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Paul T Horgan: History teaches that Trump has the next election in the bag

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Donald Trump will win the 2020 Presidential election and serve two full terms in office.

You read that here first.

Barring health issues, personal or political impropriety of a Nixonian intensity, a military or national humiliation at the hands of an upstart country, an economic meltdown to rival the crash of 2008 or the energy crisis of 1973, there is nothing to stop Trump doing the full two terms. Policy will not be Trump’s undoing.

How do I know this?

Gentle reader, I should like to assure you I have not been dabbling in the entrails of recently slain poultry, nor indeed have I made an offering of a goat to receive divine revelation. No, it is something far simpler.

President Trump has been in office for almost three whole weeks. And yet people have been taking to the streets in huge numbers to protest this fact. They will have no meaningful effect.

The history of public protest at democratic outcomes indicates that this is a virtual guarantee of a continuity of conservative-style governance at the expense of socialism, or at least its analogue in American politics.

The precedents are clear. Whenever leftists demonstrate in large numbers, all they do is to alienate the non-participants who will more closely associate themselves with a the safer, opposing view. They see the demonstrators and their antics, imagine their proxies in government, and shudder. A historical survey indicates this to be the case.

Cast your mind back to 1968. There were student riots all over the world, ostensibly about American involvement in Vietnam, but this was associated with a portmanteau of ‘progressive’ revolutionary issues espoused by the first postwar generation. In Paris, this caused the eventual resignation of the ageing Charles de Gaulle. However, the spirit of revolution stopped at the Elysee Palace. While this might have seemed an opportune moment for de Gaulle’s socialist rival Francois Mitterand to step in on a wave of support in the Presidential elections in 1969, this did not happen. Instead, support for the Left in France actually collapsed. Georges Pompidou, one of de Gaulle’s Prime Ministers, won instead. Mitterand had to wait until 1981 to get his hands on power.

Public disorder may have caused Lyndon Johnson to step down from the 1968 Presidential election, but it did not do Republican Richard Nixon any harm. It also appears that Nixon would have also won in 1972 without his minions’ creepy activities in Watergate. Nonetheless, the unstable times marked by street radicalism were also marked by Republican victories.

Fast-forward to 1979 and Margaret Thatcher was UK Prime Minister following a wave of union opposition and strikes against Labour’s wage control policies. Public demonstrations led to conservatism once again. But despite Mrs Thatcher’s clear victory at the polls, the Left was up in arms. Political protests abounded.

The ‘yoof’ were subject to musical diatribes from the likes of UB40, The Specials, and The Jam, to name but three. Alternative comedy emerged, and the best way for a stand-up comedian to win the audience over was to attack Margaret Thatcher in some absurd fashion. Ken Livingstone turned the Greater London Council, which he had taken over in an internal party putsch, into an engine of protest, epitomised by the banner on County Hall showing the number of London’s unemployed. These antics led to the GLC’s abolition, nothing more.

The TUC held a ‘Day of Action’ in 1980. Numerous left-wing councils had ‘nuclear-free zones’, suggesting that any Soviet tanks invading our shores might restrict their military activities to Kensington and Chelsea, and leave Lambeth alone. CND was on the rise. All to no avail.

Margaret Thatcher romped home with a landslide victory in 1983 as the political opposition split, and the voting public showed their disdain for the ‘loony Left’. She repeated her success in 1987, despite the miners’ strike, where the disgusting antics of the picketers must have deterred people from voting Labour.

Even the poll tax riots that in part precipitated the fall of Mrs Thatcher from an office weakened by government schisms did not result in the rejection of a Conservative government at the 1992 election. Although losing 41 seats net, John Major held on. It was the collapse of the Conservatives’ economic policy a few months later, and not protest, that did them in.

A mass protest by the Countryside Alliance did not overly dent Blair’s majority in 2001. The demonstrations against the Iraq War, the largest seen in the capital, did not result in Blair losing the 2005 election, although, like the Conservatives in 1992, Labour’s majority was reduced.

Labour now repudiates the Blair ministry as being ‘Red Tory’, so this may conform to the pattern of protest leading to, or causing to persist, conservative-style governance. Real Tories will disagree. But then Blair was referred to in reverential tones at Central Office during the years of opposition as ‘The Master’, and he did not reverse the Thatcher reforms.

In America, any public protests over Iraq did not prevent George W Bush’s successful re-election in 2004.

Despite all the public protests by the Left under Cameron’s coalition, and including major riots by both anarchists and the criminal classes, Miliband’s Labour did not manage to make peace with the electorate in 2015 during a time of painful austerity. In fact, things got worse for Labour. The protesting was for less than naught.

The anti-Trump protesters, who assembled at venues worldwide barely 24 hours after his inauguration, only seemed to be objecting to his off-colour comments that were secretly recorded during a private conversation. Trump had not had the chance to do much in his first day to arouse more dissent. It was strange that the demonstrators were protesting at the democratic outcome of a free and fair election that their candidate decisively lost. The people who voted for Trump last year will likely not identify with these protesters, and their antipathy will be reflected in the ballot box in 2020, especially if demonstrators persist in their mindless denouncing of Trump as a fascist.

So, is there any point in demonstrating in public to influence a future democratic result or to protest one just gone?

There may be in changing some government policies, but not a government itself. It appears that public protest alienates those that do not identify with the protesters and they register their alienation in the polls by voting for safe, usually conservative, candidates. Also, we live with freedom, safety and prosperity. There are few strong issues for most people really to protest about. The demonstrators may somehow find marching with their fellow-thinkers cathartic when the real world does not coincide with their worldview. This may be therapeutic demonstrating, and nothing more.

However, the more extreme the protests, the more obscene the placards, the more alienation will take place amongst staid viewers away from the progressive coastal enclaves.

Trump, barring events, seems safe.

(Image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan works in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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