Dead Assumptions

Dead Assumptions

By Randy Cunningham

I had another essay written and ready to go for this morning. It was based on the assumption

that Hillary Clinton would win against Donald Trump. That assumption is now dead. It is hard to get

your head around what this all this means. It is even harder to write about it. But let me try. 


(1) Clintonism is dead. The Clintons have run the Democratic Party for the past twenty-four years. The

party’s programs, values and ideologies have been the programs, values and ideologies of the Clintons

and their entourage. The Clintons ended the New Deal era of the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton

declared that the era of big government was over, and scrapped a host of programs and policies that

dated back to the 1930s New Deal and the 1960s Great Society. He financialized the party, by pulling

the political teeth of labor with NAFTA, and embracing the world view of Wall Street. He became a

spokesperson for the Third Way – aka neo-liberalism – which rejected both the social democratic

ideologies of the New Deal era and the laissez faire ideologies of the Reagan era. It was amazingly

successful for a while, but then it fell victim to its own hubris as seen in Hillary’s campaign where her

nomination and her return to the White House as President were looked upon as her entitlement,

almost as her divine right. It is safe to say that all that is over with now. Hillary Clinton and her

entourage are headed to political retirement, and the party is now bereft of a clear way forward.


(2) It’s about race, stupid. There has been a lot of talk about what motivated the Trump electorate.

One narrative is that the electorate was made up of the white working class that had not shared in the

prosperity of the long Clinton era, but had been saddled with the bill for the switch from an industrial

economy to an economy dominated by the tech and financial sectors. This narrative has a great deal of

truth to it, but it is pulling its punches. Of equal importance to the Trump electorate was a generation of

white resentment of progress by people of color. If it had been just a matter of economic woes, we

might be celebrating the victory of President-elect Bernie Sanders. Marbled throughout the Trump

campaign were appeals to white racism. The alt-right and figures such as David Duke knew what they

were doing when they championed the Trump candidacy. The focus on the white working class also

ignores the fact that the American working class is heavily Hispanic and African-American. I guess not all

working classes are created equal.


(3) The GOP establishment is also stumbling about in the ruins. I am sure that Donald Trump this

morning is finding friends that he never knew he had in the Republican establishment. This

establishment hopes that he will soon forget that they looked upon him as the Anti-Christ and threw

one losing member of their club after another at him during the primaries. Unfortunately for them, they

are the new best friends of a person who is famous for his vindictiveness. The new party establishment

will be Donald Trump’s party establishment and will be filled with his people. He owes very little to the

old guard.


(4) Beware of what you wish for. The Trump electorate has now lashed its fate to a man more

possessed of contradictions, faults and failings and personal demons than anyone we have seen since

Richard Nixon brooded and plotted in the Oval Office. Trump’s greatest enemy is Trump. The Trump

electorate either ignored or took vicarious delight in his frequently scandalous behavior and rhetoric

during his infamous campaign rallies and tweets. Now they are going to have it dished up to them

morning, noon and night. They should not expect the Oval Office to cleanse him of his faults. Trump is

Trump. And Trump is devoid of any intellectual gravitas, knows next to nothing about the messy details

of governance, and backs the same policies that created the economic and social decay his electorate

has suffered from over the past few decades. Trump is also an autocrat who has spent his life as

emperor of his own personal real estate empire. This will further hobble his ability to govern. In short,

his supporters should be ready for a very messy and even dangerous next four years and they should not

be surprised if not much changes in their lives.

The people in the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and allied groups should remember that

the candidate that was defeated was never our candidate. Our campaign for Bernie Sanders was a

critique and a rejection of Clintonism. The Clintons will blame us for the defeat. Bet on it, but we know

they were the authors of their own demise. We backed Hillary Clinton to prevent the sum of all our

fears from being elected President. Now our nightmare has come true. All I can say is that now is the

time to come together in love and solidarity and to continue the work we started when we first felt the

Bern. The struggle continues.

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