One view arising in the clarity of hind-sight about this election is that Donald Trump didn’t win because of a huge outpouring of hate as many would like to believe. Rather, he won by addressing the needs of our population who believed they are ignored and misrepresented. These are ordinary, good hearted people that have been incredibly marginalized, and as polls would show us eventually, completely ignored. These people voted for Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama. They’re the silent majority and now louder than ever.
As we attempt to understand the outcome of the election it’s clear Hillary Clinton did not recognize, or more accurately motivate and convince, a large section of our population that feels disenfranchised that her approach would address their needs and fears. This population is largely white. It’s self-evident that the Trump campaign did understand this demographic and won as a result. This is how our democracy works. What remains so unpleasant is “how” he appealed to this audience and what is says about those who voted for him. Do the “means justify the ends” and what does this mean for those who voted for him?
Trump unleashed the use of racism (i.e. hate, bigotry, fear of “others”) to stir-up the white voter. Any attempt to normalize the situation by suggesting that this was not true is obviously indefensible. One only has to replay the last 18 months to bear that out. Trump also preyed upon the very insecurity you described by offering easy to digest slogans and sing-song rhetoric to mask the forces of modernity that are inevitable. For example, coal mining jobs are not simply coming back because he “says so” which was further punctuated with racist comments about “illegals taking your jobs”. The miner, facing a rapidly changing global market for his product (caused in large part by fracking) will never see his job return just as car factories are largely automated now due to technological advance. His appeal to a “simpler time” where TV’s used vacuum tubes and where Archie Bunker roamed at night was designed to mask the advance of the world that is already upon us. Ironically, his use of technology, namely Twitter, was in part responsible for his ascension.
These are the tools of a demagogue and are effective when in fact people feel disenchanted or marginalized. History has confirmed this and it has now repeated itself. This was the basis of his appeal. The issue at hand now is what risk have we introduced by electing a “soulless” leader, willing and adept at preying upon these insecurities and unbounded in his search for personal adulation above thoughtful, purposeful dialog. The presidency is not the boardroom. It cannot be run in a purely hierarchical manner. One cannot simply mandate an order and expect it to be carried out. This has the very real possibility to further expose, if not unravel, his fragile, if not penile, personality.
Given his apparent lack of cogent policy to date, the likelihood of surrounding himself with sycophants, the very real possibility he will not be able to grasp the magnitude of the position, and therefore fail to deliver any positive approach, the likely trajectory overtime will be to continue to replay these themes and if history teaches us anything they will be replayed on an even more virulent level.
The challenge now is for every person who voted for him to recognize his deception, and the basic pathology of the person who embodies it, and hold him accountable to higher ideals and principles or accept they too are racist and ultimately responsible for the potential debacle at hand. The challenge is also now for those of us who did not vote for him to not despair but begin the repair effort.