The deplorables are rather wonderful people, aren’t they? Both here and in the United States. The people’s revolution continues apace, defying the odds each time, defying the pollsters, defying the elite. I cannot tell you how pleasurable it was to scamper downstairs on Wednesday morning to check out the reaction on the Guardian’s website. It kept me cackling for hours. The previous morning the paper had concluded its fatuous leader column with the words: ‘Americans should summon a special level of seriousness and display a profound responsibility when they go to the polls.’ That alone had made me yearn for a Trump victory — the arrogant, chastising tone which liberals, especially European liberals, always adopt when dealing with commoners and plebs, the people who do not buy into their palpably failing and idiotic worldview.
That unintentionally hilarious sentence about a ‘special level of seriousness’ followed paragraph after paragraph of hyperbolic stupidity: Trump is a fascist racist who will devour your first-born and lead us all to Armageddon. This is the voice of that horrible tranche of self-righteous and authoritarian leftist opinion which petitioned to have Trump banned from entering the UK because he said things with which these imbeciles disagreed.
The reaction the next day when it became clear that the Americans had indeed gone to the polls with a special level of seriousness did not disappoint. Not just the shrieking readers, but the columnists, too. ‘This is a terrifying moment for America. Hold your loved ones close’, for example, from the reliably hilarious Stephen Thrasher. ‘People of colour, women, Muslims, queer people, the sick, immigrants: all are threatened by Donald Trump. They need your love, your warmth, your support.’ Oh, how we laughed.
My own preference for the US presidency was always going to be a bit of a long shot: a joint Ted Cruz/Bernie Sanders ticket. Redistribution of wealth, protectionism, a curb on immigration and the healing power of Lord Jesus Christ. That would have done me. But the Americans almost never do as I wish. I was for McGovern in 1972 but grew to like Nixon — and look what they did to him. I was for Mondale, Dukakis, Perot and McCain. In almost all those cases — perhaps the last aside — I was horribly wrong and the American voters right. The only one on which we accorded was Clinton in ’96. The other Clinton, the one with the cigar and the semen.
I was briefly for Obama in 2008 until the witless euphoria began to dissolve my brain and I switched at the last minute. The Mandela-fication of Obama — crass, patronising and misplaced — annoyed me more than McCain’s evident dimness and negative charisma. It is a bad thing to dislike a candidate simply because people you hate revere him, as was the case eight years ago. And scarcely better to prefer a candidate simply because people you hate hate him, as was the case this time around.
That being said, I found it hard to buy into the Trump camp’s mythologising, partly because I have a mistrust of self-made men who became self-made men as the consequence of a vast inheritance and partly because of his utter inability to construct a sentence which made anything approaching sense. And I was suspicious too of the vitriol and odium heaped upon Mrs Clinton, no less absolutist and hyperbolic in its tone. She may well be unlikeable, devious and part of a dynastic machine, but the insistence that she should be in prison struck me as a totalitarian impulse, as unpleasant as the counterclaim that Trump would press the little red button as soon as he got himself the nuke codes.
Such polarisation! Do you remember those days when political parties — here and in the States — yearned for ‘clear blue water’ between themselves and their rivals? For an ideological difference between our various elected elites, all of whom seemed to believe — à la Fukuyama — in the same thing? In the US and in Europe the lazy consensus that bound the leading parties together has all but evaporated. Now, from Budapest or Athens to San Francisco (via London and Warsaw), it is a case of populism of the left or right versus the vested interests. There’s plenty of clear blue water now. Be careful what you wish for.
I was for Trump in the end, by a whisker, by a wisp of his ridiculous hair, simply for pragmatic domestic reasons. Trump will be much, much better for Britain. I have never signed up to the notion of a special relationship: the US does whatever the hell it wants and if we’re on board, then so much the better, insofar as it matters a damn. But do not expect even the slenderest reciprocation in Suez or Grenada or the Falklands, or in attempting to extradite IRA terrorists. There is no reciprocation and never has been — perhaps (if you are American) rightly.
But it is also true that the Democratic party is, in general, far less mindful of British interests than the Republicans and, particularly, Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton has repeatedly said she wishes us to get around the table with Argentina to discuss the future of the Falklands. Why thank you, ma’am, for the offer — but no. It was the Democrats who insisted that we stay in the EU and then scolded us that we would be at the back of the queue for trade deals once we left. Trump was jubilant about Brexit and may well not know where Argentina is. The Democrats have their guns pointed towards nasty, homophobic Russia, while Trump knows well who are the true enemies of the West.
We stayed up with chilli dogs and pumpkin pie to watch the results. I like to imagine that in Boston and San Diego, Americans stay up on the night of our general elections with bangers and mash and Sussex pond pudding. That doesn’t happen, does it?
Anyway, don’t forget to hold your loved ones close. Priceless.
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