When the Republican Party chose Donald Trump to be its candidate in the 2016 Presidential election it was an act of unprecedented folly. In office he demonstrated beyond question all the malignancy he had shown in his life to date. A dimwitted, ignorant, humourless man whose extraordinary populist appeal was to two subsets of the American people. The abandoned, and the privileged and greedy.
If Britain is two nations then so is America – and some. The disadvantaged are to be found everywhere, in blue states as well as red. Most of us when we travel to the US don’t see the poor white families living in trailers. Usually without healthcare, with poorly paying jobs at best, shallow education and zero prospects. But they’re there in their millions, and they voted for Trump.
If the white underclass was Trump’s base the Republican fat cats were firmly behind him as well. He could protect their privilege, and did. The paradox of an underclass voting for a man who had no intention of doing anything for them is extraordinary, but that’s what happened. If your reference point is a gold decked vulgar apartment in a Manhattan tower block, and a beach side mansion in Florida, you’re not going to know much about life in the boondocks. Or care.
Rich America talked a lot in the recent election about the threat of “Socialism” though few of them could tell you what it is. What they meant is the threat of taxation to extend and improve citizens welfare. The underprivileged are large in number but low in purchasing power. They generate insufficient collective economic size to interest country club Republicans who simply want to continue to ignore them. The hope that Trump offered the poor with his flag-waving “Make America Great Again” was utterly specious. But as we are seeing in Britain a nation’s flag backed by simplistic slogans will give unscrupulous politicians a reason for the people to believe them . It may be a veneer but it can fool enough of the people enough of the time.
Do not underestimate the potential for those with power to retain it. The manoeuvrings of Trump, and shamefully many in the GOP, to try and overturn a near landslide election win by Biden is bringing more calumny into a political arena already full of it. The vulgarity of it is breathtaking , but then if you wanted class and principle you didn’t support the Donald. The risk is to think that when Joe Biden is sworn in America will breath a collective sigh of relief and move on. But the forces behind Trump won’t go away, nor it seems will he.