Life is a lemon (And I want my money back): The failure of the Left

Palash Krishna Mehrotra @palashmehrotra | First published: 19 November 2016, 18:58 IST
Trump doll
Photo: Anton Belitsky/Kommersant via Getty Images

'No one saw it coming'. It's a convenient phrase of the Aftermath. The millions who voted for Brexit and for Donald Trump certainly saw it. They actively helped bring it on. So who didn't see it coming?

The Left-liberal elites who ran the Remain and Clinton campaigns didn't see it coming. Why?-for they refused to listen to their own people, ordinary people, dismissed as 'a basket of deplorables.'

Both with Brexit and with Trump's victory, the subsequent response of the liberals was disbelief, anger and denial. 'Who are these people?' 'What have they done?!' 'It isn't my country anymore.' Apocalypse is around the corner. Flee the land.

The attention of CNN, for example, was focussed on anti-Trump protests. Even after Trump's victory, no one seemed to be listening to the Trump voters, or ask them what they thought and felt. The liberals said: 'Oh, but what will I tell my children?' Trump supporters didn't have any such anxieties. They felt the opposite. They told their children: 'Everything's gonna be fine, we've put the right man in the driver's seat. America will be great again.'

Also read - This is the age of nativism. Brexit, Trump & Hindutva are just symptoms

This shutting out of the working class, even when they have delivered their verdict, is repeating the oversight of the campaign. These are the people you should have been listening to and you are continuing with that mistake of not listening even now.

So the focus in the liberal press continues to remain on stories that are about Americans coping with Trump stress. 'Take it one day at a time. You will beat the Trump blues.' According to them, Trump's win can be blamed on a rise of post-truth politics. You can't wish away reality by inventing new words. It took Obama to acknowledge the need to listen: "The lesson I draw is that we have to deal with issues like inequality, economic dislocation, people's fears that their children will not do as well as they have."

A billboard-in-neon-letters warning

No one saw it coming.

Brexit was a warning. A billboard-in-neon-letters warning.

The Clinton campaign team didn't think Brexit had any relevance to them. But it did. Now look what you have done. Take some blame. Don't blame the contemptible voter all over again.

"Now look what you have done. Take some blame. Don't blame the contemptible voter all over again"

Michael Moore saw it coming. Moore repeatedly made clear that while he didn't support Trump he could see where the supporters were coming from. He didn't agree with their solution - Trump - but he listened to them. Just days before the election, he said: "Trump's election is going to be the biggest 'f*ck you' ever recorded in human history - and it will feel good. Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he's saying the things to people who are hurting, and that's why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump. He is the human Molotov cocktail that they've been waiting for, the human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them."

The anger and resentment of the non-metropolitan class is captured in American singer Meatloaf's song 'Life is a lemon and I want my money back'. The song is from a different era but it does well to hold a mirror/lend a voice to the very people Trump wooed so successfully, as well as those who voted for Brexit: