“Deplorables.” For a word that isn’t a word, “deplorables” proved to be the hinge which permitted the metaphoric door to slam shut on the United States presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Year-ending opinion pieces for 2016 are virtually obliged to focus on Donald John Trump supplanting Barack Hussein Obama as resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and occupant of the Oval Office.
So here goes.
I recently heard an impromptu broadcast debate focussed on whether a specific moment, more than any other, will ultimately be deemed to have had the single greatest impact on the outcome of the presidential election.
I had little doubt as early as February that Donald Trump would win. By July my prediction on air was “it’s impossible for Donald Trump to lose.” When Clinton family arrogance caused the Democratic Party candidate to trash half of Trump’s eventual voters as a “basket of deplorables” my reaction was “Hillary Clinton just scored an empty net goal. On herself.”
Merriam-Webster defines “deplorable” as “lamentable. Deserving censure or contempt. Wretched.”
Well, this basket of deplorable and lamentable Trump voters, so wretched they deserved censure and contempt roared their defiance.
The backing of Trump had been signalled earlier, as GOP contenders for the party’s nomination for POTUS were shoved aside by the man for whom mainstream U.S. (and Canadian) media reserved descriptors like “idiot, clown, misogynist, racist, uninformed, shallow” (and still do).
What pundits, network contributors and editorial page editors failed to recognize was their angry dismissal of Donald Trump had zero effect on a growing cadre of electors. Whenever I dared challenge the relevance of the Trump candidacy callers were quick to pounce and from across Canada, as well as dialling from the U.S.
The indicators had been there for some years. An international movement had been emerging. The usual political and media messengers were being increasingly bypassed as populists corresponded and supported one another on social media.
Voter shifting was evident in the U.S. before 2016. While President Obama retained sufficient personal popularity to win a second term in office in 2012, Democrats nevertheless lost 68 seats in the House and Senate between Obama’s first POTUS victory in ‘08 and Hillary Clinton’s defeat this year. Incumbency was becoming a liability.
Populist anger wasn’t reserved only for the left. In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper overstayed his welcome, appeared unwilling to listen and just over a year ago was replaced by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
U.K. voters showed the EU the gate through their Brexit referendum decision, booting a just re-elected Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron out of 10 Downing Street in the process. The establishment, political and media, was being kicked in the teeth.
As Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan prophetically wrote, “the times? They are a’ changin’.”
Written by: Roy Green