Note: This is the first installment of post-election reflections by John McDonough. His next several posts will include takeaways on what Donald Trump’s election means for the United States going forward.
After several weeks to digest, Donald Trump’s election still has America in a state of shock. A man who has shown no trace of self-control, and with an apparent lack of general knowledge of what the Executive does or stands for has led his so-called “deplorables” to the Oval Office.
It seems this election must be a gross mistake. If Hillary Clinton had just taken a different approach in her campaign, or if her PACs had just shifted their messaging, then this never would have happened. On the other hand, if you supported Trump, then his election may seem like hitting the lottery. He had no discernible shot at the presidency, but somehow just pulled it out of thin air.
I believe that these sentiments are wrong. I think that both the election of Donald Trump, like the Brexit vote, was inevitable, and if we were to re-hold these elections then they would probably yield the same results.
Just like an economic bubble, our established political parties created a political bubble—a bubble that finally burst on election night due to their perceived mismanagement ( The British establishment went through the same phenomenon; the French and Italians face similar situations in their upcoming elections).
It comes down to this: The lower-class voters from Appalachia to the Rust Belt are not deplorable, they are marginalized. Their public education is laughable, their jobs are lost to foreign labor abroad and automation at home and the stability and direction of solid family structures is diminishing around them.
While Democrats and Republicans have fought for globalization to stabilize the liberal order abroad, and engaged in identity politics or antiquated Reagan-era policies (depending on what side of the aisle you’re on), both have totally ignored the plight of the lower-class, white demographic.
The US has turned from a meritocracy into an aristocracy. While the upper class has access to great education and jobs and ultimately produces the leadership of the country to serve their interests, the lower class is immobile and without a voice.
Consequently, this latter group has turned the 2016 election into a referendum. If the establishment was not going to look out for them, then they would elect the only man who has heard their cry for help, regardless of any glaring character flaws. Can you really blame them considering how they’ve been treated?
I have one primary recommendation to the Republican Party in light of this new political order. It should be far from content with having a Congressional majority and the Executive office. Priority number one is to reevaluate itself as a party going forward in the policies that it enacts, not to just go nuts with implementing the same Republican agenda that got it into this place.
How can we become the party that guarantees the freedom for anyone to make whatever they want of themselves, regardless of where they come from? How do we offer the conservative response to current political issues while looking out for every American? How does the Republican party propel the spirit of our Founding Fathers into the twenty-first century? It seems that we’ve been more preoccupied with just beating the Democrats than actually offering well-thought-out conservative ideas for our country as it is now.
Although I am a Republican, I found myself in the Never Trump camp during the election. I believe it would have been more advantageous, in the long run, for the Republican party to have lost the election and be forced to reconsider how it would offer conservative solutions for our country going forward. Now, I am afraid that my party will stick with the same ideas and tactics that have left us with Trump.
It currently looks like we will have to fix this all on the fly. If we don’t, I fear there will be costly results for our American democracy to come.