Things now seem to be happening through non-traditional sources, outside of institutions that defined the traditional path. The media no longer relies on institutions and the same applies to politics.
This new wave of transformation started with the massive explosion of technology while the huge communication revolution has transcended any observation or analysis. As for what the future may hold, it is unpredictable.
The largest manifestation of those cultural shifts was in a large global event: the coming to power of Donald Trump. In fact, the political and media analysis of Trump victory being a populist one and the alarm of racist trends across America are mere shallow readings based on the titles.
Populism is not a tendency but a cultural orientation. The world abandoned the era of institutions wherever they could. The presidential elections in the entire world are a public and popular event. This was the result of popular mood and belief that life and choices are possible outside the institutions in theory and in practice.
Populist ideology and behavior came after the dominance of traditional institutions over everything in the world. Since America leads the world on the cultural level, it was the most powerful and clearest model, which represented the real declaration of this new phase.
Resistance against institutions
All the attacks on Trump, during and after the elections are a form of resistance against institutions; this resistance will last for a while but will eventually give up. Since Trump is the most prominent example of things happening outside of the establishment, he came from outside these political institutions that he has long described as corrupt and narrow minded. These institutions have tried to stand against Trump but at the end, they found him sitting in the White House, as the President of the United States.
The same thing happened with the media institutions that did not serve Trump in his electoral campaign and worked to undermine it. They waged many campaigns against him, mainly because things are happening outside of these institutions and perhaps more effectively through social communication that became the platform of Trump’s campaign.
The campaign made a huge impact and had a large mobilization effect that went beyond media institutions; those institutions that the President had always described negatively saying it now represent one opposition party and are no longer media outlets.
Therefore, the case and the challenge are not in the renewal of political institutions’ discourse or tools, but rather in re-identifying itself; the Democrats have recently discovered this when it was already too late, this is “if” they indeed discovered it.
Objectives and discourse
Obama was a model of the institution man who is loyal for its objectives and discourse. He was also thinking within the box of the institution that relies on theories, ideas and logical equations based on the inputs that supposedly lead to certain outcomes. This has happened, for instance, when he dealt with the Iranian nuclear issue and Arab revolutions.
However, this only engendered more mistakes and losses. These are the same means used by Hillary Clinton in her work at the State Department and in her campaign. Even the demonstrations that accompanied the inauguration of Trump did not have much of an impact.
These demonstrations were led and managed by institutions. They represented the narrative of these institutions that were meant to become open cases against Trump, starting with accusing him of racism to being anti-Muslim.
These were just institutional campaigns to restore its role. What the President Trump has done before and will be doing in the future will depend on the direct search about the importance and results as well as to protect himself. He also wants to rid of the consequences of the errors committed by his predecessor.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Yahya al-Amir is a Saudi writer with Okaz newspaper and a media consultant.