Today Capitalism screamed out in pain, and the world finally listened. Yet it wasn’t the upper echelons of capitalism like in 2008, but the very bottom. Those who have footed the bill of a broken system for too long, those who have struggled to support their children — those who have paid the most for something they never wanted. Today they got Trump.
This isn’t an isolated problem. It has been smouldering for years, arguably back to the 90s — but it is only now that these people have had their voices heard. Donald Trump is a monster; he is a sexist bigot who is unfit to hold the position of president. But America doesn’t think so, and democracy is empowering. Just imagine what those millions who voted for him feel like today — elation, celebration — it’s not something so distant from the mood which swept across our own nation on the aftermath of Brexit.
The issues which connect these two events are undeniably similar — economic hardship, discomfort at immigration, and an urge to hark back to a bygone age where life was good. Britain and America were once the nations of the prosperous industrial worker, where jobs were plentiful and people were happy — a far cry from what we see today. Many in this nation and on the liberal left were simply angry about the US election, seeing it as a victory for bigotry. However, it isn’t, it’s a victory for hope. Both Brexit and Trump were an attempt to grab some hope in a bleak world. The hope that their lives may improve — we cannot blame them.
Trump won the election because he was allowed to convince millions of people that right-wing economics, an isolationist trade policy, and harsh immigration controls are the answer to their problems and that it will make their lives great again. This is not a victory for him — it’s a failure of the left. We cannot sit back and allow the right to be the vision of hope. Whether it be Attlee with the NHS, or Roosevelt with the New Deal — the left is the vehicle for change and hope. But we have lost this.
We have become the mouthpiece of consistency, of markets, of the very system we should be fighting against — symbolised better than anything, through Clinton. We, shouldn’t be shocked that she lost. We should be ashamed we allowed it to go this far. The left has become the arbiter of the establishment, missing the opportunities for change, fighting for continuity when the need for fresh ideas has never been stronger. Capitalism is crying, not because Trump won, but because the establishment is fearful — its grip on power is slipping. The left must grab the reigns and seize the moment.
There will be significant soul searching going on in America among progressives tonight, they will be asking how this could have happened, how this cancer could win — there are many answers. But this not an isolated election, and hopefully humanity will realise this. We can no longer point towards facts, figures, budget deficits and say “look, you’re doing alright” — we must realise that life is more than this, it is sacred — yet for many it is hell. For too long the establishment has told people how they should be feeling, handing it down like dictates: how they shouldn’t be hoping for anything more. It is this detachment, this complete denial from the elites that something is wrong with their precious system, which has given right-wing populists traction: but we cannot let them win.
France and Germany are holding elections next year. Angela Merkel and François Hollande will both face tight battles which I fear they will lose. The right is on the rise in both countries due to the same reasons it has won in both Britain and America. But it is not too late. They can learn from our mistakes.
Only through hope can they prosper — it’s the ultimate motivational tool in elections. For it is not the passive voter which wins, but the impassioned crusader who would walk over glass to vote for their hero, whether that be Trump or anyone else. Capture that mood, combat populist hate, and they might just win. The establishment is no longer the favourite, but the underdog. At this moment it is the right which is fighting this: but the left can no longer sit back and stand for consistency, it must rise up and fight for change.
Society as we know it is at risk at the moment, but prosperity is a great fixer. If these people feel their lives improving, if they no longer have to be fearful that their job is being stolen, then populist politics seems maddening once again. It is only through change, a better system, and complete obliteration of the corpse of capitalism as it stands today that we can solve this mess. The system is broken, and now we must fix it.
Many have been angry at democracy itself — “how could it allow this madman to win,” “how could they let us vote on EU membership” — but democracy is never wrong. I don’t think it’s ever been more correct. The outcomes were not ones with which I agreed, but at least I and the world are now more aware than ever at their causes. Democracy has served to show us the will of the people, we cannot simply disregard a choice because it is one we dislike, rather we must challenge the very fibres which led to its creation. Democracy has never been stronger; it has been used as the very tool it should be — a voice for those at the very bottom. Now it’s our job to accommodate them.
The world is not going to end, but it must change. There is a worldwide crisis occurring, where those at the bottom are revolting. It is our responsibility to respect their choices, to fight for the right to channel their rage in a way which will actually help them, and ultimately change our world so this never happens again.