The World Ahead of Us

The wave of electoral shocks has now reached us. Brexit, the Colombian vote against peace, and now Donald Trump’s presidential election victory shows that the experts, analysts, statisticians, the polling systems, and media are pure bluff. The truth continues to rest on the backs of constituents and not on the backs of the speculative voices that misguided and lied to the public. Results also show that mass media is a powerful, unethical and biased source of information that, in their own pursuit of revenues from the sale of ads, can construct political figures as in the case of Donald Trump and paint electoral results that only they believe are true. I am shocked but at the same time I am not surprised because at the end populism imposed itself over mainstream politics. Contrary to what the media says, this outcome is not a green light for the radical right but a wakeup call for the traditional Republican and Democrat parties, a referendum on almost thirty years of free trade policies and other neoliberal initiatives that have bled this nation’s middle and working classes.3e8a754ff77984867a987a1f2b99b576

I am disappointed and frustrated over the reaction of those protesting the outcomes of our democratic elections. I am sure they would have been very critical of such reaction if the Clinton campaign had won and Trump supporters would have taken the streets, denouncing them as uncivilized and aggressive. Mainstream media would have immediately ceased the opportunity to once again strengthen their negative views about the citizens that supported Donald Trump. I am upset at the Michael Moore’s of the world who make the claim, from their own white privilege, that “Trump’s presidency has to be opposed” simply because they cannot tolerate the loss, inciting violence and reactionary mass mobilization that cause social harm and damage the fabric of our democracy.[1]

Let’s for a moment be realistic. Close to 43 percent of the total eligible voting population did not come out and vote on November 8.[2] That is the number that makes the difference in any democratic election across the planet. This means that only 57 of the population voted in the election and that close to 28 per cent of the population voted the republican candidate into office. Those frustrated with the electoral results should begin planning on how to capture the attention of those ninety plus million Americans that did not vote in this election instead of arguing against a decision that cannot be reversed through popular mobilization because we are not in Venezuela or even prepared for our own Arab Spring. The people have spoken, all 28 percent of them, but those are the rules of the game.

Nothing positive may come out of these protests. The frustrated sectors of society must wait and see what happens, be attentive and observe how things unfold, and give the Trump administration an opportunity to get the ball rolling. As I told my students, nothing will be achieved through protest but through engagement and active participation in politics. One must use the tools within the system to advance collective agendas, but one must take ownership, changing your representatives when they do not respond to their constituency and replacing them with new blood.

This has not been the case in American politics and that is why many people are surprised that an outsider won. The recent popular unrest shows that the general sense is that change is bad and the status quo is good. This is generally the case in powerful nation states that see in change a threat to those in power within the status quo. The masses came out in support of the status quo without even understanding why they do so. Constituents in developing nations do not see a problem with drastic changes in the political direction of their country because they have nothing to loose and plenty to gain. This is the reasoning behind those that supported Donald Trump. At the end poverty, decreasing quality of life, and disenfranchisement imposed itself over the status quo. Those opposing the electoral result do not realize that this was a vote against the Republican and Democrat establishment, against the status quo that systemically vanished communities and the working class for the past thirty plus years. A vote against a technocratic class working on behalf of a political elite that capitalized from neoliberal policies that sacrificed state sovereignty over neoliberal policies of free trade and globalization; a surge of nationalism that came in response to the systemic pressures of a rapidly expanding global market system.

The shock comes because we have been a complacent constituency, brainwashed by mass media to believe that everything was all right when in reality it was not, at least for the working class American. Passivity has been the problem; we have remained content with the status quo of more than thirty years that brought, as a bipartisan project, the aggressive implementation of neoliberal policies that included NAFTA, a series of bilateral trade agreements, and the future Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP).

The outcome of the election is the responsibility of the complacent constituency that went through the electoral cycles every four years, accepting the promises from mainstream republicans and democrats as they saw the dismantling of communities and local economies unfold in front of their eyes, watching good paying blue collar jobs replaced by service sector jobs that paid half if one was lucky. I encourage students to reflect on their own passive behavior as their student debt accumulates in front of their own eyes, until it reaches a breaking point from which there is no return. I encourage them to compare themselves to the unemployed, underemployed, and disenfranchised sectors of American society that finally shook off the warm enchantment of bipartisan mainstream politicians, electing the populist candidate instead and marking a point of no return.

Change was going to come either from Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump supporters, because the masses had had enough with mainstream neoliberal policies. The problem for the losing side was that the Democratic Party did not respond to the Republican Party with their own populist ticket and instead mismatched the populist Trump with the mainstream politician that was disliked by a large majority of the population, because at the end only close to 28 percent of the population voted for Hillary Clinton and a percentage of those who voted for her simply did so in order to impede Donald Trump from reaching the presidency.

Change is good, particularly in a culture that became accustomed to living within a toxic status quo that slowly destroyed our domestic economy and its local communities in exchange for greater profits for multinational corporations that capitalized on the global market system constructed by the same mainstream political elites. Change is good because it forces civil society to react and become energized from the outcomes of the election. This is the opportunity for new constituencies to emerge within the democratic debate, a chance to cleanse the Democratic and Republican Party from within, to remove power from the Baby-Boomer status quo and into the hands of younger generations, a transformative period for American democracy. It is the time to test the powers of our checks and balance system at all levels of government. It is the time for us to reinvent ourselves as a nation outside the status quo. This will generate social tension; it is part of the price that nations pay for change.

It is clear that the Trump administration must be quick to send a message to sectors of society that take his racist and sexist comments beyond the world of political rhetoric, and that law enforcement and our regulatory systems must stay true to their constitutional and legal frameworks. It is important that we respect his presidency and support his nation building initiatives. We must place our confidence on our democratic system and not on the dishonest media outlets that lied to us during this electoral process. As I told my students, this is a great opportunity for American society. Not the time to complain but to become active and engaged, to once again reclaim constituent rights and move away from the consumer role enforced on us by the mainstream neoliberal politicians.

 

[1] CNN. “Anti-Trump Protesters Take the Streets Again.” Accessed November 11, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/11/11/michael-moore-must-oppose-trump-presidency-ctn.cnn/video/playlists/cant-miss/,

[2] Daniel Levine. “Over 90 Million Eligible Voters Didn’t Vote in 2016.” Heavy.com. Accessed November 11, 2016. http://heavy.com/news/2016/11/eligible-voter-turnout-for-2016-data-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-republican-democrat-popular-vote-registered-results/

 

Stefano Tijerina

About Stefano Tijerina

My name is Stefano Tijerina and this blog’s objective is to connect Maine’s social, environmental, economic, cultural, and political issues to the global system, centering on how the local impacts the global and how the global impacts the local or what is known in Global Studies as the Global effect. In our present era of globalization it is crucial for the general public to understand how the new dynamics of the international system impact our lives here in Maine and how our local decisions impact the earth.