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Trumpism : A neoliberal and revanchist assault

Trump ran the most openly misogynistic, racist and homophobic campaign in U.S. history.

But he and his right-wing establishment support took advantage of fear and anxiety that have gripped a large part of the American population.

Michael Moore is right: rightly or wrongly, millions of white Americans—middle-class and educated, working class and poorly educated—did not exercise their right to vote, or, in a giant “Fuck You” to the liberal establishment, voted for Trump.

I have read a lot recently about mental health and the toxic effect Trump has had on millions of Americans of all classes, genders, races and sexualities.

But even if we should condemn their bigotries, overt and unconscious, we should not overlook the mental health harm inflicted by the liberal establishment’s cooperation with powerful corporations and the wealthy few.

Millions of Americans who, wrongly, did not vote or voted for Trump have suffered anxiety and depression, broken lives and families, and a world without meaning – because the first President Clinton promised them that his New Democrats had their backs in 1992. Instead he kowtowed to the resurgent right-wing U.S. Congress of the time—many of whom campaigned for Trump—and laid waste to the Rust Belt. These broken and hurt Americans have never forgotten Mr Clinton’s betrayal and, lost to the easy to swallow fear mongering of right-wing media, they bought into the great lie that the liberal establishment was solely to blame for America’s woes.

When Hillary Clinton praised “[her] husband’s policies,” even if it was unintended, millions of Americans, wrongly, took that as an implicit “Fuck you” to them. Large numbers of them who did vote for Trump are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, every kind of phobic—but thousands of them, and millions more who didn’t vote, understood—wrongly—that voting for Ms Clinton would change nothing, or make things worse.

Trump knew how to manipulate this false consciousness. When he wasn’t abusing women, LGBTIQ, Latinos or Muslims, Trump was spewing venom at the corrupt financial elite who offshore jobs and reap the mega profits--you know, the ones he called "my friends". He poured vitriol on the hedge fund managers and investment bankers, condemning them with that perverse but well-honed wry smile. Only he could deal with them. Or so he said.

He went whiny and explosive and crazy—and in some perverse way that has connected to millions of Americans who, for all intents and purposes, hate people like Trump. But they hate the system that broke them that much more.

The liberal establishment had abandoned its social contract with segments of the American working class long ago. Instead, that establishment cosied up to big banks and became as vile in people’s eyes as the right-wing establishment that previous generations of working Americans had thought the liberals would counter.

When Mr Clinton shook Newt Gingrich’s hand, with right-wing Republicans and New Democrats standing close behind them, and when Mr Clinton extolled the end of “Big Government,” millions of broken Americans turned their backs on Mr Clinton’s politics of hope.

Barack Obama attracted millions more to the polls in 2008: 59% of the voting age population. But his failure to counter the resurgent right-wing movement or to punish Wall Street, and his collusion with corporations to deliver the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been as damaging as Mr Clinton’s collusion to ram through the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump is full of bullshit – but he knew how to beat Ms Clinton in a system distorted by highly gerrymandered districts, corporate cash and media, and the invidious disenfranchisement and criminalization of African Americans and Latinos. It's a hopeless electorate seized by a professional conman.

Trumpism is the revamped Third Way that has taken power with a coalition of fear, confusion and bigotry, to lead an unapologetic neoliberal and right-wing revanchist assault on the American working class, women, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, religious minorities and, perhaps most disastrously, the environment.

The liberal establishment has committed a perhaps fatal blunder. If Trump succeeds in managing to conduct his presidency within the bounds of establishment acceptability, the liberal establishment and its heretofore, if tenuous, hold on truth and democratic legitimacy is broken, perhaps even irretrievably, although that is yet to be seen.

The future is now open, full of risk and danger, but also of opportunity.

The moment must not be wasted.

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