Trump’s Win Wasn’t Ideological. It Was Brilliant.

by Eric Zuesse

CNN explained well “5 surprising lessons from Trump’s astonishing win”, and the historic crushing failure of traditional Presidential-year American politics, but it really boils down to one simple fact: In the battleground states, where most of the advertising dollars and get-out-the-vote money was being spent, the Trump organization made use of the Republican-Party organization in those portions of the campaign-operation that benefited from those established contacts and its tried-and-tested methods and techniques, but not in the portions of the campaign-operation that needed to be improved and to function better than in all prior U.S. Presidential elections.
The simple fact is that Trump’s understanding of U.S. national politics was transcendent, better even than that of the candidate whom all of the polls during the political primaries showed to be the most preferred by the most people and thus to be able to beat any of the other contestants in a one-on-one electoral choice against any of the others: Bernie Sanders. (See this and this for the evidence on that.)
(And if there were any remaining doubt as to why he was, consider this report from Reuters near 3AM on Wednesday November 9th, right after the voting: “U.S. voters want leader to end advantage of rich and powerful – Reuters/Ipsos poll”. For example, this poll of 10,000 people leaving their polling-places showed: “75 percent agree that ‘America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.’” That had been Bernie Sanders’s message, too. Trump’s campaign brought people like that out to vote.)
Sanders may have been right to think that highest net approval-rating is generally the biggest single predictive factor determining a Presidential candidate’s winning the White House (and he had the highest net-approval rating), but he (like his opponent Hillary Clinton) missed the importance of the emotional-intensity factor, which Trump made virtuosic use of. (This can be seen clearly when you look further at the exit-poll results: the actual people who went to the polls — the people sampled in the exit-polling — were fundamentally different from the cross-section of America’s ‘likely voters’ that were sampled in the pre-election polling! Trump trumped all traditional politics. This achievement is simply astounding.)
Whereas Sanders failed to recognize that in Democratic Party primaries there was more emotional intensity for the existing, Clinton-Obama, anti-FDR, Democratic Party, than there was for ideological progressivism (FDR’s legacy, which dominated the Democratic Party prior to Bill Clinton’s win in 1992) (and Hillary’s understanding of that turned out to have been correct), and so the incompetent but aristocracy-backed politician Hillary Clinton was able to steal the Democratic Party nomination from him, Trump was able easily to garner the most primary votes in a crowded 17-candidate field and so to become the nominee of one of the two major political Parties and go on to face the incompetent Hillary in the general election.
From Bernie Sanders’s standpoint, such a general-election contest, between two candidates both of whom had hugely net-negative approval-ratings, couldn’t have made much political sense, and so he chose to endorse the thief Hillary and become a non-entity in the post-1992 and profoundly corrupt Democratic Party, instead of to found an authentically independent political movement — not political Party but political movement — which would honestly and without partisanship cherry-pick which candidates, from which of the two political Parties, will, on balance, as against the given candidate’s opponent, provide the highest benefit and least harm toward advancing the progressive cause. (That was the only constructive path forward for him after Hillary robbed him.) He chose the stick-in-the-mud route.
Sanders opted to become just a cog in an ugly greasy pro-aristocracy machine, the Democratic Party wing of the U.S. aristocracy.
After the Republican Party’s nomination was won by Trump (which he did honestly), he went on to build on that success an authentic anti-aristocracy (or ‘anti-Establishment’) movement, beside and outside the Republican Party. His basic anti-aristocracy message remained unchanged, and he, as the Republican nominee, faced the biggest decision-point in his entire campaign: whether now to reach out to the millions of Sanders’s voters (i.e., the largest of all voting-segments) by joining with now Hillary’s — the post-1992, Bill Clinton’s, Democratic Party’s — emphasis upon both race and gender over economic class as what’s posing the biggest barrier to achieving equality of economic opportunity in America (in which case, Trump would have adopted Hillary Clinton’s basic campaign message), or, instead, to stay with his original message that economic class (and the elite’s “corruption” behind that) poses the biggest barrier against achieving “the equal-opportunity society.”
Trump — wisely, as it now turns out — chose the latter path (the original Bernie Sanders’ basic message): he was determined to retain the intensity-advantage (the ‘populist’ thrust), so as to be able to bring the largest numbers of voters to the polls on Election Day in the toss-up states and crush his opponent who was looking to win a ‘coalition’ of voting-segments: women, Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, etcetera. She thought that those people’s personal group-identification would sufficiently surmount any negative feelings they might have regarding her long history of corrupt use of public office to advantage her financial supporters, so that she would beat ‘the bigot’, Donald Trump; she turned out to be wrong.
What will be the important consequences of Trump’s win?
I, a Bernie Sanders voter, voted for Trump against Hillary, for the reasons that I have earlier stated, describing the consequences that a Trump win would have. (See: “I’m a Bernie Sanders Voter: Here’s Why I’ll Vote Trump”.) I summed up, on that occasion:

Trump is rapidly moving America’s political center in the opposite direction from the direction that Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, did, which was toward conservatism, away from progressivism: those conservative Democratic Presidents and (now) would-be President, have moved America’s political center considerably toward the right (the international-corporate agenda). A President Trump would reverse the political direction that this country has been heading in ever since 1993.
If we progressives don’t help Trump to do that, we shall be throwing away the only such opportunity that the U.S. oligarchy [slipped-up and] allowed us to have. A President Hillary Clinton would have the support of almost all congressional Democrats no matter how right-wing her proposals are, and her big-money financial backers will buy enough congressional Republicans to make her the most effective most conservative Democratic President in decades if not centuries. The prospect is chilling.

The biggest objection I hear to that from my fellow progressives is: “But think of the people he’ll appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court!” And my answer to that is: “This Is No ‘Cold War’; It’s Far Worse Than That.” Hillary Clinton has been intensely committed to completing Barack Obama’s drive toward nuclear war against Russia, and even the question of the Supreme Court is trivial in comparison to that. Furthermore, as I argued in “I’m a Bernie Sanders Voter: Here’s Why I’ll Vote Trump”, Trump might actually turn out to be a far more progressive President than he is expected to be. But, even if that turns out not to be the case, Trump is thoroughly committed to halting America’s aggression against Russia: the biggest loser in this Presidential election is George Herbert Walker Bush, the person who in 1990 secretly established the U.S. plan to conquer Russia, which plan every U.S. President since has been carrying out, and Hillary Clinton was expecting to complete that operation.
This was thus a historic U.S. election: finally, the U.S. government will turn away from the path toward war against Russia, upon which path the United States has been leading the world ever since 1990. I am shocked, and enormously relieved, at the result — even if Trump turns out to be a bad (i.e., a conservative, the opposite of a progressive) President on all other matters (including the Supreme Court).
Even in the worst-case scenario, Trump will be a much better President than would the neoconservative, Hillary Clinton.
Thank you, Donald Trump! Without your achievement here, the likely result now would be catastrophic, even worse than what Hillary Clinton did as U.S. Secretary of State.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.


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Nov 12, 2016 9:39 AM

Are you for real…he’s not that clever. He is like a petulant child.. Trump simply wanted to raise his Brand and it went too far.. He even tried to sabotage his campaign and failed.
Hes now stuck with it …that’s Karma .
He looks bored with it all and has already shown signs that he wants out…ie doesn’t want to move into the Whitehouse !!
He wants to keep his FUN life …reality shows etc…
America you are totally blind !!!—–

Nov 11, 2016 12:33 AM

Reblogged this on gwfenimore.

Nov 10, 2016 7:52 PM

Democrats on the streets protesting about … democracy!

Nov 10, 2016 4:43 PM

“Trump is thoroughly committed to halting America’s aggression against Russia: the biggest loser in this Presidential election is George Herbert Walker Bush, the person who in 1990 secretly established the U.S. plan to conquer Russia, which plan every U.S. President since has been carrying out, and Hillary Clinton was expecting to complete that operation.”
Another top candidate for the Foggy Bottom job is Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker has repeatedly blasted Moscow for its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and intervention in Syria — positions that put him at odds with Trump, who has openly praised Putin and expressed a desire to warm relations with the Cold War adversary.
However, Corker has used his gravitas on the committee to defend Trump’s unorthodox foreign policy views, and even gone so far as to describe Trump as a “Bush 41” Republican on diplomatic issues. In August, Corker said he’d “strongly consider” serving under Trump as secretary of state.
Also under consideration for the job is John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. Oftentimes the face of Bush’s unilateralist foreign policy, Bolton was a controversial figure at the U.N., but could refashion himself for a Trump presidency centered around “America First” policies.
full: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/09/the-top-contenders-for-donald-trumps-foreign-policy-cabinet/

Nov 10, 2016 8:53 PM
Reply to  louisproyect

Another “and you are lynching negroes!” but-what-about-them comment from our favourite ex-Trotskyist, ironically taking a page from the Stalinist playbook. Do you think people don’t know that the Republican Party political machine is in favour of intervention in the Middle East and aggression towards Russia and China? If your blog posts can be taken as an indication of your views, on war, you, Louis Proyect, are on the same side as both the Republicans and Democrats. The point being made in the article is that Trump campaigned on a promise to re-establish friendly relations with Russia, not that the Republican Party as a whole has suddenly decided to abandon imperialism and the legacy of Reagan and the Bushes. Your own quote makes exactly that point.

Nov 10, 2016 11:20 AM

Insightful article. I share the author’s relief that Clinton lost, and lost BIG. As Zuesse points out Clinton and her cabinet were teething at the bit to enforce the no-fly zone over Syria and that would mean direct conflict with Russia. On the other hand it is too early know what exactly Trump stands for, what he will do. He’s said he wants to tone down US militarism abroad, let’s hope this comes to pass. Domestically I’m concerned about his race baiting against Latinos and Arabs. What will he do with the economy? I remain unconvinced that Trump is ‘progressive’ as Zeusse claims. Interesting times ahead.

Nov 12, 2016 12:08 PM
Reply to  deschutes

Oh dear can’t you see that you are all giving him too much credit…he does not want this any more than I do. He is suffering…bored and just wants his fickle life back.
He spat his dummy out and got revenge on all those that wouldn’t take him seriously and now it’s went too far. He even tried to sabotage his own campaign and no one seemed to notice…….
He doesn’t actually care about any of it…he has no politics..it’s all about him and his BRAND.
He doesnt want to move into the Whitehouse he wants Trump Tower. Golf and his dear mother to look after him.. Oops I meant his wife !##
Don’t worry he won’t be allowed to do anything radical…he will be kept under control and pacified to prevent further tantrums..
Just an overgrown boy !!!!!

Nov 10, 2016 10:06 AM

The authors enthusiasm matches the current mood of many whom I suspect have been ‘played’ again.

Nov 10, 2016 9:01 AM

I think if anything this particular episode showed the limitations of both polling surveys and the media. With the whole weight of the visual and printed media behind her, Clinton still managed to lose. The media is powerful but not THAT powerful. Post-election the mass media is having a collective apoplectic fit. I have never seen such hysteria and open class hatred. Their problem is that they seem to reside in a collective self-delusional, virtual reality – groupthink in short. This is a process which might be defined as a group with similar backgrounds and largely insulated from outside opinions makes decisions without critically testing and evaluating ideas. It involves collective rationalisations, convictions about the inherent morality of its views, and illusions about unanimity and invulnerability; the group holds stereotypical views about outsiders and no toleration of dissent.
Suffice it to say when everybody is thinking the same, nobody is thinking at all. These people live on a diet of tired cliches, unsubstantiated assertions and political value judgments taken to be axiomatic. They are self-righteous, supercilious and frankly deranged, incapable of understanding the existence of other viewpoints nor will they tolerate them.
Once again the polls got it wrong despite all the technology available. Psephology is about as scientific as economics. But it is only as good as the information fed into it. As the old saying goes GIGO, garbage in, garbage out.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig
Nov 10, 2016 11:26 PM
Reply to  Frank

There’s a simpler explanation for why the media behaved so disgracefully: they are owned by the same people who own the Clintons.

Nov 10, 2016 5:05 AM

You’re all drunk.
When you wake tomorrow you’ll remember that the election is all a charade, and the Powers-that-should-not-be are still in control.

Nov 10, 2016 3:00 AM

The 1% of the 1% got this crucial election in the bag as they were able to mobilise the disillusioned blue collar voters. What it tells us if anything is that class is much more a driving force in politics than identity – no surprise there for some. What we can take from this is how it is managed which is important.
Clinton’s job was to see off Sanders once that was achieved Sanders, as Eric Zuesse says, capitulated and Trump was savvy enough to capitalise on that (no pun intended). Who’s the war party and whose not we will have to wait and see.
The first indicator of if anything has changed will be if Trump pays a visit to Putin before his inauguration, as he said he would do. If that does not happen then all bets are off regarding a thaw in the new cold war.

Graham Hooper
Graham Hooper
Nov 9, 2016 11:29 PM

Bernie Sanders Would have Won if he stood in place of Hillary ..The Vote was his ..to Win Trump got it by Default.

Nov 9, 2016 10:53 PM

Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth.

Nov 9, 2016 10:38 PM

This author’s thoughts are also mine exactly.

Anna Zimmerman
Anna Zimmerman
Nov 10, 2016 6:49 AM
Reply to  archie1954

I’ll second that. It’s such sweet relief to read this article. Not that I don’t accept the point made above about the dominance of the deep state which will try to frustrate any about-face in policy. To have any dissenting voice is better than none, and the power of patronage should not be underestimated. How else does change happen, other than incrementally over time?
I have had a succession of hand-wringing emails from the various charities I support, all expressing their ‘shock’ and ‘fear’ after the result. They all received an excoriating rebuke, along the lines of Eric’s analysis. I can only urge others that agree to do the same. The official narrative of the ‘good’ Hillary versus ‘evil’ Trump must be challenged at every opportunity.

Nov 9, 2016 9:36 PM

He will have a hostile House of Reps and senate. Big money financed all the candidates that got elected like Koch bros and the seven sisters big pharma wall street, and co. My take is like some analyst have stated is that in the end Hitler in drag was so exposed with graft and cronyism that they made a deal with Trump.
Hello new boss same as the old boss. Remember JFK they will not allow anybody to rock the boat . The industrial military complex and the deep state will make sure of that. Beware of Pence.

Nov 9, 2016 8:58 PM

There is one additional component which you have not taken on board.
Trump said something along the lines of “This will be our Brexit” and – later – “This is Brexit plus, plus, plus”.
What he meant by that was a reference to what happened in the United Kingdom during the Brexit referendum.
The referendum went against the Establishment figures and parties with a “Leave” vote – from the EU.
Nigel Farage was arguably the master mind behind the result and Trump met with Farage during the campaign.
What Farage communicated to Trump was that there was a “left-behind” vote waiting to be mobilised.
The “left-behinds” were those who had suffered as a result of globalised trade agreements like NAFTA.
Not only had they lost jobs and seen their lives ruined but also those of their children and grandchildren too.
The “Leave” vote in Britain was a kick up the back side for Prime Minister Cameron, who resigned.
Trump’s Brexit-plus “Making America Great Again” campaign was very similar and achieved a similar outcome.
It mobilised people who had given up on voting into voting for change and a return to a former way of life.
It will be very interesting to see what post-election psephological analysis is carried out and what it reveals about people voting in areas like the Rust Belt who were historically Democrat supporters but who now voted Trump.
Clinton admitted she had lost touch with working-class and middle-class people due to her affluent life-style.
As one of the one per cent of the one per cent, her arrogant superciliousness went down badly with voters.
Trump – by contrast – was described by his own son as a blue collar worker – with a lot of money.
Trump re-established contact with traditional working-class people in the USA and reaped the reward.

Greg Bacon
Greg Bacon
Nov 9, 2016 8:51 PM

Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. They could of won handily with Sanders, but the Clinton Mob and the DNC worked to crush Bernie, telling people they don’t matter.
Well people do matter.

We also saw the ongoing train wreck that is Obamacare and what its doing to our budgets, we didn’t want another four years of that looting.
We also saw thru Clinton’s lies about everything being Putin’s fault. We might be slow, but we’re not stupid.
We realized years ago that the MSM was corrupt to the core and turned to alternative news sites and blogs, to the horror of that (toilet) ‘paper of record.’
Now we can breathe easier for a few days, until the next False Flag.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig
Nov 10, 2016 11:29 PM
Reply to  Greg Bacon

Brilliant–modern American history in a nutshell!

Nov 9, 2016 8:39 PM

Sorry but slightly incoherent article. No flow.

Nov 9, 2016 9:51 PM
Reply to  Jose

Too harsh. This piece has come out in hours. Maybe you write glittering prose at lightning speed. Most of us don’t. Yes, the post is a tad disjoint but that just means WE have a bit more work to put in. There’s enough here to repay the effort.

Nov 9, 2016 10:40 PM
Reply to  Jose

Oh I think the rest of us got the message alright!