Remember Iowa? Remember when Ted Cruz, with his dogged, determined ground game trounced Trump in the polls, and Marco Rubio was biting on his heels at the same time, and the wised and learned prophet-pundits predicted that this was to be the beginning of the end for the blowhard billionaire? That his whole platform was predicated on the mystique of ‘the winner’, and that any blow to this surface illusion would see the whole facade and structure crumble and wither away?
Yeah, none of that happened in New Hampshire last night.
What happened instead was this (graphs courtesy of The Guardian):
Trump surged to 35.13%. Cruz floundered 11.56%. Chris Christie’s persistent attacks on Rubio seemed to have had an effect and the young Florida senator faltered at 10.56%. Kasich and Bush flew up to second and fourth place, respectively at 15.90% and 11.10%; Kasich steadily playing the more moderate card, Bush pig-headedly pressing on.
So instead of the slightly quieter, still-incredibly dangerous regressive lunatic taking the state like he did in Iowa, it was the loud and obnoxious neo-fascist who claimed it. Really, it gives much heart to people who believe in Humanity and Goodness.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the tent, this happened:
Bernie Sanders: 59.97%
Hillary Clinton: 38.40%
Now, to some extent this wasn’t as big a surprise as the Republican result. Bernie had been expected to take New Hampshire. But he didn’t just take it, he demolished it. When he lost out to Senator Clinton by a fraction of a percentage point in Iowa, it was a significant, important step. A twenty point lead over candidate Clinton is insane.
Both candidate Trump and candidate Sanders, as chalk and cheese and diametrically opposed as they are have one thing in common: they are acting as proxy referendums on the political process and the people’s bubbling-over disillusionment with the political establishment and business-as-usual governance.
Dismissed variously as jokes or irrelevant, unelectable figures, both the billionaire celebrity and the democratic socialist from Vermont destroyed their opponents in New Hampshire and racked up two-digit leads over their respective parties’ favoured gladiators.
One of Trump’s biggest assets in this race is the inability of many of his opponents to deliver a coherent, resonant message. Bernie’s biggest hurdle, on the other hand, will be the monolithic and entrenched nature of his opponent’s election machine — dented though it may be by his win, it remains fundamentally undamaged. There is a reason that up until not long ago the Democratic nomination seemed like a fait accompli, like a coronation waiting to happen: Hillary’s campaign, despite having to overcome the inherent and significant sexism within the system, is mind-bogglingly well-funded, hyper-connected, media-supported, and has dynasty and familiarity on its side. Going forward Bernie will struggle a little bit to convince the all-important nonwhite voting blocs that are crucial to the Democrats that Clinton is not the one to turn for real, substantive change, but the momentum coming out of New Hampshire should, at the very least, help.
Of course, the race is very much still at its infant stage, and neither Trump nor Bernie are in any way certain to take their parties’ nominations, but if Clinton and [insert Republican man here] end up walking away with it, they will surely have to reckon with the noise that those fed up with business as usual have made.
As a final note, it should be observed how curious humans are. On one side of the fence, upset at the way things are can be manifested as: ‘Everyone should have the same opportunities as everyone else!’ while on the other as: ‘Ban all Muslims!’
Full disclosure: the author is a Bernie supporter (in case you couldn’t tell).
Petr Knava plays music