Trump Is Riding a Wave He May Not Understand
Many Americans who voted for Mr. Trump did not vote for him because they liked his ideas; they cast their votes for him mainly as a revolt against a government establishment that did not respond to their needs. To them, Mrs. Clinton was a continuation of what they did not like. They were looking for better job opportunities, higher wages and fairer taxes, more responsive and less gridlocked government, better-financed public school systems, fair and affordable healthcare, a more encompassing safety net, less police brutality and less involvement in too many foreign conflicts and wars. Voting for Mr. Trump was an expression of despair and disgust with the ongoing governing establishment.
Popular discontent is also seen in several other developed countries as well. Britain, France, Italy and even Germany are experiencing popular revolts. Although Western-style capitalism proved successful when it came to general prosperity and wealth, it always left many people behind with their needs unmet. The freedoms associated with capitalism, inevitably create a class of political elites that end up controlling the political system and molding it to serve their own personal ends rather than the needs of all the people. Those in control forget that their main job is to serve the public first. Many citizens end up worse off and start to revolt against the "establishment". That is what really contributed to the election of Mr. Trump. That also explains why, today, many authoritarian regimes, that are more responsive to the peoples needs and desires, are more stable than capitalist democracies. This can be seen in Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt and the Philippines for example.
Recently, in several countries, the peoples' desires ran counter to their government's direction. In the United Kingdom, the people wanted out of the European Union while the government wanted in. In Italy the populace rejected the constitutional changes proposed by the government. Both countries have elected parliaments that do not, in fact, represent the peoples' wishes. The same appears to be the case here in the United States as well. The congress is now controlled mainly by moneyed interests who do not respond well to the needs and desires of real America. The two party system is collapsing and the media have been rendered less relevant with the advent of too many fake news stories. Although global trade and advanced technology are making few winners; they are also creating many more losers. Parts of the country have been falling behind economically. Despair afflicts so many Americans and poverty is rampant in rural and small-town America. No one is there to nourish and preserve the common good, civic life and liberal democracy.
The prevailing disgust at a winner-takes-all society is broadly based. There are deep feelings of anger, bitterness and even betrayal toward members of Congress, government officers, corporate bosses, political commentators, ad agencies, drug companies, foreign policy establishment, and even religious leaders.
We don't know for sure if Mr. Trump really understands the wave of discontent he is riding upon. What we have learned so far is that Mr. Trump is assembling a team of card-carrying members of the establishment. It is hard to see how Trump will address the problems and advance the interests of those who voted for him. He presented himself as an enemy of the establishment and promised to rescue us from arrogant and corrupt elites and salvage working class Americans. Can he do it?
From what we see and hear so far, Mr. Trump may partly understand what the people want. But, does he understand the need to restrain greed, crony capitalism, reduce income inequality and the deep resentment of the rich? Does he realize that inequality is not the fault of the poor, for having less discipline, less drive, and especially, less education and that it is mainly because of greed and unfairness of the economic establishment?
What we need now is a top-to-bottom re-evaluation of our ideals and objectives with greater concentration on what the Americans need to serve their interests in a continuously changing economic climate. That is why Trump's message of 'America First' reverberated too well with Real America. Our capitalist autocracy needs to be modified to serve the needs of all Americans. We need to be less involved in the affairs of other countries to secure what is in their interests; we have a decaying infrastructure here at home that needs our urgent attention. We need a health care system that meets the needs of all the people, not just the privileged few. In short, we need real change. Should we be expecting it?