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Dishonest and inflammatory: Donald Trump, with daughter Ivanka (Michael Vadon CC BY 2.0)

In many ways the Republican Party deserved to be Trumped. For a few decades it promised its long-suffering voters that it would curtail illegal immigration but it has always found excuses not to. In return for the greatest mobilisation of Christian voters in American history, liberal Supreme Court justices would be replaced with constitutionalists who would return the formulation of abortion laws to individual state legislatures. The Grand Old Party also constantly promised to champion the ordinary Joe but in designing tax policies, the biggest beneficiaries have nearly always been large corporates or the already rich — the same powers in the land that, depending upon cheap imported labour, have stopped stricter border laws and, entirely coincidentally, bankroll the election efforts of every senator and congressman.

As one Trump supporter explained when we chatted at one of his rallies in Virginia, reasons are always found to explain why causes dear to rank-and-file conservatives fail to progress — but if the US Chamber of Commerce needs a new law or tax loophole the same Republican politicians find the will and a way to enact even the most electorally controversial decision.

This is not to say that Democrats are not as equally magnetised by the donorcrat pole. For most of this presidential campaign, as if to prove every criticism directed at her by Senator Bernie Sanders, Mrs Clinton has attended many more private fundraisers than public rallies. At a swanky New York restaurant in front of rich Wall Street supporters and in between coughs, she gaffed that “half” of Trump’s supporters were “deplorables” — “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic,” and “Islamaphobic”. Like the Republicans in the primary election process who might as well have burnt the greenbacks they deployed to zero affect against Trump, she is gambling that a massive war chest will buy her four years at the world’s most expensive rented property — 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I didn’t predict Donald Trump’s extraordinary rise and hesitate, therefore, to offer an authoritative explanation of it. We shouldn’t, however, be surprised that the candidate who offers most change — in policy, style and resumé — appeals to a nation where, by 64 per cent to 28 per cent, voters judge that their country is on the wrong track. And after years of stagnant wages and job insecurity for blue-collar workers, 47 per cent worry that they’d struggle to get hold of $400 if hit by an emergency. With many communities in the grip of addictions to prescription drugs, and overdoses rising, America is the only advanced nation in which, for middle-aged whites, the rise and rise of life expectancy has reversed.
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