As protestors continue to struggle to come to terms with Donald Trump’s election victory, I can only chuckle. Its almost as if these people, mostly millennials it seems, have read about the romantic notions of “revolution” and “people power” in other countries that they want to have their own similar moment in the sun, snapping selfies while they are at it. Of course, since they live in the sanitized world of the United States—and not, say, somewhere like Turkey—it is all “safe”. No one will be shot, no one will become a political prisoner. It will just be another social media topic of the day.
Some on the left have begun to provide reasons for why Mr. Trump’s improbable victory happened. One article published in state media’s Washington Post says that “This [election] is an indictment of the monolithic, insulated political culture in the vast majority our colleges and universities.” As someone who has spent a lot of time in higher education in the United States, I would have to agree. Colleges and universities tend to show only one way of looking at things, which is unfortunate because ideally education should be about a “broadening” of the mind—not a “narrowing” of the mind in one direction. Of course, by “narrowing” the mind of college-educated people it ensures that a vast swathe of the population will think in a certain way; that is a very useful thing for the power elite when it comes to engineering elections since it virtually assures that a vast segment of the electorate will vote along a certain party line.
One admittedly humorous piece that also appeared in the Washington Post was written by the famous Garrison Keillor. Some of his better lines bear repeating below (complete with bolding!):
The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They wanted only to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple of six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay — by “us,” I mean librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, bird-watchers, people who make their own pasta, opera-goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch.
We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long, brisk walk and smell the roses.
I like Republicans. I used to spend Sunday afternoons with a bunch of them, drinking Scotch and soda and trying to care about NFL football. [Author’s Note: Liking sports is not a bad thing] It was fun. I tried to think like them. (Life is what you make it. People are people. When the going gets tough, tough noogies.) But I came back to liberal elitism.
Clearly, these are some very humorous passages. According to them, many supporters of Mr. Trump will be “grab[bing] a crotch or two” before jumping into RVs with six-packs while supporters of Ms. Clinton—who can count among themselves “people who make their own pasta” and “people who keep books on their shelves”— will spend the next four years “reading Jane Austen” and “tasting artisan beers”. I honestly hope that people can do these pleasant things—but they would first need to finish their cry-ins before enjoying said beers and Jane Austen. [Author’s Note: This is the second time in history that “Jane Austen” has been mentioned in the same breath as “artisan beer”; the first time was in Mr. Keillor’s piece cited above. Enjoy it].
As someone who tries to take as close to a neutral stance as possible—but who has no love lost for Ms. Clinton due to her involvement in meddling with Turkish affairs and wider Middle Eastern affairs—I can assure readers that I do not want to grab even one crotch, let alone two, and that I actually do have (too)many books on my shelves. On the other hand, I also don’t make my own pasta (it’s a lot of work, instead I buy Barilla at Publix when it’s on sale) and I don’t care much for Jane Austen (I’m more a James Salter and Hemingway man). And artisan beer? No thanks, I like to sip Grant’s. All jokes aside, the problem with Mr. Keillor’s kind of perspective (as sarcastically exaggerated as I hope it is supposed to be) is that it is just so divisive. Of course, since division serves the power elite, it is understandable why these things get published (in state media, no less). This kind of division, however, is not good for American politics in the real (as in for the people—not the elite) sense.
Hemingway, Salter, and Grant’s. In The Current Environment I’m Sure A Few People Might Interpret This Trifecta As Being Too “Masculine”…But It’s Just What I Like. (Top Left; Image Courtesy Of: https://67.media.tumblr.com/05e5e37167c5232e40478e5218c73a58/tumblr_njuau20lKS1qmmlfco1_500.jpg. Top Right; Image Courtesy Of: http://www.historynet.com/online-extra-james-salter-gallery.htm. Bottom; Image Courtesy Of: http://www.brayleino.co.uk/ImageGen.ashx?image=/media/1109/grants-whiskey-find-your-past-campaign.jpg)
In Turkey similar things happened. The supporters of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) that ruled Turkey for so long were viewed as elitists—intellectuals sipping wine on the shores of the Turkish Riviera, never taking any interest in things beyond the capital of Ankara. Many had never been past central Anatolia, and never visited the struggling Kurdish areas of the southeast. This elitism caught up to them in 2002, when the (now) ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, led by the uneducated former footballer Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Fourteen years later, the AKP is still in power and the (now) opposition CHP supporters are still seen as the same old elitists. They’re still sipping wine—albeit at much higher prices—and they still haven’t gone past Ankara (for the most part). If you really want to be a party that represents your people and your country, you just cannot be an elitist. Some people are lucky enough to afford an education—and others are not so lucky. Just because you are one of the lucky ones does not mean you can look down on those who have not been so lucky. Instead, do your best to try and understand where they are coming from, instead of denigrating them as “racist”, “sexist”, “ignorant”, or “bigoted”. I have seen how such misconceptions led Turkey down a very bad road.
A second similarity this election has pointed out is the prevalence of the “deep state” in both countries. Given that they are taking election results so seriously, clearly the millennials currently protesting in the streets are too young to know what it is and Mr. Keillor might be too blind to know what it is. But I digress. In both the United States and Turkey (Derin Devlet) there is a “deep state”. In the United States, it is a nexus of Wall Street, the intelligence community, and the military-industrial complex. It means that public policy is controlled behind the scenes by unelected interest groups; regardless of the political party in power the status quo continues unabated, essentially. This is related to the concept of sociologist C. Wright Mills’ “Power Elite” that I have mentioned before, and it is no coincidence that it came to the fore post-WWII (when most of the U.S. intelligence community was formed). As this video from the Rutherford Institute mentions, when JFK expressed a desire to end the secrecy in government…well, we know the rest, don’t we? It remains to be see if Mr. Trump’s election is a true populist movement challenging the status quo, or if it falls by the wayside.
One positive result from this election has come regarding Turkey however. It has come out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looked to expand his influence in U.S. politics through donations to the Democratic party and now this might finally be recognized. An advisor to Mr. Trump, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.), came out and said what current President Barack Obama and Ms. Clinton have consistently failed to say as Turkey spirals further out of control—that Turkey is a U.S. ally that needs support. Lt. General Flynn compares the alleged mastermind of the attempted coup of July 15, Fethullah Gulen, to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama Bin Ladin. This is refreshing to hear, given that Ms. Clinton received donations from Mr. Gulen. Hopefully statements like these portend an end to some of the disastrous meddling in the Middle East that many American administrations, Obama’s included, have engaged in—and that Ms. Clinton openly planned to continue.