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Are we all responsible for the election of Donald Trump as US President?
“Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter but of this you may be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there’s a mighty judgement coming, but I may be wrong
You see, you hear these funny voices In the Tower of Song.”
LEONARD COHEN (21 SEPTEMBER 1934 to 7 NOVEMBER 2016)
There is no self to US President-elect Donald Trump. Like the rest of humanity, Donald Trump is the outcome of a variety of causes and conditions, past and present.
There is neither essence nor substance to Donald Trump. Every single expression of his persona emerges from the variety of inner and outer circumstances which have shaped his consciousness, his heart, his mind, his views and his physical presence. Just like the rest of us.
President elect Donald Trump might bear a certain similarity in personality and manner to dictatorships in the Middle East and the Russian president. We might even think a certain “karmic justice” or “hand of God” brought about the election of Donald Trump to the White House.
US citizens could even come to ask themselves if they have elected their own watered-down version of Russia’s President Putin or even a pale version of former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, or Colonel Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader. Such speculations remain irrelevant.
Decade after decade, the West has placed pressure on the Arab countries to depose their dictators, whether elected or not, because of their obsessive nationalism, contempt for women, prejudices, racism, religious bigotry and discrimination against minorities. Rather than compare Trump with other leaders, we need to address discriminatory views in our society. Do they spring from deep economic hardship, widespread unresolved prejudices or both?
The world’s billion Muslims will be watching developments with great interest to see if those US citizens, who are deeply dismayed by the all-conquering election of Trump, have the determination to engage in a democratic revolution in the next four years he is in office.
If the causes and conditions for social suffering do not get addressed, then the politics of discrimination and neglect will continue for years spreding far and wide.
America seems to have slashed its wrists in a brutal act of self harm through years of neglect of large sections of its population in the eyes of some.
The repressed anger sunk deep into the swamp before it burst outwardly in the 2016 US election last week. Change has come whether we approve or disapprove.
Who is responsible for the election of President-elect Donald Trump?
The Voters. A total of 59.94 million US citizens voted for Donald Trump. Around 100 million US citizens eligible to vote did not vote. We read endlessly that Donald Trump tapped into the fearful and angry thoughts of millions of US citizens. If true, the election shows that millions of citizens harboured a private rage against millions of their fellow citizens. The financial plight of poor white families left them with a daily struggle to put a meal on the table. Their economic circumstances sowed the seeds for their reaction against Mexicans, Muslims and refugees, who share the same poverty. They felt the Democrats and the so-called Liberals had betrayed them. They were right.
The Republican Party. The Republican Party turned its back on its tradition of conservative values, self-reliance, independence and liberty. The Republicans opted instead for Trump’s calculated and clever grasp for power. A billionaire campaigner, he stood as a candidate rubbishing traditional Republican candidates who got in his way. The GOP (Republican Party) and Democrats fed social divisions for years. The Republicans and the Democrats often do not appear to be fit for public office given the ongoing social fragmentation within the USA. If either party knew anything about history, they would know that a major financial crash often triggers a swing to the far right. After such a crash, money for social services goes to bail out the banks. The poor pay to bail out the rich. The 2008 bail out of the US banks to the tune of $700 billon plus became another condition for election of Trump. The rich have taken priority over the poor. The US poor, who have lived for generations in the country, have had enough neglect of their plight. They had a choice – to vote or resort to violence. This time they chose to vote.
The Democratic Party has sold its soul to the devil of institutional narcissism. The Democrats have ignored their own base support, namely the unemployed, the low income, the rural and city poor. They turned their back on the miserable living circumstances of millions of US citizens depriving them of the necessary economic support, opportunities for employment and a decent social welfare system. The much-vaunted Obamacare priced many citizens out of such care owing to the pharmaceutical/medical industry still controlling the costs for health. The Democratic Party also opted for the Washington establishment and support for the privileged elite in the corporate world. The liberal elites include the Clintons, who grabbed money and power. The Democratic Party became a corrupt tool of the rich and powerful. The rich captured 100% of all income gains since the beginning of the millennium. Putting it simply: Big money screws the little guy. The little guy is not putting up with it. For a start, life expectancy of the poor in the US has dropped four years in a generation. A primary condition for the election of President Trump was the depth of inequality in the USA. The gap in wealth between the rich and the poor is as great as the late 19th century. The Democratic Party has had its head in the sand for years and years on the plight of the poor.
The Media. The media filled its pages with stories and quotes of Donald Trump in his determination to get the highest job in the land. The media regarded him as a celebrity, boosted his celebrity status and largely ignored other Republican candidates. The media massaged Trump’s sense of self-importance week after week. He thus became an avatar for fear and blame. Along with Hillary Clinton, the media regarded Trump and his supporters as deplorable, as well as ignorant, racist and irrational. The media commentators engaged in their own irrational and prejudiced campaigns against Trump and his supporters. These endless personal attacks suited the purposes of Trump, who exposed the deeply held suspicions and cynicism of US citizens about the media. Millions more rallied around Trump as the media launched its self-righteous moralizing on the Trump campaign. The condescending attitude of the media and their readers lined the pathway for Trump’s election. The arrogant commentators assumed that Clinton would win. Newsweek printed 25,000 copies of their election issue with the cover stupidly titled ‘Madame President’ with a smiling photo of Hillary Clinton. The media has egg splattered all over its face.
Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton became more like a Republican candidate than George Bush and Ronald Reagan. She backed the wars on various poor Arab countries, had an uncritical voice of the Israeli government of its probable war crimes in the bombing/invasions of the virtually defenceless families of Gaza. Clinton supported President Obama in the drone attacks killing more than 4000 Pakistani villagers. Hillary Clinton became a friend to the profiteers and speculators in Wall Street and the CEOS of powerful corporations exploiting the poor at home and abroad. Former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton received more than $200,000,000 in donations/payments with her declared wealth amounting to more than $40,000,000. She received around $250,000 for her secret speeches to the rich and powerful. She gave speeches to banks for corporations like Goldman Sachs. She told Goldman Sachs audience that she wanted to cut social security and expand free trade. She knew full well the terrible ongoing impact of such policies. She wore a $12000 Armani jacket in New York in April 2016 while speaking on inequality. She endorsed secret wars, massive imprisonment in the USA and widespread surveillance. Why would anyone want to vote for the continuity of such a track record? Her failed campaign reached its climax when she had to wheel out mega-rich celebrities to try to generate interest among voters in her election. I doubt if voters were that stupid enough to think entertainers would help win her the election.
President Barack Obama. President Obama spent most of his eight years in office living in denial. He denied the ongoing reality of the Divided States of America. He offered style instead of substance, offered rhetoric instead of right action and tried to please everybody instead of trying to make real change for those who desperately needed real change. He spoke of hope and change but there was no real change so hope descended into deep disappointment and apathy. Trump vented the grievances of millions of people, who Obama let down, including the poor white community, who want to work hard for a decent wage and cannot. Other communities also felt the same way. Obama has come to the end of his two terms in office with the USA possibly at its most divided since the American Civil War. America appears fearful for itself and its future. That is the primary Obama legacy. What is going to happen now to the Divided States of America? Huge communities of American citizens, new and old, feel estranged from each other. That is a heavy cost for electing a president based on a pleasing presentation style while ignoring the needs of millions of citizens, regardless of their colour. Even after the election, Obama continued to cling to his mantra “We are not Democrats first. We are not Republicans first. We are Americans first.” Mr. President: “Get Real.” USA’s primary institutions and the country’s citizens must address a spiritual and constitutional crisis. The same crisis shows itself in other nations as well. The President said it would be a ‘personal insult’ if people voted for Trump. Obama personally insulted millions who voted for him in good faith and then ignored them. The success of Trump is a repudiation of eight largely wasted years. A politically correct skin colour is no substitute for wisdom and compassion.
All US citizens and people worldwide. Life consists of an inter-connected network of human beings in a variety of different habitats. We were not Americans first nor another nationality first. We were human beings first. We must place our humanity, our knowledge and skills to the foreground. We must find various ways forward to transforms contemporary democracy that has become corrupt, outdated and largely irrelevant. Only one in four US citizens voted for Donald Trump. If we all had worked a little bit harder for democracy, protested a little bit longer, offer a wise and compassionate vision and only voted for peace, justice, the needs of the neglected, animals and sustainable resources, we would have brought about real change. We must take our share of responsibility. We made our priority an obsession with self-interest. Our schools and universities have become ego factories of self-interest for the young. We lost ourselves in social media like Facebook, Twitter and smart phones. We compromised. We voted for the liberal elite, the left, the middle of the road and the right. We ignored the gradual swelling up of fear and blame. The repressed anger and unrest has finally become conscious. We cannot go back to the old ways. Our Western institutions have become more and more bereft of ethics, integrity, compassion and spiritual values. We must take a measure of responsibility for the causes and conditions that gave rise to the contemporary crisis in democracy, our constitution and between people with different backgrounds and heritages.
From the opening song: You Want It Darker” of the last album of Leonard Cohen
“If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory, then mine must be the shame
You want it darker, we kill the flame.”
First, we must lay bare the issues. Then we need to change the causes and conditions for the arising of such widespread unhappiness and unrest.
Our current institutions create wars, racism, inequality, poverty, famine and mental illness. Our policies destroy nations, their families and infrastructure. We need to change fundamentally the way our political, financial and corporate institutions function. The Republican Party, the Democratic Party and our current leaders cannot point the way forward.
We need a spiritual awakening as much as a major social and political change. The 59 million people, who elected Donald Trump as the US President, may have triggered a revolution. We could turn this revolution into the best interests of all those voters and ourselves if we all rise to the occasion.
Last word from Leonard (Villanelle for our Time)
Not steering by the venal chart
That tricked the mass for private gain,
We rise to play a greater part.
Reshaping narrow law and art
Whose symbols are the millions slain,
From bitter searching of the heart
We rise to play a greater part.