Enough of protests, America must move on

Enough of protests, America must move on

It is clear that the Democrats' characterisation of Trump's supporters as 'deplorables' will be one of the great mistakes of the Clinton campaign


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Sun 13 Nov 2016, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Mon 14 Nov 2016, 12:55 AM

Despite being driven by concern over the future of the United States, continuing protests against the election of Donald Trump are pointless and divisive. It is now time for anti-Trump Americans to come together to make the best of what many see as a tragedy.
It may be understandable that a significant number of American voters - 52 per cent to be precise - are horrified that Trump was elected president. But the fact is that he won the elections, fair and square. What, one wonders, are people protesting? Electoral results that they didn't want? That's how American democracy works, and one wonders how they would have reacted if pro-Trump
protesters had taken to the streets following a Clinton victory.
The fact is, as the Washington Post's Dan Balz has pointed out, that at the moment nobody has any idea what a Trump presidency is going to look like. In the days following his election, his tone has been notably conciliatory and moderate - in contrast to his campaign rhetoric.
"One big question ahead is which Donald Trump will emerge after Inauguration Day. Will it be the bombastic Trump of the campaign, the one who insulted his rivals and offended one group of people after another?," Balz wrote. "Or will it be the more temperate, subdued and inclusive-sounding Trump who has been on display since the electoral college vote turned stunningly and decisively in his favor early Wednesday morning?" As distasteful and disgusting as his campaign promises were, they are already being exposed for what they are - bombastic, unrealistic pieces of fantasy that Trump cleverly broadcast to a gullible voter base in order to win the presidency.
"Trump is inexperienced and makes extreme statements, but he's not ideological. He used to be pro-choice, then suggested that women should be punished for getting an abortion, but neither is a core view - because Trump doesn't have a core. He is an opportunist," the New York Time's Nicholas Kristof wrote. "He blustered about building a wall and banning Muslims but won't do either, because those ideas are unworkable."
The Democrats, of course, also need to be careful not to stoop to the same level as Trump himself by characterizing an entire group of people - in this case Trump's supporters - as a monolithic block of right-wingers and 'deplorables'. Such comments overlook the fact that Trump, for all his bluster and lack of experience, was tapping into the millions of people who are quite simply fed up with government and career politicians, as best exemplified by Hillary Clinton.
"From the outset, many voters were clearly fed up with Washington and all its works. Up and down the country, the political establishment was cordially detested," wrote Bloomberg's Clive Cook. "Step forward, Hillary Clinton, wife of an ex-president, champion of the downtrodden, somehow wealthy, trailing scandals, friends in all the right places, anointed after a rigged nomination -- in short, the complete representative of politics as usual."
Looking back, it is clear that the Democrat's characterisation of Trump's supporters as 'deplorables' will be one of the great mistakes of the Clinton campaign.
"You don't get people to see things your way by calling them idiots and racists, or sorting them into baskets of deplorables and pitiable," Cook added. "If you can't manage genuine respect for the people whose votes you want, at least try to fake it."
There are lessons to be learned here for the Democrats, and they can't be applied through street protests. Trump has won, and it's time for the Democrats to take the lessons of their failed campaign and figure out how to do things differently, first at the mid-term elections in 2018, and then at the next presidential race. 
In the meantime, as Kristoff said, it's time for Americans to "grit our teeth and give President-elect Trump a chance."
- bernd@khaleejtimes.com

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