Somehow I was not surprised when Donald Trump stepped forward as a Republican candidate for the US presidency. Such an absurd and hopeless attempt to enter the political arena at the highest level was consistent with the brash, overconfident character I had seen on ‘The Apprentice,’ the television program that gave him an international profile.
But as the campaign continued and Trump wacked off one opponent after the other, I began to think his attempt may not be all that absurd and hopeless. Then between the bluster and his uncontained and undisguised rage at the leftist political establishment it became obvious (at least to many of us) that he was making a connection with the equivalent in America of what former Prime Minister Robert Menzies called the forgotten people. In this case, it was not just the working middle class but the blue-collar class that had been forgotten and with whom Trump was connecting.
Some months out from the election, after Trump had nabbed the Republican candidacy to the horror of many spineless Republicans who subsequently deserted him, I began to think that Trump had a real chance. When the polls began to tighten, I thought with some disbelief he had better than a real chance. Nevertheless, I felt I still had to face the bare facts. As Julian Assange said just before election day, leaving many speechless, the Establishment was certain not to let Trump win. There was the all-powerful Clinton machine behind whom were Wall Street potentates including such powerful subversive figures as billionaire George Soros. No, it could not happen. Such political events were entirely out of the course of nature.
The advantage of being in Australia for the US presidential election is that one can sit back late morning when the polls begin to close and be a spectator of all that unfolds until the winner emerges at some time in the evening. And so I took my seat with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake and entered the routine of switching from channel to channel. The vision showed Clinton supporters packed in the Manhatten Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, a building with a glass ceiling, a suitable venue for the figurative glass ceiling Hillary Clinton was going to smash that evening. The mood of the Clinton fans was buoyant and expectant. Smiles everywhere. Trump supporters were ensconced at the New York Hilton, subdued compared with the Clinton supporters.
The television broadcasts continually switched from commentators to the supporter venues and back again to keep us abreast of the mood. The American and Australian commentators seemed just as buoyant as the Clinton supporters under the glass ceiling. The first results favoured Trump. Indeed, for some time only Trump had runs on the board. Of course, it was early days and no reason to see any trend there. It was just a matter of time before Hillary caught up and surged past Trump. But it did not happen.
Worry appeared at length on the faces of the Clinton supporters. Commentators exhibited surprise. Laurie Oakes on the Nine Network began to hunch forward, pasty-faced and silent, like a defeated sumo wrestler. Then as the crucial states for Clinton began to go Trump’s way, the full horror began to set in. A deathly silence descended on the Clinton glass convention centre, consternation and dismay on the multitude of young faces. When the crucial states of Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio went to Trump and Pennsylvania was heading that way, shock and awe joined the horror. Tears began to flow, hands began to wring, and the morally crushed sought comfort in each other’s arms.
The commentators remained remarkably professional on the American ABC network which was coming via Sky News at intervals. They contained their anguish and kept up the reporting. No such professional conduct on Australian Sky News, at least as far as academic Peter van Onselen and former Labor senator Stephen Loosley were concerned. When the catastrophe could not be denied that Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States of America, van Onselen leaned back, threw his pen in front of him and muttered barely coherently that the Americans would pay for their dumb stupidity – words to that effect. Loosley took us back to the end of the 1972 film ‘The Candidate’ where the newly elected politician asks his election adviser Marvin Lucas, ‘Marvin … What do we do now?’ Get it?
This was just the beginning. As the leftist world began to recover from the shock, their mouths began working at a furious rate, like the inmates of Bedlam, ceaselessly repeating the same accusations about Trump and the ‘deplorables’ who supported him. The Daily Mail Australia gives an excellent representative view of the leftist reaction which includes touching photos of devastated Clinton supporters. Among some well-known Australian commentators, it included ABC Breakfast’s Virginia Trioli caught saying that Donald Trump supporters should be forced to take an ‘IQ test’. When the broadcast showed Trump looking at his wife’s ballot paper, Trioli quipped that he was more likely ‘looking at Melania’s tits’.
Trioli who one suspects suffers from high-functioning Asperger’s is clearly impressed with her intelligence. (One wonders whether that mouth ever stops.) But whatever intelligence she has is better described as high-functioning smart-arsery. The above comments are a good example. It’s a quality she shares with many of her leftist mates in the media. The following days saw the usual ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations of leftist students and sundry masked radicals out on the streets, carefully manipulated by the extreme left. The demonstrations generated into riots in places. Ho-hum.
From around 11 o’clock on Wednesday morning I sat in my lounge chair in front of the television until around 10 pm when all had been settled, moving only for the necessaries. I began watching with interest more for the process than for the result because I expected Clinton to prevail and smash her glass ceiling to the ecstatic applause of her adoring fans. But as the truth dawned, I began to feel a mixture of surprise, pleasure, and exhilaration. It threatened to reach a level of euphoria.
It was not so much that Trump was on his way to taking the prize, but rather that the left was getting a great dose of the pain, consternation and anger they cause in the people they have utter contempt for. Those contemptibles are what Hillary Clinton in an unguarded moment called that ‘basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.’ In reality, Clinton’s basket includes all those who deviate from the dogma that her class prescribes. Among the deplorables that she did not name on that now famous occasion when she was addressing ‘a gay and lesbian’ rally are the ‘non-college educated white men.’ Indeed, many leftists sheet much of the blame for Clinton’s defeat home to that worthless category of citizen.
I felt particular pleasure that the left was suffering a pain of the same intensity we conservatives have to suffer when we hear our views daily mocked, ridiculed, misunderstood, and misrepresented – when we hear that we are dismissed as bigoted, far-right, fascist and intolerant. I still feel a certain lightness and amusement. It may sustain me for some time.