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His presidential win is not so much an embrace of Donald Trump—his negatives were even higher than Hillary Clinton's—but a repudiation of everything Establishment for the past two decades. (Photo: Reuters)

President Donald Trump and The Great Repudiation

How the most patently unqualified, the most offensive, personally odious presidential candidate in American history has just been elected president.

Robert Freeman

If ever there was a repudiation of "The Establishment," this was it. 

The most patently unqualified, the most offensive, personally odious presidential candidate in American history has just been elected president. The Groper in Chief. 

This is not so much an embrace of Donald Trump—his negatives were even higher than Hillary Clinton's—as it is a repudiation of everything Establishment for the past two decades, especially  Clinton, the living embodiment of Everything Establishment. 

It is the revenge of white, rural, blue collar, lesser-educated Americans over the cosmopolitan, urban, white collar, educated elites who have run the country as if the 99% didn’t matter. 

It is the repudiation of three decades of economic policies which have shifted massive amounts of income and wealth upwards, turning a democracy into a plutocracy. 

Racism. Nationalism. Misogyny. Anti-Intellectualism. Authoritarianism. Those are Trump's unapologetic stocks in trade. The only thing we know is that we have experienced a tectonic shift of Rooseveltian proportions, only this time to the right, rather than to the left. 

It is a repudiation of Establishment policies on trade, which shipped more than 7,000,000 well-paying factory jobs overseas so that corporations could make higher profits by employing Chinese workers for $1.00 an hour. 

It is a repudiation of an Establishment foreign policy run by and for the weapons makers, which has embroiled the country in trillions of dollars of seemingly unending wars which it can never manage to win.

It is a repudiation of the Establishment ethic, the system, and the players that let 5,000,000 people lose their homes to foreclosure while transferring $17 trillion to the banks to restore the capital they destroyed in their sociopathic greed. 

It is a repudiation of all of the slick lies of neoliberalism and its slick apologists in the media and the corporate shills of what we errantly call "think" tanks. 

Mostly, it is a repudiation of the idea that you can run a country without its people, that capital is all that matters and to hell with labor.

Hillary had the money.  She had the credentials.  She had eight years in the making.  She had the ground game.  She had the embrace of every element of the establishment and celebrities from Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren to Beyonce, LaBron James, James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen. 

A more star-studded cast of Establishment and celebrity endorsers could not possibly be assembled.  And yet, the people saw through it.  It was to be more of the same. 

Trump’s visceral repugnancy is precisely the measure by which neoliberalism and its shills and cancerous results have been rejected by the American people. 

Hate is more easily mobilized than is hope, especially when Hope has been besmirched, debauched by false idols pandering to their own vanity and against the interests of their own people. This is a stark repudiation of Obama and Obama-ism. 

We don’t know how Trump will govern, or whether the country can be governed at all.  We do know that with all three branches of government solidly in Republican hands we can expect a wrenching turn to the right.  RIP Obamacare.  RIP Supreme Court. 

We don’t know if Trump will be taken out by those whose stock in trade is endless war, as was JFK, or whether he can be domesticated to the martial imperatives of empire.  I suspect the latter.

We don’t know if big capital will go on strike, refusing to fund the government’s massive deficits, or whether they will be content with Trump’s lower taxes on capital and its gains.  Overnight results from the stock market are not encouraging. 

We don’t know if this is the death knell to the environment and any hope of arresting the destruction of the planet occasioned by pumping 12 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year. The portent of rampaging know-nothings in power is not salutary. 

Racism. Nationalism. Misogyny. Anti-Intellectualism. Authoritarianism. Those are Trump's unapologetic stocks in trade. The only thing we know is that we have experienced a tectonic shift of Rooseveltian proportions, only this time to the right, rather than to the left. 

We’ve seen two of those in the past century.  One was in 1933, in Germany, which is to say, Hitler. The other was in 1980 in the U.S., which is to say Reagan. We honestly don’t know enough about Trump to know which he will be, or whether he will be something entirely different. Only time will tell. 

But it will not be a return to business as usual. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Robert Freeman

Robert Freeman

Robert Freeman is the author of "The Best One Hour History" series which includes "World War I" (2013), "The InterWar Years" (2014), "The Vietnam War" (2013), and other titles. He is the founder of The Global Uplift Project which builds small-scale infrastructure projects in the developing world to improve humanity’s capacity for self-development.

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