How the internet helped Trump triumph
The West's elites - powerful in the mainstream media - so desperately wanted Clinton to win, and what they wanted they predicted. But Trump's victory, personal flaws notwithstanding, shows a broad swathe of America thought Clinton was the candidate of the oligarchic few. Many anti-Clinton blogs and websites helped highlight her weaknesses
Trump is president. A lot of people are very upset, I can tell by my Facebook newsfeed.
Many of them are successful people and live well in places like Berlin, New York, Stockholm, London and Brussels: journalists, music promoters, psychotherapists, fashion designers. Well-off liberals, with opinions to match. Typical elite people.
I would also say that the non-stop criticism they have been making of Trump and praise of Clinton during this extraordinary election campaign through the comments they add to the articles they share is not in keeping with the intellectual standards they normally set for themselves. Trump is a vulgar sexist pig, and well, Clinton, she is a woman and supposedly for the progressive party so she must be good. ‘Liking’ Clinton-related things on Facebook is cost-free virtue signalling, while posting articles favourable to Trump tempts instant ostracism from one’s group of progressive friends
All this shows to my mind how the elite have once again shown how out of touch they are. It is the Brexit vote all over again, and the failure to empathise, try to understand, to engage with the forces that gave rise to the Trump phenomenon is so indicative of the problem I wonder if my Facebook friends don’t also completely lack self-insight. Perhaps one shouldn’t be too harsh on fashion designers and psychotherapists. But the journalists among them really ought to know better.
The American working class, like the British, perceives a globalisation that has benefited the few and not the many. Benefited New York and Washington but not Michigan or Oklahoma.
They don’t feel a sense of democratic control in our borderless world. They believe free trade – which Clinton championed – is a way for the so-called financial oligarchy of the United States to enrich itself at the expense of ordinary workers. Immigration is just an excuse to weaken the cohesion of a society in which an elite have made little investment - many rich people don’t even pay tax – in order to import cheap labour (and future Clinton voters, perhaps). In public, Clinton mouthed progressive platitudes. In highly remunerated speeches to Goldman Sachs, leaked on the internet, Clinton spoke of an American continent, from Alaska to Chile, without borders, open to flows of capital and people. That sure wasn’t popular in what remains of Main Street USA.
This is the first election where blogs, Twitter and internet-only newspapers really made a difference. I suppose they were around in 2012 (2008 was too early, I think.) But Mitt Romney was a weak candidate and Obama basically had 2012 sewn up.
While Washington Post had about ten anti-Trump articles a day, and CNN’s coverage of the election gave it the nickname ‘Clinton News Network’ among its opponents (and its political commentator Donna Brazile was recently fired for her collusion with the Clinton campaign), there is a huge undergrowth of alternative websites with names like Red State News that provided a torrent of negative stories about the Clintons, financial and sex scandals. Some of them true, some perhaps not; it was hard to tell. But many surely with a basis in fact. Respected conservative journalists such as Peter Schweizer have catalogued the various shenanigans of the Clinton Foundation in the deeply researched book ‘Clinton Cash’.
Powerful corporate companies surely don’t pay Bill Clinton $750,000 for 45 minutes of flanelling about the future of telecommunications technology just because he is a brilliant speaker but maybe because his wife headed the State Department. There was a lot of speculation about just how independent Clinton’s policy-making would be, given the sums of money donated to the family foundation by countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar – not to mention numerous other corporate bodies.
In the cold light of day, all these claims will have to be analysed carefully. Perhaps politics is not more corrupt today, only the existence of the internet that has made us more cognisant of it. Even if Clinton clears her reputation she clearly stood for an elite class and a perceived oligarchy that no longer had normal American people’s interests at heart. She was perceived as the candidate of Wall Street and the American military industrial complex
I haven’t read up on the rest of the European media, but the shrill Swedish media, like the Bourbons, seems to have learned nothing and understood nothing, calling Trump’s victory as something like a victory of fascism. Normal Americans might call it a victory for, you know, democracy.