One of the consistent aspects of the US Election in political discourse, both before, during and after the actual voting, was a general shock on the part of the left that Donald Trump could actually be elected. From B-list celebrities calling him a ‘racist’ on propagandist national television, to online hate mobs ridiculing the candidate for his supposed lack of intelligence, the left wing has never hesitated to let the world know just how much it looks down on Donald Trump and his supporters. Political discourse in the 2016 election has been seen by many as a descent to mudslinging from supposedly more civilised days of intelligent debate between candidates. This in itself is hardly true, but if it is, it is not Trump who appealed ‘to the lowest common denominator’ in conversation, as Stephen Hawking put it- an example of a celebrity with nothing to do with politics harnessing the power of social media- but his opponents. Trump may have centred his campaign on easily memorable slogans and admittedly sweeping statements, but so has every politician ever. The truly new thing about the 2016 election was the depths to which the left sank. Anyone even contemplating supporting Trump laid themselves open to accusations of racism, sexism and even homophobia. An article published by Vox said that Trump won because he harnessed the ‘incredible, unbeatable, power of racism’, decrying all Trump supporters as anti-immigrant bigots. Using the time honoured tactic of the left of likening practically everyone and everything to Nazi Germany, one popular technique was attempting to draw links between Trump and Adolf Hitler.
Of course, we’ve seen this before. The elitist metropolitan snobbery of the left also shone through in opposition and response to brexit. All manner of parallels have been drawn between Trump’s victory and Britain’s vote to leave the EU, mainly on the rhetoric of the right, but I see the same failings in the rhetoric of the left. Again, like in the US election, we see people genuinely concerned about the effects of mass immigration being shut down as racists and xenophobes, such as by a Guardian article calling it a ‘frenzy of hatred’, and Diane Abbott (who famously said that ‘white people love playing divide and rule’ and brutal dictator Chairman Mao ‘did more good than harm’) seeing Brexit as appealing to the innate racism of British people. Again, like in the US election, we see out of touch celebrities ridiculing poor working class voters looking for change- in this case Bob Geldof’s embarrassing debacle in the ‘Battle of the Thames’, attempting to ridicule struggling fisherman forced out of business by EU legislation. And again, like in the US election, we see the anger of the left wing on realising that the people they have spent years ignoring, belittling and insulting have turned on them- Ian Duncan MEP described in a speech in March 2017 the ‘anger’ in the European parliament at the British people having the ‘temerity’ to vote against membership. In the fight to stay in the European Union, the left resorted to intellectual snobbery and anti-free speech declarations of racism against their opponents- and like in America, they paid the price.
There are many reasons that can be given for Trump’s stunning victory on election night, ranging from his inward-looking regenerative policy on heavy industry, to Hillary Clinton’s appalling support of her husband’s frankly misogynistic treatment of women. Indeed, one very convincing argument that is linked to the above paragraphs is the way that the Democrat party, drunk on corrupt success, made the fatal mistake of pandering to the unrealistic demands of a tiny college-campus Social Justice minority for gender neutral bathrooms and suchlike and ignoring their true voter base of poor disadvantaged taxpayers, who turned out for Trump in droves. But I ascribe Hilary’s defeat to the fundamental mindset of her and her supporters in relation to the opposition- the mindset of refusing to engage with opponents, refusing to discuss and debate points, and instead shutting down the political sphere with a hate mob mentality of ‘racism’ and ‘sexism’. Hilary’s continuous treatment of the presidency as her birthright certainly didn’t help, but any other candidate in this politically correct age would likely have faced the same result when they made the error of refusing to engage with their opponents. So I believe that Jonathan Pie was spot on when he said the morning after the election:
‘Not everyone that voted for Trump is a sexist or a racist. How many times does the vote not have to go out way before we realise that our argument isn’t won by hurling labels and insults? When will we learn that the key is discussion? She just courted celebrity endorsements…it’s almost as if the political acumen of Beyonce and Jay-Z count for nothing….we don’t debate any more because the left won the cultural war, so if you’re on the right you’re a freak, you’re evil, you’re racist, you’re stupid. How do you think people are going to vote when you talk to them like that? Being offended doesn’t work any more.’
Social Secretary, St. Andrews Chapter, Republicans Overseas