Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Post Mortem

There is a lot of anger today.  Ignorance and bigotry have triumphed.  Perhaps I am just part of the intellectual elite (definitely not part of the economic elite).  The whole process may well have been illusionary and perhaps Donald Trump as I suspect will govern a little differently than his rhetoric.  He cannot be restrained by the Democrats, but perhaps some Republicans and big money will steer him to a less harsh course.

A few months back I blogged about the election being an IQ test:  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2016/06/the-american-iq-test.html  Anything less than a decisive rejection of Donald Trump's Republicans is a very disappointing result.  The taxes on the rich will be lowered significantly which in the end results in less money to be spent for the good of the people.   That in turn means more inequality.  The Supreme Court will be dominated  by those favouring the Citizens United decision as well as more restrictions on freedom (except for those with money).  Who can predict how someone sympathetic to Russian desires and spews divisive hatred will impact the Mid East and the rest of the world.

There is legitimate anger, but I believe it has been misplaced.  Inequality has been encouraged by Republican policies and that will not change.  Donald Trump walked away from several bankruptcies with millions of dollars.  Trade deals have taken away high paying jobs while replacing some elsewhere, but a bigger culprit has been and will be automation.

As a foreign observer my views do not count for much and maybe miss some insight only available to those inside the situation.  Donald Trump out and out lied and although his followers didn't believe them all, they all saw something they really identified with.  For some it was bigotry and an explanation for their own poor status.  For others they were drawn to a conservative social agenda including anti-abortion,  anti-LGBT.  Others heard a drop in taxes for the rich and an emphasis on de regulation and smelled more profit for themselves.  Some admired his toughness from his reality show.  Still others it was good enough that he was a Republican and not a dreaded Democrat.  The combination was more than enough.

Republicans have succeeded in attracting voters who lose under their economic agenda by catering to social conservative agendas and besmirching their opposition.  It still works.  Donald Trump has gone this far by appealing to baser instincts as opposed to a set of  reasoned policies that would actually solve or mitigate problems they are so angry about.

It has not been difficult to learn facts that would disqualify anyone else.  His business dealings have not been friendly to the little guy, in fact he is often pictured as a con man.  His racism has been blatant--strongly insulting Mexicans, denigrating Black Lives Matter, painting Muslims as terrorists.  He has been very misogynist  in very vocal manner.  His blustering about knowing more than all the generals.  Climate change did not project as much as it should have, but he appeared very ignorant about it.  His Russian ties are mostly speculative but there have been Russian friendly policies introduced to the official Republican program.

How could it have happened? There is no one cause, but many to examine.

One culprit is the corporate media.  They recognized Donald Trump as a big boost to their ratings and gave him a lot of free time often on very trivial matters.  Admittedly he can draw a crowd.  The focus was mostly on the horse race aspects rather than which policies offered the best value or had the most credibility.  Bernie Sanders offered reasoned solutions to the problems that angered so many working class people, but he was pretty much ignored and dismissed until it was too late.

The corporate media was very harsh on Hilary Clilnton who being human (an ambitious one) was less than perfect.  But she was most definitely not the monster projected by the Republicans and carried forth by too much of the media.  So many of the accusations hurled against her were very trivial, but repetition created an unfair image, compounded by her defensiveness.  The email issue was a course chosen by many others and in fact fairly logical at the time.  The critics overlooked serious non found emails from the George W. Bush who was caught off guard at 9-11, later decided he had a case to invade Iraq and still later involved in a scandal involving the firing of district attorneys who apparently failed to live up to conservative expectations.  Benghazi was another made up controversy overlooking far more deaths at embassies during George Bush's time, not to mention the thousands who died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ironically Obama appointed James Comey, a Republican to head the FBI.  An investigation failed to uncover anything they felt could be prosecuted, but he added that she was very careless.  After that died down a bit (but with much sniping) they apparently found something through another investigation that they felt was relevant.  Normal policy is you do not announce investigations until after some concrete evidence is found.  A bit later, after saying it was unlikely there was enough time to give a conclusion they finally did declare there was no evidence.  Meanwhile they decided not to announce about uncovering evidence of Russian hacking as it was too sensitive before an election.

Democrats have to accept some of the blame.  Several years ago they realized they had to compete against Republicans to get money for election campaigns and like the opposition they found nothing comes for free.  During Obama's time as President he was mostly faced with opposition determined to block anything, even if it was normally acceptable to them.  Personally I was disappointed they didn't seem to vocalize what they were up against.

Trade agreements are difficult things to negotiate.  You want access to another market, but they want access to your market.  They want jobs as well.  Investors want to get cheap labour and fewer regulations.  Theoretically consumers get better pricing for goods and have more cash to spare to spend on things and services that provide jobs.  Fair trade sounds better than free trade, but you need willing partners and some leverage.  Republicans like the access to other markets, to cheaper goods and profits from exploiting third world countries.  Protecting American jobs and retraining displaced workers need to be a high priority.

We all are ignorant, but few of us are aware of it.  Too many voters relied on media celebrity and simple solutions to complex problems.  Others were resentful of minorities or even repulsed to the point it clouded their judgment.  Education needs to be a higher priority.  It has been a strength of Americans, but lately has become controversial and expensive.

I cannot predict which of Donald Trump's many promises will be kept, but a few seem very likely.

The Supreme Court will soon get a new conservative judge to be followed by possibly two or three more.  This means Campaign Finance Reform will not happen.  Minorities will lose out.
Obamacare as it is known will diminish and not likely to be replaced with anything better or cheaper.
Relations with many countries will cool off a bit and possibly others will heat up a bit.  De-regulation will increase dramatically in all fields including energy, finance, and manufacturing.  Gun control will further loosen with untold consequences.  Climate change will become more noticeable, but it will be quite some time before the denialists get on board, even when the public demands it.

Thank you for letting me vent.

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