By Marcus Solarz Hendriks
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. It makes people so wise. And we are seeing plenty of wise people in the media coverage of Donald Trump’s shock election last night.
Above all, commentators are beginning to understand the mistakes in their comprehension of the political climate, which resulted in practically everyone predicting a Hillary Clinton victory instead of the overwhelming one being celebrated by her opponent. As the results come in, and the priorities of the electorate are consequently illuminated, it is becoming clear that Clinton never fitted the mould and made critical errors throughout the entire process.
It is by now no grand reveal that, above all, the American people have voted for one thing: change. Whether feeling neglected, victimised or left helpless in recent times, citizens across the country felt that the only way to reverse their fortunes was to put a tick by the name offering the most drastically different direction.
For Clinton, this was bad news. The fact that her candidacy promised the first ever female presidency was deemed insignificant in light of the extent to which she came to symbolise the incumbent establishment. With 30 years of governmental experience, the former FLOTUS, wife of two-term president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State could not even pick up the majority of the female White American vote, let alone convince a sufficient swathe of men. Clearly, the voters preferred a genuine alternative to the political status quo over the symbolic social change offered by gender.
Events which unfurled during the process severely exacerbated this perception, and too little was done to combat this. The unease created in Blue Collar America by her close affiliation with Wall Street was never really addressed by the Clinton campaign, as they felt that the expertise suggested by her experience would prove more important. It did not. Then, the devastating and protracted revelation of her email controversy added to the burning pyre. Not only was she seen as a perpetuation of the system which has failed so many, but the system now looked corrupt and above the law. How accurate that notion actually was proved unimportant.
Fatal tactical mistakes then led the Democrats right into the manholes scattered across their path to the White House. There was far too much complacency shown to the Democratic heartlands and this came back to haunt Clinton spectacularly. Wisconsin, which had voted blue in every election since 1988, and in which she did not step foot once in the presidential election, pivotally voted for Trump. In addition, the mob of celebrities that accompanied Clinton at all of her rallies seemed to backfire. Political endorsement by famous figures is not uncommon on either side of the Atlantic, but the incredibly one-sided nature on this occasion will have done nothing to dampen the perception of Clinton as the popular status quo, and Trump as the noble, battling outsider.
Finally, looking beyond America’s coastline, the unusual spectacle of a hawkish Democrat and dovish Republican resonated throughout the electorate in the latter’s favour. The combination of an internal recession and recent and ongoing unsuccessful foreign ventures created an isolationist environment. Yesterday, solving American problems was chosen over policing the world. Clinton stuck to the instincts she showed as Secretary of State, believing that a tougher take on the increasingly precarious global climate would appeal. As it turned out, this was a big error in judgement.
In the cold light of day, after the dust has settled on this extraordinary political shake-up, the true state of things reveals itself. As the ultimate antithesis to all expectations that Trump’s inexperience and brazen attacks on the existing system would be his downfall, Clinton’s close relationship with that very system proved to be hers. History will look upon this election not as the momentous Black Swan that it currently seems, but as the moment that broke the back of the experts’ veneer of omniscience and the elite’s control.