Why are so many Democrats surprised? You have nobody to blame but yourselves. Why? Well let’s see:
1. Thanks to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the neo-liberals (those who profess liberal and progressive ideals but who just as bought and sold by Wall Street as the GOP) you maintained such a strangle hold on the DNC that you quashed your chance at a PROGRESSIVE POPULIST who was in Bernie Sanders. He had the ear of the same people Trump had. However, Sanders focused his energy on UNITING people against the 1%, not fear mongering and racism, misogyny, lies, and foul language (among his other lovely traits).
During the primaries it was shown over and over again that Sanders would have soundly defeated Trump; whereas, a Clinton/Trump contest was ALWAYS considered close. But NO, the Democratic Party’s machine insisted on choosing an incredibly flawed, scandal ridden, highly damaged, uninspired candidate thinking that because being an high profile woman with all those years of experience in government was all she needed, along with all of her powerful corporate donors.
Sanders has had none of that baggage. He is a man of unimpeachable character, whose cause for all of his adult life has been economic justice for working people, from poor to the rapidly eroding middle class, and as a part of that social and educational justice. But then again we all knew that didn’t we?
2. Then there’s the media who treated Sanders as they have with all grass roots efforts — dismissively. Sanders campaign against giant corporations, don’t forget, includes the major media outlets, who attempted for so long to ignore, even avoid, Sanders and his highly focused, positive populism. The mass media have treated populism as primarily the domain of the far right, or, as it is now known, the alt-right — as strictly a movement of anger. Yes, anger is often the motivation behind a populist movement; and, the major media outlets drew upon that anger as a means of paralleling Trump and Sanders. But, here in lies the difference: Sanders’ populism worked to channel that anger into a movement for POSITIVE change by showing poor, working class and middle class of all backgrounds, locals, colours, societal variations and education into a common, unified cause for economic justice: out of which can then many of the societal problems can be more effectively approached.
Trump’s version of populism fits more conveniently into the mould the media prefers in which the anger is directed inwardly white vs.non-white, Christian vs Muslim vs. Jew, middle class vs. working class vs.poor, men vs. women, traditional lifestyle vs. contemporary lifestyle (not just straight vs. LGTB), the list goes on and on. The result is demagoguery in which each group’s anger and fear of “the other” is exploited so that each feels Trump is speaking directly to or at them (depending upon the perspective) generating this “popular” support whilst all the time destroying any semblance constructive dialogue or civility.
Unfortunately, as a result of our federal, state and local governments’ continued insistence on under or de-funding education at all levels (especially primary and secondary schools) H. L. Mencken in his essay Notes on Journalism will continue to ring true: “No one in this world, so far as I know…has ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has any one lost public office thereby.”