A great deal is going to be written over the coming days and weeks about what we have just witnessed – much of it motivated by a disbelief and unnerving need to make sense of yesterday’s portentous outcome, as is the case here.
How has this man become President of the US? It’s a question many of the world’s sensible ‘mainstream’ majority are asking today, just as we did after Brexit and (to a lesser extent) after the last two Federal elections here gave us firstly Abbott and secondly Hanson.
On face value, and from any usual ‘normal’ perspective, it just doesn’t make any sense. From day one of this campaign, he has said all the wrong things; done all the wrong things; represented all the wrong things. And yet here we are, with Donald Trump set to assume the highest office in what is still the most powerful nation on earth. How, in the name of whatever particular spiritual belief you subscribe to, has this happened? How?
This column is always about the importance of frames in our daily lives, and how the way someone or something is ‘framed’ in our consciousness equates to our ‘reality’ of that someone or something. Our cognitive frames are both the conduit to and the bedrock of our realities, both as individuals (through our own internalised frames) and collectively (through shared frames).
So, all the frames Donald Trump conjures should have derailed him long ago – the bigot, the elitist, the misogynist, the bully, the ‘fruitcake’ and the clown; it would be laughable if it wasn’t so downright dangerous.
Yet, from a Words/Matter perspective, there is another frame we can rightly attach to Trump’s persona throughout this campaign – one which does explain ‘how’, and the true significance of his victory. Because whatever else Mr Trump has ‘conjured’ this past few months, the most important frame he has embodied is that of the “non-politician”.
Trump has won precisely because he is not a politician and has been clearly seen as such. And it is in this vein that his election following Obama does make sense. Americans are largely sick of “the establishment” (by which they mean the entrenched ivy-league elites) and while Obama was the start of their shift away from that center, Trump has turned it into a full-blown stampede.
If there is a silver-lining to be found this morning after yesterday’s despair, it is this: Trump’s victory is the loudest, most strident wake-up call the world can make to professional politicians and civil servants everywhere. And while we, the sensible mainstream majority, are right to reject Trump and his ilk’s vile attitude and demeanor, we should be adding our voice to this wake-up call.
Politicians everywhere take heed: we are no longer willing to blithely accept your self-serving duplicity, your amoral factional back-scratching, your petty ideological squabbling, your cosy supplication shared with vested business interests ahead of the people, your easy preservation of the status quo serving the world’s one-percenters.
Unless you begin to urgently and earnestly rebuild our respect, our trust and our belief in the democratic process, and unless a more equitable participation in the global system can be created, we now know where we are all headed. Because, as yesterday clearly confirms, the stock of politicians across western democracies is now so morally and professionally bankrupt, virtually any alternative will do.