There is an ongoing concern of a silent majority towards an establishment. This trend is recently seen in the US 2016 presidential election as Donald Trump claimed the president-elect beating the fierce rival Hillary Clinton. The result does surprise the public as Trump was labelled as a controversial person, racist and hater, while Clinton was assumed to represent elite and educated parties. How Trump won the presidential election, what economic and social factors leading up to Trump’s victory are the actual topics to be analyzed.
“You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation, they turned to a man they didn’t fully understand.”
(Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Night)
A wave of an anti-establishment is sweeping through Western Democracies as recently UK announced to leave European Union (EU) aka Brexit. This is also happening more recently in US as Donald Trump was voted to be the president-elect beating the odds favoring Clinton. The other countries perhaps have likely faced it or either about to confront the same shakeups. Indonesia had elected a modest president without military background couple years ago, Philippines elected a president who had gut to shout to US regarding execution penalty, and recently Turkey slammed EU over unclear membership discussion and closed its ties with 5 other countries based in China instead.
What happening in US is a reflection of declining life quality for the working and middle classes over the last 20 years. Americans could drive a truck for $8k a month 20 years ago by working 60 hours a week, yet now the illegal immigrants are taking the job for $3k, resulting them to lose their job. Americans could work in a factory for $4k a month 20 years ago, but now the job goes to China and Mexico as the labors are willing to work earning $500 a month there, hence they lose their job.
These people might vote for the liberal and “progressive” who seemed to change their life decades ago. However, they could only sigh when they see what is really happening. The liberal and “progressive” appearing on TV addressing the biggest issue to be climate change when actually there exists classes that desperate to improve their life. The mentioned classes represent ordinary Americans who were tired of the political system, the ruling elite, globalist, the establishment and “political correctness”, this is also reflected on the election result with 47% did not vote.
Capitalism vs Socialism
The Americans are fundamentally capitalist whose ideology is to work, earn and eat. They demand minimum interference from the government in the daily life. Moreover, they do not like the idea of socialist policies whose government imposes high taxes and redistributes wealth. People will not like the idea that their hardly earned money used to feed illegal migrants. However, the incumbent president and his government were close to the socialist whose policy was to collect high tax rates, establish Obamacare, and drive companies out of US due to it. Clinton would likely to continue those policies, while Trump discoursed the old days of law tax rates and let the consumption decide growth. It was the policy of old great America, the policy deemed to make America great again.
Clinton vs Trump
Clinton was the arm of the vested interests closely aligned to the Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the educated elite. However, she was mistakenly letting her supporters calling those who were against the establishment as racist, hater, and uneducated due to the fact they were going against this system. A vote for Trump was a vote against the system. People wanted a reform. The media, Hollywood, Washington, and some of the wealthiest people were part of the system. These people who against the system were the silent majority. They do not really care about LGBT and BLM (Black Lives Matter), however they are not racist nor homophobic. They just want a decent job to feed their families.
Donald Trump in fact was a longer democrat in his life than a republican. He got married 3 times, agreed with progressive income tax and pro-LGBT. This proves that the silent majority are tolerant as well. They actually want someone to fix the economy for them.
The revolution is not limited solely in the US, but it is happening across the world. There is hegemonic transition from the establishment towards the silent majority which leads to hegemonic crisis. For example, during Arab Spring, many of the established governments were toppled in the Middle East. In UK, the British voters went against the mainstream resulting in the famous Brexit as we have mentioned earlier. In India the voters elevated a promising provincial chief though coming from poor background in 2014.
In many places there is anger, an anger against the establishment. An anger against the status quo and unwillingness to be part of the elite. People all over the world are going concerned on their culture, economic status, and the ability to continue their way of life. For them it seems that the “liberals” are pushing their values and reforms too hard, they felt their opinions were not listened.
Clinton called them as deplorable, i.e. uneducated, racists, and outdated. However, the angry commoner, the silent majority who understood the social tension but felt left out, they did not actually reveal their preferences in public. Thus, the poll media created did not actually represent the general voters since they could not reach the underneath people. As the liberals failed to address these concerns, the voters stopped to trust anything related to the formers. History has proven that people fight when their way of life, the harmony of interest is threatened. As the words of Fascism and Nazism were easily used and thrown out, the shock values evaporated.
The angers, the social tensions had existed for a long time and these ultimately contributed to the Trump’s victory. He captured a victory in many states that were thought to be essentially democrats. And what surprisingly, he won a sizeable portion of immigrants and females. Despite an embarrassing footage revealing his nasty comment on women, Trump still managed to win the election. This shows the level of anger underneath. This anger is not all from the racists, white supremacists and misogynists, KKK supporters, etc.
Revolutions do not only topple an establishment, but also often turn up leaders far worse than the former. This creates hegemony crisis that needs to be consolidated as the transition happens. Though the process may turn up a worse leader, this will help to heal their tensions in the long run. This election will help them to understand that there must be transition from “us vs them” attitude to more united citizens building their country together.
There exists a social tension between worker and middle classes against the vested interests. This creates disharmony of interest since the classes are threatened in terms of economics and social culture. In the feeling of anger, these people who are ignored manifest their voices under one big umbrella the silent majority. They surprise national establishment by going against them, their political system, their ruling elite, and their push values. There is a transition of hegemony since these people triumph over the establishment translating their going concern into hegemony crisis. Donald Trump is seen as the outsider whom they believe to be the right person to address their issue. This president-elect celebration will help them to heal the tension in the long term. However, the Americans will now need to unite putting aside the attitude of “us vs them” in order to make their country great again.
Ahmad Nursalim, Sabanci University, President of MBA Club, Istanbul