11 November 2016

Historic Election - The Triumph of the Forgotten Little Man

Image source.
Accusations of elitism dogged Clinton throughout her political campaign, and they came to the fore in a big way in September when she said that half of Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables.” The comment, which she made at a star-studded fundraiser in New York City, was immediately slammed by Republicans. It was a sign of “how little she thinks of the hard-working men and women [the Deplorables] of America,” said Trump campaign communications adviser Jason Miller. ~ Yahoo News
This is an unusually long post for me. I hope you'll stick with me to the end. If you're an open-minded Trump hater, what follows may bring understanding. If you're a closed-minded Trump hater, you should probably move along.

I recently read another Civil War related blog suggest that it is going to take a lot of time to understand President-elect Trump's astonishing and historic victory. For those who've not been living in a bubble over the last 16 years (yes, 16 years) and who aren't completely out of touch, the 2016 election is really quite easy to understand.  

Though it's a little bit more complicated than this, you could fundamentally boil Tuesday's election results down to "the triumph of the forgotten little man." President-elect Trump actually referred to this overlooked demographic in his victory speech: "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

The term "forgotten man" is certainly not new in regards to politics. FDR used the term in a speech in 1932:
These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power, for plans like those of 1917 that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
And there are a number of writers who have discussed this overlooked American since Trump's astounding victory. Beverly Cage writing in the New York Times for example:
In 1932, at the darkest moment of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt evoked the “forgotten man” as a reason to rebuild the economy from the “bottom up.” More than three decades later, after Richard Nixon’s 1968 victory, the journalist Peter Schrag identified the “Forgotten American” — the white “lower middle class” voter — as the key to the nation’s apparent rejection of the Great Society and the New Deal order. “In the guise of the working class — or the American yeoman or John Smith — he was once the hero of the civic books, the man that Andrew Jackson called ‘the bone and sinew of the country,’ ” Mr. Schrag wrote. “Now he is ‘the forgotten man,’ perhaps the most alienated [and impugned and despised by the cosmopolitan class] person in America.”
To those who have already ignorantly categorized this movement of "the forgotten man" with the same "George Wallace types" of the 1960's and 1970's: you are sorely mistaken and have learned nothing from the last 16 years, nor from this election. This upsetting of the status quo had nothing to do with race. Regarding this point, it's also important to point out that almost 1/3 of Hispanics voting in 2016, voted for President-elect Donald Trump. And these voters did not reject Hillary Clinton because of her sex. If you really believe that, you're locked into your own political bias beyond anyone's ability to help you. (And if you want to celebrate the breaking of a glass ceiling, you may do so. Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, just became the first woman to ever successfully run a presidential campaign. Funny no one on the left has celebrated that accomplishment, huh?)   

Many of the Democrat and independent voters who voted for Obama (especially the first time) have seen their situation and their country decline while the empty promises of the last two campaign cycles still echoed in their ears. They've also watched ruling class elites prosper while all they hold dear is slowly slipping away. This drove them straight into President-elect Trump's camp. As a recent article in the New York Post written by Salena Zito points out:
she [Clinton] won the top 10 populations centers where most of the wealth, commerce and power is located — and lost the bulk of America. . . . “Look, elites don’t understand why America needs to be great again because for them America is great,” . . . Their economy is strong, their lifestyle is comfortable and the communities they live in, in and around New York and Washington, are the wealthiest and most influential in the country. ~ Salena  Zito
These same forgotten voters saw a new champion in Trump.

This election was about the direction of the country - both economically and culturally - pure and simple. Globalization has been a sweet deal for Wall Street, bankers, politicians, and other ruling class elites, but it's been at the expense of many middle and lower middle class voters of all races. On election day, they very plainly voiced their concerns and shouted in one, unified voice, STOP!
The elites’ picture of a typical Trump voter is right out of “The Beverly Hillbillies” — male, white, uneducated and lacking common pleasantries, let alone the skills to better themselves. . . . When Trump voters turn on cable TV, they see their lives and livelihoods disrespected. They don’t want to keep up with the Kardashians; they just want to watch football without a political statement thrown in their faces. ~ Salena  Zito
Even CBS News has published a mea culpa written by Will Rahn about how the mainstream media treated President-elect Trump's supporters. Mr. Rhan may not like what's happened regarding Trump's victory but, at least, he does understand it:
The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited. This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time. And can you blame them? Journalists [and many historians in the blogosphere] love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid.
What is really interesting to me about this piece is that much of what Rahn writes about the media is just as true about much of academia, particularly all the leftist "historians" who dismissed Trump supporters as ignorant bigots. For example, just substitute my bracketed words for Rahn's in this excerpt:
We diagnose them as racists in the way Dark Age clerics confused medical problems with demonic possession. Journalists [Historians], at our worst, see ourselves as a priestly caste. We believe we not only have access to the indisputable facts, but also a greater truth, a system of beliefs divined from an advanced understanding of justice [history].
Is this not exactly what we see from many "mainstream" historians, especially in the blogosphere? And, as Rahn notes about his colleagues in the media, the same can be said about many historians analyzing Trump's victory:
You’d think that Trump’s victory – the one we all discounted too far in advance – would lead to a certain newfound humility in the political press. But of course that’s not how it works. To us, speaking broadly, our diagnosis was still basically correct. The demons were just stronger than we realized.

This is all a “whitelash,” you see. Trump voters are racist and sexist, so there must be more racists and sexists than we realized. Tuesday night’s outcome was not a logic-driven rejection of a deeply flawed candidate named Clinton; no, it was a primal scream against fairness, equality, and progress. Let the new tantrums commence! That’s the fantasy, the idea that if we mock them enough, call them racist enough, they’ll eventually shut up and get in line. . . .
it all just somehow leads us to more smugness, more meanness, more certainty from the reporters and pundits. Faced with defeat, we retreat further into our bubble, assumptions left unchecked. No, it’s the voters who are wrong.
We are already seeing this doubling-down attitude expressed on many history related blogs and websites. Their blinders remain intact, their condescending attitudes smugly reassure their own false narratives - even after the storm of the 2016 election.

Yet Rahn expresses a humility and wisdom at the end of his piece that is refreshing:
We have to fix this, and the broken reasoning behind it. There’s a fleeting fun to gang-ups and groupthink. But it’s not worth what we are losing in the process. 
But I must confess, I'm not very optimistic about that, particularly regarding the mainstream media and many (if not most) modern historians. The reasons for that lack of optimism have already been written. It will likely get much worse. Bubble-dwellers don't learn from history, they use it.

Why should this rise of the forgotten man be such a surprise, especially in regards to those former Democrat Obama voters in the Jacksonian belt of Appalachia and the old Rust Belt: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Western Virginia and most of the South? These are Hillary's "deplorables", President Obama's "bitter clingers", and what a number of comments and posts on "Civil War" blogs and academic-type "history" websites have characterized as little more than ignorant racists - just like the elitists in the media routinely do.

Of course, it's not just liberal Democrat politicians who have forsaken these Americans, the Republican establishment has done the same (which is why Trump quite easily dispatched 16 of them to mere footnotes, one by one, during the Republican primaries). As Dr. Steven Allen Jr. pointed out earlier this year:
Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, described the situation this way: “America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of the bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.”
Allen adds,
. . . the traditional idea that, while some people might have more money than others, they weren’t intrinsically “better” people. But now, members of the elite think they’re smarter, more sophisticated, more tolerant, more moral than those ignorant folks who work with their hands or never received a college degree.
These "ruled" and disaffected voters felt abandoned. I should know. I'm one of them. We're quite sick of our amoral rulers and the pseudo intellectuals in academia looking down their hypocritical noses at the rest of us while they signal their virtue via the irreligious and false doctrine of political correctness. It's gotten very old, very tired, very ridiculous and we know it's all a lie anyway.

Even so, many of us have long recognized President-elect Trump for much of what he is: a brash, offensive show off in a suit with a Yankee accent. But we also quickly recognized him as something more: a brash, offensive show off in a suit with a Yankee accent who was more than willing to courageously challenge political correctness, globalization, America's economic decline and both the Democrat and Republican establishment cabal in Washington. (How ironic that our standard bearer appears to be, at first glance, much of what we despise. God does have a sense of humor.)

But Donald Trump did not create the issues nor the movement that propelled him to the Presidency. He simply recognized it and got out in front of it to become it's political voice - something ANY Republican (or Democrat for that matter) could have done if they'd had the guts and wisdom to do so. But they didn't. They were too timid, too cowardly, too out of touch, too counseled by their consultants, too blinded by ambition and too lazy. President-elect Trump simply filled the vacuum they had created. If the political establishment in both parties and the rest of the elite in academia and the media want to understand how and why President-elect Trump triumphed, all they need to do is look in the mirror. Your answer is staring back at you. Your arrogance created him. Poetic justice.

Winners in the 2016 election:

American Exceptionalism

The Forgotten Man (and woman) 

Losers in the 2016 election:

Political correctness

Ruling Class Elites (including much of academia)


For more understanding in to what this election means, I recommend the additional commentary to all bubble-dwellers. It really isn't difficult to understand.
Trump Victory is a win for the little guy over the elite (New York Post)

Pollsters suffer huge embarrassment (The Hill)

Absorbing the Impossible (The New York Times)

An Obama Era crashes as Donald Trump takes White House (USA Today)

Fed up with Washington, Trump's 'deplorables' shake up the elite (Reuters)

The Forgotten Man (Lew Rockwell)

And one more thing . . . who's laughing now?


Eddie said...

Excellent post. It is interesting how quickly the media brought out the exit polls with the categories of college degree versus no college degree.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks. Yes, in their view, the "uneducated" won. One thing you can say about them, they're consistent. ;-)

Cicero Americanus said...

Yep! They were quick to point out that Trump did well among "non-college educated" Americans. Some things never change. Smh.
Great Post Richard!

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

CA: Yes, and so many of them are "struggling" to understand what happened. This is yet one more proof that education is worthless unless you're taught wisdom and common sense. I don't argue many of these folks are "better educated" - but I do not equate education with wisdom or knowledge. They are, without a doubt, lacking in knowledge.

David Oslin said...

Extremely well said. Unfortunately, the "over-educated" among us don't have the wisdom necessary to understand or even consider the excellent point you made. They would have to get out of their ivory towers and high-rise centers of absurdity and travel this country, from border to border and coast to coast for a solid year, eating in the local restaurants with the local people and mingling among the unwashed masses, going to their local events, sports contests and churches and exploring what to them is uncharted territory before they could ever begin to understand. I literally pity them.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks David. You are spot on. As I, along with many others, many of these folks have a bubble lifestyle. My feelings aren't exactly pity, rather amazement that they're so blind.