Populist revolt.

Author:Conniff, Ruth
Position:COMMENT - Essay
 
FREE EXCERPT

After an exhausting eighteen-month campaign and a vote count that went into the wee hours, we learned that the next President of the United States will be a rightwing authoritarian populist whose explicit racism prompted former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke to tweet, triumphantly:

"This is one of the most exciting nights of my life--make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!"

It has been terrible to watch as two terms of the nations first African American President end like this. Black people, Latinos, Muslims, and immigrants cannot help but feel the blow the hardest. Trump's explicit misogyny and gleeful boasting about abusing women, which appeared to drive a surge for Hillary Clinton toward the end of the race, ended with a definitive victory for the Grabber-in-Chief.

There will be plenty for progressives to chew on over the next days and months.

We can't help but ponder what might have been. If Bernie Sanders got the nomination, he might have beaten Trump. Had Sanders lost to Trump (which may have happened), the mainstream pundits would have been unified in smug disdain for his outsider candidacy--as they were from the beginning.

But the establishment candidate lost instead.

Will the Democratic Party look inward and question its own experts? This election was not about "messaging." It was about connecting with the real pain in people's lives and understanding their yearning for change. Hillary Clinton was simply the wrong candidate for the times. And the comfortable establishment types who overlooked that were terribly out of touch.

Voter turnout numbers suggest that the optimism and energy that drove Bernie Sanders's primary campaign were not transferable to his Democratic rival. Little wonder. Sanders captured many of the same frustrations Trump voters expressed toward elite Washington insiders and Wall Street--two groups that are part of Clinton's core constituency. As Trump put it in his victory speech, "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

The difference, of course, is that while Sanders offered a vision of economic and racial justice, universal health care, free college, and taxes on the obscene wealth of the top 1 percent to pay for a more equal society, Trump offered immigrant-bashing, tax cuts for the wealthy, and a restoration of white, male supremacy.

Democrats and progressives must grapple with the deep sense of alienation that drove both the Sanders...

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