Final Clinton vs Trump post (at least for now)
by Elias Blum
Hillary is the candidate of ‘more of the same’. If you think more of the same is ok, if the system pretty much works for you, if you don’t think more of the same is a suicidal rush into ecological, environmental and cultural disaster, then Hillary is the safe bet. But if you don’t feel that way about the status quo – if you think there’s not much left to lose – then Trump might be attractive because he’s the Wildcard. He upsets the pack and you don’t know what you are going to get.
Ok, you know he’s a megalomanic narcissist with some pretty right wing opinions, but he’s also – like Bernie – an anti-system candidate.
Of course, he’s not anti-system in the way that Bernie was anti-system. Bernie was trying to save democracy by challenging oligarchy. Trump just wants to knock things over and cause a rumpus. But if you are really disaffected with the way things work now, that might be a risk worth taking – because who knows how it might work out. It might split the republican party and lead to a realignment of politics. It might just give the political class a good kicking. It might reverse all these dreadful free trade deals that export jobs to China and make America great again. It probably won’t, but it might. There’s a glimmer of chance in the chaos.
I’m not saying that it’s the correct choice. But I can see why the white working class whose real living standards have been decreasing since the 1970s might see Trump as worth the risk. In American football they have ‘Hail Mary’ passes – a long, deep forward pass to a receiver in or near the opponent’s end zone. The chances of making it are slim, but sometimes it works. I think for those who are deeply distressed by the status quo, Trump is the ‘Hail Mary’ candidate.
Or, to put it another way, voting for Trump is like jumping from a moving train. You are almost certainly going to get injured. You’ll probably break your legs. It’s a really stupid thing to do. Unless you think the train is on fire and about to crash – in that case, voting for Hillary (staying on the train) would be suicidal, and taking a jump for it suddenly seems a lot less irrational.
This is not an endorsement of Trump. It’s a plea to see those who do support Trump as not just stupid bigoted rednecks, but as the economically marginalised people struggling to get by who will not be helped at all by Hillary’s policies. Those who supported Bernie, and those who support Trump, are often courting the same people: ordinary, working people who are sick of an oligarchic system that is rigged against them. The biggest difference is that Bernie appealed to young poor graduates, whereas Trump appeals to old poor non-graduates, and that Bernie had the right policies, whereas Trump has all the wrong ones.