I thought I’d better step up with a few words since I think we may safely assume that all the other regular contributors to Voice of The North are currently pole-axed with grief as a result of the election of President Trump.
Though they may, through their tears, be composing columns explaining that all the 59 million Americans who voted for Trump were thick, old, racist bigots who did not know what they were doing, are already having huge regrets, and want nothing more than for an ex-model and a hairdresser to club together to launch a legal challenge with a view to securing a second election that will return the right result.
While also speculating fruitlessly on what might have happened if all those disqualified by age, absence, nationality or simple indolence had been able to get to the polls.
Yes, some of the parallels with Brexit are striking, are they not? The uselessness of opinion pollsters and bookmakers, for a start. Paddy Power were so confident of a Clinton victory that they paid out over €1 million to those who had bet on her as long ago as September 18, and presumably cannot ask for their money back now.
Then there’s Nigel Farage being prominent on the winning side, and the whole circus of Guardian-reading, comfortably-off, bien pensant liberals and lefties wringing their hands in disgusted disbelief.
I must admit that it was the latter more than anything else that brought me to work this morning with a smile on my face and a song on my lips. That and the fact that I had just spent two hours in the company of small children for whom Trump means Fart, and who kept chuckling “America’s going to be very smelly, isn’t it?” whenever the President-elect’s name came up on the news.
I recalled a friend who works in the City describing an atmosphere in his office on June 24 that one might once have expected on the sudden death of a much-loved monarch. He was surrounded by colleagues who had left their children at home in tears over the complete ruination of their lives, literally unable to comprehend the scale of the disaster that had overwhelmed them, or what could have possessed anyone to vote for it.
He wisely kept his own choice in the polling booth to himself. (By the way, this sort of atmosphere explains why opinion polls have consistently underestimated the Conservative / Brexit / Trump vote.)
Yet strangely enough the world hasn’t ended thus far (though, don’t tell me, that’s because “Brexit hasn’t actually happened yet”: the tag inevitably attached to all vaguely encouraging news since June 24, while all bad news is “because of Brexit”).
But do come on, chaps. Chin up and let’s have a bit of perspective.
For one thing, America has elected morons before. I seem to remember a pretty similar initial reaction to the first victory of Ronald Reagan, and he didn’t turn out too badly. Though admittedly he had more charisma and a better way with words than Mr Trump, as well as a sense of humour.
For another, Trump isn’t Hitler. He’s definitely not intelligent enough to claim that place in history, and probably not mad enough either.
Sorry, but that’s about it as far as my good news goes, I’m afraid. I did vote for Brexit, but I wouldn’t have voted for Trump. However, I think I can understand why so many millions did.
It’s because they are tired of being patronised by a liberal establishment, on both sides of the Atlantic, that thinks it knows so much better than they do, and regards their traditional views and values with undisguised contempt.
An establishment that puts forward an old, unappealing and frankly rather dodgy machine politician like Hillary Clinton as the only real alternative to Donald Trump. A spectacularly dumb move by any party hoping to win an election, albeit not quite as dumb as UK Labour’s repeated choice of Jeremy Corbyn.
An establishment that has done very nicely out of globalisation, thank you, and always seems to do pretty well for itself in terms of salaries and benefits, access to good schools and medical care, taking exotic holidays, and finding cushy jobs for its children. And which also ensures that even its admitted failures are generously compensated as they are ushered off the stage into a comfortable retirement.
An establishment with a cosmopolitan outlook that regards patriotism as so last century, and likes to keep the labour pool topped up with cheap and grateful newcomers who will do the jobs the natives are rather too picky about.
It does not surprise me in the least, then, that the inhabitants of Sunderland or the US rust belt feel minded to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the system by voting for someone who promises to build a wall around them.
Of course, that seems unlikely to happen in practice. Further resentments may well arise as a result, leading us towards an extremism of left or right that will make Farage and Trump look like cosy Butskellite moderates.
But for now let us look on the bright side. As the Conservative Prime Minister A.J. Balfour sagely observed, “Nothing matters very much, and few things matter at all.”
The odds are very strongly in favour of the sun continuing to rise every morning, and we are still all going to die – though, on the current balance of probabilities, rather later in life than all the generations that preceded us.
And, in the meantime, we have the great benefit of living in interesting times. A traditional Chinese curse that turns out, like nearly all good sayings, to be completely apocryphal.
I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t wait to see the next surprise that history is hiding up its sleeve from us all. I shall keep my fingers firmly crossed that it’s one that will make my left-leaning chums as tearful as the votes for Brexit and Trump.
Good to hear from you Keith! An interesting article.
the ignorant left and the far left in the uk and the usa never seem to learn there lesson,by demonising and smearing good decent working class people whether here or in america as uneducated,thick racist,sexist,zenophobic redneck morons has only lead to one thing,brexit and the election of trump,will the left ever learn there lesson that smearing and insulting the working classes is doomed to failure,will they learn there lesson,i suspect not, and that bodes well for ukip and theresa may,take note the labour party and jeremy corbyn.
spot on stewart.
I live in Massachusetts and I read Keith Hann’s article on VON. Does “Trump” really mean what he said it means?
Is he a school principal?
Yes, “trump” in British English can mean “to break wind audibly”, according to the Oxford English dictionary, and many British parents of small children encourage its use as a polite alternative to “fart”.
No, I am far from being a school principal, but I do have two sons, aged four and seven, who are still chuckling at every mention of the President-Elect’s name on the news.
See also “trumpery”: of little or no value; trifling, worthless; rubbishy; trashy.