P. G. Wodehouse, in Right Ho, Jeeves (1934), has his eponymous manservant tell a story that bears on the election of Donald Trump.
In my own family … it was a generally accepted axiom that in times of domestic disagreement it was necessary only to invite my Aunt Annie for a visit to heal all breaches between the other members of the household. In the mutual animosity excited by Aunt Annie, those who had become estranged were reconciled almost immediately.
Donald Trump is Aunt Annie.
He has succeeded in bringing together the Left and a large chunk of the Right, united in deploring his election. He has catapulted Democrats and half of his own party into dithyrambs of grief and shared detestation of his person and his politics. They’re still in shock that this coarse and lascivious upstart, this xenophobic warmonger who will never be a statesman, could get his finger on the button.
This alliance is temporary, as no doubt was the reconciliation in Jeeves’s family when Aunt Annie went home. It’s already begun to fray and tatter. Once Trump is installed in the White House and we start getting used to him it will be forgotten. The Right will get over its distaste for Trump and regroup behind him, especially if he begins to implement policies it likes, gets on with “draining the swamp”, doesn’t send us all to Kingdom Come and – perhaps? – sees Hillary sent up the river. The Left will become increasingly bitter, violent and uncooperative.
Trump is a gift to the Left. The whole sad world of print and online whingers, with splenetic tweets their substitute for a fulfilling existence, will have a single individual on whom to focus their perpetual dissatisfaction with everything. Those wells of choleric rage that never run dry have a new focus. Feminism, gender politics, climate change – anything lefties don’t get their way on in the next four years can be laid at the door of this, as they see him, vulgar usurper of Hillary’s right to succession.
Intellectual snobbery looms large in the contempt the leftist Establishment feels for Trump voters. They “should be subjected to an IQ test,” sneered ABC presenter Virginia Trioli, although with the competence we associate with the national broadcaster she didn’t know the microphone was still on when she gave us this glimpse of supposedly nonexistent ABC bias. (A word of advice, Virginia: apart from checking the mike always be careful of calling other people unintelligent: there are plenty brighter than you who don’t think you’re a giant brain either. And when it comes to IQs, what about all those ingenuous suckers who drive around with “An independent media? It’s as easy as ABC” stickers on their ancient Volvos?)
Trump might turn out to be a Reagan, in which case the Right and the middle will soon be all for him. The office will shape the man and Trump will adjust his style. But the manic Left will go on loathing him with hysterical intensity. Lachrymose Fairfax columnist Wendy Squires set the tone within seconds of his victory. “I am woman,” she wrote redundantly under her byline, “hear me sob” (why do feminists always fall back on old-fashioned female tears when they don’t get their own way?). Wendy was distraught that Americans had elected a “narcissist, megalomaniac oaf” (one of her kinder descriptions) instead of the female president “the world was ready for”. People like her seem to think an election should be an exercise in affirmative action, though you never hear them rejoicing in the achievements of Mrs May, who, not being of the Left, presumably doesn’t count as a woman.
Wendy’s distress is as nothing compared with the groans and weeping that have been echoing for a week around the quangoes and cocktail circuits frequented by Americans of the kind Virginia would consider don’t need IQ tests. Campus safe spaces are so wet with Generation Snowflake’s tears they’ve probably run out of mops and buckets. Democratic Party HQ must look as though the sprinklers have gone off.
All very sad, but imagine the merciless gloating in these same places if Trump had lost. As it is, anti-Trumpers have already had their triumph. They let themselves be gulled by polls and wishful thinking into assuming Trump would lose. They had the celebratory party before the event it was to celebrate. Look how the media crowed over every poll as it put Hillary ahead. Anyone who spoiled the party by suggesting that she was damaged goods was reviled at as a misogynist.
As for the polls, you’d think that trust in them would have evaporated with Brexit. But no, as with horoscopes, mankind is desperate to see into the future and every time a pre-election poll is wrong, back comes the media for another dose at the next election — like superstitious primitives queuing to consult the witch doctor. You might think that in this era of privacy mania no one would reveal his voting intentions to a total stranger (indeed, those of us of whimsical disposition enjoy giving the pollster the wrong information). Obviously, though, enough voters did tell the truth to get a nearish prediction – yet just enough didn’t to attain real accuracy. Probably they kept their counsel because an intention to vote for Brexit or Trump was socially unacceptable unless you wished to be thought mad.
Leftists with any sense should learn to adapt themselves to the Trump phenomenon. He is part of a new political reality in its birth pangs. The traditional parties of Western democracy are being shown to have become as remote from and uninterested in the concerns of anyone they supposedly represent as were the old men who ran the Soviet Union for so many years. Voters in the West who want to be heard have to scream and stamp their feet, and it is only identity and “victim” groups that do so. Stay quiet and the system will ignore you, or so it did until Trump reached out to the quiet voters – the unpublicised people the Left used to represent before it became the voice of cynical chic. If the Left wants to survive it will have to win back a demographic it has got used to despising.
More likely, though, it will try to destroy Trump. The usual method would be to blacken his personal reputation. But Trump in his pre-election utterances, his “locker-room” talk, his contempt for propriety and taste has already done that for himself. Any other suggestions? Dear oh dear, what a frustrating time to be a leftist.