Reply to post: Elephant in the room

Kotkin: Why Trump won

Nikki Radir

Elephant in the room

Good points from Mr Kotkin, but there's more to it than this. The elephant in the room is not the GOP, but the spectacular and chilling use of lies, misdirection and insinuation by Mr Drumpf. He has taken the dark arts of both political campaigning and salesmanship further than ever before in the 2016 presidential race, with devastating effect. Scott Adams (Dilbert author) correctly identified Drumpf as a 'Master Persuader' and, more than a year ago, said "I’m going to predict he will be our next president".

The thing is, that admiration for someone's skills is not at all the same as approval of what they say. The President-Elect has used those skills to advance an incoherent set of policies that sound like the scattergun exclamations of the drunk at the end of the bar: "... an' 'nother thing! We sh'd build a wall to keep them Mexicans out ... 'n' make 'm PAY f'r it too!"

Sometimes, those drunks say stuff that make sense, but you wouldn't trust any of them to sit on the local parking zone committee, let alone run a country. In this case, we will see Drumpf row back on the less practicable policies, but his own hateful views, and the momentum of his success and the Republican majority it helped create, will assist those on the far right in Congress to drive their agenda. As for the positive stuff, I am not holding my breath for the end of all-pervasive lobbying, super PACs or any other facet of 'draining the swamp', nor do I foresee supposed, shiny, new trade deals reviving the USA's industrial heartland.

Contrary to the accusations of election rigging, the mechanics of vote counting in the USA are pretty sound. There is another story to be written about the cumulative effect of gerrymandering, the 'data cleansing' of voter registration rolls and the reduction in the number of polling stations: however, this one will not flatter Republicans, I'm afraid. Nevertheless, the count itself worked (I think we will find) and the people have made their choice.

People are not stupid, and millions have voted for Drumpf for a variety of reasons, many of which make perfect sense. The problem is that so many have formed these reasons from a picture provided by the media that is so distorted, so misrepresentative and so laden with irrelevance, unsubstantiated rumour and insults that it cannot allow a person to make a reasonable choice. There has been an unholy alliance of yer Donald, the mainstream media (look at those ratings!), pro-Drumpf bloggers and websites, scruple-free Drumpf surrogates, social media storms and Macedonian teenagers making Google Adword money from fake Drumpf stories. All this has created the biggest fog of lies we have ever seen in politics. And why should people have to dig behind every campaign assertion to track down the truth, to do their own investigations over and over again?

I wouldn't let the pro-Clinton commentators off the hook either - for example, taking the piss out of Drumpf supporters was an own goal, as was HRC's own 'deplorables' remark (more than a gaffe, I think). However, the real point here is what won - a willingness to say whatever it took, to appeal to people's fear, to lie, to threaten, to ride the impetus of old prejudices, all done with consummate skill and using whatever was the most promising material to hand - an unreliable source here, an exaggeration there, a rumour, an invention, a mistake and just occasionally the truth. Occasionally.

So while the election 'worked', in that there were in all probability sound counts across the country and negligible voter fraud, this year in America democracy was totally broken. There can be no valid elections based on lies. We have never seen anything quite like this before. All those cynical comments that we've ever made about politics, politicians and their relationship about the truth have been realised in a campaign that has gone further into the darkness than any in a post-WWII, major democracy.

Time for us to grow up.

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