Trump recognised a problem among working class families and told the majority of them he could fix it by treating minorities as second class citizens or worse.

    3. The Press did an appalling job (sort of continued above) by presenting both candidates as almost equally flawed. Hillary wasn’t perfect but nobody is. Anyone who thinks Biden or Sanders would have been elected on a wave of love by media is severely mistaken.

    It was racism that won it. Lack of articles clearly stating this is depressing.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Great stats that back up what showed back in May – it is a myth that Trump’s support over-indexes among the less well off. This data shows it state by state. Trump supporters (in May at least) were on average richer than Clinton supporters everywhere except a few of the smaller largely Democrat states in the very NE corner (Connecticut, Vermont etc). Here is the average household income of Trump supporters from May in some of the key Rust Belt states that went red on the night:
    Ohio – Trump $64k / Clinton $59k
    Pennsylvania – Trump $71k / Clinton $59k
    Michigan – Trump $61k / Clinton $56k
    Wisconsin – Trump $69k / Clinton $63k

    And look at another key battleground state:
    Florida – Trump $70k / Clinton $51k

    The overall average US-wide was Trump supporters $72k / Clinton supporters $61k. The national average household income is $56k.

    It’s not that less well-off people didn’t vote for Trump – of course many did – but the narrative peddled by many to justify Trump’s rise clearly underplays the role of more comfortably off Americans who were also desperate to break the system (for whatever reason).

    Some interpret this as meaning therefore they were just racists and/or sexists. Maybe, maybe not. The fact is that when we’re talking about people here in terms of their earnings, even a lot of the “better off” actually experience their living standards going down or at best stagnating. The fact that a lot of other Americans are worse off is little consolation. They don’t necessarily feel better off than they themselves used to be – which is actually the more telling factor in how much you want political change.

    But ironically these figures show it isn’t just about money or the economy, it’s about perceptions of the direction of travel of the country. Look at the trend line over the last 8 years on whether people think America is on the right or wrong track: Many have bought into a not all that inaccurate story of American power and prosperity on the wane; that it no longer enjoys automatic top dog status in the world. In that story, the failure in Iraq and the rise of China loom large, in combination with the domestic Crash of 2007-8. Dubya and his circle copped a lot of blame quite rightly 8 years ago and Obama benefitted, but that has played out. Life has not got better and America still feels to Republican-leaning people like Superman in his sickbed, and being kept there mollycoddled by his Mum when he should be shrugging it off, throwing off the bedclothes and leaping into the sky.

    So don’t under-estimate in Trump’s victory the role of the need for national pride and of Hope. Trump came across as the hope candidate and the change candidate. America is a country that excites and inspires its people – and I think it’s hard for us in Europe sometimes to grasp how amazingly powerful it is to many people there to feel there is a chance, however slim, of being that exciting, devil-may-care, do-it-our-way, f***-you place they think it is supposed to be. The swagger and cocksure offensiveness of Trump that turns our stomachs talks to a certain quite large part of America of the robust individualism that they believe is in the American national DNA.

  • mickfealty

    Try again?

  • Anglo-Irish

    The Russians are now claiming that they were involved in helping in Trumps election, something he denied during the campaign.

    The ‘Manchurian Candidate’ is looking like a possible source of Russian inspiration!

    Wonder how that’s going to play to his redneck supporters?

    Impeachment before inauguration?

    I don’t like popcorn but I’m considering buying shares in a popcorn factory!

  • Korhomme

    Tried, I can’t get it to work.

    The graph/image is from a Tweet, copying and pasting the image shows it in the frame, but if I try to post I’m told I can’t post (a comment) that has nothing in it.

  • mickfealty

    Just copy the link to the tweet and see what happens. It should render.

  • Korhomme

  • Korhomme

    Thanks for the tip!
    Note that the y-axis doesn’t start at zero, so the effect is exaggerated.

  • Irwin Armstrong

    Why don’t we just accept that people who voted for Trump by and large wanted to give liberal multi-millionaire politicians and other elites a bloody nose.

    The impression I get when I am in the US is that people are becoming more and more anti ‘nose in the trough’ politicians, banks and big business who only look after their own interests and care little about the average American. They viewed Trump as being a rough cut rebel who got things done and spoke their language.

    This probably applied to Brexit and may well apply in Germany France etc in the next year.

    The current elites around the world should be very, very worried as a large part of the masses want change.

  • Korhomme

    One of the better articles about both Trump and Brexit:

  • mickfealty

    It’s also to do with the hoarding of wealth by banks and wealthy institutions Irwin. People wanted someone who is tough to put some manners on the multi-nationals.

    One thing the Dems seem to have forgotten since 2008 is that money no longer matters like it did before.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Apparently Hillary Rodham Clinton still beat William Jefferson Clinton in raw numbers.

  • eamoncorbett

    All well and good but will he get on with the people he appoints to high office or will he go the Apprentice route , if there is one aspect of Trump’s demeanour that is self evident it’s his volatility and that ain’t gonna change . He has simply got to get on with his appointees and stop the infighting which dogged his election campaign eg; firing campaign managers . If he doesn’t change drastically he risks wasting the entire presidency by insisting on being top dog and taking no schiet from anyone.

  • Korhomme

    During which time the US population increased by around 75 million.

  • eamoncorbett

    Yeah Mick it’s alright putting manners on the bankers and brokers but will the benefits trickle down to the common man and woman , me thinks not.

  • eamoncorbett

    Don’t worry there’s enough dirt out there to make his term in office a nightmare , I feel sorry for Loudon Wainright 3rd though.

  • eamoncorbett

    Sickening .

  • Korhomme

    How many voted in a positive way, how many negatively?

    And are voters always ‘rational agents’?

  • lizmcneill

    The best we can hope for might be that he’s so busy squabbling with his staff or the Republican party that he can’t do much.

  • lizmcneill
  • eamoncorbett

    My thoughts as well liz.

  • Korhomme

    I’d seen such reports. Not sure how much influence.

  • mickfealty

    Agreed Eamon. There’s no substitute for real policy shifts. However it does set out some of the territory the Dems will need to cover if they are going to come back with their own support.

    What’s really bizarre is how this lifelong Democrat has fillibustered his way into command not simply of the Republic, but the Republican party. He’s made promises, and has promised to bust up a few long term conventions.

    Like I said on one of my FB live videos on the night is that Populists are generally better at making promises than keeping them. He’s made a lot. I don’t think people will give up on him quickly either, and the Dems will not easily put pressure on him easily since it’s their weakness (and the GOP leadership’s) that’s put him where he is.

    But at some level someone has got to start to deliver for the people further down. You know, the ones actually holding the ladder up.

  • eamoncorbett

    Already his policy on Obamacare creaking tonight Mick , looks like a lot more to follow , if you have a sweet tooth there’s plenty more fudge to come , kind of like Stormont.

  • lizmcneill

    Oh, he has plenty of time to change his mind again…and again…and again….

    Plus, without the mandate for everyone to have coverage, premiums will rise – the low-risk (poor but young and healthy) will opt out of the risk pool.

  • mickfealty

    Megatron, unriddle me this then?

  • Megatron

    Does that contradict my super delegates point mick? Not sure what your point is but genuinely interested in debating this.

    I should say I am a big 538 fan and have read every article there over past year.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It’s good to remember that he’s just the president, not someone with absolute power or anything.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Still means she had more work to do. People aren’t born Democrat.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Talk of rational vs emotional is silly. I’ve been reading a lot of posts on that in my research consultants’ group in recent days, where some of my peers from the number-crunching side of the fence seem to regard the idea that emotions are involved in voting as a novel one. There is no real ‘rational’ / ’emotional’ divide, they are just different aspects of the same thought process and they are both always present. The idea of the ‘rational actor’ is long dead.

  • Korhomme

    Much of the theories of economics is built on the fantasy, the fiction of ‘rational actors’.