The star of a reality show won the biggest contest of all, a general election. Incredible. Yet, we are told, no one on ‘the left’ saw this coming. Untrue. There were voices on the left. People like Moore, Chomsky and Pilger did see Trump coming and predicted it. Documentaries were even released, by Adam Curtis (Hypernormalisation) and ‘Michael Moore in Trumpland’, that warned us about Trump. But the left failed to heed of these warnings. Instead, they were driven by the so-called neo-liberals.
Almost a year and a half on, and the neo-liberals continue to give us headlines of ‘shocked’. Why are they shocked? The same neo-liberals created Trump. Not the Republican Party, nor FOX news, but the neo-liberals at NBC News - one of the largest news corporations. Trump was paraded on TV in front of millions of Americans on the reality show, The Apprentice. As Glen Greenwald states: “He marched into boardrooms and unflinching fired people. He built new businesses. He was everything that Americans are taught to revere”. And once the primary elections got underway, “he was a ratings goldmine”. And with it, the Trump brand, created by these neo-liberals, was out of control.
Throughout the election, neo-liberal institutions, like CNN, CNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the Guardian told us that Trump voters were angry white males, who hate everyone, are deeply racist and misogynist. Then there are the neo-liberal comedians like Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Trevor Noah who openly mocked Trump and his followers. And continue to do so. They failed to burst the bubble that this neo-liberal audience lives in. Instead they ‘preached to the converted’, almost contemptuous of ordinary people; even convincing some that these simple people cannot be trusted to vote the proper way.
For the best part of 30 years in the US, the majority of the population has felt left out of economic development. Trump stole this narrative from the left. He talked about ‘pulling out of trade deals’ that took jobs away from ‘working class’ people. Is this not meant to be the language of the left? He talked about ‘replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment’ and hedge fund managers ‘getting away with murder’. Was that not the language Obama used in 2008? Bernie Sanders had his own angry crowd. This election had angry crowds everywhere. According to the Clinton WikiLeaks emails, Sanders was prevented from winning the nomination. So the neo-liberals got their dream candidate, Hilary Clinton. That was one less angry crowd to deal with - one to go. Thomas Frank (Guardian) summed it best: “She was an insider when the country was screaming for an outsider”.
And then the neo-liberal media went to the other extreme, where they ‘completely united in a mission of destroying Donald Trump, in preventing his victory and ensuring Clinton got elected’. Greenwald says this merely assisted Trump further in his ‘anti-establishment rant’. “People have seen this as the media trying to curse them, and dictate to them. It faced a backlash and people perceived coverage as unfair. And this played an important role and ensuring that he could win”, says Greenwald.
And then there were the WikiLeaks emails – yet another sign. Trump coined the term, ‘Crooked Hilary’. It struck a chord. One such email states, as Secretary of State, Clinton approved one of the largest arms deals in history (80 billion US dollars) to Saudi Arabia. In the same cache of emails, Julian Assange, states Clinton herself identified the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar as “clandestine” “financial and logistic” supporters of the terrorist group ISIS. These same states also support the Clinton Foundation heavily, he says. Another sign. Extraordinary claims. But no, the neo-liberal media gave these ‘facts’ little coverage and continued to back the ‘corrupt system’ that Clinton represented. Trump meanwhile was lapping this up. Again, it struck a chord with voters.
And then there is the other big issue, political correctness. If the neo-liberals had done some research and just listened to some republican chat shows, or tuned into Fox news, the one consistent message was not on economic insecurity, not on racism, not the Republican establishment…it was on political correctness. Fox News is always claiming that this has been the left’s obsession for decades. They have a point. The left does not tolerate any criticism from within. Why? Because these neo-liberals have forced their own political correctness agenda. All too often, neo-liberal journalists/commentators love to brand people who disagree with them, as racist, sexist, homophobic, and of late Islamaphobic.
“The truth is there was no one else to vote for”, suggests Pilger. He notes: “People are angry at towns being destroyed by the corrupt banking system. These were once democratic voters. They viewed Clinton as an extension or presentation of this status quo” and paradoxically voted for Trump in large numbers. Or as Greenwald put it, “Trump animated sections of the population who had not voted before. And the Clintons strategy on elections which had worked in the past did not against this unconventional candidate in Trump”.
Moore has said the Trump supporters are not racist. “They twice voted for a man whose middle name is Hussein. That’s the America you live in,” he stated. The other figure on the left, Bernie Sanders, even tweeted during the election: “I do not believe that most of the people who are thinking about voting for Mr. Trump are racist or sexist”. The neo-liberals have led us to believe a different theme during/after the election.
These same neo-liberal journalists are now scrambling to understand the Trump narrative. “They don’t know. And they are journalists. Extraordinary. And shameful”, says Pilger.
I feel the left has lost his voice. Most of its narrative has been taken over by the right. The left needs to re-group and offer a real alternative to the economic system. But will such criticism by others and me be allowed, as the left begins that long battle to retake the movement that was hijacked by these so-called neo-liberals!
Shane Cogan is a writer, filmmaker, musician and humanitarian and based in East Africa.