…was not the one that most people expected. That in itself shows that a lot of the tools for determining likely voting patterns in US elections have ceased to be effective or accurate, and a big change is needed for them to become credible again.
As for the decision itself, well, once again the USA, in my humble opinion has flunked its Civics test, on two grounds:
1. They elected the carnival barker
2. Turnout, in what was definitely an election with clear choices, was down from 2012. Significantly.
When only about 50% of eligible electors are voting in a national election, that undermines the legitimacy of the entire political process. The argument that non-voters can’t complain is a logically compelling one, but it overlooks the reality that those people are not voting because they decided not to. And nobody can determine their preferences because there is no clear record of them. Political parties should be concerned about this issue, but in practice they don’t care because it reduces the number of people they need to persuade to win elections.
As for the decision itself…I am not happy with it, for reasons that I previously wrote about. I do not have much optimism for the next 4 years. The nativist and racist genie has been well and truly uncorked, as I can see on Twitter and other social media forums. It is almost certainly true that racist and nativist sentiment is a symptom, not the cause. However, as somebody who grew up in Europe with an understanding of European history, the parallels with the 1930s are too close for comfort.
Donald Trump talked a lot about blowing the system up, but what he carefully avoided discussing was the extent to which the major political parties have, over time, become funded by and largely subservient to the wishes of big business. Big business wants easy immigration and cheap labor. Anybody who voted for Donald Trump expecting that he would kick out all of the immigrants stealing their jobs is probably in for a rude awakening. Trump is a businessman (a not very successful one, and a cowboy at that) but he respects business and, of all of the interest groups that he claims he will knock into line, that is where i expect the least change, mainly due to the reality that running mass market politics is a process requiring horse-choking sums of cash. The cozy duopoly will continue, and the blue collar workers are likely to be disappointed.
One possibility that I think has not been seriously discussed is that the outcome of the election will make the United States a much less attractive place to live and work for people who truly have choices. Knowledge workers and and creative class people, who usually skew to younger age groups, may vote with their feet. If the nativist sentiments start to bleed through into deportations and other endemic discrimination against migrants, many professional people with options and the ability to move will up sticks and leave. IT will be particularly badly affected, since there are massive numbers of overseas people in IT. That might improve my lot in the short term, but it might not. The shortage of tech workers might simply lead to companies offshoring all IT support.
If skilled and creative class workers do start to leave in significant numbers, the USA’s competitiveness will decline quite quickly. The Western World is now in the post-industrial age, and the USA cannot continue forever Digging Stuff Up And Selling It. Eventually all countries run out of Stuff To Dig Up. Many of the ideas espoused by Donald Trump, based on the magical return of jobs to the USA, are not only unrealistic, but are not amenable to execution on electoral timescales. The loss of manufacturing overseas has been happening for 40+ years, and slapping tariffs on foreign goods is about the stupidest way to address the issue, even if it plays well with the discontented folks in Upper Podunk. A worldwide economic recession in an interconnected world will, as always, disproportionately impact the people near the bottom of the economic ladder.
We are US citizens, Mary by birth and me via assimilation. However, the United States is starting to indicate to me that it may no longer be the “shining city on a hill” that I was originally convinced that it was. As a person who grew up in an out group, I have no intention of finding myself in an out group in my adopted country, and having to co-exist with people reacting to circumstances by practising casual racism and sexism.
Mary and I are therefore looking at all of our options. In December we will be visiting Belize, and we intend to look at purchasing land there to build rental property. We were already discussing what should happen in the next phase of our lives, and this election result may have accelerated the decision timetable.