America chose its 45th President a couple of hours ago. Touted as the world’s strongest democracy, the transfer of power does not seem as peaceful as it is ought to be in a mature democracy. Ironically, they were the Democrats who had been prophetically accusing Trump of becoming violent if he lost and today they are the ones getting violent and not conceding defeat.
What explains the overnight shift in mainstream narrative voice from ‘We (Americans) are great’ to ‘Democracy is a farce’? This fall from a collective camaraderie (well-being and health of the ‘we’) to an organised rant against collective conscience, choice and wisdom are telling of a global phenomenon in democracies where articulation of real issues affecting politics took over political correctness and has won massive mandates.
Perhaps it was time to ponder pensively and deliberate deeper into the question of the mass rejection of those concepts that defined greatness and humanitarianism. Perhaps it was time to think why Brexit happened and why a misogynist like Trump was chosen over a strong woman candidate. Perhaps it was time that the liberal socialist values allowed the space it had constantly vouched and fought for to debate freely, without the ready arsenals of value judgment of personalities and their speeches. Perhaps it was time that one looked beyond what was said to what was meant, as Peter Thiel puts it.
But what have the civil society and intellectual guardians of democracy done to address this concern? They have been routinely deriding public opinion and mandate calling democracy as farce! They have termed the free and fair election processes as manufactured on emotional paranoia and fear mongering. This might be valid analyses of the situation but is not an argument convincing enough to work in a democracy.
In a market full of ideas, expressions, and thoughts, if one line of communication supersedes the other line – however nuanced and sophisticated – the pen on that side of the battle won the battle of ideas. Is it that difficult to accept this intellectual defeat? Is it that difficult to accept that someone tapped into the democratic sentiment much better than those sitting in the ivory towers of elitist impulse?
It seems that with Brexit and the just concluded US elections, the citadels of those guarding and validating democratic institutions have shaken. It was okay as long as those guardians learnt to concede with grace and agreed to introspect and see how the situation could be ameliorated. But the willful unacceptance of the results and the deliberate dodging of a determined mandate reeks of fascism and intolerant status quoism symbolized by an unholy nexus between seemingly incorruptible institutions of human organization – media, NGOs, Foundations, civil society groups etc.
Personal negative profiling of individuals sustained by well orchestrated and planned campaigns, abhorrent rejection and hatred of any democratic outcome that does not suit the nexus, misplaced emphasis on form as against content and vicious, unconstructive criticism high on rhetoric, laced with adjectives and with very little offering of alternatives has created an atmosphere of deep suspicion for any challenge thrown at the power centers. Therefore, every element of critique is being looked at as being rigged and manufactured. Every attempt to question the popular mandate is being observed as an endeavor to disrespect popular sentiments.
This repetition of an age-old trick of demonization of majoritarian view point as always dishonest and demanding undue favors has literally kicked the storm within the Right Wing citadels. The rise of cultural nationalism or the majority support to the anti-immigration identity politics is symptomatic of this long-suppressed real political problem within the elitist, intellectual coteries.
What leaders like Trump said and campaigned for was rooted in the real issues societies faced. This was a fresh move away from the wishy-washy, circumventing-around-the-bush political statements made by leaders who sounded politically correct but so away from real political concerns. And this intellectual immunity was not enough because the prim and proper, well articulate leaders across the globe had hypocritically failed the test of transparent governance and rule. Charges of corruption and nefarious nexus to sustain self-goals further marred their status-quoism. All this was not missed by the masses at large.
Besides, the way in which the politically vexed issues were raised by the fire-brand straight-forward, no-words-minced leaders struck a chord with the raw and unadulterated feelings of the public inhabiting the real and palpable world of everyday transactions.
For example, migration is a huge problem in the Europe and the US. These countries prided themselves and rightfully so, in the variety and diversity that migration offers but unplanned and unmitigated influx of migrants has led to social, cultural, economic and off late, political upheavals, that most sophisticated leaders dared not to touch because of the fear of being politically incorrect.
Leaders like Trump articulated those problems throwing caution to the winds. The more his detractors alienated from him on counts of absurd obnoxiousness being dissed out by the Trump campaign, the better chances got to consolidate his support base. Besides, focusing more on the form of what was said and completely missing the larger picture of what was being said, the detractors went a notch higher in alienating themselves from the realities on ground.
The elitism and sophistication to bypass the issue as a non-issue even brought the fence sitters closer home to Trump. Lost in the semantics of language and classic classroom debates on intangibles, the undecided onlookers of the election campaign found resonance in Trump’s arguments which at least talked about what was happening, even if incorrectly. In effect, people summarily rejected sugar-coated sermons on morally elevating issues and the abject denial of concerns brushed under the carpet for lack of political spine and entrepreneurship.
With social media bursting every bubble of exclusivity, the expose of shrewd, manipulative calculations within the unholy nexus of civil society, mainstream media editorial-advertorial handshake and ideologically powerful citadels of Ivy-league colleges in the West are being exposed one by one, incident after incident. And in response, every challenge to their long enjoyed fiefdom and their self-proclamation as being incorruptible is violently thwarted by labels such as crass, fascist, populist, and off late, majoritarian.
It is ironic that today when people are claiming their share democratically by coming out in huge numbers and voting, the educated elites arise in conjoined conformity to question the very relevance of democracy. It is ironic that when democracy decides to throw them out of power, they term democracy farce.
Going by the look of things in the US, the era of educated elites seems to be over. Language of the select few, self-proclaimed socialist-liberals shamelessly brandishing the all-acceptable notions of egalitarianism is being exposed as vacuous, hollow, hypocritical and devoid of any action on ground. Fangs of the few which were digging their teeth deep into the nexus of powered corridors funding strategically the well-being of the very few are being uprooted.
I do not know if it is the rise of the Right but am sure that it is a comprehensive decimation of a lazy establishment-friendly intelligentsia on the self-proclaimed ‘Left’. There are interesting times ahead, indeed.