So, the unthinkable has come to pass: come January, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Despite being one of the most internationally reviled presidential candidates to have ever graced the political stage, Trump’s victory is surprisingly sensational. At the time of writing, Trump has gained 279 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton’s 228 in a result that has shocked the world. Out of all the political pundits, commentators and well, politicians who toured tv stations and talk shows with such heady aplomb, few saw this coming. Those that did, were in denial or simply too sheepish to allude to the burgeoning groundswell of anti-Clinton (read establishment) resentment fermenting in states like Wyoming, West Virginia and Oklahoma – all now Trump strongholds.
Yet of out of those that warned of the perils of underestimating or simply ignoring the likeliness of a Trumpian victory, the result represents a definite vindication. Leading the call for a winnable opposition to Trump’s candidacy were supporters from both the two main coalitions of the American Left: the camp of favoured Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and that of his eco-socialist contemporary and Green Party leader, Jill Stein.
Stein, much like Sanders and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, has consistently been on the right side of history on a whole host of issues. From campaigning for a Green New Deal, to cancelling student debt and promoting a foreign policy based on diplomacy and not war, Stein has long been a pragmatic voice cutting through the cacophony of the very Washington consensus that represents the whims of Wall Street and its affiliated corporate cabal.
We are building a real opposition party that is about we the people, not two wings of the corporate elite. #ItsInOurHands
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) November 7, 2016
A recent Gallup poll showed that close to 60% of Americans favour a 3rd way in electoral politics, a demand that has increased Greens. Unsurprisingly, this desire to see the status quo overturned has grown massively since the last election cycle, in which both Green Party and Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Party amassed just 1% of the popular vote collectively. This time round, that increased to about 4%. Thus, the demand is there.
Since the beginning of her candidacy Stein consistently warned against choosing between “the lesser of two evils”, stating that this would only further perpetuate the ever-widening political chasm dividing the country as well as allow either party to lunge further to the right. The Green Party leader had previously stated that Sanders was systematically robbed of the nomination by the DNC, describing their corporate-friendly machinations as “reprehensible”. Yet perhaps most pertinently, she also predicted that this would have much wider implications on American democracy itself. Of course, we now know that this analysis was eerily prophetic. If Sanders had been allowed to stand as the Democratic nominee (many thought he should have ceded from the Democrats and stood as an independent), he would not only have won his inevitable face off with Trump – the grassroots movement behind him would have become a nationwide movement and unstoppable force (note, not populist) movement. Whether he would have sought to work with Stein at that junction, we will never know, but Stein’s point about not acquiescing to the powers that be stands. The Democrats conspired against the most popular candidate the party has seen for years and lost the election because they wanted nothing but power for themselves. This was the popular perception and it was to cost them and those that depended on them dearly at the ballot.
Republicans didn't increase voter numbers from their previous *lost* elections. This is a Democratic failure, not a Republican triumph.
— Novara Media (@novaramedia) November 9, 2016
With Trump’s sweeping victory this week, Stein was proved right, yet again. Taking this into account, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many in the Democratic camp have now made it their mission to blame Stein and the Greens for diverting votes from their crestfallen (read doomed) candidate. One of the first to pitch their petty tent was economist and New York Times shill, Paul Krugman.
Btw, Jill Stein has managed to play Ralph Nader. Without her Florida might have been saved
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) November 9, 2016
Then came a Canadian (no, me neither) … who was just as outraged.
The numbers don't lie: If you voted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, you voted for Trump. You were told. Don't ever tell yourself different.
— Rachelle Lefevre (@RachelleLefevre) November 9, 2016
Others were more “cheesed off” than angry.
Way to go 'purity voters' who voted for Johnson and Stein because they 'had to vote their consciences' Didn't help Bernie at all, did it?
— Randy Prine (@randyprine) November 9, 2016
Whereas some were just outright hostile.
— Laura Voted (@SheWhoVotes) November 9, 2016
Oh, if only the numbers had lied. When Liberal media stalwart and MSNBC anchor Maddow relayed an infographic incriminating Stein and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the initial tirade of blame-gaming it encouraged was revealed for what it was – a scapegoating sideshow.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) November 9, 2016
Luckily, those astute enough to see through the media stitch-up immediately jumped to Stein’s defense.
If you add Jill Stein's total votes to Hillary's, she still loses Florida. Math is hard. pic.twitter.com/90SFCa4PSt
— Alan Smithee (@ActualFlatticus) November 9, 2016
When you argue that third-party voters should have voted for your candidate, every argument you make could apply to you as well.
— Michael Oman-Reagan (@OmanReagan) November 10, 2016
Of course, until the Democrat apparatchiks own up to their monumental failures, the deluge of blame will continue in the days and weeks ahead. Yet their spurious claims couldn’t have been more ill-informed. In reality the fraction of the vote that the Greens gained in states like Florida wouldn’t have made the slightest difference to Clinton’s chances. Rather, the underlying problem was that she simply wasn’t trusted by enough of the electorate and the Democratic turnout – which was lower in this election – reflects this. Whilst Clinton gained the most votes, she failed to earn and inspire the popular vote, and her supporters need to accept this.
But in seeking to understand Clinton’s wholehearted defeat, we need not rely purely on punditry or even political science to get our answer. Really, the truth is much more simple than that – if a touch more insidious. Clinton’s lack of popularity was the mainstream media’s best kept secret. We need only cast out minds back to the July Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to remind ourselves of just how unremarkable a candidate she was in the minds of many progressive Democrats.
Electorally speaking, the jury was out. Yet for the truly arrogant DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many of the party faithful, the nomination process was a forgone conclusion. From a party political view it could be said that this complacency cost the Democrats not just the election, but their electoral power in what many still see as a post-Bush era. The Clinton camp were all to happy to watch Trump being relentlessly bashed in the media at the expense of debating the real issues.
The petulant backlash movement we’re now seeing envelop the Democrat faithful is of course indicative of a wider liberal hubris and sense of moral superiority. This indignant mindet assumes that a Clinton victory would have been something worth celebrating in comparison, which is of course a ridiculously ignorant assumption that only adds insult to an already unnecessary injury.
For all of the anger directed at Trump and his Tea Party advocating running mate, Mike Pence, it’s worth stating that it was the DNC and not the uneasy GOP, who rigged a primary process in which the overwhelmingly popular candidate was prevented from running as the Democratic nominee. It was the DNC, and not the GOP, who did everything in their power to prevent a candidate who wanted to combat rather than perpetuate the worst excesses of neoliberalism. As it turns out, the DNC backed the war profiteer who had previously opposed marriage equality and extolled the virtues of racial profiling African Americans (perhaps it’s time to scrap the “D” or declare that DNC actually stands for “Decrepit National Committee”).
Many had, of course, feared that a Trump administration would amount to a fascistic Hard-Brexit like power grab. That and many other things remain to be seen at this point. But of those who so easily digested the “lesser evils” rhetoric, few even dared to consider that a Clintonian presidency might not be a done deal after all. How very misjudged their unchecked hubris was.
In the coming weeks and months, much attention will no doubt be dedicated to Trump and his not-so-merry band of acolytes. Media scrutiny will be even more intense, nauseating even. What it certainly won’t do though, is aggravate for the opposition that America deserves. For many, four years of a Trump administration is still an unfathomable prospect. Yet, whilst they might not realise it now, the American Left have been given the greatest of blessings in disguise – time. It’s now up to the Greens, progressives and those that campaigned so hard for Sanders to try to succeed where the Democrats were doomed to fail.