Victory of the abandoned

Together with peripheral anti-establishment groups, the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Semites and racists of all sorts, working-class voters who felt left behind by contemporary America gave Trump a sizable majority in the Electoral College.

By Moshe Arens

Moshe_Arens_cropped-150x150By now post-election analyses of Donald Trump’s amazing victory in the American presidential contest have made it abundantly clear that it was the many million Americans who feel abandoned and neglected who handed him his victory. The mainly white, working-class men and women who have lost their jobs as the result of technological change, globalization that caused their jobs to move overseas, and the new immigrants who were prepared to do their jobs at lower pay.

They, who for years considered themselves the backbone of America, concluded that America had moved on and left them behind. They voted for change. Together with peripheral anti-establishment groups, the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Semites and racists of all sorts, they gave Trump a sizable majority in the Electoral College. Now commentators are wondering why they had not seen this phenomenon which had been right before their eyes. Trump saw it.

Those who watched him during the campaign making faces and gesticulating with his hands, while making the most outrageous statements, were sure the great majority of Americans would not want to cast their vote for him. They did not realize that he was not talking to them. He knew his audience.

The many women who voted for him cared more about what had happened to their families in recent years than about his escapades with women. He spoke to those who wanted a return to the America they had known, and that’s what he promised them. Hillary Clinton, who insisted that she was holding onto the moral high ground, was left with the moral high ground but lost the election.

And what about Israel? Have the technological revolution and globalization had a similar effect on a segment of the population? Actually, Israel, at the forefront of technological progress and enjoying rapid economic growth in the past decade, seems to have adjusted well to these changes. It is true that here too there is a growing income gap between rich and poor, but there is not a feeling of being left behind among a large segment of the population. Opportunities still beckon.

Aside from the frequently heard complaints that southern and northern Israel are suffering from neglect, actually most of the people living in the country’s periphery, like most of those belonging to the middle and lower socioeconomic strata of Israeli society throughout the country, are proud of being Israelis and are satisfied with the opportunities Israel has offered them and their children. Those who were settled in immigrant camps on their arrival in Israel many years ago feel that they have come a long way since then, and that they are still moving ahead. They are part of the political base that keeps the Netanyahu-led coalition in power.

Their primary concern is security. They see Israel being threatened by enemies. Those Israelis who originate from Muslim countries feel that they know Israel’s enemies better than do those who claim that Israel can obtain peace now by making concessions to the Palestinians and establishing a Palestinian state next door to Israel. While Netanyahu is called a scare-monger by the opposition, these voters believe there is real cause for worry.

Like Hillary Clinton in the American election, opposition politicians in Israel are taking the moral high ground – they bemoan the “occupation” and say that they don’t want to rule over another people. Again and again they are left with the moral high ground and lose the election.

As for the new president of the United States, it will take some time before we get to know how much will change in the new administration. He will surely not be able to fulfill all the promises he made during the campaign. But it seems almost certain that eight years of sparring between the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister will have ended. Trump is not likely to criticize Israel in public and will probably try to coordinate U.S. policy regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions with Israel. Things may get better.

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