You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked and you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard but you don’t understand
Just what you will say when you get home
Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

— Bob Dylan

You can definitely say that again.

It probably is as much a fool’s game to try to find logic in the incredible illogic of last week’s U.S. election results by reading the leavings in the exit polls as it is to try to make sense of nonsensical future American policies by reading Donald Trump’s crazy-making, against-what-I-was-for, for-what-I-was-against first week of post-election pivots and pirouettes.

But then again, in light of last week’s historically fool-making results, it’s hard not to want to play the game too.

Get it out of the way early.

Elections never make sense in the neat-boxes ways in which pollsters (and columnists) like to squeeze them.

Women — as just one for instance — are not only women, but also rich, poor, white, black, Latino, aboriginal, conservative, progressive, religious, atheist, feminist,  pro-choice, anti-abortion, Harley-riders, and soccer moms, and their votes will reflect their tangle of backgrounds, lifestyles and beliefs at least as much as their gender.

Anyone attempting to untangle all the disparate threads to come up with a one-size-fits-all explanation for what happened last Tuesday is bound to be wrong.

That said, there do appear to be a number of clear takeaways from last week’s results.

The first — a fascinating, freakishly frightening takeaway — is the bottom-plumbing depths of inchoate rage so many American voters feel. They are against elites, urbanites, sodomites, unions, moral decay, globalism, feminism, environmentalism, Muslims, immigrants, Obamacare, crime in the streets, gun control, blacks, Latinos, free trade, Congress, the courts, economic inequality and… well, everything.

At the same time, it is fascinating to realize just how much of their anger — as well as their own explanations for it — is contradictory.

The notion that this was some sort of revolt against elites, for example, flies in the face of the reality Washington insider Hillary Clinton won the support — in a 52-to-41-per-cent walk — of voters with incomes under $50,000, while supposed populist outsider Donald Trump was the clear choice of elitists with incomes of $200,000 or more.

Go figure.

Moral decay? Three-times-married, philandering, grab-them-by-the-pussy Donald Trump was the candidate of choice for 58 per cent of Christians and 81 per cent of evangelicals. By contrast, apparently genuine Methodist Hillary Clinton did much better — winning 68 to 26 per cent — among those who answered “none” for religious affiliation.

There is also this: Clinton won 71 per cent of Jewish voters too, even though it was Trump who cozied up to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the country’s most powerful lobby group, and to Israel’s hate-Obama-hate-Clinton prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Women? Faced with the choice of a flawed but clearly feminist Hillary Clinton poised to become the first female president or a flawed, flawed and more flawed misogynist Donald Trump poised to become the groper in chief,  barely 54 per cent of women could force themselves to check Hillary instead of Donald. But even that modest majority turns out to be slightly smaller than the percentage of women — 55 per cent — who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, and for Hillary’s husband Bill in 1996. Despite the opportunity to smash through that so-called “last” glass ceiling, women definitely did not show up in droves to vote for Hillary in 2016.

Neither did more Latinos or African Americans, both of whom had good reason to fear a Trump presidency, come out to cast ballots against Trump. Among Latinos and blacks who did vote, Trump, incredibly, did slightly better than Romney in 2012.

The second big takeaway is that Americans did not vote for Donald Trump, or for anything specific he stood for, so much as they voted for “change,” whatever that means.

Consider. When asked about qualities of leadership mattered most to them:

  • 58 per cent of American voters responded that Hillary Clinton “cares about people like me” (versus 35 per cent for Trump);
  • 66 per cent believed she had “good judgement” (only 26 per cent said the same about Trump);
  • and 90 per cent considered Clinton had the “right experience” to be president (only eight per cent thought Trump did).

And yet… Largely, it seems, because of their answer to another exit poll question, the  question in which Trump scored 83 per cent compared to Clinton’s 14 per cent —  Which leader can bring “needed change”? — Donald  J. Trump will be the next president of the United States.

Which brings us to the third takeaway, which follows logically  from the first two. Donald Trump will bring change, but since there is no consensus on what that change should be, he will end up satisfying almost no one. It may take a year, or a month, or a day, but there will come a time when Trump’s voters wake up with buyers’ remorse and the rest of us say, I told you so.

By then, of course, it will already be far too late. America’s future is the real fool’s game.

Stephen Kimber

Stephen Kimber is an award-winning writer, editor, broadcaster, and educator. A journalist for more than 50 years whose work has appeared in most Canadian newspapers and magazines, he is the author of...

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  1. As Mr. Kimber says, it was the Change factor that elected Trump, and when in the coming weeks and months real change stalls and stalls again, (and of course I would be glad to be too cynical and wrong) American restlessness of the kind none yet have witnessed will begin to stir, and stir.

  2. Americans who voted for Trump will have understood that this was their last best chance to control the direction of change in their lifetimes. Trump is in a position to appoint three, maybe four, justices to the US Supreme Court over the next four years. It’s a legacy that will far outlast his term in office. A Trump court will be able to approve state legislation that affects who can vote, where and how, legislation of the sort that in North Carolina apparently was instrumental in suppressing voter turnout by African Americans. A Trump court will be able to undo legal precedents affecting abortion, marriage and privacy. A Trump court will be able to make decisions limiting the ability of future presidents to act to protect the environment. So maybe it would be best not to blame the stupidity of voters for Trump’s victory. A lot of them seem to have gained exactly what they wanted.

    1. Or you can blame the Democrat poohbahs for rigging the system in favour of ‘ She Who Must Be Elected ‘ (apologies to Rumpole/John Mortimer).
      Or find a candidate who campaigns every day, not someone who needs frequent rest days.

  3. “Women? Faced with the choice of a flawed but clearly feminist Hillary Clinton poised to become the first female president or a flawed, flawed and more flawed misogynist Donald Trump poised to become the groper in chief”

    A few points – Bill Clinton had exactly the same sort of reputation for questionable sexual encounters that Trump had, and women still voted for Bill Clinton.

    Also, less than 20% of women identify as feminists:

    Women who are married to husbands that work have always voted republican in overwhelming numbers, a few coastal strongholds aside.

    Also, lots of commentators, like Stefan Molyneux, Mike Cernovich, John Michael Greer, Vox Day, and heavyweight Scott Adams predicted a Trump win as far back as January 2016.

  4. What seems to be clear is that only the swing states mattered (Ohio, Michigan, Florida). The country as a whole is clearly divided (the coasts for Clinton and the middle for the dickhead) but the swing states and their disaffected voters (and non voters) are what gave the election to the dickhead. Americans should clearly rid themselves of the electoral college.

    Sad that relatively so few voters with such a specific perceived grievance against the state can tip the balance in such a earth shattering way.

    Let’s hope the planet survives the dickhead.

    1. Swing states are all that matters, that’s why nobody campaign$ much in Alabama or California.

      You can call names all you want, but a lot of people would call Bill Clinton the same and worse – and a vote for a ‘Davos class’ Hillary Clinton is a vote to put Bill Clinton right back in the saddle. I’d have no problem arguing Bill Clinton is a mass murderer. Can you say the same about Trump today?

      Focus on the future, while we still have one…

  5. The comment about the elite voters is flawed. This result was in significant part about going after the machinery. That one statistic about income doesn’t say much about people’s feelings towards Washington political class. But there was a person who did see this blowback against the system coming, go figure. It was somebody who actually spent time with the people that everybody else was judging from afar.

    “He is saying the things to people who are hurting,” Moore said. “It’s why every beaten down, forgotten, nameless stiff who used to be part of what was called the ‘middle class’ loves Trump. He is the human Molotov Cocktail they’ve been waiting for. The human hand grenade they can legally throw at the system which stole their lives from them. On November 8, the dispossessed will walk into the voting booth, be handed a ballot, close the curtain and take that lever and put a big f—king ‘X’ in the box by the name of the man who has threatened to up-end and overturn the very system that has ruined their lives: Donald J Trump.”

    “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘f—k you’ ever recorded in human history,” Moore said. “And it will feel good.”

    1. I’ve seen polls that reported 50-75% of republican voters think that Obama is a Muslim. So, couple that with the guy driving the “birther” bandwagon, and what do you have?

      This whole notion of some kind of movement doesn’t reflect what actually happened. The democrats didn’t get out and vote, the republicans base did, and one of the deciding factors was that the republicans managed to convince some democrats in the rust belt that had voted for Obama to switch allegiances.

      Micheal Moore is talking about a relatively small number of people.

      1. Yeah, we’ll believe you when you’ve spent time in the states among these people you talk about, like Thomas Frank, Sarah Smarsh, Michael Moore, Kathy Cramer and many others. You’re living in an echo chamber. Your assessment of Michael Moore’s assessment is based on what? Nothing.