Radical Disaffection Engendered by Elitist Groupthink?
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 14 Nov 2016
Democratic Rehearsal of the Final Battle between the Forces of Light and the Dark Force
Inspired by Election of Donald Trump (9 November 2016)
The election of Donald Trump is hailed as introducing a new political reality, as headlined by The New York Times (Patrick Healy and Jeremy W. Peter, US Faces a Startling New Political Reality After Donald Trump’s Victory, 10 December 2016).
A striking feature of the nastiness of the presidential campaign, beyond the mutual deprecation of the candidates, has been the nastiness of the commentators on a democratic process and its enablers. It is now recognized that in excess of 90% of the media commented systematically, actively and negatively on the Trump candidacy — echoing the views of a variety of distinguished elites. All were presumably mobilized and “motivated” by the Clinton campaign, with appropriate threats as required.
A striking example is the comment from Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate, as presented in The New York Times:
Hillary Clinton was knowledgeable, unflappable and — dare we say it? — likable. Donald Trump was ignorant, thin-skinned and boorish. Yet on the eve of the debate, polls showed a close race. How was that possible? After all, the candidates we saw Monday night were the same people they’ve been all along. Mrs. Clinton’s grace and even humor under pressure were fully apparent during last year’s Benghazi hearing. Mr. Trump’s whiny braggadocio has been obvious every time he opens his mouth without reading from a teleprompter. (How the Clinton-Trump Race Got Close, 30 September 2016)
Following the electoral triumph of Trump, against seemingly impossible odds, commentators and experts of every kind have desperately attempted to understand how their analysis proved to be so fundamentally inadequate to the reality of the situation (Michael Barbaro, How Did the Media — How Did We — Get This Wrong? The New York Times, 9 November 2016). This inadequacy has been confirmed by the highly unfortunate partisan assertion of President Obama in the final phase of the campaign (US election 2016: Obama warns fate of world at stake, BBC News, 3 November 2016). This is especially presumptuous in that he himself is a focus of blame, in the light of his premature receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.
At every stage, the Trump campagin was ridiculed as a failure to appreciate the conventional wisdom of a democratic society — as framed by well-informed elites. As noted by Anthony Zurcher:
Very few people thought he would actually run, then he did. They thought he wouldn’t climb in the polls, then he did. They said he wouldn’t win any primaries, then he did. They said he wouldn’t win the Republican nomination, then he did. Finally, they said there was no way he could compete for, let alone win, a general election. Now he’s president-elect Trump. (US Election 2016 Results: Five reasons Donald Trump won, BBC News, 9 November 2016)
However, as questioned by Rod Dreher:
Will this catastrophic failure of the media cause soul-searching and, dare I say it, repentance? Forget it. To do so would require the press to face up to its worst prejudices, none more deeply held than the belief that its members are on the Right Side of History. (US election 2016: America’s front-porch revolt, BBC News, 9 November 2016)
The more fundamental issue, however, is not “Trump” (as many now choose to fear), but rather the evidence of an unrecognized level of dysfunctional groupthink with respect to global governance — and those who need to be blamed and demonised. The issue for conventional thinking is then: What else have arrogant democratic elites got radically, dangerously wrong through denial? Overpopulation? Environment? Ignorance? Radicalism?
In contrast with conventional strategic preoccupation with “9/11“, the questions raised by the election of Donald Trump on 9 November suggest that “11/9” may ultimately prove to be of far greater significance.
The arguments here follow from earlier commentary (Engaging Proactively with the Risk of World Misleadership: Trump vs Clinton and the potential of carpe diem in the democratic process? 2016; Evaluating the Grossness of Gross Domestic Product, 2016).
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