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United States

Nov 15, 2016

Usury suspects: media gumshoes have fingered five main culprits for Trump’s win

Let’s look briefly at the primary causes named for Clinton's defeat, and see if we can’t agree that the ascension of Donald Trump to President has multiple causes.

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If we had a dollar for every explanation published in the last week for the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the National debt of the United States would likely remain as deep and dirty as the ocean. Still. That’s what happens when you use public funds to fix a broken private banking system, but who wants to talk about money?

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54 thoughts on “Usury suspects: media gumshoes have fingered five main culprits for Trump’s win 

  1. Nota Bene

    “World is fukt, and the people want it back. On this occasion, they may have erred tragically.”
    I suggest that the US problems are deep and multilayered. I am doubtful that Trump will prevail against the vested interests – not least because the US has a system for emergency management if Washington D.C. is destroyed in an attack. Thus there is a system designed to bypass the POTUS, the Congress and the Senate. Who controls that?

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    Yes, it’s hugely complex, and any one scenario to explain the phenomenon misses all the others. I have rejected elsewhere that racism and sexism played a part in this, although it is fair to say they both played at the margins, it’s just that no-one can reasonably say to what extent or even what direction, although that is assumed.

    Apart from this good summary, so much looks like a solution to a complex problem that is neat, elegant, and wrong.

    1. archibald

      Of course you can analyse how voter attitudes correlate with voting preferences and thereby contribute to a result. There’s no need to read entrails.
      This is an example:
      http://www.salon.com/2016/11/13/yep-race-really-did-trump-economics-a-data-dive-on-his-supporters-reveals-deep-racial-animosity/

      1. Dog's Breakfast

        Archibald, hard to know where to start, it doesn’t seem to be a response in any way to my observation, but as it is appended as a reply to me I am assuming it is.

        Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation is actually nothing at all, and provides no insight to why anyone voted for anyone, which is actually the key point of the article, I thought. I very much doubt that they asked the question “Are you a racist, and who are you voting for?”

        That statistical analysis is full of holes. Among many assumptions is that anyone who thinks that white people might be losing jobs to minorities is a racist. In many cases that will actually be true, a real lived experience. In any case, it’s just correlation, and correlation explains nothing at all.

      2. Helen Razer

        Sure, Archibald. Salon is very devoted to that line. But, Nate Silver is not. And some Hispanic writers, some of who long ago gave up on Obama, the deportation president, see the male swing in that identity category toward Trump as making some sort of crazy sense. You can post opinion pieces all you like that derive from one statistical reading. You can say that 50 million people, more of whom were from minority groups than voted for Romney, supported Trump for a single reason. Or, you can say that Salon, who has also run a gender line ceaselessly, because let’s never talk about the economy and pretend it’s all about personal prejudice and that people never vote from their hip pockets and they are just plain bad and mean, has backed a particular horse.
        I tend to think there are many reasons. I think if we try to work out what these are, we could maybe outrun the very real threat of the populist right.And we can just ignore that this movement runs a consistently socialist (and cynical) economic line. We can just overlook that part of the appeal. But, no. I guess it is more important to call out racists and prove yourself to be on the side of true justice.

      3. Keith1

        Racists can vote against their racist instincts. In this instance, what would have been enough in enough cases to elect Clinton? Who knows. Too complex. But in the meantime, consider this:

        “During the 2008 election, FiveThirtyEight relayed an anecdote from the campaign trail:

        So a canvasser goes to a woman’s door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she’s planning to vote for. She isn’t sure, has to ask her husband who she’s voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, “We’re votin’ for the n***er!” Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: “We’re voting for the n***er.”
        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/why_did_some_white_obama_voters_for_trump.html

  3. Keith1

    In its narrowest sense, Clinton’s defeat can be “explained” by accounting for 114,000 votes in a couple of swing states. It can be seen as a major but superficial inflection point ultimately produced by deep shifts. My comments are directed more towards the superficial “114,000 votes short” level.

    Clinton won the Democrat nomination because because she was a hard-working, talented party insider-loyalist who had suffered a lot and waited patiently and it was her turn. She was certainly not nominated as a response to any of the primary issues eating their way through US society. In the larger electorate, “her turn” became a reason, perhaps even an over-arching reason, to vote against her. If it was her turn, she was obviously part of the problem, however defined.

    The party – the Democrat technocratic attempt to manage post-Reagan capitalism in a benign way – was over. Bill got rid of Glass-Seagal, Obama bailed out the banks… now it was the woman’s turn. Something in this reminds me of Kirner, Keneally, and even Gillard.

    It wasn’t Bernie’s turn – fair enough too, he wasn’t even a Democrat – but it may next be the turn of the movement he aspires to lead, if that movement can begin the task of winning back the states, one by one, for a renewed Democrat party or replacement. Obama’s eight years show that without the states and their gerrymander powers let alone their legislative clout, the presidency cannot be transformative. The states should be the priority, the presidency can wait – though it may be possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. And however it is done, and however it is led, it has to be driven by the energy of people under the age of 40.

    1. Nota Bene

      ” she was a hard-working, talented party insider-loyalist ”
      I think you are extremely generous. Google: Clinton deaths. 57 million hits – but only a 50 to 90 body count.

      1. Andrew Seeze

        Yep, another elephant in the room.

        1. Marlo Inaustralia

          What about the Clinton Foundation? Check to see where the money goes. Helen, pleeeaaassse. check it. It’s sickening. That is, if you are a normal human being which I am sure you are.

          1. Helen Razer

            You guys are making out like I am some sort of Clintonista who affirms the branded nonsense of a large corporate introduction agency.
            Not to be one of those people who say “you just proved my point”. But I kinda feel that if I have proposed that there are many reasons for voters to vote as they do, and then several commenters say “no, there is only one and there must only be one!”, then, I guess I have failed to be clear.

          2. Marlo Inaustralia

            “You guys are making out like I am some sort of Clintonista who affirms the branded nonsense of a large corporate introduction agency.”

            Helen, that was actually very funny. I laughed. But people long for journalists who research to the death. Crikey journalists are in danger of becoming very msm and pushing a single desk ideology while blind-sided to the facts that may dispute their own party line. Generally you are not inclusive of this and quite balanced. Maybe not today.

          3. Andrew Seeze

            Helen. I might be a woman.

          4. Keith1

            Helen, your comment here appears under mine so I hope I’m not seen as one of the “several commenters” who insist on mono-causality. I think there is a simply expressed reason for the Democrats ensuring the nomination of Clinton (her turn). As for the election, I’m with you that this stuff is complex – even within the minds of individuals. What may have surfaced in the minds of a sufficient number is, “The country’s fukt. We don’t need another insider just because its her turn.” What is meant by “fukt” and by whom is an entirely other and more mysterious matter, or series of matters. Finally, I think material-left explanations persuasive and indispensible – which is why I read your columns.

          5. Helen Razer

            No, Keith1! Actually, your comments offered some respite. There is a great tendency after an election to ask “what does this mean?”, when sometimes, all it meant was some quirks of distribution to one of the two parties that people usually vote for.
            I meant the comments that said “why are you denying race, you racist, here’s an article I just Googled” or those that said “Why are you sucking on the teat of lame-stream media, you liberal whore?”.
            Now, I happen to think it is a really good time to talk about race and class in particular (or gender and class for that matter) and see how these two things, so persistent and destructive in societies, constitute each other, your sensible comments about electoral business-as-usual notwithstanding.
            And, frankly, to charge me, of all tedious pro WikiLeaks, anti-liberal commentators with not seeing the “real” Killary (I think I have linked to the Podesta emails in recent weeks on Crikey about one hundred times) is just more of the same “it’s either one or the other” is just the sort of nonsense I am talking about.
            I mean, sorry to diss you guys. But race and class and other everyday experiences work together. Of course racism played a part. And of course the false solidarity of the white working class has long been expressed as racism in the USA since 1865,
            And of course Trump made an appeal to people on both racial and putatively pro-labour grounds. So, why are we saying that one is more important than the other, when they are both there, front and centre?
            We can choose our team. Or, we can say devise ways to talk our way around this frankly terrifying rise of nativist loops. Erasing one thing or the other helps no one but the powerful.

      2. Keith1

        This is how she was seen by the party and that’s why they made sure she got the nomination.

        1. Keith1

          sorry – in reply to Nota Bene

  4. Will

    But Helen, if the US economy had been roaring along magically at top speed, say with robust employment growth nationwide abreast a programmatic reinvention of rust belt economies (I did say magically), would Trump have ever stood a chance? And by implication, would sexism, racism, anti-elitism and/or pig ignorance have been variously thought of as critical to the election’s outcome? No, surely not.
    Rural and rust belt economic malaise (entirely unaddressed after 8 years of Obama, though by no means entirely his fault) cost the Democrats the support of the working class, the same working class that has always everywhere been a bastion of sexism, racism, anti-elitism and proud pig ignorance. Trump simply broadcast bigotry and ignorance as a means an end: To convince the working class that he, a New York billionaire, was authentically on their side and genuinely understood their grievances. And we now know it was this working class – who had previously voted for Obama twice – that delivered Trump his victory. Had economic times been good for them (and not just for the rich) the working class would surely have laughed Trump off as an amusing but altogether unnecessary risk.
    Which means – and this is the critical thing – the Democrats now have to rise above their fixation with the identity politics of gender and race (i.e. symbolic injustice) and reconnect with the class politics of material injustice. That is, the Democratic Party now needs to fight the monster of neoliberalism they did so much (under Bill Clinton) to unleash upon the American working class. Because, if they don’t, and continue taking the fight instead to sexism, racism, anti-elitist and pig ignorance, it will be EXACTLY what the Republicans are praying the Democrats will do. It’ll be attacking the symptoms and not the cause of the Democrats nationwide routing from the institutions of power, and entrench work class contempt for the ‘crooked’ Democratic political machine.

    1. Helen Razer

      Will! Did I not say that the economy *must* be considered as a factor, alongside those others? I mean, entre nous, I think the material organisation of societies determine their fate at most every level. But I am not such a “material only!” bore that I won’t say that there are not other elements that play a part in the decision making of 50 million folks. My point (I thought I had made it clear) is that stuff is complicated.

      1. Will

        Helen! With all due respect, the whole point is that these are *competing* explanations for the fall of the “Blue Wall” (and the broader Republican resurgence nationally). If the appeal of sexism/racism/anti-elitism is responsible, the Dems had the right message (neoliberalism-lite) but just chose the wrong candidate to deliver it. If however the economy was fundamentally to blame, the Dems need a whole new paradigm (because neoliberalism-lite is what delivered that economy in the first place).
        This isn’t boring economic determinism, it’s an explanation for why overt sexism/racism/anti-elitism were so effective in hiving off formerly Democratic votes to Trump. Lumping these competing explanations together with an “it’s complicated” doesn’t make anything clear at all, when the whole point of the analysis must surely be to find a way to win back those votes (and swing over new ones).

  5. Marlo Inaustralia

    Hey! watch out for the elephant. It’s standing right next to us but nobody sees it. All these ideologue agenda driven critics make me sick. They continually skirt the real issues. For the real reasons, how about the simple things like having a job when 10 million illegal immigrants won’t let you. How about lessening the need for imports and sustaining the manufacture base to maintain employment. Will they ever own their own home?And how about stop making this a gender issue for God’s sake ( not you Helen, the critics ). In a democracy, the voters will let you know when the shepherds have gone astray. Get over it and accept it.

  6. Andrew Seeze

    “misogyny” – No
    “Sexism” – No
    “Racism” – No
    “Democrats not turning up to vote” – No
    It’s the economy, stupid.

  7. Ignaz Amrein

    The reason for him winning is quite simple. The American voters asked themselves: “How can we trump Brexit?”

  8. klewso

    Anyone blaming the Democratic Party (tossing Clinton into the ring)?

    1. Andrew Seeze

      No. Because they were so sure of victory. Clinton is Soros’s little drummer girl so how did they fail? I keep getting the impression that there is nobody more surprised at the republican victory than Trump himself. Was there another lever being pulled above the top lever. Either the whole thing is a mistake and Trump knows he should n’t be there or there is something hidden within the hidden.

  9. craig english

    “Let’s look briefly at the primary causes named for Clinton’s defeat, and see if we can’t agree that the ascension of Donald Trump to President has multiple causes.”

    Evidently, the response to that seems to be “we can’t”.

    1. Helen Razer

      Yeah. Like we need to believe that millions of people with vastly different life experiences were all unified by a single motivation.

      1. Andrew Seeze

        err..umm..actually yes, Helen. They all got behind their fuhrer (sp).

        1. Draco Houston

          cool baseless assertion

          1. Inner Space

            Not really Draco. I just saw it as Andrew drawing a parallel to populism. I got it even if you did n’t and I am sure Helen did too.

          2. Draco Houston

            If that was a joke, then I apologise.

          3. Helen Razer

            Helen can no longer distinguish the detached irony of internet conversation from utter stupidity. She has read far too much about the US election and should probably, with the gratitude of her editor, find something new to whine about.

  10. Draco Houston

    Hear bloody hear, Helen! The analysis of all this makes me despair, no one anywhere near power seems to have any idea what they’re doing. They can’t figure out the past, are completely oblivious to the present, and so can not take us into the future.

    There is excellent academic work being done on both the problems we face into the future and the problems of the present, particularly the rise of Anti-Politics, but no one with any clout can be bothered reading them, let alone writers like Marx.

    1. Helen Razer

      Do you like the Blyth stuff?

      1. Draco Houston

        I haven’t read their stuff on the election, sorry. Still trying to get through all the good pieces. To the media’s credit, there are still sharp minds out there. But not enough 🙁 I’ll check them out.

          1. Draco Houston

            Cheers, watching now.

          2. Draco Houston

            Great video. Actually stuck around for the questions at the end. Thank you again for the link.

          3. Helen Razer

            He is really something. The scope of his analysis is so impressive. I guess I also quite like the fact that he seems deeply impatient with anyone (which is nearly everyone) who doesn’t have his comprehensive knowledge of the history of debt. What is not to like about a man so profoundly angry at his Scottish Enlightenment ancestors?
            Anyhow. He was one of a few to predict the Trump victory.
            Really recommend his book Austerity: The History of a Bad Idea. Not an academic book, but something for us interested amateurs.

          4. Keith1

            Ditto, excellent – and gosh, a fast talking Scot I can actually understand!

  11. tone wheeler

    It is indeed complicated. The US is not at all ‘united’, it’s 20 or 30 different countries with competing cultures in each. As someone who lived there a lot, even visited all 50 states, I saw lots of dog whistling in D. Trump. Lots of different dog whistles for different ‘states’. You make ‘locker room talk’ and every white sports nut (a HUGE demographic) thinks they know, and identify with, that. You say Mexicans are criminals and every Hispanic recalls a vicious gang leader that ruin their communities and they identify with that idea to get rid of them. You say the Chinese stole jobs and every one with a Hyundai or a Samsung secretly agrees that they have betrayed their country (say it isn’t so) and identifies with then idea to bring back the Chevy and the Admiral. Yes its Korea not China, we know that, but the US 82% passport-less don’t, they think Tennessee is another country and they are right. Trump spoke to the many divided parts of the US, not to bring them together as Clinton said she would (how dumb was that hope), but to tickle a prejudice and get their votes. The dis-United States are just that. But if you make enough dog whistles, and you tickle the prejudices of the key states in the electoral colleges that count, you win. He just better tickled the 5 you identified Helen.

    1. Helen Razer

      Yes, Tone. You are right. There’s nothing particularly new in saying “they really are the States”, but this difference between people was largely forgotten by liberal press. And, jeez, the terrible efforts some of them made to explore the flyover states. They are like anthropologists. “Look at the toothless natives of Appalachia!”
      Of course, there are good accounts, too. Rundle’s stuff has been brill, and Richard Cooke in The Monthly. Neither of these guys has been condescending. Maybe it’s slightly down to the fact that they’re Australian, and could get away with being foreigners, because they are?
      But. As for the rest of them. It’s like the Disney Tour of poor white trash land. And it is so weird to me, because I find many of the the people who ardently support Hillary (especially those who do so on gender grounds) just as odd as the Trumpets. I mean. Amanda Marcotte. Someone should do an anthropological account of her. Where was she made? In a woman-positive aromatherapy salon? I know actual Clinton supporters, and get on with them quite well. But *this* kind of Clinton supporter, the one who calls you sexist if you make any policy criticism of her at all? I mean. It is actually barking. You might say, “Well, I think Libya was a terrible and avoidable tragedy” and they say “You wouldn’t criticise a MAN for violating statehood”. And, you know, these are people with whom I might have demonstrated against the Iraq war.
      But, nobody studied Amanda. Because mainstream press has deluded itself that it is really in touch with the Real America, which, apparently, watches sensitive dramas on HBO and congratulates itself for having interesting minority friends.

  12. Peter Cook

    Racism and sexism were involved, but not in the way Helen thinks. People on the left have used those words to describe anyone that doesn’t conform entirely with their worldview. Ordinary people who have ordinary concerns (lack of a stable income, crime, the destruction of the middle class in the industrial states, absurdly expensive health care despite (or because of) the Affordable Care Act), are tired of being called racist, sexist misogynist, transphobic, whenever they dare raise any serious concerns about the issues they care about, if those issues put any pressure at all on Hillary Clinton or her supporters.

    White lower to lower middle class voters are a patient and tolerant lot, unlike the left. However, we will only take so much abuse and neglect before we snap. The left doesn’t care about us until we snap (and in reality not even then) so get ready for a long long time of Republican rule.

    1. Helen Razer

      Pete. How can you miss my disgust for the sexism narrative in particular?

      1. Peter Cook

        You wrote three and a half long paragraphs under the heading of sexism, none of which gave off a hint of disgust.

        I also find it a bit hypocritical that women seem to attack women who vote on the issues instead of for the candidate with the same body parts as them. Isn’t it just a little bit sexist for women to impose that standard on other women? Surely any voter, male or female, who cares about the issues, should be free to vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of their choice, regardless of sexist expectations of others?

        1. Peter Cook

          *the candidate of their choice, regardless of the sexist expectations of others.

          (If only I had a subeditor)

      2. MAC TEZ

        Helen,how did you miss PC’s sentence…”White lower to lower middle class voters are a patient and tolerant lot, unlike the left.”
        Funniest line I’ve read in weeks.

        1. Peter Cook

          White lower to lower middle class voters get a bad rap and do occasionally sound intolerant but actually are quite accommodating and friendly. Not many other groups in society routinely vote against their own interests to be accommodating to other groups.

          Wealthier white voters tend to sound more tolerant but in reality they are utterly intolerant of people who don’t share their world view. Just look at the riots since Trump was elected. Just look at any college campus over there. You’re allowed to be proud of any ancestry or social grouping you belong to, so long as it’s not being white or American (or Australian).

          1. Helen Razer

            Pete. Really dunno how you could miss the implied disgust in that par. Maybe you have just seen so much similar garbage of the type, you mistook my review of what people had been saying (and that’s what it was) for affirmation. But, you will see that I embedded a few fairly judgmental words in there.

          2. MAC TEZ

            Oh poor PC, you’ve gulped too greedily from that can of conservative kool-aid. How about you return to Rupertville or Breitbartland or wherever it is and dribble amongst friends . If I want to know what’s on your mind I’ll know where to find you.

  13. Owen Richardson

    “In press and on social media, there’s a Trump-splanation tailored to many different interests.”
    Nutshell. Brava, etc.

  14. MAC TEZ

    Yes Helen, I can agree Trump’s win is down to multiple causes, kinda like most elections I suppose.
    Glad you didn’t mention “rejection of the elites ” though as that one is just ridiculous. A few high-profile conservatives like the sound of it regardless ( Hi Marine, Cory…).
    You can only reject the elite by embracing its opposite ,which wasn’t on offer in the USA. If Clinton is Goldman Sachs then Trump is JP Morgan so pretty much same-same there.
    Sexism and Racism received a nod for their services in the appointment of Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist.
    Lots of reasons ? Yes , quite a few but some not quite as marginally as others.

  15. Paul Bearer

    I am a bit late to comment on this but of all the analysis I have read on the election, none have mentioned abortion as an issue that could have had an impact on the result. Look at the Gallup polling on the American attitude to abortion and you can see it has barely shifted since 1975. Fifty percent only offer qualified support to pro choice and eighty percent want third trimester abortion banned. Fifty percent also stated that abortion was a important election issue with twenty percent saying it was the most important issue. Considering Hillary’s statements on abortion in the third presidential debate, she refused to condemn “partial birth” abortions. I believe that this cost her the crucial mid states such as Pennsylvania and explains the fifty three percent of (white) women voting for Trump. I also believe that Bernie Sanders would have lost by an even greater margin than Hillary due to his unequivocal support to pro-choice. I should add that I include myself as one of the (qualified) supporters of pro choice but I cannot see anyone becoming POTUS while holding a total commitment to pro choice.

  16. David Spicer

    Maybe people simply are not as dumb as all those smarty pants think. Perhaps they just did not want to vote for a representative of an evil corrupt dynasty. Never mind all the unproven allegations about pizza gate etc, but if it looks like shite, and smells like shite then it probably is shite. `I reckon the American people simply caught on to the scam. Despite what you city slickers like to think, those folks out in the boonies aren’t all dumbos in boiler suits chewing on grass stalks.

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