As many of you lovely readers might have noticed, I rather loathes the post-fact, anti-expert period of politics we’ve entered, and we don’t deal in conspiracy theories. I don’t believe in conspiratorial new world orders, shadowy Illuminati groups or lizard people. All I believe in is human folly and fallibility, and an imperfect economic system that we have built.
Corruption is a word we all like to bandy about these days. It’s a buzz word born out of something genuine. Eight years ago we suffered one of the worst economic crashes in history. The recklessness of the banks and the hollowing of the meaning of money from a very real economic necessity to something of a toy for the slick-back and brylcreem society to simply play with cost most of us dearly – especially the poorest in society. People everywhere experienced swingeing cuts to public services and benefits, a very real drop in wages and reduced quality of life. That an ever-elusive single fair tax receipt from a major corporation like Google or Amazon could go a long way to clearing our public debt, or that failing CEOs still rewarded themselves with massive bonuses and pay rises while hardworking staff floundered on ever-stagnant wages, breathed life into the word ‘corruption’ was very right. That it birthed high-minded movements like Occupy is still noble.
But like the words ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, ‘corruption’ has been manipulated into become a weapon with which to beat a specific target. It is no longer a label for general mistreatment, but a tool for political gain. It has become cloak and dagger for those that have committed those very crimes to use to gain power.
Hilary Clinton was never an ideal candidate in a world still so disaffected, as it is now. Like all politicians, the label of corruption was always going to stick. It’s a label that sticks to anyone in a position of power anywhere; that’s a sad fact. Especially in countries like the UK and the US, your big boss – no, not the guy that sits over from you, but the big guy in the glass office at the top of the tower, yeah, him – is probably there because of pre-existing money and connections. Inherited power and inherited position that keeps the power structure in place. That, dear readers, is corruption. Hilary Clinton represented the status quo.
Donald Trump was the anti-establishment candidate. He’s an anti-establishment candidate that inherited his billions from a billionaire father. He was privately educated and born into the privileged sect; one that would inevitably provide him with all the contacts required for him to succeed. He is so enmeshed in the ruling class that it is impossible for him to fail. Even when he declares bankruptcy, he cannot fail.
He is an anti-establishment figure that deals in real estate. The anti-establishment land baron who owns the ground under you. The anti-establishment champion that has dominion over whether your regular Joe has somewhere to live. He is the incorruptible one that is up on fraud and money laundering charges. He is the anti-establishment figure who is the establishment. He is you being priced out of the big cities. He is low wages for the working folk and big pay packets for the CEOs. He is profit. He is big business. He is corporate corruption.
But none of this really came up, because we were too busy talking about someone sending work emails from their Google account, which I’ve done a thousand times. Sure, the content and SEO crap I deal with on a daily basis is hardly the same top national secrets she deals with, but then again, she’s not up on the same charges that mob bosses are put up on in gangster films.
Hilary Clinton’s links to big business are minuscule compared to Trump’s. Let’s face it; to Americans, Blairite economic policy is akin to that enacted by Vladimir Lenin in Russia during the 1920’s, and Bernie Sanders, their champion of the left, was still far to the right of our New Labour. That distasteful relationship between business and politics is always going to exist under the American chosen system – necessarily. It doesn’t always work well, but it’s how negotiations are made between the people, their political representatives and the business interest groups – back when civility was supposed to be the name of the game. That is how the system works, and Trump supporters are not backing socialism.
Hilary may have links to big business, but Trump is big business. You now that big, rich society he’s part of; the one that helped forward his business interests in the first place? The ones that ensured bankruptcy was not the end for him? Do people really think he’s going to leave those folks behind? A lawyer and public servant vs. one of them.
Besides, that he could or would pull up the drawbridge on international trade is ludicrous. Regardless of how unsavoury the idea might be to some on the left, the deeply interconnected global economy helps keeps the peace. Breaking it apart would be more dangerous to world stability than the current situation in the Middle East could ever be.
Corruption is a buzz word and a buzz word that can be hidden behind. It’s an invisibility cloak. It’s a Trojan horse through which can be snuck what, at least I thought, the majority found unpalatable. You can’t ignore the tone he struck throughout the campaign.
The vote for Trump was the biggest mandate for bigotry we’ve seen for decades. One that says all the social liberal gains made over the years were wrong and must be unpicked. That the forwarding of the rights and opportunities of women, minorities and the LGBT community is not allowable. White power never waned, all that happened was a few more people got a crack of the whip, and that extra competition was unacceptable to them.
Perhaps he doesn’t believe all he said, but the people that voted for him sure do. Watch viciousness and hate grow a hundredfold. Bigotry has been given its biggest mandate yet and a lot of nasty people everywhere are going to be taking it up in earnest. Brexit was just the warm up – we ain’t seen nothing yet.
See, perhaps it’s not the incompetent demagogue Trump we have to worry about at all, but the one who comes after. It’s the one who rides on his ticket, but actually knows what they’re doing and really believes it too. It’s the ones that may well follow him in Europe: France looks poised to fall, Eastern Europe already have something of a collection, Gert Wilders of the Netherlands is talking up his game and we’ve had our own demagogue waiting in the wings here for far too long.
There’s a shift coming that has been brought on by a passionate minority which looks set to destroy the comfortable, liberal little world that’s enjoyed by the somewhat, comparatively, contented majority.
And we on the progressive wing are partly to blame. We continuously demanded perfection. We refused to acknowledge or engage with the other side and attacked every action, whether sensible or not, for political point scoring. We authored an atmosphere of redundant rage and called for an unachievable perfect world that none of us believed could actually exist. We created a politics of identity that could easily be repurposed as the politics of ‘other’. Then the likes of Trump and Farrage took up the mantel, carving out a storybook world coloured in hate with a place to direct the anger. A world where freedom means the freedom to stop others from being what I don’t want them to be. A world where democracy means the consensus of simply me over you.
Plato said that we can never go back into the cave. I disagree. A political mandate creates a sellable idea. I expect to see changes in our entertainment, in our comedy, in or creative arts. I expect to see these ideas disseminated far beyond the bastions of the right wing press and the political podium. I expect our social progressions to be educated out of the next generation. That the millennials will take over and create some incredible forward-thinking utopia is a fallacy. Evidence suggests our generation is far from perfect. And even if we were the generation that went one step forward, but we are most definitely about to go two steps back.
The 9th November was the day that I finally lost faith in the world.