Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Progressives must stand firm in Trump's shadow

  • 10 November 2016


Perhaps it is a fitting flourish to a year that has remade expectations of voter behaviour that Donald Trump would become United States president. What remains to be seen is the extent to which this pattern can be endured.

It was not meant to go this way. The demographics had not boded well for Republicans. Their candidate alienated nearly every segment of the population needed to win — black, Latino, queer, Muslim, women and college-educated Americans. One GOP pollster suggested that even if white turnout matched 2012, Trump would still need other segments to win. I expected a record turnout that would favour Hillary Clinton.

The old templates are useless now. Voter turnout, which has hovered around the mid-50s since 2004, does not look to have broken away with an estimated 55 per cent. While blacks overwhelmingly supported Clinton (88 per cent), she took only 65 per cent of the Latino vote, 78 per cent of LGBT, 54 per cent of women, and 49 per cent of college-educated Americans.

Something else that flouts the narrative: despite anti-establishment fervour, those on the lowest income levels voted Democrat.

The saying 'success has many fathers; failure is an orphan' doesn't apply here. There are many variables that led to Clinton's defeat — the 'whitelash' described by CNN commentator Van Jones, the diminished credibility of the left, the role of the media, perhaps the contributions made by Wikileaks and FBI director James Comey, a campaign strategy that neglected mid-west blue states. Most of all, there is anger and hunger for change.

It did not take long for me to be asked, as were other Filipino friends, 'How do we Americans deal with this?' There is nothing soothing to say. Donald Trump is not Rodrigo Duterte, of course, and there are differences in governance and law enforcement that (as yet) better protect Americans.

But here is what I know. It is not the office that makes the person presidential. Trump will not change, and it is a waste of time to expect him to do so. There will be no post-election unity, despite the conciliatory noises being made in some circles.

Dissenters and resisters will be told to get over it, to fall in or get out of the way. They will be called traitors — the new president becoming an embodiment of the state in a way that Barack Obama was not allowed to be.


"Some of the comparison to other periods in