People are not tired of experts; people are tired of pundits. Pundits and their polling got the 2015 general election wrong, they got the EU Referendum wrong and they got the 2016 US election wrong. We have an entire politico-media circus who would like us to think of them as experts, want to be bracketed with experts, but are only as informed as you or I, no better or worse (or slightly better or worse depending on the pundit and the you or I). The majority of those who carry the job title of ‘journalist’ may well know more about the scuttlebutt of public life but their opinions are not generally better qualified than people who do not carry the job title ‘journalist’. Even where those in the politico-media circus do have more insight than joe public, that does not mean they use that insight to inform their opinions or inform us; a telling example being Jimmy Savile.
So we are not tired of experts, we are tired of watching the ill-considered and flatulent opinions of those who are overwhelmingly born from the ‘establishment’ passing their opinions off as gospel; especially when those opinions are used to shape public opinion. We have seen this most tellingly with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership and we’re getting the same now with the Trump win. No doubt our pundits will begin to amaze us with their fabulously insightful hindsight and we should definitely keep listening to their opinions. I suspect that they’ll mainly tell us that we should resist challenging the established order of things because, if we don’t, then the racists and bigots will take over. The truth is, people are voting alongside racists and bigots because they share a desire to break the established order because the established order impoverishes their lives.
Just my personal opinion but I think we need to get our heads round the fact that people can have legitimate socio-economic grievances or political frustrations and express them through racist and bigoted voices AND that doesn’t diminish those grievances or frustrations and our priority still has to be to tackle the grievances and frustrations. We need to learn to deal with racist/bigoted people and how we do that is our problem and our responsibility, not theirs. That doesn’t make their racism and bigotry legitimate but it acknowledges that there will be a lot of people who share the same grievances and frustrations of those who express them as racists and bigots.
Someone who blames their working conditions on immigrants is wrong but their problem is their working conditions and being exploited by their employer. In America, stopping Mexicans from entering the US won’t salve racists suffering from poor working conditions, so Trump will have to start kicking out ‘foreigners’ and that won’t solve poor working conditions. So Trump will have to start kicking out non-white people and that won’t solve poor working conditions. So Trump will have to start kicking out women or people with disabilities or whichever demographic doesn’t vote for him. AND still it won’t improve working conditions. Then, maybe, he’ll introduce legislation to stop exploitative practices by employers. Maybe.
Some people voting for Trump, if you explained all of that and showed them evidence to support why that is the case, would still vote for Trump because their racism is worth more to them than having improved working conditions BUT most people will choose to vote for legislation to stop exploitative employers. Out of Clinton Trump, Trump was the only one offering change and people would rather take a gamble on 1% chance for change when the alternative is 0% for change. People didn’t turn out for Clinton and, I suspect, that part of the reason for that was witnessing the inability for Obama to get much done because the Republicans worked so hard to block as much of it as possible. It breeds frustration and people look and ask ‘what’s the point’ if Republican voters keep voting for people who act against our country’s interests in favour of their own?
We had the same thing in Britain and it took until 1997 for enough Tory voters to wake up to the fact that you can’t just carry on being bitten by snakes if you need to stop being poisoned. New Labour offered change. Sadly, Blair’s regime wasted their opportunity and simply slid back into the ideology of what had preceded it because we thought the snakes were Thatcher and her Tory cronies but we hadn’t realised that the snakes were the ‘establishment’ behind them and that ‘establishment’ took their grip of Labour, where now Jeremy Corbyn is having some success in wresting away their control to offer something different. But the ‘establishment’ are fighting back and their idiot pundits are along for the ride. I don’t imagine that our idiot politico-media circus want a rise in right-wing extremism, I don’t think they want increases in racial attacks and discrimination but I think our problem is that too many of them are naïve enough or egotistical enough to believe that they can control the monster after they have prodded it with sticks to gain power.
Even Labour’s right-wing may genuinely believe that they can introduce a more socially minded right-wing politics, they might even convince themselves that their right-wing political thinking is actually centrist, that they really are the ‘moderates’ that they have labelled themselves. They can’t see that their arrogance has contributed to the rise of the Right because THEY are part of the Right and their efforts have shifted political discourse right but that doesn’t make them the solution to society’s shift rightwards. Labour’s Right won’t attract the racists and bigots, they’ll simply affirm their position. Labour have to address societies grievances and frustrations and leave the Tories to occupy the ground that solely attracts the racists and bigots.
We have a media dominated by right-wing bigots, who create a right-wing dominant narrative that right-wing politics can best exploit in service of the right-wing establishment, we need stronger democracy and more robust democratic structures to keep the influence of the establishment in check.