Trump and the American Dreamers

2016-11-10 20:52

Trump Trumped the Polls

Donald Trump's victory in US polls has shattered the legitimacy of pollsters and risked destroying the reputation of many pundits who had given Trump no chance in the US presidential elections just concluded. Now that we have the outcome that the dominant voices did not anticipate, and even perhaps did not contemplate and actually one many of them did not countenance, what shall we say?

A variety of polls including those conducted by major media group associed with the liberal elites in the US had consistently shown Hillary Clinton leading Trump by anything from 8 points to 4 points in the overall vote . Intelligent and experienced analysts had guessed that Clinton would also win the majority of votes in the electoral college, putting her votes around 275-6. To their surprise, it is Trump who got such numbers and Clinton fell far behind.

Polls and analyses of this nature help generate structured debates about what we might anticipate after elections. They also become talking points around which the narrative built. Many of us were duped into working out scenarios for a Clinton presidency in areas like foreign policy, but it turned out we had the wrong assumptions about the votes and the voters in the US. It turned out we did not understand the dynamics among the voters this time around.

A lot of analysis was also based on historical precedents on the basis of which voting patterns were anticipated. It was assumed Clinton would win states traditionally won by Democrats such as Pennyslvania and Wisconsin, but it turned out the very opposite. The women voters were expected to punish Trump for his utterances about women that were shown to be offensive and sexist, with Clinton harping on this image of Trump as a sexist and racist. Assumptions about women and black voters voting Clinton enmasse contributed to this anticipation of a Trump loss.

Of course, Trump is no politician. He does not speak with the "gravitas" of trained and coached politicians. He did not have the political speak that the elite in the establishment is accustomed to. He does not follow the conventions of party politics. He breaches every tenet of the establishment including the idea of decorum and diplomacy.

One major factor we just did not understand is who the voter was and what did the voter think. We did not understand both the mentality and emotion of the voter in the run up to elections. Many of us had in mind a US citizen that was interested in preserving the US we know and desired continuity of change rather than drastic change. We assumed that the rules of politics will manage outcomes.

We did not relapse in fact that, as a recent paper by Anne Case and Angus Deaton shows, the significant number of these voters that Trump had energized into voting are middle class whites who feel that the America Dream had not come to pass. They have seen the misery of decline in media household incomes. They are fed up with the establishment including the Republican establishment.

These white citizens have many pressures on their lives. The paper shows that there is a high rate of mental and physical ill-health, deaths, suicide and other stress-related problems. It is pessimistic about the future and live in despair about the current.

This white population, generally holding school-leaving certificates or lower, thinks the problem is immigration that will take jobs from them. These whites have thus become xenophobic, homophobic, racist and sexist as they try to make sense of the present.

This population is facing decline of influence as its number declines also. It is has backed at state levels politicians that they feel understand them.. Trump, and his raw communication of feelings and tell-it-like-it-is approach is just the guy who strikes their fancy. They see themselves in his rhetoric though his lifestyle is different. He has said what they would like to hear because it is their feelings. They like his promise to make the US great again because this means they, as custodians of the UP they know.

He is different from the establishment. He comes from outside it as a business with a vision. He can shoot from the wheel. He speaks the language of poor whites.

Trump is the president now, the backers are happy and others are sad. All have to live with this reality and change it.

Siphamandla Zondi

Rebirth with Siphamandla Zondi (Facebook)

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