If Donald Trump wins the election later this year, who will be to blame? Guest contributor, Patrick O Donoghue argues the Democratic Party may have done more to divide America than learn from the lessons of the Trump-era.
The election of a reality television host in 2016 to the most powerful office on Earth should have prompted a deep and self-critical moment of reckoning for America’s political establishment. However, rather than heralding a period of introspection on the part of the political forces responsible for this surreal state of affairs, Trump’s triumph has produced the opposite reaction.
What we have seen from senior Democrats and prominent political commentators in the years since is symptomatic of a system gripped by laziness, complacency, and a complete lack of imagination. In other words, the very people who should have been showing some humility after being sent a loud and clear message – by voiceless and disenfranchised, Rust Belt Trump voters – that they desperately needed to be taught a lesson, have instead proven that they have learned next to nothing from their past mistakes.
What we have seen in the years since is a political machine with such little belief in its own ideas to tackle Trump on matters of substance, that it has opted for a constant barrage of cheap abuse and jibes, as a lame substitute for rigorous policy debates, in the hope of concealing the great void at the heart of what it stands for.
What need is there to sink to such petty depths by adopting the infantile, playground tactics of mocking Trump for his “tiny hands”, his bewildering hairdo, or his orange-like complexion, if you have a serious offer to make to the American people? The answer is that in the absence of a willingness to fundamentally change and take ownership of its own policy failures, the Democratic Party establishment, aided by a gang of media goons, have resorted to playing Trump at his own game. What has been the end result of this strategy? Undoubtedly, it has been the ever-worsening trivialisation of American life.
Let’s face it. Trump needs no help in making himself look and sound stupid. What do Jimmy Kimmel or John Oliver believe they are achieving with their snarky monologues highlighting Trump’s latest gaffe? Trump is beyond self-parody as it is. Therefore, this kind of arrogant approach does not constitute thought-provoking satire but further patronises, alienates, and insults the intelligence of, the exact groups that need to be won over. Ultimately, it ends up entrenching bitter divisions and pushing further away the people a real anti-Trump resistance should be busily recruiting with real and hopeful alternative solutions.
This trivialisation of American politics is the precise reason we have witnessed others, such as Kanye West, with even less experience and fewer credentials than Trump attempting to enter the presidential fray.
Sure, Joe Biden may beat Trump this time around. But in many ways the damage is already done and you can bet your bottom dollar that Biden’s conservative, neoliberal agenda will only ensure that the next Trump who comes along will be ten times worse than the one we’ve already got. This is a dangerously slippery slope that we are sliding down at present.
The wounds that had been gaping for decades in the left-behind communities that propelled Trump into office can only be healed by addressing the resentment that has been seething under the surface of American society for too long. In short, authentic change is needed; not a return to the way things were. So, the question is: with the Democrats possessed by short-term thinking, who or what can secure America’s long-term future?
“Patrick O’Donoghue is a writer based in Dublin, Ireland. He is a recent graduate in Philosophy and Sociology of Trinity College, Dublin and the former Magazine Editor of the award-winning The University Times. Patrick will begin his Masters in Journalism at DCU in October. He currently writes for the The Last Word on Football and the Indiependent. His poetry can be found at The Honest Ulsterman.”