The US election result overturns the Mandelson-Blairite doctrine of winning elections by setting up camp firmly in the middle ground. Without a doubt it was not the middle ground that came through victorious. The party endorsed by the far-right KKK now has control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Make no mistake the centre of the political spectrum has shifted to the right.
There are parallels with the Brexit vote in the UK. Most people who voted for Trump voted for change without knowing the specifics of what exactly that would entail. Voters in Britain fed up with ‘business as usual’ also voted for change. The question now is what that ‘change’ will turn out to be. The public has very little idea of what Theresa May is up to.
In Britain and America the chaotic and dishonest nature of political discourse has allowed heads of state an unprecedented level of personal power, allowing them to bargain behind closed doors and to justify almost any outcome of their negotiations as ‘responding to the will of the people’.
Trump appears to be backing down in some areas while ramping up the rhetoric in others. We no longer hear him say that ‘Hillary Clinton should be in jail’, rather he says that the Clintons are ‘good people’. The President-elect is acting as if he personally gets to decide who is ‘good’ and who should be in jail. Rather than banning all Muslims there is now talk of requiring them to be listed on a national register. The parallels with Nazi Germany are unmistakable.
As if to underline the Orwellian world in which we are living the Oxford Dictionary has named post-truth as the international word of 2016. It is worth taking a little time to ask ourselves what the wider implication of all this might be. When we can no longer trust in the absolute separation of the concept of truth and justice under the law from the personal power of the head of state we are walking down a very dangerous road. Truth, though hard to pin down, should never be negotiable.