Kaboom! politics and those who get it

Forget about left and right, says Bonnie Greer

Forget about left and right, says Bonnie Greer - Credit: Archant

Trump is the person with no credentials who talks back to the PhDs, and the big journalists, and the pollsters who just don't get it. He's Mr Tell-It-Like-It-Is.

Forget about 'Left' and 'Right'.

It's all about 'Kaboom!'

Take the last US Presidential election .

How could Donald Trump, born a millionaire who then became a billionaire living in a gilded tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, reach the people of Coal Country USA? Folks who felt that they'd been shafted.

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They are the people, in their own estimation, who worked hard for 40 years; voted for the Democrats pretty much routinely; and all they had to show for it was were closed mines/car plants/factories, dying towns and an opioid epidemic. They had bills to pay, and not many educational qualifications.

They just couldn't relate to the 'coastal' pundits on the panels and couches of the nation's television stations. And they couldn't relate anymore to the super-intelligent African American man in the White House and his equally intelligent wife – although they'd voted for him twice.

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There were no scholarships for their kids, no Affirmative Action that helped secure better rates for mortgages and so on. They saw Privilege dancing all over the place and absolutely none of it was coming their way. The American Dream had dried up and they wanted/needed it to be revived. For them.

They were the 'Kaboom!'

But the Elite couldn't/wouldn't see it.

These Kaboom People don't see Trump as a billionaire who wouldn't know anything about their lives or want to know even if he was trapped with them on I'm A Celebrity. This is a guy who's a self-confessed germaphobe who won't even shake their hands.

But Kaboom People weren't/aren't stupid. They know exactly who Trump is.

Deep-down he is them: the person with no credentials who talks back to the PhDs, and the big journalists, and the pollsters who just don't get it. He's Mr Tell-It-Like-It-Is.

And yes, the KPs know that Trump lies. But he hasn't – as of yet – lied to them.

He's chasing Muslims out of the country. But the fact that the Muslims come from lands not likely to have a Trump Hotel or buy arms from the US is just, for Kaboom People, a detail. The pundits and pollsters didn't get that this Trump Wave was out there.

It is the veteran American talk show host, Phil Donahue who calls the phenomenon: 'Kaboom!'

If you want to know how far back Donahue goes, it's this far: I used to watch his show ...after school. Oprah began her career as a fill-in on a rival show to his. He's a legend; 100% Ohio-Irish, no nonsense; and with a twinkle in his eye. In the US, they call what he has 'the gift of the Blarney'. He could and still does talk to everybody. He talked to Trump when Trump was first starting out in the 1980s. Donahue knows him well.

He respectfully disagrees with the former FLOTUS Michelle Obama's admonition: 'When they go low, we go high'

'Forget that,' Donahue says. 'Low is where the information is. Where you'll find the 'Kaboom!' That's the real people. Listen to them. They know what's up.'

Trump heard. He heard them through his television show The Apprentice, modelled around his persona: a combination of Daddy Warbucks and Lex Luthor. It's bogus telly, but most folks won't be in that situation, so who cares?

Trump knew that.

Trump mined from their feedback what was really happening out there in 'Fly Over America', the part that the elites fly through on their way to the East or West Coast. In other words: 'Fly Over America' is where the sun don't shine. The inhabitants of Fly Over know that Trump hires in immigrants for his Mar-a-Lago estate, for instance. He doesn't recruit from Pennsylvania, a Fly Over heartland. That alone should be enough to put them off him, right? Wrong.

Because here's the thing: his hypocrisy is what they love about him. It's 'real'.

And anyway they don't want to WORK for him. They want to BE him.

As Donahue says: 'Pay attention to the people who want the selfies. They're your clue. They're gold.'

Nigel Farage, for a fleeting moment, had identified Kaboom! He had accurately predicted two things: that, as he proclaimed, his people would 'crawl over broken glass' to vote Leave in any European referendum; and that if the vote was 48% to 52% it was 'unfinished business'.

Although he was right on both counts, this is where Farage got it wrong: he appears to want to be too much a part of the elite. He wants to be the Enemy.

His 'safe seat' on 'Question Time' made him into a celebrity. Then he began to take it seriously. His ubiquity exposed his faux-Everyman shtick. He just didn't get that the People might just be lending UKIP their votes. After all, they failed to elect him, for the umpteenth time, to the House of Commons, or most other UKIP candidates. Why?

That's not where UKIP belongs. It was is meant to be Outside, a human shield for the Folks With No Voice. UKIP have a shelf-lif, a raison d'etre, as their former MP, Douglas Carswell implied when he left the party to become an independent. And what was that raison d'etre? To secure and to win a referendum to leave the European Union. Having secured that, as with the BNP, folks would go home to Labour or the Tories. The General Election seems to indicate that they did just that. The swing away from them to Labour and the Conservatives was massive.

For all their vaunted Being With The People, they weren't 'low' as Donahue instructs. They didn't get the memo.

The Tories didn't get it, either, although it was delivered in the person of Sadiq Khan. His wipeout of the Conservatives in the London Mayoral race, in which he won the largest number of votes in one election of any politician in British history, should have been a warning that the old Tory tropes might no longer be in play. Maybe only Margaret Thatcher had found the Kaboom!

Because if Boris Johnson had, he's lost it. As much as the British love a good show, they also know when it's over. Johnson's majority was reduced in the election. And his old mucker Zac Goldsmith won his seat back by the skin of his teeth.

And the hits kept coming for the Tories.

Canterbury, which has sent an MP to Westminster since the 14th century and a Conservative for a hundred years, elected a Labour one this time. Why?

Because Jeremy Corbyn located Kaboom! By being 'unspun'.

Corbyn seems to be exactly the way he must have been back in his student days. The only difference now is that he's greyer. And even if that's not true, it seems to be.

His Kaboom? All of the goods are in the window and on the shelves in the Corbyn Corner Shop. There are no bargains in the basement or hidden away for 'special customers'. In the Corbyn Corner Shop, you walk in, buy what you see, or you don't buy.

Because it's all right there.

In other words, Corbyn is, well, authentic Corbyn, the signifier of a politico who understands and lives Donahue's axiom.

Theresa May is the exact opposite. It's not a good thing when a voter finds herself thinking about a politician: who is she?

The funny thing is that the Tories, like the Democrats, didn't even notice that Kaboom! was actually what the election was about.

The irony is that the Conservatives had a former Democrat campaign operative, Jim Messina, working for them. He was the guy who had organised Barack Obama's win in 2012. In addition to Theresa May this year, Messina worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi's 2016 constitutional referendum. They all lost.

Kaboom reveals to the politician the one question they have to ask each potential voter now:

Are the winds of change at your back?

Or are the winds of change in your face?

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