Trump Wins! A Few Thoughts on Why

“I won’t play the sap for you.”

W.J. Astore

In my last post, I predicted Trump would lose.  I thought his declinist message and his blatant vulgarity would ultimately cost him too many votes.  As Trump would say, “wrong.”

What are we to take from Trump’s stunning upset?  Here are a few quick thoughts:

  1.  The Democrats ran the wrong candidate.  Remember when Bernie Sanders was saying he had the best chance to defeat Trump?  That the polls favored him and not Hillary? Turns out Bernie was right. People were looking for a candidate who represented change. Real change.  Bernie had that. So too did Trump.  But Hillary was the establishment personified. Not only that, but she had extensive baggage that led to high negatives. Too many people just didn’t like her. Or they simply wanted a fresh face and a new approach — even if that face was Trump.
  2. The October surprise.  Does Trump win without the last minute intervention of the FBI in the email follies? We’ll never know, but Hillary had the momentum prior to the letter issued by the FBI. That letter may have slowed her momentum just enough to allow Trump to win.
  3. All politics is local — or, at least, personal.  The Democrats addressed global issues like climate change.  The Republicans basically denied it’s happening.  The Democrats talked about embracing immigrants and tolerating Muslims.  The Republicans did neither.  What the Republicans did was to emphasize personal pain. The pain of those who’ve seen their jobs disappear and their way of life suffer.  The Republicans also played to nostalgia.  Yes, America is in decline, they said, but we can make the country great again (by making it less inclusive, by keeping out the “bad” people, by being tough).  That message proved appealing to so many Americans who see in Trump the possibility of returning to “the good old days” (whatever that may mean).
  4. I won’t play the sap for you.”  That’s a Humphrey Bogart line from “The Maltese Falcon.”  Many Americans believe they are being played for saps by foreign powers. Trump recognized this.  He called for tougher trade deals.  He called for NATO and other U.S. allies to pay their way.  He promised a new approach to foreign policy, one where enemies would be smashed even as Americans would avoid dumb wars like Iraq.  Basically, Trump promised that America would no longer play the sap for the rest of the world.  And the American people liked what they heard.

That’s my quick take.  Lots of Americans truly wanted a change in course — a sort of reactionary revolution.  That desire led them to downplay Trump’s sexism, ignorance, incivility, and vulgarity.  (Of course, there were some who embraced Trump precisely for these qualities.)  In essence, they simply had no patience for Hillary’s “politics as usual” message.

Finally, let’s not forget that Trump said the election is “rigged.”  He was a sore loser even before the results were in.  What kind of winner will he be?  Much will depend on the answer to that question.

10 thoughts on “Trump Wins! A Few Thoughts on Why

  1. So you think because the left embraces global warming and then essentially does nothing about it except they are superior to the right. Keep drinking the Koolaid.


    1. Never said the democrats are “superior.” But my Bachelor’s is in mechanical engineering and I have a deep respect for science. The science of climate change is irrefutable. The Democratic party accepts the science, whereas Republicans often actively question or suppress it.

      But here’s the rub. Even as Republicans like Trump question climate change, they take action to secure their properties against it, as Trump has done for his golf courses and resorts. There’s a word for that: hypocrisy.


  2. can we stir in just some hate potion….HATE OBAMA….socialism…HATE Clintons Lock Her Up….HATE liberals….progressivism….HATE Welfarism Nanny State yadayadayada ….and above all HATE for politics of Washington.


    1. Yes. The Dark Side, if you will. Anger/fear/aggression. In this case, as Yoda said, it was “quicker, easier, more seductive.”

      This definitely played a role, as symbolized by slogans like “Trump that bitch” — and worse.


    2. The Second Coming
      by W. B. Yeats

      Turning and turning in the widening gyre
      The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity

      Surely some revelation is at hand;
      Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
      The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
      When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
      Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
      A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
      A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
      Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
      Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
      The darkness drops again; but now I know
      That twenty centuries of stony sleep
      Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
      And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
      Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The election was rigged. Trump was right about that. It was not so much an election as a coup d’etat. Voting in Republican districts took 15 minutes. In Democratic districts it meant waiting in line for five hours. Voter suppression works!


  4. Thomas Frank has two great quotes describing the attitudes of the dispossessed white citizens in Republican Kansas (and Red State America, generally) and their supposed hatred of the billionaire elites who have systematically fed them red-meat culture war inanities while robbing them of their economic prospects, both present and future:

    “We hate you, and we’ve come to lower your taxes.”


    “Like a French Revolution in reverse, with the sans-culottes (pants-less peasants) storming the Bastille, waving their fists and shouting, “More power to the aristocracy!””

    Oh, yes, America. Complain bitterly about the corrupt wealthy incumbents who have robbed you, and then reward them by returning them to power, time and time again.

    As my widowed, working-class mother used to tell me back in the 1950s: “A vote for a Republican is a vote against yourself.” Today, that timeless aphorism applies to both major factions of the Property Party with its two right wings ( R and D). But the greatest irony applies to the Democratic party which long ago repudiated its working-class roots for a little taste of the big money high life traditionally the sole preserve of the crypto-fascist corporate Republicans. Thanks for nothing Bawl and Pillory Clinton. You gladly joined up with the Republicans and no one despises you more than they do. As Charles Sanders Pierce wrote back in the nineteenth century: “Where two faiths flourish side by side, renegades are looked upon with contempt, even by the party whose beliefs they have adopted.”

    You got your own money, Bawl and Pillory Clinton, so you won’t starve. But you still got your two political asses soundly kicked by the very Republican asses that you kissed. Too bad for the working-class people you shamelessly betrayed and depressed so that millions of them stayed home rather than reward you for giving them no economic future but only two war-and-wealth-worshipping culture (or, identity) war parties: the usual Republican one, and its copy-cat “Democrat” version. Now the American people have no choice but to endure even more crony-corporate crypto-fascism — or they can revolt. Most likely, though, the Nation of Sheep will go on bleating:

    “More power to the aristocracy. We hate them but can’t wait to lower their taxes.”


  5. Dear Mr. Astore,
    For a man of your intelligence, experience, and generally sound sentiments, you have apparently been snookered either by yourself or by the media “pundits”, or both, into viewing this whole disaster in terms of diversions, platitudes and trivialities. The awful choice presented itself because the Democrats angled for Trump as their favorite opponent (“No one would ever vote for him”), manipulated the primaries (crooked as hell) to eliminate Bernie (who would have beaten Trump handily, and we would have been spared those awful “debates”), hadn’t a clue about what the Trump and Sanders candidacies were about (and still don’t), cooked the media polls, ran a shoddy campaign that only served to show that they had no interest in the integrity of their candidate, and remained in stubborn denial. If, as was so vociferously exclaimed, the primary objective was to prevent the election of Donald Trump (since Hillary’s virtues proved elusive), the party would have thought twice about what it was doing; but that wasn’t ever the real objective. The real objective was to get Clinton and her cronies into the White House and save the putrid Washington establishment. That’s the source of the tragedy. The Democratic Party is rotten to the core and, if it is not to evaporate, it will have to go back to the principles that it has traditionally avowed (whether or not it ever had them). That means rousting out the neo-cons, the lobbyists, and most of the present Democratic members of the Senate and the House. There are good people out there, but of course the party gives them no chance, since it, and its present minions, is bought and paid for. This melodrama is of course also a resounding rejection of Obama, who turned out to be the Great White Hope. (As I write, he is still pushing for the implementation of the TPP, especially since he can now not count upon Hillary to do it: In short, this tragedy is chiefly the making of the establishment of the Democratic Party, not of Pennsylvania rednecks.
    Please don’t imagine that I am trying to say anything nice about Donald Trump or about the Republican Party, whose establishment Trump, whatever you think of him, has fought to uproot. (Thus it’s a little strange how you talk in the present post about “the Republicans”). Both parties are disasters—cesspools of viciousness—just as both candidates were disasters.
    Your present reflections on the election seem to me to indicate that you don’t really understand either the nature or depth of the election disaster. This kind of mewling is better left to dupes like Paul Krugman or Rachel Maddow (to mention a couple of the so-called “liberals”—plenty also on the other side). You would do better to be imitating:
    or from the no-holds-barred Black Agenda Report:
    With disappointment, but continuing regard,


    1. Actually, I agree with you. And you’re right that I was careless when I used “the Republicans.” In some cases, I should have said, “Trump and his campaign.”

      I’ve said this before, but the Democrats’ rightward drift (as exhibited by Bill Clinton in the early 1990s) drove the Republicans ever more rightwards. The result, as Michael Murry notes in a comment here, is two war parties, two Republican parties. The Democrats are the Republican-lite party, but this year voters decided they didn’t want a “lite” beer. They wanted a stout beer — a Trump beer.

      Bernie Sanders’ efforts should have shown the Democrats that this was a year of change — a year when convictions mattered. Bernie had a clear message. I can still easily tell you what Bernie stood (and stands) for. But Hillary had no clear and compelling message. She basically ran on her resume and against Trump. And that simply wasn’t enough. It created an enthusiasm gap that Trump exploited.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


Comments are closed.