Pundits have failed or refused to acknowledge the chief motive for Trump’s victory – the deep and visceral hatred so many Americans have for the Clintons, particularly towards Hillary Clinton
The United States is an uglier place today.
And despite this week’s appearance of the brightest moon since 1948 the entire world is much darker now that Donald Trump has been elected the 45th president in US history.
It would have been thus even if the brash real estate tycoon had been defeated in his improbable run to become the “leader of the free world” and commander-in-chief of the globe’s most important super power.
Already during the long electoral campaign Mr Trump had begun to unleash this darkness by ruthlessly obliterating all civil discourse and the most basic social conventions that have long distinguished the American people for their well-known (if, at times, superficial) politeness and courtesy towards others.
Crushing all that as mere “political correctness”, the candidate Trump proceeded to denigrate every possible minority group – women, Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, the physically handicapped, professional politicians and government employees.
In his words, they were “losers”.
Now President-elect Trump has surrounded himself with advisors, some who are known to be white supremacists, American nativists and even neo-fascists. And his choice of the ultra-conservative Mike Pence as Vice President is even more alarming, since the Indiana governor is likely to run the Trump Administration as “de facto” president.
Let us be clear. Many US natives, myself included, are deeply embarrassed that the our next president is someone who has willingly unleashed the demons that simmer just below the surface of American society – racism, bigotry, misogyny, greed, exclusionism, narcissism and selfishness.
How did this happen?
Political and social analysts have offered many and diverse reasons why Donald Trump triumphed in the wee hours of the morning of November 9th. And some of those reasons are compelling and equally valid.
But the pundits have failed or refused to acknowledge the chief motive for his victory – the deep and visceral hatred so many Americans have for the Clintons, particularly towards Hillary Clinton, she of the “weaker sex” in that controversial political couple.
It makes no difference if their revulsion is based on genuine facts, innuendo or the endless bald-faced lies that Trump and his supporters spread about her. People’s distrust and loathing for Hillary was so palpable that people were willing to believe anything.
But it is remarkable, even dumbfounding, that a man who built most of his campaign on outright lies and blatantly false “facts”, and one who boasted of personal and business dealings of a highly questionable nature from both an ethical and legal point of view, could brand his opponent as “crooked” and “lying”.
However, that is only one more proof that Hillary Clinton was, from the outset, unelectable.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and a number of other leading Democrats bear most of the blame for her defeat. They went to extreme efforts, some of which were questionable in their legality, to ensure she would win their party’s nomination. These party apparatchiks, many of them beholden to Clinton patronage, fought tooth and nail to derail the serious challenge Bernie Sanders posed to their long anointed Hillary.
This proved to disgust and alienate many Democrats, especially those in the so-called millennial generation. These younger voters, who were wildly supportive of the Sanders candidacy, seem to have largely stayed away from the final polls.
The fact that Ms Clinton won the popular vote by hundreds of thousands of tallies (at latest count) does not change of her electability problem. The Democrats cheered when the Republican Party – stupidly, these Dems thought – resisted calls by leaders in the GOP to ditch the Donald for another candidate and, instead, officially made him their presidential nominee.
Ironically, the Democratic Party was the one that behaved stupidly. It should have moved in August to replace Hillary (by drafting Joe Biden or someone else) as her email controversy showed no signs of abating.
But she and her party blindly believed that they could convince the electorate that even she was a better option than Mr Trump with his shockingly irresponsible temperament and dangerous lack of political experience and knowledge of global affairs.
Ms Clinton’s campaign strategizers also made the colossal miscalculation of forcing their candidate to engage Mr Trump at his level of gutter politics. Leary voters read that as if the former First Lady and Secretary of States were saying, “Even I am a safer candidate than the Donald.”
It did not work.
Evangelical Christians and even most Catholics (according to the polls) overwhelmingly voted for the twice-divorced and thrice-married Trump. Unbelievably, they justified their choice by claiming that the man who had displayed all the social and moral vices that stand in contradiction to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ was the one most likely to promote Christian values.
They were hoodwinked by a con man who claimed that he stood with them in the fight against the terrible evil of abortion. How willfully ignorant!
Mr Trump is, at best, a newcomer to the “pro life” cause, though it is not even clear if he’s fully on board with this movement. He changed his position on abortion at least five times between the Republican primaries and the final weeks of the presidential election.
It is wrong for the clergy to tell their congregations how to vote. But a number of Catholic bishops and even more priests – if the many reports are accurate – made it crystal clear to their people that it would be immoral to vote for a “pro choice” candidate that supports the legalization of abortion. Many saw that as a not-so-veiled endorsement of Mr Trump. In any case, these Church leaders were irresponsible.
And so now the country that loves to describe itself as the greatest democracy on earth awaits the inauguration of its new president and many of us fear the nightmare that may follow. Merely the sound of “President Trump” sends a chill down the spines of slightly more than half of all Americans who cast did not cast their ballot for him.
We are not only troubled. We are also ashamed.
Robert Mickens is a journalist working out of Rome. He writes ‘Letter from Rome’ each week for Le Croix International, where this article was first published.