-- The Rise of the Forgotten Deplorables --
In horseracing parlance, when a particular horse wins unexpectedly the bookmakers' call this a 'turn-up for the books'. In more general usage, the phrase came to mean an unexpected piece of good fortune, a pleasant surprise, or something generally welcomed especially if not deemed likely.
Whilst conceding those who didn't want nor expect it might think otherwise (not least the 'defeated favourite'), if we confine its meaning to this usage, Donald Trump's rise to the Oval Office by any definition is a 'turn-up for the books', the best example doubtless -- this side of Harry Truman in '48 at least -- the Grand American Narrative has to offer.
As might be anticipated, in the wake of Trump's historic victory -- a win that for all sorts of reasons has shaken the Beltway establishment and beyond to its core, and one political junkies will be 'fixing' on for years -- there's been much handwringing about how so many folks got it so wrong. All of this has been accompanied by the obligatory hyperventilating and existential angst about what his election portends for the future.
His campaign both revealed -- and 'reanimated' -- the tectonic forces that hold sway in the political equivalent of the San Andreas Fault, a long-neglected fault-line in American politics that has been fracturing, and just waiting to let rip for decades. At the risk of overcooking the geological metaphors, we might imagine that if folks were presented two highly improbable scenarios before this election and had to punt their house on only one as the more likely outcome -- the choice here being either a Trump win or California sliding into the Pacific Ocean after the actual San Andreas finally lets the 'big one' rip -- many might have picked the latter. Expect aftershocks until further notice.
The reality -- to say little of the irony -- of a political neophyte and ostensible outsider winning a U.S. presidential election (to say nothing of claiming the presidential nomination whilst summarily seeing off 16 of his own party's rivals in the primaries) without the support of said party, Wall Street or the mainstream media and with half the spend of his opponents by breaking every rule in the electioneering field book then soundly defeating their opponent, a seasoned campaigner and professional career politician whose own party (and the usual 'suspects', the MSM, Wall Street, Israel Lobby et. al.) all had earlier anointed as the presumptive nominee from the off and whom they all collectively backed to the hilt -- from the still relatively popular incumbent on down -- with the most effective, formidable, sophisticated, ruthless, cashed-up political machine ever assembled, must indeed, be unprecedented.
With Clinton herself winning the popular vote convincingly (some suggest it could nudge 2 million), this of course is not a 'landslide' in any conventional sense, and is not quite the conservative 'revolution' some pundits are breathlessly celebrating. But as noted few if any election outcomes were as unexpected. To the extent it represented a "landslide" of sorts, in this case it was a "landslide" of the contemporary political imagination in; the substrata has shifted underneath people's feet and moved to spaces that were hitherto unthinkable, and possibly about which few might lay claim to having much idea of what to expect.
And this is happening at both ends of the political spectrum and just about every key point in between, with the Bernie Sanders factor testament to that. Even if on the face of it with the Republicans winning, both parties will now have to reinvent themselves not just as a matter of course, but of survival, at least as major political forces. Such is the extraordinary nature and character of this election and its outcome!
Win or lose though, Trump's impact was always going to necessitate a whole rethink about the way politics is conducted in Washington, a "rethink" both parties will avoid at their peril. That "rethink" should entail everything from how they function as political parties and how they manage themselves and how they position themselves with voters, to how they interact with each other at the Congressional cum legislative level so they begin managing national affairs more in the interests of their constituents than those of themselves and their families, their political cronies and/or corporate benefactors. More than that, they will need to be seen to be doing so.
Let there be no mistaking it. The Republicans are no less on the nose than are the Democrats -- albeit with in some cases different constituencies and for possibly different reasons. And they are no less on the nose because of their windfall victory now than they were before the campaign even started. The GOP did win by default in some respects, with no shortage of people not unreasonably seeing the Democrats as losing more than the Republicans winning. Right now the winners are grinners (albeit some of them a tad sheepish), but it remains to be seen just how long this will last.