Betty and Robert are a young American couple living in a small town of Indiana. She works for a NGO while he has a job in a community hospital. They are not religious, let alone creationists. However, they are highly committed to their community, taking part in several charities. They shelter at home young people no matter their backgrounds; Americans and foreigners; Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians. Once, they received a unexpected phone call late at night requesting urgent accommodation for a helpless teenager and, even though their guestroom was already occupied, they did not hesitate: “Yes, of course,” was their reply. Immediately, Robert drove his old pickup truck to the town hall in order to pick up the boy while Betty cleared the garret to refurbish and clean it as a new bedroom. The next morning, before going to work, both went to a store in order to purchase a new bed they paid out of their pocket.
However, on Tuesday November 8th, Betty and Robert were among the 62 million of Americans who astonished most political analysts all over the world by voting for Donald Trump
Both Betty and Robert are hard-working, honest, altruistic people, well-respected and highly appreciated by their neighbors. In Europe, many people would label them as “liberals” but for their American friends and acquaintances they are simply “good people”. However, on Tuesday November 8th, Betty and Robert were among the 62 million of Americans who astonished most political analysts all over the world by voting for Donald Trump. And they did so instead of voting for a Democrat candidate who was supposed to embody the values they support through their own behavior. Their decision, according to the hasty judgment of many so called sanctimonious observers, has turned them suddenly into immoral people.
Obviously, this couple does not fit the profile most analysts, opinion columnist and media tailor made to those who supported Mr. Trump. According to their attitudes, their principles and especially their behavior- actions speak louder than words- Betty and Robert are not despicable, selfish, insensitive or ignorant people at all. Still less do they deserve other grosser insults, which these days are uttered not by bumpkins, but by well educated people who are supposed to be intelligent, analytical and reflexive. How can we explain that this couple preferred the detestable Donald to the allegedly well-meaning Hillary? You will not find a satisfactory answer from those political scientists and journalists who, refusing to get their feet on the ground, fail to analyze the facts objectively, regardless of their prejudices and preferences.
The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has raised protests, riots, shouts, insults, swearwords and even some violent acts. And it has showed up the shortcomings of some analysts, who are willing to announce the Apocalypse, the end of the World, rather than trying to explain rigorously the causes and consequences of this phenomenon. True, Trump is a provocative, arrogant, histrionic, prone to being a nonsense-character, somehow repellent. But these facts increase the need for a deeper and convincing explanation of his unexpected victory, the need for an argument that goes further than just labeling his supporters as immoral and illiterate. Trump has not only prevailed in the rural “deep America”; he also outvoted his competitor in Pennsylvania, Michigan or Ohio. It is obvious that there are a lot of Roberts and Bettys behind his victory, enough more than many analysts would like.
Barack Obama has not been either a bad or good president, but ordinary one. However, he raised excessive expectations from the very beginning
Barack Obama has not been either a bad or good president, but ordinary one. However, he raised excessive expectations from the very beginning. He launched the famous “Yes We Can” to solve many problems politics could never fix, leading, eventually, to a deep frustration. And, unlike Europeans, what Americans badly tolerate is lying, feeling they have been cheated. Richard Nixon had to resign, not because their bad practices; just for lying.
Mr. Trump saw the system fracture, and quickly realized he could reach the White House posing as an enfant terrible, a political outsider that, like the ordinary citizen, detests those Washington bureaucrats that have ruled the country for decades. He got his way fighting deviously, in the short distance, shuffling the debate out of the neat ground of reason and transferring it to the mud of instincts, impulsions and emotions. Doing so, his appearance, insults and bad manners would not be perceived by the public as defects or faults, but as ruthless attacks on the powerful establishment.
No more aristocracy in America
In order to beat the snippy Donald, the Democratic Party nominated the worst possible candidate, Hillary Clinton. Despite her remarkable intelligence, her professional skills, and her higher electoral budget, she had an insurmountable flaw: her image portrayed the hated establishment better than anyone else’s. After controlling the machinery of the Democratic party for years, Hillary symbolized the odious bureaucrat, making her seem really unfriendly to many people. In addition, many saw in her presidency a throwback to the past, the Clinton saga back to the White House, a new aristocracy to which the American idiosyncrasy is so reluctant. Surely, Trump would have been defeated by any other candidate, man or woman, with novel ideas and renewed image, much less involved in the past politics. But Hillary insisted on becoming president in order to break the glass ceiling of her own pride.
The Trump phenomenon must be framed within the process of frustration and distrust of the political class we have seen across the Western World. But it is also the result of decades of unfair imposition of the political correctness
The Trump phenomenon must be framed within the process of frustration and distrust of the political class we have seen across the Western World. But it is also the result of decades of unfair imposition of the political correctness, an intrusive, censorious, gelatinous ideology, that condemn everyone that questions its truths. It is a doctrine that points out a lot of words as taboo, trying to implement the Orwellian principle: what cannot be said … cannot be thought either. The political correctness is a kind of secular religion claiming that the identity of any individual is determined by their attachment to a particular group and therefore that discrimination may be positive as each group should be treated differently. As expected, the imposition of political correctness in many countries has resulted in some reactance, that is, an emotional reaction that opposes these censorious rules that the individual perceives as absurd and arbitrary since they ban behaviors and ideas that anyone could consider to be legitimate.
The overwhelming American loathing
However, and here is the key, in the United States the resistance to political correctness has been much sharper than in Europe because this ideology clashes head on with the principles that give birth to the American nation, the first modern democracy. The original American mentality of free and equal citizens is incompatible with positive discrimination, now called affirmative action, in which any individual is treated depending on his or her birth, race, sex or social group; not by own merits. Many people perceive that politicians tend to accomplish the demands of well-organized groups, granting them privileges and advantages. It spreads the feeling among the people not included in any group that the aristocratic, stratified ancient European society that was eradicated by the American revolution threatens to come back again.
The United States arises from the free debate of ideas, from the discussion of arguments among great intellectuals like Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton or Jay. In Democracy in America (1835), French political scientist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville noted: “An American does not converse, he does discuss and his talk falls into a dissertation”. Thus, political correctness, with its censorship, its codes about what must be said and what must not, about compulsory and forbidden words, creates an overwhelming loathing and indignation among Americans for it breaks the tradition of free thought, free speech and free debate the founding fathers established.
Political correctness is now a kind of secular religion, acceptable to the American mentality … except when its partisans try to make it compulsory for everyone, somewhat reminiscent of the old European wars of religion
In addition, America settled the fundamental principle of religious freedom. The diversity of Christian churches led to the necessary tolerance and coexistence among them. No faith would be forbidden, nor would anyone be compelled to profess any religion. Political correctness is now a kind of secular religion, acceptable to the American mentality … except when its partisans try to make it compulsory for everyone, somewhat reminiscent of the old European wars of religion.
Not insane or suicidal American voters
Nonetheless, despite of electing an inadequate president, most American voters are not insane or suicidal; not immoral either. Of course, sometimes they may surprise Europeans for overlooking verbal excesses, even swearwords, vulgarity and nonsense that in the hypocritical Europe, where what is said is weighted more than what is done, would lead directly to be burned at the stake. But most Americans are sure they can afford kicking strongly the establishment’s rear bottom without jeopardizing their own future.
Thanks to the strength of American checks and balances, so opportunely designed by Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison or John Jay, the US president cannot act as he or she pleases against the criteria of the House, the Senate or the Supreme Court
The election of Donald Trump will hardly lead to the catastrophic consequences many analysts predict because his most extravagant proposals will never be carried out. At least, not to the extent they were announced during the campaign. And not only because Mr. Trump is just a pragmatic businessman, a kind of trickster who has performed the only role that could lead him to the White House: attacking the establishment and the political correctness. Also because a foolish US president would brings about much less risks than it could do in other parts of the world, as in our own country, Spain. Thanks to the strength of American checks and balances, so opportunely designed by Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison or John Jay, the US president cannot act as he or she pleases against the criteria of the House, the Senate or the Supreme Court. Therefore, the most Trump could achieve is to change some aspects of American politics, perhaps forcing the GOP re-founding, and especially to perform his very good shows.
As far as Betty and Robert are concerned, they feel they have taken the right decision: punishing the lies of the past 30 years, rebelling against the imposition of political correctness and preventing the danger of dynasties. After all, and although we Europeans cannot understand it, they trust more in themselves and their community than in the government or any US president. And so they want it to remain.
(*) Javier Benegas – Political Analyst and Opinion Editor of the Spanish newspaper Vozpopuli
(*) Juan M. Blanco – MSc (London School of Economics and Political Science). Professor of Economics, University of Valencia (Spain)