Several hundred thousand more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major political party in US history, than voted for serial sexual assaulter and con man and tax evader Donald Trump. It’s important to remember that, for morale, though for policy it’s irrelevant. More Americans voted for Al Gore than for George W. Bush, and this didn’t prevent Bush and his team from implementing a maximalist right-wing agenda the minute they got into office. Trump may have been incoherent and inconsistent in his campaign promises—one day he’s building a wall and banning Muslims, the next he’s building bridges and, at Ivanka’s urging, paying for everyone’s child care—but he has been consistent in his choice of advisers. They comprise a small right-wing criminal class within the larger corrupt American political class, a mixture of white supremacists, “law and order” fascists, and shutters-down of the George Washington Bridge. There is every reason to believe that Trump’s political agenda will be the most radical right-wing agenda this country has ever seen. We should prepare for an increase in deportations, further militarization of our borders and police forces, cuts in social programs (with particular damage to minority communities), and also—this is already happening—an increase in hate crimes. We need to look out for one another.
Reading some of the post-election postmortems about the non-college-educated white men who went for Trump by a 50-point margin, I have been reminded of the angry white men of eastern Ukraine, who in 2014, with the help of Russia, took up arms against the new government in Kyiv because they felt abandoned, disrespected, and unheard. The Ukrainian government’s response was to send tanks and artillery to crush the rebellion, which they would have done successfully had not Russian regular troops entered the conflict in August 2014.
Visiting eastern Ukraine that summer, I found it easy enough to say that the people in Kyiv should have listened to the ones in Donetsk. They really were left behind by the changes that took place after the collapse of the USSR; they really did feel threatened, if they were not actually threatened, by the cultural changes taking place in their country (now their former country), where the Ukrainian-speaking community, marginalized for hundreds of years by Russian and Soviet imperialism, was finally being given space (even sometimes preferential space) in the culture and the polity. Ethnic Russians, many of them former mine workers, felt abandoned and angry. Of course they should have been listened to, I said. As I read stories about white dudes, post-election, jumping out of cars in Louisiana to attack a woman wearing a hijab, or to threaten a black woman in Delaware with a gun, I find it harder to give myself and my friends the same advice.