Many voters in this election had struggled to decide who between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would be the lesser of two evils. Sure enough, after last night, there is only one evil remaining for them — Donald Trump. For many, this does not make them breathe easier. The question remains whether Trump is indeed the lesser of two evils. Only time will tell.
The one overwhelming consensus that we can safely conclude from this bizarre election is that we all do not want to see another presidential election like this one again. The agony the American people went through needs to be explained. What have we been put through? And why?
The Top 1% Syndrome
A host of factors led to an election that rend the pattern of our politics asunder. We used to have two parties more or less representing the rich and the corporate interests, on the one side, and the average and poor people, the unions and social groups, on the other side. There may be some crossover phenomena and occasional third party factors adjusting the overall balance and directing the country to focus on specific issues warranted by the times. We may also have traditional party dominance in some individual states, which is less decisive nowadays. This year, the afore-described representational pattern is completely twisted, and the balancing mechanisms are largely displaced. As a result, the focus was not substantively on the issues. It was completely a slug-fest and mud-wrestling about deficiencies in personal character.
I will relate that as a consequence of the current “top 1% syndrome”. Simply put, the expanding divide between the rich and the rest of society, and the flagrant inequality in sharing the financial and economic pains and gains, have resulted in grotesque social relations.
As you know, there is always a “top 1%” in any society at any time. They have to manage the socio-political relations of their societies to preserve their positions, which requires that the growth and distribution of goods and services are at least able to ensure overall social stability. After the financial nightmares of 2008, we witnessed in America an incredibly one-sided treatment of social and economic responsibility. The greedy simply put on an even bigger facade. To compound the problem, the Supreme Court had already been setting the Big Money mechanisms loose on electoral politics. This inevitably led to a monopoly of money-proxies to virtually strangulate all branches of our government. On top of it all, the rhetorics and narratives turned into fairy tales. Facts and truths were spun and twisted into predictable scripts — like “The Emperor With No Clothes On”.
By looking at this election in the context of the current syndrome in America, we realize how absurd our democracy has become. (1) Donald Trump, a person from the top 0.001 % of the top 1%, managed to become a major contestant claiming to represent the interests and/or concerns of the 99%! Huh? Uncle Scrooge turning into Santa Claus? Yes – that’s Christmas Carol! (2) Hillary Clinton, whose party should naturally be the champion for the 99%, managed to practically sweep up the money-sponsorship of practically everyone in the top 1%. (And her husband even managed to extort from foreign billionaire oligarchs through a foundation.) (3) The guardians of the traditional Republican piggy bank, people who were chartered members of the top 1% such as the Bushes, are taking a rain-check on this election, because the voting masses rejected them in the primaries. So their money cache remains intact. They will teach the 99% a lesson some other day.
Frustrated and helpless, the voting public among the 99% just could not bring themselves to believe in the snakeoil being pitched to them to the exclusion of real choices. As the campaigning progressed, they became disgusted, insulted and enraged by what they witnessed and, worst of all, became horrifyingly divided. Divisiveness among groups in society is bad enough, but this election divides families, friends, colleagues like never before. You go read George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and you will identify with how the Livestock felt being played by the Pigs and their manipulators backstage.
So the 99% chose Trump because he is “outside of the system”. It is a clear message. But who can afford to be an outsider? Someone who belongs to 0.001% of the top 1%.
And he managed to get enough among the 99% to try his snakeoil.