Donald Trump rode to the White House on a wave of hate and vitriol – securing a victory for ignorance, intolerance, and incivility.
He has pledged to abolish affordable Obamacare medical insurance for low and middle income Americans, ditch action against climate destruction, cut tax rates for big corporations, ban Muslim immigrants, deport millions of undocumented Mexicans, and replace dead and retiring Supreme Court judges with ultraconservatives who could roll back same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and transgender equality.
Trump appealed to the basest instincts: sexist, xenophobic, racist, and homophobic.
But many also voted for him as a way of expressing their resentment toward the out-of-touch, arrogant Washington elite.
A significant minority of Trump supporters were disenfranchised, neglected working class people who have lost out under globalization. The mass destruction of industrial jobs dumped many on the scrap heap of unemployment and home repossession. Local services and amenities were run down and clapped out. I understand and sympathize with their pain and anger.
But Trump is not the answer. He has no concrete, workable policies to remedy the gross inequality that characterizes the US today. And his policies will enrich the rich.
The Democrats effectively threw away the presidency when they chose Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. While I wanted to see a woman president, she has been too close to corporate America and is too hawkish on foreign policy.
During the Democratic primaries, polls consistently showed that Sanders – the real anti-establishment candidate – was more likely to beat Trump than Clinton. When the US public was asked who’d they’d vote for in a Trump versus Sanders presidential race, Sanders polled 8-15 percent ahead of Trump, whereas in a parallel poll quiz Clinton only beat Trump by 1-4 percent – a lead that was fatally eroded during the campaign, with the aid of what looks like a politically partisan FBI director.
Sander’s appeal to working class and anti-elite voters made him the candidate best placed to defeat Trump. Plus he had the most progressive domestic and foreign policies.
As we now know, thanks to WikiLeaks, the Democratic Party leadership conspired to block Sanders from becoming their presidential candidate, using underhanded methods.
A last thought: the US electoral system is unfair. Many voters were excluded from the voter rolls on technicalities. Moreover, the Electoral College system often frustrates the popular vote and did so this time. When all the results are tallied, Clinton will enjoy a nationwide lead of more than a million votes, but she lost out under the Electoral College. That is not democratic. Time for electoral reform in the US!
Australian-born, Peter Tatchell lives in London and has been campaigning for human rights, democracy, LGBT freedom, and global justice since 1967. He is a member of the queer human rights group OutRage! and the left wing of the Green Party. Through the Peter Tatchell Foundation, he campaigns for human rights in Britain and internationally.