Many thousands of Americans looked past Donald Trump's nastiness, abuse and incompetence in search of a time that has gone, tragically rejecting a woman with the potential to have made real change

The world feels a very different place to me this morning. It is a place that leaves me disillusioned and more than a little scared. The America that voted for Donald Trump to be its president has either embraced or looked past so many values that I thought that country held dear.

I felt certain of two things. That the Americans love of the good guy was paramount; they'd never vote for the guy in the black hat. That they wouldn't, in the end, mistake bullying for strength. They that would see the fakery, hyperbole, blustering incompetence and demonisation and reject it. That America's system of checks and balances, including the media, endless campaigning and electoral college, would stop someone utterly unqualified for the job winning it. And most of all I thought America had reached its white ceiling. That is, white voters alone could no longer win elections without building a coalition with some minority group.

I was wrong. Only by a hundred thousand votes here and there, but still very wrong.

Part of this vote comes from a dark and ignorant place. It is the racism that rejects a black president (I recall the taxi driver who drove me past the White House just a day before the 2012 election and said, 'we should call it the Black House now'). It's the sexism that rejects a woman president. It's the xenophobia that wants Muslims "extreme vetted", even banned from the country. It's the demonisation of 'the other'.

That is where Trump has been able to harness fear and hate to his cause. But it is not the whole story.

Amazingly, working class women – who were so supportive of both Clintons in past campaigns – voted Trump. Almost a third of Latinos voted for Trump.

So many Americans – people not defined by hate and who one-on-one are probably very good neighbours to all kinds of people – looked past the arrogance, demonisation, lack of experience, deep insecurity and questionable temperament. They looked past Trump's membership of the one percent and the elite that they so strongly distrust. They looked past his abuse of women and past the fact he knows nothing of their struggles.

What they heard was "change". What they heard was a reflection of their own anger. It really does seem to be a victory for someone who is "prepared to say what we're all thinking". It turns out more Americans were thinking that than we realised.

We saw something of that after the Orewa speech here in New Zealand. Don Brash was almost our Donald Trump; all he lacked, perhaps was that reality TV skill and understanding of the medium.

And this is where the political class – and I use that term loosely and only because none better comes to mind – must shoulder its share of the blame. It clearly has been unable to convince enough people of the benefits of inclusion, diversity, globalisation and more. All the things that Trump voters would dismiss as "political correctness".

More to the point, those leaders have not delivered to those people the benefits that were meant to come from the social and economic revolution of recent decades. Barack Obama is the latest president to have failed badly on that front. Yes, unemployment is down. But he was too tentative, too tinkery.

As the economy and society have been liberalised, those who thought they could expect a decent middle class life have been left behind. Mostly, due to economic reform. But that's too hard to grapple with, so instead they have blamed the accompanying social reform and focused on the places where those two intersect, most significantly immigration.

This vote is an expression of a hatred of change, and a desperate cry for more of it. Those voters are worse off for all economic changes enacted (so ironically) by Ronald eagan, then the Bushes and Bill Clinton. They want their secure middle class world back. You can hear their voices now, saying that Trump is going to bring manufacturing jobs back to the rust belt. That's where he won the election and that's a big part of why.

So, as victims of change, they want more. Change back. This vote is a plea for some kind of political DeLorean, where like Michael J Fox, they can all go back to 1955 and a time now glorified in nostalgia as one of prosperity, peace and employment.

This is the Classic Hits election; a victory for people nostalgic for 'back in the day'. And in an attempt to get back there they have cast aside so many of the values their country once held dear. They have sold themselves so terribly short, embracing change for change's sake, even when offered by a wolf is change's clothing.

The one thing that links the past three presidents is that they were all perceived as outsiders; not members of the Washington elite. They were expected to up-end the system.

Yet Trump just can't do it, anymore than Obama or George W. could. That America of the 50s and 60s is gone. So, in another tragedy for the alienated working class, Trump will become just another politician to have failed them. He will not drain the swamp. He will not stop globalisation. Even if he truly wanted to, he cannot.

And his tax cuts, risk of trade wars and cuts to government programmes will only make it worse. It's tragic.

Ironically, the person best place to drain the swamp, was the woman who knows it best. She could have effected real change from within. No, not an angry revolution. But Clinton knows the machine and the game so well, she could have really got things done. And her more redistributive policies, fundamental to the strong middle class of that post-war era, are the opposite of what Trump offers. But she failed to sell that message.

So now we're left with a fake. And a dangerous one at that. I worry now about the South China Sea, about climate change, about flaming the fires of terror.

Those working class white voters so desperate for more security, have taken us all into very, very unstable times.

 

Comments (90)

by Rich on November 10, 2016
Rich

You know the Biff character in BTF was based on Donald Trump?

by Liam Hehir on November 10, 2016
Liam Hehir

Things are going to be okay, Tim.

by Antoine on November 10, 2016
Antoine

You admit you were wrong about some things, yet still seem sure you're right about other things?

A.

by Tim Watkin on November 10, 2016
Tim Watkin

It's a remarkable world, where we can be right about some things and wrong about others! Not sure what you mean...

by Colin Fleming on November 10, 2016
Colin Fleming

While I agree about the fear and uncertainty that this provokes, I disagree on one point - I don't believe Clinton would have produced any real change. Sure, she understands the system and perhaps could have used that knowledge to change the system from within, but there's very little evidence in her history to suggest that she would. She's pretty much the very definition of an establishment candidate, a willing participant in the Washington lobby game and cozily in bed with the likes of Goldman Sachs. In my opinion, the democrats totally underestimated the degree to which Americans are fed up with that and will at least try any alternative.

Even Obama, whose whole campaign was based on a platform promising change, managed to effect very little of it. The economy has recovered from the crisis, mostly, but nothing was done to change the root causes of it. Investment banks are back using the same financial instruments, and many of those responsible from Goldman et al are now Obama's financial advisors. I'm not surprised many people wanted change - while it's probably true that all racists in the US supported Trump, not all his supporters were racist. I think many just wanted change in any form. I would have loved to have seen Bernie against Trump - I believe he, at least, really intended to change things, and has been consistent about his beliefs for decades.

Still, there is a silver lining - perhaps the TPP will get binned.

by Max Ritchie on November 10, 2016
Max Ritchie

Even Upper Eastsiders favour vetting immigrants, Tim, so that's not a problem. To compare Don Brash with Trump is a long stretch. The Orewa speech was and is not Nuremberg, despite the myth. "Polls showed that many Māori were comfortable with Brash's speech". The speech concludes "The indigenous culture of New Zealand will always have a special place in our emerging culture, and will be cherished for that reason. But we must build a modern, prosperous, democratic nation based on one rule for all.  We cannot allow the loose threads of 19th century law and custom to unravel our attempts at nation-building in the 21st century."  What's not to like there? It's actually a very good speech and everyone should read it, preferably before commenting. President-elect Trump is quite another matter!

by Liam Hehir on November 10, 2016
Liam Hehir

I think everybody should take a deep breath and hold back on the "hot takes" until some of the emotion has drained from the matter.

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Liam,

Why? Given Trump's rhetoric and behaviour, there seem pretty sound reasons to be deeply concerned about what his election may presage. And given his contempt for and capacity to smash through barriers previously thought able to constrain power (and who gets to wield it), I'm not confident about reassurances regarding the limits that will apply to his role. That's not to say I believe fascism has come to America - but something has happened that I think has changed it (and the world) for the far worse.

Also, quite aside from the "what might happen?" fears, people are emotionally jarred by this. As Tim says, "The America that voted for Donald Trump to be its president has either embraced or looked past so many values that I thought that country held dear." So even if he turns out not to be half as bad as we may fear, the very fact that the US has even chosen to elect him is deeply demoralising. So that emotion has to vent - telling people not to let it isn't actually very useful.

by Liam Hehir on November 10, 2016
Liam Hehir

I don't think I was telling people what to do but the point is taken nonetheless. 

Because people on the same side said the same thing about Obama. Look at what he has said! Look at his divisive rhetoric! He's clearly a re-distributive socialist! It's the end of America!

It may be a surprise to some that people thought Obama was divisive or that he was going to fundamentally change the country. But if you read diversely enough - venturing beyond the likes of The Guardian and the New York Times, there were plenty of people who were scared about what Obama was going to do. If you're a political conservative how else would you feel about the statistically most liberal member of the US Senate sweeping into power with a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

I wrote a column for Stuff last week setting out some of my views at length and I won't torture people by regurgitating them here.

But I really believe that the one thing that hold absolutely fast about politics is that there are no permanent victories or defeats. When Obama won, there were learned books by great thinkers about how the Democrats had a permanent majority for the next 40 years. It turned out those four decades of dominance lasted just two years.

And finally - and I am confident that you will appreciate this more than most - isn't one of the lessons here about how important it is to observe political niceties? The executive branch of the US government has never been more powerful and much of that aggrandizement has been cheered on in the last seven years. The president's executive order effectively suspending the immigration laws without the authority of congress is a good example. And yet this was justified by those who agreed with the merits of the matter on the basis that the constitutional disagreement by Republicans was obstructionism? 

A week ago, when everybody was certain that Clinton was going to win, Tim Kaine and others were pledging the nuke the filibuster to ensure that her Supreme Court picks were going to get through. Now that they've won the Senate and the Presidency, what's the principled argument for stopping Republicans from doing the same?

To the extent that there's anything to worry about, it's that breakdown of good faith that I think is the problem. I don't know how you put it together again, to be honest. But that's not the fault of Donald Trump.

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2016
Andrew Geddis

And finally - and I am confident that you will appreciate this more than most - isn't one of the lessons here about how important it is to observe political niceties? The executive branch of the US government has never been more powerful and much of that aggrandizement has been cheered on in the last seven years. ... And yet this was justified by those who agreed with the merits of the matter on the basis that the constitutional disagreement by Republicans was obstructionism? 

Sure! I'll buy that!!

But then I think that Donald Trump is going to be occupying that office. So it very well may be Obama's "fault" that Trump'll wield that power ... but he'll still wield it! And for all Obama's failure to obey constitutional "niceties", I have far, far greater faith in him than I do in Trump. Which doesn't help me calm down any, I have to say!

Also, of course no victory is forever, and nothing is permanent in politics (but I do note your point over on Dimpost that the 2018 mid-terms are going to be a much tougher contest for the Democrats than 2016 was ... and tougher than 2010 was for the Republicans ... so that'll tell against any compensatory swing). The important question is, how much damage can Trump do before the wheel turns against him?

by Liam Hehir on November 10, 2016
Liam Hehir

But I was posting as LiamH - how did you break my code!

Okay well put it this way, I think there are four really good reasons for relaxing a bit:

  1. The Dems have a really tough map in 2020. However, the Republicans had a tough map, in theory, in 2010 because a lot of the races were in blue states. That's why 2016 was supposed to be really tough for them. However, the Dems overreached with the healthcare law and were punished accordingly. I'm not a fan of a written constitution here, but I do kind of admire how the checks and balances seem to punish over-reachers in America.
  2. The press is going to really hold Trump to account. He starts with zero goodwill and, even with its diminished influence, I don't think he's going to be able to get away with much.
  3. Trump is also really, really lazy. I truly think he will take the path of least resistance. Did you know that when he was talking to Kasich about being VP, he said that Kasich would be in charge of international and domestic policy? Trump would be in charge of "making America great again." So chances are we get Mike Pence as a kind of shadow president (Kahless to his Gowron, if you care for the reference). Now you probably don't much like Pence - but he's much less unsavoury than Trump is. 
  4. There is nothing new under the sun.  President Andrew Jackson was also a gross populist and when the Supreme Court injuncted his illegal removal of Native Americans and then he just ignored the Court! And yet America survived Jackson and is went on to become a much more humane society today. And I don't really think Trump will be anywhere near as bad as that.
by Antoine on November 10, 2016
Antoine

@Liam

can I add two reasons?

5. There's no point in worrying, it won't help anything

6. Clinton could potentially have been worse - we'll never know now. I mean I'm not anti Clinton but we genuinely don't know how her term(s) would have played out.

A.

by Liam Hehir on November 10, 2016
Liam Hehir

No, you can't. Please take them back.

by Antoine on November 10, 2016
Antoine

I will create my own list of bullet points if you provoke me further.

by Liam Hehir on November 10, 2016
Liam Hehir

Here's a final one, though:

Donald Trump is uniquely susceptible to impeachment. It's well accepted that impeachment can only succeed when your own party turns against you (because of the majority required in the Senate). Bill Clinton beat his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice in 1998 or whatever because his party hung tough. He ended up losing his practicing certificate and nothing else.

When Nixon resigned, it was because he realised that Republicans in the Senate had had enough of him. Donald Trump has a tenuous relationship with many GOP Senators - some of whom voted for third party candidates. There are much better odds of Trump being impeached if he steps out of line.

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Liam,

There is nothing new under the sun.  President Andrew Jackson was also a gross populist and when the Supreme Court injuncted his illegal removal of Native Americans and then he just ignored the Court! And yet America survived Jackson ... .

I don't think it's a question of "will America survive Trump ...". I'm sure it will, in some form or another. But if you're telling me the cost of Trump may be the equivalent of the Trail of Tears, you aren't being very reassuring.  

@Antoine,

5. There's no point in worrying, it won't help anything

By now do you really not know how blogs work? Because if the test was "will this help anything?", none of us would be here ever. 

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Liam,

On your last point, and genuine question ... how much is there a Republican Party anymore, as opposed to a Trump Party? I guess that's one of the things we'll find out over the next few years.

by Liam Hehir on November 10, 2016
Liam Hehir

I'm saying that's the worst case scenario - and I don't think anybody would get away with that today. 

I guess we will find out, but Lindsay Graham voted against Trump, for example, and he withstood a fierce Tea Party challenge last time round. John McCain would turn on Donald Trump pretty quickly too.

Things just aren't as simple as people like to think. Here's an example: the big nail in the coffin for Clinton last night was Wisconsin. But Trump got hammered in the Wisconsin primary by a huge margin. All the conservative media in the state (including talk radio) was against Trump. Paul Ryan was re-elected last night - and he and Trump hate each other. 

Trump got the lowest share of the GOP primary vote of any winning candidate since 1968.

 

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2016
Andrew Geddis

... and I don't think anybody would get away with that today. 

Unfortunately, as we're discovering, very few of our "that couldn't happen today!" certainties seem to be worth very much anymore.

by Liam Hehir on November 10, 2016
Liam Hehir

Well I guess that's right. I'll make you a wager. If America doesn't reintroduce segregation, abolish the federal minimum wage, repeal women's suffrage, ban the Spanish language, join a reformed Warsaw pact or impose an individual mandate for gun ownership by 2024 then you can owe me a coke.

by Murray Grimwood on November 10, 2016
Murray Grimwood

"Those working class white voters so desperate for more security, have taken us all into very, very unstable times".

Um, no Tim.

They are a symptom, not a cause. If Andres Geddis had read the link I sent him, he could explain the cause. If you had worked your way through the list I gave you, so could you.

This is about the limits to growth on this planet, and about the biggest national consumer of resources - with arguably the second-oldest and unarguably the biggest collection of infrastructure. All decaying, as infrastructure does.

Billy Joel presaged the angst in 1982:

Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore

Well we're living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down

Those people - kept uninformed by the media (same as here - how many kiwis understand EROEI, or where we are currently on the EROEI scale?) were told that endless growth was possible, and fitted their aspirations to the myth. 

The things curtailing that growth - and therefore their aspirations - are physical, not moral or ethical or racial or even fiscal. So voting against what angers them won't change matters one jot, but that seems to be the upper limit of what the mass are capable of thinking-through. Which suggests that as a species we are doomed - the epitaph being something like: 'Weren't intelligent enough to survive'.

What we can expect from here on is less globalism (the inevitability of some form of fiscal collapse in the wake of resource/energy depletion could well accelerate that) and more localism - which is what 'putting up fences' and 'Brexit' are presaging.

Those who have thought it through - who will be shaking their heads at Trump but who wouldn't have voted for either - are to be found in movements like Transition Towns. They will tell you that this vote is a transition in itself. Interesting, but clearly transitory because Trump can't - and therefore won't - fix the problem.

Scary? Only if you need to believe that modern first-world society could have been kept going. The really scary part is that the fight over ever-scarcer resources will escalate from here on in, but that will hold regardless of who is in the White House.

 

by Murray Grimwood on November 10, 2016
Murray Grimwood

Oh, and Tim -

"tragically rejecting a woman with the potential to have made real change".

http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/item/23440-bilderberg-elites-st...

She is - and has been for a very long time - part of the Establishment.

by Wayne Mapp on November 10, 2016
Wayne Mapp

A crucial test for change is the poll that records "right direction/wrong direction" of the country. In the US for nearly 15 years it has had a majority saying "wrong direction". In NZ the majority says "right direction".

That is why the US voted for change, and why in NZ John Key keeps getting re-elected.

Now with a candidate as flawed as Trump it was a narrow majority, but he was the only plausible candidate suggesting real change. In my view he would have defeated Sanders by a bigger margin because Americans do not vote for socialists.

I would have voted Hillary (precisely because she is an internationalist). But I also thought it would be closer than the polls indicated. In fact Comey's intervention 10 days out really killed her chances. Without that she would have probably won. 

Comey's intervention reminded me of 2005. Up to the Exclusive Brethren revelations, which was about 10 days out, National was on track to win. After that (and Don Brash's poor handling of it) National hopes fell away and we lost by 2 %.

The biggest risk with Trump; China.

In contrast I do not really worry about what happens in the US. Frankly that is their problem. If the US voters don't like what they get, they can change it.

Will he really impose 45% tariffs against China, probably not. But China now has a huge opening for leadership in the region, especially on the economic front.

RCEP will now be uncontested by TPP. The China Infrastructure Bank and "One Road, One Belt" will surge ahead. All this will drive economic activity in the region and the US will conspicuously not be part of it.

Will the US just lie down and take this? Probably not, but what will their response be?

The US voters have just slapped the face of their 11 TPP negotiating partners, showing themselves to be an unreliable ally. A dangerous position for a leader to be in.

The US can hardly offer their partners a deal loaded even more in the favour of the US. If the US can't offer anything worthwhile, then by default China can do the RCEP deal, and much more.

This will not be something US voters can easily change. If the US looses leadership to China, they may not be able to get it back. 

Interesting times ahead.

 

 

 

by Murray Grimwood on November 10, 2016
Murray Grimwood

How can you say that, Wayne?

Where is China going to get it's energy from? How much? How much more? And for how long?

I sat watching the 2008 Olympics and - as a physics person - reckoned I was watching their physical high-water-mark. Like us and others, I reckon the bidding-up of (existing) real estate has been the only gap-plugger between reality and growing expectations since then.

China is too late in the race - given the finite nature of the planet and the stage of draw-down we are at (remember, exponential growth is tracked in terms of 'doubling-time' - the last doubling is from 50%-gone to 'all-gone') to get its population any closer to our level of consumption. And ever-less of us can maintain it either, which is what the US vote was about.

China may well be the relatively-biggest player on the board at some future point, but it will never be as big as the US got. There ain't the resources left (nor the quality of them - we use up the best/most concentrated first) to get them there. For them to be the biggest remaining also means they will be in Iraq (and other energy-supplying places) rather than the US. It'll be easy to monitor. 

But 'economic activity in the region'? This is the region where Indonesia has become a net oil importer and a perpetual forest fire? Where virgin-forest logging still presages palm plantations? Where desertification creeps:

http://globalriskinsights.com/2016/02/chinas-growing-deserts-a-major-pol...

and aquifers deplete:

http://www.circleofblue.org/2015/world/groundwater-depletion-stresses-ma...

and oil imports (note, imports not exports) appear to have peaked:

http://www.indexmundi.com/energy/?region=as&product=oil&graph=imports

Surge ahead? On the graph in the last link? On what? Optimism?

by Tim Watkin on November 10, 2016
Tim Watkin

Another thought why the Back to the Future idea works... The town in the movie was Smalltown, USA. And I think while you can find all of America's divisions in this vote – race, gender, class – the least discussed one is the rural/urban divide. Looking at John King on CNN endlessly tap that giant screen, you can't help but notice the huge rural red in so many states and the tiny blue cities. It's so pervasive – and it's so common in so many elections – that we almost take it for granted.

But those small towns are struggling, economically and culturally. I reckon they're on the sharp end of economic change, the GFC etc as much as the ghettoes and suburban poor. The shops on the main street, the factories and so on are closing. That small town way of life and those old fashioned values – what Jim Bolger tried to tap into with his 'decent society' – are withering on the vine and no-one seems to care. Yep, some of those values are close-minded, but many are pretty darned, well, decent.

So again, it comes back as a desperate grasp for security. And again, that's tragic because they've grasped onto a scorpion – and an especially rich one from the city, amazingly – who is sure to bite them and actually knows next to nothing about those values born of a protestant work ethic and not rocking the boat. On a normal day, he'd embody the precise values they'd despise. But he's conned so many.

by Tim Watkin on November 10, 2016
Tim Watkin

Colin, we're agreeing on exactly the main point. They wanted change above all else, and have done for the past three presidents. And, as you say, many for good reason (although perhaps not all the reasons you'd support). But as each president fails to deliver change, they go further to the extreme in search of it.

And as I said, Trump will fail for the same reason Bush and Obama did. The swamp wins. Turning a tanker is nigh on impossible.

I guess it depends on how high your expectations for change are. I'm an incrementalist and expect and (usually) want nothing more. Obama on one level failed to take on the big things you mention. On the other, gay rights, Obamacare and climate change – three or four big things are about as much as any president can achieve. And he had a historically hostile congress.

But I still reckon (though we'll never know) that someone who knows the swamp, who has mastered the swamp, is the best person to change it. It's Nixon to China stuff. And I think she really wanted to. Maybe not in all the ways you want, but in many significant ways. And she had the swamp cunning to do it.

by Tim Watkin on November 10, 2016
Tim Watkin

Liam, I understand your point about how people feared Obama's change (I was living there at the time) and I know that political change is never forever. Obama's about to learn that brutal truth!

But my concern is that a lot of damage can be done in even two years. Of course I define "damage" via my world view. But supreme court appointments and repealing Roe V Wade, potentially defunding Planned Parenthood and anything to do with fighting climate change, pulling back from NATO, the ill-treatment and stigmatisation of Latinos and Muslims, provoking trade or other kinds of wars with China... these things all have the potential to do long-term damage.

At each step I have argued America's checks and balances will rein him in, and at each step I've been wrong. So, as Andrew says, maybe he is genuinely a rogue president who won't be restrained. This guy's lack of judgement and sense of responsibility combined with the power he has... That scares the shit out of me, even now.

by Tim Watkin on November 10, 2016
Tim Watkin

Wayne, I care what happens in the US, because I still think it impacts us economically and sets a tone culturally. I also fear that a personality such as Trump's could genuinely wrestle off the straight-jacket of responsibility and gravitas usually wrapped around a president and provoke so much in Asia and the Middle-East that things could go horribly wrong for us all.

Hey may actually ditch the Iran nuclear deal, with the support of Congress. Sheesh.

I also think of the planet. This is so much damage he can do that the RNC will champion.

But otherwise I agree. China must be gleeful, thinking it now has a huge opening to dominate in the world's biggest trade zone. Trump's prescriptions will make it very hard for America to be great again.

by Tim Watkin on November 10, 2016
Tim Watkin

I genuinely did not know this when I wrote the blog this morning or tonight's comment. But from the Guardian:

Trump has also been credited by the co-creator of the Back to the Future movies as the inspiration for Biff Tannen, the bullying bad guy character of the time-travelling 1980s trilogy.

In the second film, Back to the Future II, Biff has become “one of the richest and most powerful men in America” by cheating at gambling, formed a “vast empire” called Biffco, and successfully lobbied to legalise gambling and build an enormous casino hotel. When the film was released in 1989, Trump was already well known as a casino and property mogul.

Interviewed by The Daily Beast last year, co-writer Bob Gale confirmed he had Trump in mind when he created the character. “We thought about it when we made the movie! Are you kidding? You watch Part II again and there’s a scene where Marty confronts Biff in his office and there’s a huge portrait of Biff on the wall behind Biff, and there’s one moment where Biff kind of stands up and he takes exactly the same pose as the portrait? Yeah.”


I feel quite smug now.

by Colin Fleming on November 10, 2016
Colin Fleming

Wayne:

In my view he would have defeated Sanders by a bigger margin because Americans do not vote for socialists.

I'm not so sure about this. 6 months ago I would have agreed with this, but I would have also agreed that Americans would never vote for someone who insulted the family of slain veterans. This election has turned so many of these previously inviolable rules on their head. I never thought someone with policies as socialist as Bernie's would have got so far in the primary. He's the only candidate who could have competed on the need for change, and I know several people who voted Trump simply as a protest vote against Clinton (ironic, since almost her whole platform was "I'm not Trump"), and would have voted Bernie in a heartbeat.

Sadly, we'll never know.

by Colin Fleming on November 10, 2016
Colin Fleming

Tim:

I also think of the planet. This is so much damage he can do that the RNC will champion.

See here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-picks-top-climate-skeptic-to-lead-epa-transition/

There is a lot that I worry about with this presidency - as you say, it sets a tone culturally, although how many countries will continue to want their tone set by the US now remains to be seen. I also worry about his ability to destabilise the Middle East, and provoke even more terrorism for all. But at the end of the day, his climate policies are what could cause damage that affects my daughter when she's an adult, and her children. That truly terrifies me.

by Dennis Horne on November 11, 2016
Dennis Horne

Recent professional video about the liars and deniers who need tRUMP to put lucre above life on Earth:

https://f.vimeocdn.com/p/flash/moogaloop/6.4.3/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=189639657#!flashvars#clip_id=189639657&api=1&moogaloop_type=moogaloop&noscript

by Murray Grimwood on November 11, 2016
Murray Grimwood

Good to see a few 'thinking of the planet'.

But make no mistake, a good Forest and Birder driving to a 'Save the' meeting in their conscience-salving hybrid, is doing the same damage to the planet as a good ol' boy in his Chevvy pickup heading for a six-pack. They're just doing it a little slower - which is no solution at all.

Real sustainability requires a bigger lifestyle-alteration, sorry. And that includes people who write about 'it still impacting us economically' while avoiding the point that China can't get there now (due to the lack of remaining resources).

Morgan - of all the self-appointed commentators in NZ - gets this (despite the Rosemary McLeod piece which airheadedly misses the point). On page 218 of his 'Backblocks America' book, he points out that 'America is exceptional because for everyone in the world to have the same standard of living as the average American we'd need seven globes worth of resources'.

But we've got unresearched comment above about 'dominating the worlds biggest trade zone'.

In what? For how long? With a fiscal transaction-tracking system that will accomodate permanent de-growth how?

And logic tells us that if Clinton had what it took (it's a physics/depletion problem, so nobody does) then Bill would have done it, or Obama by now. It's not a leadership issue, it's a facing the truth issue. Americans chose to duck it. And they're not alone in that, eh?

 

by Dennis Horne on November 11, 2016
Dennis Horne

Professor Kevin Anderson was a mechancal engineer in the petrochemical business but is now a missionary who leads by example. Well worth watching one of these videos; broadly the same talk but all have faults in the recording.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gJ78vDU17Y&feature=youtu.be
[Sheffield U] As part of the 'Delivering on 2 degrees' talks and debate evening organised by the  Carbon Neutral University Network, Kevin talks about the Paris Agreement within the background of Climate Science and what is needed to stop global warming at 2C or even 1.5C. Kevin Anderson says that we basically lost the chance to stay below 1.5 degrees and for a 33% chance of staying below 2 degrees, industrialised nations such as the UK, need to fully decarbonise by 2035. 
Kevin Anderson also details the huge potential reductions in carbon emissions - i.e. if the top 10% of emitters would reduce their carbon emissions to the level of a typical EU citizen, global emissions would be cut by 33%! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T22A7mvJoc
[LSE. Sound good but no screen shots] Despite high-level statements to the contrary, there is little to no chance of maintaining the global mean surface temperature increase at or below 2 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the impacts associated with 2°C have been revised upward sufficiently so that 2°C now more appropriately represents the threshold between 'dangerous' and 'extremely dangerous' climate change. Kevin Anderson will address the endemic bias prevalent amongst many of those building emission scenarios to underplay the scale of the 2°C challenge. In several respects, the modeling community is actually self-censoring its research to conform to the dominant political and economic paradigm. However, even a slim chance of 'keeping below' a 2°C rise now demands a revolution in how we consume and produce energy. Such a rapid and deep transition will have profound implications for the framing of society, and is far removed from the rhetoric of green growth that increasingly dominates the climate change agenda.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6Huz1a1lXI
[Institute International & European Affairs, Dublin] In his presentation, Kevin Anderson revisited the scale of the climate challenge, arguing that whilst the science of climate change has progressed, there has been no corresponding acknowledgement of the rate at which our emissions from energy need to be reduced. He suggested that the Paris Agreement exemplifies this duality. Similarly, he argued that the focus on green growth continues to eclipse analysis which demonstrates the need for radical social as well as technical change. Prof. Anderson developed a quantitative framing of mitigation, based on IPCC carbon budgets, before finishing with more qualitative examples of what a genuine low-carbon future may contain. ... Prof. Anderson’s research on carbon budgets suggests a widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVJ8lMIm9-c
[Royal Irish Academy] 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YMpz0nd9Ns
Uppsala University Lecture in Climate Change Leadership 2016 with Kevin Anderson [from 30 minutes in, sound is appalling]

by Dennis Horne on November 11, 2016
Dennis Horne

I regard the science of climate change as incontrovertible and the evidence clear: we have already locked in several degrees and several metres of sea level rise. Yet I still fully intend to live my life utilising energy to make it comfortable, interesting, adventurous. 

The only thing I can claim is honesty. I disclose the real reasons for my behaviour and beliefs: I don't care about the future of Mankind as I care about myself.

Indeed, I see the end of Western Civilisation as inevitable; hastened and facilitated by Drumpf. But this ignoranus is the symptom, the cause is a deeply flawed species and democracy.

by Ross on November 11, 2016
Ross

Tim

The times are a changin' back. I suggest you watch the film Bob Roberts. Its very well done and came out in 1992. Roberts is Trump.

http://www.ozy.com/2016/the-1992-movie-that-predicted-trump/68685

by Liam Hehir on November 11, 2016
Liam Hehir

Tim what do you think would happen if Roe v Wade was overturned? It would only remove the question from the constitution. Individual states would be allowed to set their own laws. The chances are that most of them would adopt something similar to those which prevail in the rest of the Western world (with which Roe - and subsequent decisions like  Planned Parenthood v Casey do not actually align).

by Wayne Mapp on November 11, 2016
Wayne Mapp

Tim,

i should have made it clear that I meant domestic issues such as Obamacare. The choice the US makes has no international effect as such. 

Obviously I am very interested in the choices the Trump administration makes on international issues. in the Middle East there will not be much change. ISIS still gets bombed. The Eastern Ukrainian in the Donbass might feel they have a chance to realise their ambitions. NATO is secure, but the feckless Europeans may have to pay more.

 I still think the big unknown is the Asia Pacific policy.

in practical terms will the US be worse on climate change? They have reduced CO2 emissions largely due to fracked gas which is way better than coal. Typically the Europeans are ideologically opposed to fracking. That is just one of the many reasons why Europe is declining. They are continually making bad choices.

by Murray Grimwood on November 11, 2016
Murray Grimwood

Sorry, Wayne, but can we stick to facts?, .

You've mixed two things there; C02 reduction and 'declining'.

Actually, it's the amount of energy available, and both gas and coal are finite resources. In both cases we have already extracted and burnt the best. It's gone.That's why we're down to fracturing rock - it's the best of the remaining alternatives.

In energy terms, America is nowhere near as efficient as the Western end of Europe, which makes America further behind in making the changes needed to face what is ahead of us.

http://www.tsp-data-portal.org/Most-Energy-Efficient-Countries#tspQvChart

In C02 per-head terms, America is abysmal:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissi...

Germany per-head: 9.2. America per head: 16.4. Bad choices?

Research is always good..........

by Peggy Klimenko on November 11, 2016
Peggy Klimenko

Tim: "they'd never vote for the guy in the black hat. That they wouldn't, in the end, mistake bullying for strength. They that would see the fakery, hyperbole, blustering incompetence and demonisation and reject it."

Early on, the media - in the US and elsewhere - along with sundry pundits, decided that Trump wasn't a legitimate candidate, and mounted a relentless propaganda campaign against him. Everything he said and did was cast in a negative light or ridiculed. Our media followed suit; RNZ was particularly bad in this regard, seemingly abandoning any attempt at impartial journalism in favour of variations on "Ooh, isn't Trump just AWFUL!", and cosy assumptions that their audience shared their views. I've lost count of the number of times I texted or e-mailed, pointing this out, cautioning against uncritical reliance on the polls and pleading for more balance. To no avail....

That propaganda campaign blinded the mainstream media to what Americans were thinking, such that the election result came as a bolt out of the blue. But it didn't to some of us, who were looking at alternative news sites in the US, and reading feedback on blogsites. Anecdote rather than evidence, to be sure, but nevertheless that, together with the lessons learned from Brexit, suggested that something was brewing in the US as well.

Trump had all those epithets - racism, narcissism, misogyny, xenophobia, bullying, incompetence, any others I've forgotten - thrown at him. It isn't actually possible for any individual to be so bad, and I don't doubt that many voters were of the same view; thus were they alerted to the propaganda campaign, and looked past it or ignored it. It also seemed to me that much of Trump's performance during the campaign was just that: performance and rhetoric, designed to attract as much publicity as possible. The media and the pundits, though, failed to recognise it for what it was.

There's another thing about this: shouting at voters and excoriating them for supporting Trump is likely to have had the unintended consequence of increasing his support. Nobody likes being lectured to. There's nothing wrong with being a working class white; being a white at all, come to that. Nor do such people have to cleave to liberal notions of how to think about race, gender and so on. Thoughts are free... Freedom of speech is much more vigorously pursued there than here.

"...tragically rejecting a woman with the potential to have made real change"

I cannot agree with this. Clinton is part of the Establishment and therefore part of the problem as Trump voters see it. Her history and what she represents militate against her being able to make the changes voters are looking for.

We are relieved that Clinton wasn't elected. In our household, we take a keen interest in what goes on in eastern Europe and Russia, having extended family connections to that part of the world. For a considerable number of years, the neocons - of whom Clinton is one - have mounted a determined anti-Russian - a fortiori anti-Putin - propaganda campaign. Everything said or done by Russia and Putin is reported negatively or ridiculed, and malign motivations ascribed to them. Clinton has been the cheerleader-in-chief ever since she became Secretary of State; for some time, she's been talking up war with Russia.This propaganda campaign has been taken up enthusiastically by mainstream media in the US and elsewhere. The New York Times in particular appears to have completely abandoned journalism in favour of Putin-bashing.

Trump, on the other hand, has proposed a different path: one of co-operation with Russia to solve the conflict in Syria, recognising the legitimacy of Crimea's desire to reunite with Russia and lifting sanctions imposed after Russia's annexation of Crimea. We hope for peace in eastern Europe and with Russia: provided Trump manages to hold to his proposed path, the chances of peace are greatly increased.

by Dennis Horne on November 12, 2016
Dennis Horne

Make no mistake about Trump. Americans full of sh** wanted an rrrs hole and they got one.

Climate change. China understands the consequence of business-as-usual. Photovoltaic capacity is already 43 GW (Context: NZ total all sources <1). 

Looks like a collision course to me.

by Ross on November 12, 2016
Ross

Wayne,

I hate to break it to you but fracking is not tolerated in parts of the USA and further afield. In fact, it is banned in New York, Texas and parts of California.

"After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative".

https://www.rt.com/usa/270562-new-york-fracking-ban/

https://www.rt.com/usa/202543-texas-fracking-ban-denton/

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/305198-california-county-vo...

https://keeptapwatersafe.org/global-bans-on-fracking/

by Ross on November 12, 2016
Ross

it is banned in New York, Texas and parts of California.

Only in parts of Texas.

by Tim Watkin on November 12, 2016
Tim Watkin

Peggy, we're going to keep disagreeing on most of that. Yes, much of the traditional evidence deceived or was misread. But anecdote and blogs are no replacement for proper journalism. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I think you're falling into a trap simply throwing the "establishment" label around. Every politician is in some way part of an establishment; Sanders has been working within the system for years. If you mean he's anti the influence of banks and bug money, sure. But that alone doesn't define establishment or not. Clinton, with a lifetime in politics, of course has made all sorts of compromises and backdowns over the years. That's a good thing. But she's also held firm on all sorts of things, such as her feminism.

As for Putin, his flaws, his willingness to cross sovereign borders and egg on murderous regimes, disregard for international law and potential to do much more damage, seem so obvious to me. So I'm afraid you and I will disagree on him and his crimes (I wonder if you'd be as forgiving if Trump marches an army into Mexico?), just as I'll disagree with those who make excuses for Trump.

by Tim Watkin on November 12, 2016
Tim Watkin

Liam, that's a slightly reassuring thought. But only slightly. Look at the legislative map and I could imagine that – what, half? – could introduce quite punitive anti-abortion laws. I can imagine huge civil battles over that issue.

by Charlie on November 12, 2016
Charlie

You really don't get it Andrew!

Read this:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-the-unbearable-smugness-of-the-pr...

 

 

 

 

by Peggy Klimenko on November 12, 2016
Peggy Klimenko

Charlie, that was a terrific article! An overdue mea culpa. I wonder if there'll be any similar admissions from journalists here? I hope that you've sent it to RNZ, whose journalists have displayed similar failings regarding the Trump campaign.

by Ross on November 12, 2016
Ross

The problem with many journalists is that they want to be part of the news, not simply report the news. Because some (many?) journalists clearly favoured Hillary, they were in no position to offer a balanced, unbiased analysis of the election. We have that here in NZ. I don't want to know what a journalist thinks about x or y. I want them to report the news without needing to put their spin on it.

by Murray Grimwood on November 12, 2016
Murray Grimwood

Tim - "But anecdote and blogs are no replacement for proper journalism".

Actually, the only thing that matters is the ascertainment of facts. That requires dispassionate investigation, with a view wide enough to assemble all things in proportion. Whether by bloggers, reporters or private individuals is irrelevant.

I don't know of any reporter in NZ who qualifies, on that big-picture basis. Hager does research very well, but it seems to be mostly the investigation of skulduggery. Morgan commissions some good from-a-dispassionate-start stuff - Poles Apart is a standout, Hook line and Blinkers is good too. But like others, they address specifics. Many report Climate Change well, for instance - but without addressing the fact that Climate Change is only the exhaust of the burning of the fossil energy without which we have no economy, no trade, no countinuation of life as we know it. They often tail off lamely envisioning a brave new world of electric cars and renewable energy. Yes, we will end up with renewables, no they don't do what oil does. 

I have yet to see - and it's not for want of asking and offering - a whole-picture treatise, from anyone in NZ. Prove me wrong. Show me one serious NZ treatise of the Limits to Growth, overpopulatiom, overconsumption, depletion, degradation (and inevitable collapse or, alternatively, cohesive management of the way down).

Yet that is what underlies the why of Trump, Brexit, the current low oil prices, why America is in oil-rich places, why people like Putin - and Castro two generations ago - are demonised, why wealth is more and more 'bidding up of existing items'.

The question is: Can Trump manage the way down? Could Clinton? My guess would be 'no' in both cases. My list in this country - of folk who could - begins and ends with Jeanette Fitzsimmons.

 

 

 

 

by Dennis Horne on November 12, 2016
Dennis Horne

If we all knew the truth it would be a different world.

Until we write the correct description of reality we'll have to make do with observation, measurement and interpretations or explanations founded on judgement. Science and the balance of informed opinion.

And if anyone thinks facts exist without judgement, even in mathematics, I invite you to decide, on inspection, if Andrew Wiles's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem is correct.

That a fair proportion of the population reject the consensus on global warming/climate change, science endorsed by the Royal Society of London, National Academy of Sciences of the USA, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Physical Society, American Chemical Society and every other scientific institution and society on the planet, preferring to believe it's an error or a hoax, shows that people are mad, not right. That's the issue the media misjudged.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MISe_8RAUsw

 

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