Making Sense of the 2016 Election

11 Immediate Take-homes

2016
What to take home about the 2016 US presidential election results? The two presidential contenders (at least four, but “third” party contenders are effectively obscured by the establishment) were highly loathed. So what do the results mean? Are people really happy that Donald Trump won, or is it more accurate to state that people are happy that Hillary Clinton lost?

Eleven quick take home-points:

1. Corprocracy. The Dems need to decide whether they are a party of the people or the corporations. Clinton’s campaign coffers were filled by Corporate America. Bernie Sanders ran a campaign that rejected corporate financing. WikiLeaks made it clear that Clinton’s victory in the Democratic primaries over Sanders was engineered through electoral chicanery. The Dems wound up alienating progressives within the party. It will never be known for certain if Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump, but Sanders would not have fared worse than what Hillary Clinton did.

2. Anti-war. Hillary Clinton is a hawk. She is the American politician predominantly responsible for the debacle, the war crime, behind the destruction of Libya. She has been linked to the support of terrorists. She announced she would declare a no-fly zone over Syria, despite putting the US on a potential war footing against Russia. Yet Americans had made clear to Obama that they didn’t want to be involved in more militarism in Syria. Trump comes across as less militaristic. He is the candidate that talked of getting host countries to pay more for America’s overseas military bases.

3. Diplomacy. Hillary Clinton likened Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. She engaged in saber rattling with Russia. Trump says he’ll talk to Russia and talk to China. Bombastic as Trump can seem to be, he can also strike a tone to powerful nations that is more conciliatory than that of Clinton.

4. Jobs. When Trump came out against offshoring of American jobs he resonated with American workers. Trump came out against the corporate-coveted Trans Pacific Partnership, which Clinton initially was for until she put her finger up in the political winds and pulled a volte-face. To her credit, Clinton did call for a $12 federal minimum wage which was more than the measly $10 federal minimum wage Donald Trump supports.

5. Anti-establishmentarianism. Bernie Sanders was a self-declared democratic socialist contending the Democratic Party primaries. This caused considerable consternation for the corporatists among the Dems. Trump was also an outsider, so much so that he was shunned by the elitists within the Republican Party: the Bushes, Paul Ryan, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and not one of the Fortune 100 CEOs supported Trump.

6. Anti-corruption. The government and its myriad spy networks that vacuum up information, public and private, on the citizenry can also be the bane of government officials, as Hillary Clinton and her team have found out. Her use of a non-government server for classified emails has cast Clinton, at best, as reckless and, at worst, criminal. The pay-to-play Clinton Foundation also came under intense scrutiny. It smelled bad. Judging by the response from the revelation of all these shenanigans, one can surmise that WikiLeaks did indeed have some effect on the election.

7. Personality politics. Trump had no need to resort to flinging mud at Hillary Clinton as she was mired knee-deep in her own muck. But she did not hesitate to dig up dirt to smear Trump with. For many people it came across as distraction. Her platform was not inspiring enough people to enter or stay in the Clinton camp, so she sought to scare people out of the Trump tent.

8. Scapegoating. In order to dig herself out from her own muck, Clinton did not deny the substance of what was revealed about her (how could she? They were her own emails); instead she sought to blame the messenger who she identified as Russia. The problem is that the messengers were not Russians but rather Washington insiders.

9. Polls. The polls that the media reports can not be trusted. Polling results depend on the questions being asked, how the questions are asked, who is asking the question, and who is being asked the question. If you mess with the mechanics of polls, then screwed-up poll results should be expected.

10. Media. The corporate media was heavily skewed against the man, Donald Trump, that they maligned. Trump was not the preferred establishment candidate, and the media made this known. This is one plausible explanation for media reporting of unreliable polls that elevated Clinton over Trump.

11. Mandate. Many are calling it a landslide. Trump and the Republicans have claimed all three departments of government. Despite this can Trump claim a mandate? Voters perceived this election as a choice between two unattractive right-wing candidates. Clinton was exceedingly unpopular and Trump maybe more so. If the election is mainly the result of people voting to prevent Clinton from getting into the Oval Office, then this should not be interpreted as a mandate for Trump’s platform.

Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimohp@gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.