“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”.

“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”

 

That was one of the sentences I used to practice typing. Since November 8, in my imagination, the quick brown fox quickly slaughters a few of the denizens of the henhouse, frightens some sheep and eventually skulks away back into the forest once the farmer, awakened from his slumbers, recalls the dog – who was not lazy, really, just sound asleep, and had run away to Canada after the fox stole his lunch together with his “guardian of the realm” badge.

 

Yes, we were trounced in the presidential election. Yes, a few creatures usually found under rocks came out into the light and spouted vile anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, intolerant bile. Yes, it is thoroughly depressing to witness the rise of fear and hatred in the electorate, and to know that they have put the fox in charge of the henhouse.

 

The second sentence I used to practice typing was “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.” But before we regroup, it is useful to consider why so many of us voted for President Trump. I believe that most Americans are decent human beings. How could they?

 

I do not want to dwell on mistakes made by our nominee, among which the “basket of deplorables” stands out. Her basic problem was that she was not the shiny new option that Trump represented. Trump’s appeal lay in large part in his status as novelty item on our political shelves. Hillary felt like the “same old, same old”, a characteristic Trump exploited.

 

Beyond that, I think that we need to look deeper into the roots of voters’ defection from the Democratic Party in general, and Hillary in particular. Why did we lose, when Trump was viewed negatively by a majority of Americans – if we are to believe the pre-election polls? Why did we lose, when we had an experienced candidate with a believable vision for America, when the Republican Party itself was giving its nominee a wide berth? For what it’s worth, I think the following.

 

  1. Hillary was the victim of the campaign of disinformation that was started long ago by the Republican Party. Economic indicators have been up for several years, yet a talking point of Republican politicians is “the slowest recovery in history”. Never do they stress the significant word, RECOVERY, or the reasons for the original downturn, which can be fairly described as the greed of investors and banks all over the country, and of Wall Street in particular. Too many naïve Americans borrowed excessively, were unable to repay their loans and were expelled from their homes. Add a war or two without adequate funding, and you have the makings of a real economic morass, from which recovery has been admittedly slow.

 

As the President of the United States is the most visible politician in the country, he is also the first to be blamed. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell had already decided that sabotaging any goal of Obama’s would result in gains for the Republican Party, therefore progress was slow and difficult. Witness the ACA (Obamacare), a generous if complicated effort, which for-profit insurance companies have seriously undermined and which Republicans have tried to kill numerous times.

 

  1. When all else failed and it was legally possible to do so, Obama resorted to executive orders, fueling the narrative of “King Obama”, an unearned moniker if ever there was one. Add to that the perversion of language that turned the word “elite” into a curse, and you create the perception that Democrats in general, and our president and nominee in particular, are completely out of touch with the general population. How a New York purported billionaire with a taste for gaudy apparel and buildings is supposed to be closer to Everyman I fail to understand, but it happened.

 

  1. While Hillary offered statistics and analysis, what Trump offered was simplicity. His verbal skills are roughly equivalent to a 6th grader’s. It was a refreshing change from the usual politispeak, it created an intimacy with the listener that was welcome to most – especially those who have to work harder than ever before and yet have witnessed a decline in their standard of living. While Hillary told coalminers in West Virginia that re-training would be offered as their job skills became obsolete, Trump told them that coal was making a comeback. When you fear being unable to feed your family, “Drill, baby, drill” sounds a lot better than “Protect Mother Earth”. We failed to understand that and to explain the dynamics of a nascent economy.

 

  1. Blue collar workers in general have been suffering in the new economy. Trump offered easy targets for their anger. It is easier to blame “the illegals” than to explain that, in a global economy, corporations want to maximize profits by exporting manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries like India or Vietnam so that CEOs (like Trump) can be paid over 500 times the starting salary of their workers. It is easier to blame “the illegals” than to recognize that robotisation has rendered many manufacturing and farming jobs obsolete.

 

  1. I think the Democratic Party failed to recognize the extent to which many mostly white, mostly male Americans wanted to retreat to what they knew best, “their America”, which felt safe. Their mythical “great” time does not exist, and I don’t believe that most Trump voters really want to return to pre-Civil Rights America. The relentless drumbeat of right-news media, however, was successful in painting the (mostly black, like Chicago) inner cities as hellholes, and created a narrative of virtuous police officers vs. black thugs. Facts were pushed aside when inconvenient to that narrative. Trump voters felt good when they tied blue ribbons around their trees, in a rebuff to the “elites” who wanted to address the reasons why so many unarmed black men ended up dead after an encounter with police.

 

  1. While the mood of so many in America turned to shrinking, the Democratic Party wanted to expand. This is not a criticism on my part. I do believe that we need a fairer society, where the rights of all are honored, irrespective of color, gender, sexual orientation, religion or general health. I think that women deserve equal pay for equal work. I believe that health care is a human right, not a privilege. I believe in reasonable limits to the second amendment. The ideology of the Democratic Party is a generous ideology, to which I fully subscribe. Our failure was in communicating what we stand for and why.

 

Trump understood the mood of the country better than we did. Still, he beat us by overpromising. I think that his focus on short term gains rather than long term progress will be his undoing. We will regroup and kick the fox out of the henhouse. Woof. Howl.

Disclaimer: Marie-Anne wrote this post. Her views often align with those of her fellow Democrats, but she is, as usual, solely responsible for content.

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