Rafe: Trump win was a vote against the “establishment” – but don’t count on them realizing it

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC Licence
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC Licence

Fresh from the heady feeling of predicting an election result, indeed an American presidential election, and having the reasons pretty accurate, I’m encouraged to take the next logical step. I only go over a bit of old ground to make the point that if we do not understand the depth of the problem – I suspect that the elite doesn’t even know there is one – then we might just as well have a drink or two and see what happens.

This is the most solidified establishment in modern history. It runs through several strata of society and includes members who profess not to like what they see as the “establishment”.

My father would have faded away even to find a union leader next to him in his comfy Anglican pew, even though he only went to Church once a year (though that once with great enthusiasm) and the union leader would have been no less surprised and uncomfortable. Today, they would seem part of the same elite fraternity to an environmentalist who sees them both as the forces destroying the river.

The folks that run things are like universities of elites, where the colleges don’t like each other very much, but have a strong commonality of purpose – to run things – and the students can’t wait to guillotine the lot of non-elites.

Loss of tradirional political discipline exposes imponderables that didn’t used to be – speaking just of the United States, where do the armed forces stand? Here is the eternal steadying tradition of the president being the Commander-in-chief, which suddenly is not such a sure or, indeed, comforting thing. Whether this hitherto stability will stand the shock of Donald Trump is the number one question.

There is good news and bad news.

The good news is that institutions are not easy to bring down, least of all when there is no organized force with that directly in mind.

The bad news is that when they do come down, it’s with a hell of a crash and there is a lot of collateral damage. Moreover there may be someone ready to help with the crash launch. That brings on the next imponderable.

To say it’s difficult to get a constant theme out of Trump’s mumblings is putting it mildly. What does he really want to do? Does he know? Trump has an enormous following as I write this but they’re scarcely a homogeneous group and seem to have as their only thing in common being thoroughly pissed off at something or someone or both. Just as the former elite came from disparate unorganized units, so does the Trump outfit, as any look at a Trump crowd clearly indicates.

The first concern, then, is domestic and there simply is no precedent from which to work. We have seen malevolent dictatorships crumble and we’ve watched benevolent aristocracies and all other manner of a governments go but the United States of America, and what it has become in fact and psychologically over the last 260 years, is just not readable on the evidence and leaves us in the highly dangerous “waiting game.”

Foreign affairs, of course, is the scarier part. Contestants, in whatever the contest, love weakness in their opponents and will probably exploit it even though there may not be much point at the time. It’s a natural reflex.

When we are talking about a game where the stakes are not very high, no big deal, but we’re on survival where missteps under the most benign of circumstances yield catastrophes. I needn’t begin to mention nightmares waiting to occur that exist all around the globe.

There is always one saving grace, otherwise known as MAD, when referring to nuclear warfare. In most international contests of any consequence there are huge doses of self interest available, namely survival, to keep some sanity inside the war room. Unfortunately, leaders have not always responded well to the obvious and even good counsel available. In the situation that exists in the world today, failure is not acceptable.

One cannot be blamed if after all of this time, being exposed to Trump blatherings, one becomes just a tad irrational. I am now going to be just that by saying “you never know”.

Ironically, President Warren Harding, who fights it out with W for being the worst of the lot, once said “the White House is an alchemist”. By that he meant one can never be sure what the person occupying the Oval Office will be like until time has passed. Admittedly, it seems a wild dream to suppose that Donald Trump could turn out to be a decent president, but this is as good as most dreams available to us.

The real issue is not Donald Trump – he is just the catalyst. The issue is slow, rumbling, unforseen, huge, undisciplined change by the “post-elite” who don’t get it yet and show no signs of doing so.

It’s a watching game and a very scary one.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

20 thoughts on “Rafe: Trump win was a vote against the “establishment” – but don’t count on them realizing it

  1. much the same effect as the Brexit vote – the elites just don’t, or refuse to get it; still insisting on not reducing the numbers of strange migrants

  2. Conspiracy stories are generally dismissed simply because we the public can’t get our minds around the possibility when there is an absence of a smoking gun. That belief is exploited continuously by the 1%.
    In the early 90s I had a Chinese investor client who seemed to be equipped with more than enough money and who did nothing in Canada that could be considered a job.

    When Bill Clinton was running the first time my client went absent from BC for weeks on end and when he responded to my phone messages he was invariably calling from the US. Among the first things President Clinton did upon taking office was to change the status of China from being a country with some import restrictions to being one without restrictions.

    John soon showed up again in Vancouver but was quickly off to the middle East, job done.

    I think the Americans became aware of this kind of behaviour by the Clintons and decided enough was enough despite the unattractiveness of Mr. Trump.

    1. You are so on target, Eric. Many swing voters, blue-collar voters, would have voted for Sanders, or a willing Elizabeth Warren, instead of Trump because of the sad Clinton legacy. Then there are competent, intelligent Democrats like former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm who – and I assume – would not think of touching the presidency for fear of inheriting what poses as the post-cold war foreign policy model. I mean, have you been to Europe, North Africa, Israel-Palestine, or the Middle East lately.

      Two things seems certain: first, the Clinton cabal inside the Democratic Party is being purged, if not completely, from leadership roles. And second, the neo-liberal campaign is being pounded from a number of different angles and demographic sectors across the political spectrum.

      Accordingly, let us face the truth about Hillary’s loss: She is a terrible campaigner who cannot connect from the heart with the electorate, most likely because her own political intentions are veiled or, in her own mind, are a convoluted construct. She froze into a walking, talking, death-mask zombie when Obama appeared on the scene in the 2008 primaries. In 2000, mind you, as the still serving, victimized First Lady, she was handed the Senate seat of 4-term New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and in 2004, she won reelection against a light-weight Republican congressman from suburban Long Island. And then there is raw ambition, where, in a nation of some 330 million people, she, in her mind and in those of her die-hard supporters, was the only woman who should ever become the nation’s first female president. Any “lesser” person might have summed up their government resume after serving as Secretary of State.

      Tragic perhaps, but any more so than a Clinton presidency with the Republicans controlling both houses of Congress? Been there, done that, said many of the voters.

      I would also like to bring attention to the many interested and activist voters of the younger generations who engaged in this election. Boy, will they ever have to fight for a future. Just how they will remains to be seen.

      That said, great articles and insight regarding the US election, Rafe. You called it as you saw it and called it as it turned out to be. A love of baseball doesn’t hurt.

  3. Ironic isn’t it? They couldn’t vote for Hillary because of the husband and the groper said she was crooked and the groper’s wife posed nude? Now the president elect will not do as he promised in the campaign proving he is just another politician like all the rest. No wonder the USA is headed for troubled times.

    1. ….and he’s already reneging on his promises in record time…..
      Methinks “The Donald” may have finally bitten off more than even his big mouth can chew……

      Hell hath no fury than a redneck voter scorned…..

  4. @hawgwash A big 10-4 on the Steve Darling comment.

    Clinton did win the popular vote by a slight margin but lost the Democrats base of the white working class.Oh well,at least Putin is happy.

  5. While it is hard to write, I think we only have ourselves to blame. Standing by as spectators while the establishment plunders the public’s purse for decade after decade just demonstrates an absence of critical thinking and willingness to by-pass accountability.
    By letter, I asked the Chief Financial Officer at BC Ferries, what is the formula for determining the annual depreciation amounts for their ships and how are they applied to each route, thereby making up the operating costs and presumably the establishment of fares. That was a month ago and all I get is nothing.
    My next step is to try the name and shame option or a freedom for information request.
    The establishment have embedded a culture of “keep folks ignorant” by doing nothing to foster rational discussion. Because all our politicians have a vested interest, as do the MSM, of keeping as much information from the “outliers” they manufacture great cover for non-sensicle or corrupt behaviour.
    Great article Rafe. Thanks for doing your darndest.

    1. Im not sure BC Ferries would really want a forensic audit of their spending habits if the Queen of Chilliwack( Port Hardy – Bella Bella) was any example.

      They spent millions on it to refurbish it to coast guard approved standards for 2 more years of use then….after it was replaced with a much smaller ferry….. it was tied to a dock and left to slowly rot……
      Then they sold it for less than its scrap value to a Fijian company who bought it for an “undisclosed” sum ( “We cant reveal the price because it would affect our negotiating tactics in the future for other potential buyers….”)
      The same company who’s owner used to be a BC Ferries employee ( now retired) who has purchased (for a song) other refurbished and retired BC Ferries that now sail in Fijii.
      The ship sailed last Dec(2015) and arrived in Fiji a month or so later.

      If you want to know about fiscal waste and incompetance at BC Ferries ( and or any other govt agencies federal, Provincial or Municipal) I would suggest contacting retired employees as opposed to waiting for heavily redacted ( censored?) F.O.I. requests.

      Not to worry though, SNC Lavalin is now helping BC Ferries “improve its bottom line”


      Just as long as they keep contributing to the Liberal election war chest…..

  6. O’Bombers dad was a student from Africa.. he did not drag the history of slavery into the picture… and so, with much foo foo rah the media gave us the first black POTUS… Hillary drags Slick Willy behind her…men didn’t want to vote for her because she’s a woman and many women would rather stick pins in their eyeballs than support a woman who sang “Stand By Your Man” when faced with the evidence of her spouses’ sexual shyte… and when the DNC so clumsily and obviously scuttled Sanders many people turned away in disgust… so Trump won the musical chairs game riding on the votes of mainly white disillusioned and very frustrated people. But the guys behind the curtain remain the same. He’ll do what O’Bomber did, what the Moron did, what they all did back to at least Reagan…same old same old, and the disillusion will fester, the frustration will spew, and Canadians can continue to feel somehow superior because we didn’t vote in a lunatic… all we got was a Twerp with a selfie fixation. And unless there’s a massive change damned fast, we’ll wind up saddled with another four years of Puff’n’Stuff and the LNG pipedream.
    We’re being played, folks! The current NDP is a joke. We need to go back to the CCF Manifesto, stop giving every appearance of being scared of the word “socialist” and start to kick some ass or we’ll contribute to our own erasure.

  7. A weekend out with Daddy won out over a weekend at home baking cookies with Mommy.

    No big deal.

    Maybe most of the kids will want to enjoy next weekend with Mommy, and there are still many days to come that can be enjoyed with Mommy and Daddy!

  8. During this whole election process I did not understand how any one could vote for Trump.

    But then I thought what if the choice was either voting for someone like Trump or voting for Christy Clark again in 2017.

    I would be willing to put up almost anyone for 4 years if it means we get rid of the Liberals.

  9. Trump’s win was a vote against the establishment in the same way that a Adolf Hitler’s win was. So Trump’s win is a con job on the voters and they will soon learn that as the Germans did..

    1. I wonder how quickly Trump will follow his Republican Congress and Senate in passing Laws that screw the average voter while making companies/owners rich……
      Even rotten apples dont fall far from the tree

      President Trump’s a figurehead…..nothing more.

  10. Among the best commentaries I’ve seen to date Rafe.
    It really comes down to your last two sentences and catalyst is the word of the day.

    Bernie Sanders gets the last laugh and more’s the pity.

    To bring it down to a local level; will Christy and Mr. Horgan get it?
    I doubt it.
    Will the voters of BC follow the UK and the US?
    I doubt it

    What an incredibly appropriate and opportune time for a collection of BC independents to get it.

  11. Yep.
    Chalk up the Trump “victory” as one more nail in the coffin for the endless drivel the average working person is subjected to on a daily basis.
    From work to play to just relaxing in front of the television,computor, iphone…We are bombarded with the politically correct indoctrination of a world gone mad.
    Listening, ad nauseum to a superior at your place of drone on about “empowerment”, “synergies”, “teamwork”, blah ,blah, blah….when what they really mean is “Shut up”, “dont complain”, “work harder” for our company profit.

    The movie “Network” was decades ahead of its time when it envisioned, a madman publically spewing his disgust at the hypocracy of modern times, would become a wildly popular celebrity.

    People used to trust their leaders. The media. And their way of life.

    Now we have politicians lining their pockets with lobbyist contributions.
    Media that only have allegiance to the next advertising sponser( see lobbyist above).
    And the companies that demand your allegiance while cutting hundreds of jobs….

    All this while they ram Orwellian style “thought speak” ie PC agendas down your throat at every opportunity.
    If you disagree with the “message” you’re a racist, sexist, confrontational individual that ,god forbid, may be accused of not being a “team player” or accused of “harrassment”.

    So, we get Trump at election time because the voters saw in Hillary a continuation of the “political machine” that hasnt impoved their lives or offered them hope for years.
    Every 4 years they get their only chance to “toss the bums out”.

    Not a big surprise when a drowning person ( in this case a voter) is asking for help …..do they want a person who will stand on the shore promising help is coming while discussing their rescue options ?

    Or a person who will just throw them a damn rope.

  12. Thanks Rafe I do think we need more media on the side of the people instead of working for there advertisers paycheck.

    1. Hope – we have to accept that there is no mainstream media left in the country or the province. Their financial situations have forced them into pacts with the oil industry and industry in general

      There are good independent blog sites, I am associated with one column right here but the ongoing problem is gaining information. We don’t have wire services and, moreover, we often don’t know much about the sources of our information.

      This is certainly improving on the local level as we become more and more used to various writers and more trusting of their accuracy. It is a paimful process however, and you just have to shop around.

      fortunately we still do have the Guardian and the New York times but not a hell of a lot more. Don’t even ask me about the accuracy or independenve of the electronic media.

      When we were in law school and didn’t know what the hell we were talking about, we would say “professor, the law in that regard is in a state of flux.” Thus it is in the media of most of the world now and frankly, because they are so biased and unreliable, they are worse than useless.

      1. Rafe,

        Chris Hedges recollection of his stint with The NY Times is illuminating.
        It’s an excerpt from his latest book on his website.

    2. Well Hope, nothing confirms the lack of credibility in the media than Steve Darling as a Liberal candidate. So disappointing he would take the easy way to find a new job and so sad the Christy Clarke is using his profile for personal gain.

      1. Like all the other Global/CBC/CTV hacks that did the same thing over the past 30 years
        Apparently “integrity” and “conflict” arent included in a journalism degree these days.

        The media in this Province drink each others bath water….

        But not to worry .
        Even IF he’s elected.
        Steve Darling is a liability and an intellectual lightweight( ironically enough) that makes Christy look like a graduate of the Sorbonne ie (smarter)
        I cant wait for his first “presser” in govt where ( if his Global Morning “news” show was any indication) he’ll immediately go off topic and start blathering on and on and on about some personal story that happened years ago……..

        Steve Darling…..THIS is the best the Liberals can dredge from the muck.

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