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Election Shocker

by Berry Friesen (November 10, 2016)

What’s shocking about Trump’s win?

US House speaker Paul Ryan described Trump’s win as “the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime.  . . . Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard.”

Also shocking is that the candidate anointed by the establishment lost.  Here is author Diana Johnstone’s analysis:

“Hillary Clinton was the candidate of the military industrial complex and international finance capital.  She designed herself to be the figurehead of those forces, as queen of regime change. She aspired to be the one to remake the world in the image Wall Street dictates. It was a project enthusiastically and expensively supported by the one percent who profit from arms contracts and the trade deals they write themselves for their own interests.”

Justin Raimondo, editor of, put it this way:

“Donald Trump has done the unthinkable – unthinkable, that is, to the sneering elites: the ‘journalists’ who have been spending their days snarking at Trump on Twitter, the DC mandarins who disdained him from the beginning, and the foreign policy ‘experts’ who gasped in horror as he challenged the basic premises of the post-World War II international order. And he did it by overcoming a host of the most powerful enemies one could conjure: The Republican Establishment, the Democratic party machine, the Money Power, and a media united in their hatred of him.”

What do the numbers tell us?

As compared to voter turnout averaged over the four previous presidential elections (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012), turnout in 2016 was down 3 points and the lowest since 2000.

Relative to Republican performance in the previous four elections, Donald Trump won the same percentage of the African-American vote, declined 5 points in the Hispanic vote, gained 1 point among male voters and declined 3 points among female voters.

Relative to Democrat performance in the previous four elections, Hillary Rodham Clinton declined 3 points in the African-American vote, improved 2 points in the Hispanic vote, declined 4 points among male voters and won the same percentage of female voters as her male predecessors.

Of the 678 counties that twice supported Barack Obama, nearly one-third (209) supported Trump.  Of the 207 counties that voted for Obama in one of the two previous elections, 194 supported Trump this time.

This suggests a consistency across the three most recent presidential elections:  voters want a new and fresh approach from the top of the ticket.

Why did people reject Clinton and support Trump?

Robert Parry, editor of, starts with “a gross misjudgment by the Democratic Party about the depth of populist anger against self-serving elites who have treated much of the country with disdain.”

Regarding Trump, Parry says:

“American voters chose him in part because they felt they needed a blunt instrument to smash the Establishment that has ruled and mis-ruled America for at least the past several decades. It is an Establishment that not only has grabbed for itself almost all the new wealth that the country has produced but has casually sent the U.S. military into wars of choice, as if the lives of working-class soldiers are of little value.

“On foreign policy, the Establishment had turned decision-making over to the neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks, a collection of haughty elitists who often subordinated American interests to those of Israel and Saudi Arabia, for political or financial advantage.”

Parry concludes:

“Trump’s victory marks a repudiation of the neocon/liberal-hawk orthodoxy because the New Cold War was largely incubated in neocon/liberal-hawk think tanks, brought to life by like-minded officials in the U.S. State Department, and nourished by propaganda across the mainstream Western media.”

Johnstone sees Trump’s victory as a repudiation of globalization.

“The real meaning of this election is not, as bitterly disappointed Hillary supporters still maintain with tears in their eyes and fear in their throats, a victory for racism and sexism.

“The real meaning of this upset is that Wall Street’s globalization project has been rejected by the citizens of its homeland."

Raimondo agrees:

“Trump understands that . . .the main issue in the world today is globalism versus national sovereignty, and it is playing out in the politics of countries on every continent.  A trans-national ruling elite, the types who flock to Davos every year, has arisen that believes it has the right to manipulate the peoples of the world like pawns on a chessboard. These lords of creation engage in ‘regime change’ when a government they don’t like challenges their imperial prerogatives: they move entire populations around as if they were human dust – they manipulate currencies, ‘manage’ the world economy — and woe to those who challenge their rule!”

Bernhard Horstman, the German blogger at, puts it this way:

“The people voted against corruption, against international warmongering, against attacks on the culture of their life and against Zionist and Arab potentate manipulation. In short - they voted against Hillary."

But is Trump an anti-imperialist?

His “America first” sensibilities might cause him to act like one.  That is, he might decide to spend more money on rebuilding America’s infrastructure and less on foreign bases and foreign intervention.

Similarly, his questions about NATO and other regional military alliances, his critique of US policy toward Iraq, Libya and Syria, his recognition that the US has contributed in significant ways to the creation of ISIS, his linkage of US interventionism with the huge flows of refugees over international borders, and his desire for improved relations with Russia all point toward a less imperial posture.

But Trump has never directly criticized that posture.  His promise to “Make America Great Again” easily accommodates the hubris and exceptionalism undergirding the US-led empire.  His criticism that the US did not “grab the oil” before pulling troops out of Iraq reflects imperial assumptions.  And his aggressive temperament suggests an aggressive stance vis-à-vis the world.

Then why did the entire establishment oppose him?

One of its requirements is that the President dress up bloody U.S. interventionism in the pretty clothes of humanitarianism and democracy. He or she is expected to use intellectual liberalism to legitimize morally the pillage of foreign economies, the destruction of foreign governments, the replacement of civil society with chaos, and the generation of millions of refugees and displaced people.

Clinton had demonstrated the required skill and commitment for this task; she is able to clothe brutality as moral courage.  That’s why the establishment wanted her to be our next President.

As I indicated via the opening quote in my previous post, Trump is "a moral lecher and thief." To speak in a more respectful tone, I would say he is brash, lacks sensitivity, is plain spoken and without pretense.  He openly supports torture, which is a war crime! He is not good at masking his obvious traits of selfishness, greed and belligerence. None of these qualities makes him an effective spokesperson for the empire.

But let’s keep in mind that in the end, a part of the establishment—led by the Wall Street Journal—may have turned against Clinton.  See here for that analysis.

Will Trump curtail US imperialism?

His opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement is likely to block that initiative. This is an example of the curtailment of imperialism.

On the other hand, Trump has declared his intention to undo the recent agreement with Iran regarding nuclear energy.  Libertarian Daniel Larison highlights that threat:

“Trump has made denouncing the nuclear deal a major part of his indictment of Obama’s foreign policy, and Iran hawks in Congress will be eager to torpedo it. I have a hard time seeing Trump fighting to preserve a signature achievement of a president he loathes, and so it is more likely than not the nuclear deal is going to unravel. That will not only be a bad outcome in terms of nonproliferation, but it will also open the door to war with Iran that the deal at least temporarily closed.”

In a broader sense, I doubt that any man or woman can lead America away from its role as leader of the empire.  As explained by Bangkok-based

“The networks that primarily seek to establish, protect and expand US primacy in Asia are driven by corporate and financial special interests including banks, the energy industry, defence contractors, agricultural and pharmaceutical giants, the US entertainment industry and media as well as tech giants.

“They achieve primacy through a variety of activities ranging from market domination through incremental advances in ‘free trade,’ the funding of academic and activist groups through organisations like the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Open Society, Freedom House and USAID as well as direct pressure on the governments of respective Asian states through both overt and covert political, economic and military means.

“This is a process that takes place independent of both the White House and the US Congress.”

What should we be doing in coming months?

We should be talking to Trump voters, asking them “what would make America great again?” and listening carefully to their answers.  We may be surprised and enlightened.

Second, let’s recognize that Trump’s candidacy and electoral victory has opened a space for truth to be spoken and heard in a way that hasn’t previously been possible. Let’s use this opportunity well.