By the looks of the media and over the top public reaction to the result of last week’s US Presidential election you’d think the unbelievable had happened. The media and public a are reacting as if Trump’s win as a seismic shock. Why? There are multiple factors at play behind the result but we shouldn’t be shocked he won. I’ll outline why here.
Shock and Awe
First off, the shock reaction is baffling. In a close two horse race, one of the horses won. Going into the election day Hillary Clinton and Donald J Trump were virtually neck and neck in most opinion polls. At best, many had Clinton with a slight lead. It wasn’t like a rank outsider (of which there were many) came up and won. Point of note – despite the media promoting this as a two horse race there were in fact many other candidates voters could have voted for.
One of the key reasons for Trump’s victory was his appeal as a change agent; someone who was going to break up the status quo and reverse a number of policies introduced by President Barack Obama such as Obamacare.
Gender clearly played a part but not in the way many commentators would have lead us to believe in the run up to the election. Popular opinion assumed women would automatically be turned off Trump’s reported sexism and lewd comments and that Clinton would easily sweep up the female vote. That did not happen as polls shows that Trump gained 53% of white women voters and only 3% of African-American voters, 95% of whom voted for Clinton. However, only 34% of white women voted for Clinton versus 62% who voted for Trump. Interesting that there was arguably greater female solidarity between African-American women than White Americans for Clinton!
I don’t think voters thought much of the last minute sensational claims by 12 women to have been sexually assaulted by Trump in years gone by. My sense is that they found the timing politically opportunistic and whether they believe them or not, chose to look the other way and vote for him for positive reasons. They refused to allow this to derail and cloud their thinking. It appears many did not consider if fair or justified to bring up such allegations decades after the event and then expect justice. If it happened tackle it there and then or within a reasonable timeframe – not decades later seemed to be the popular thinking on this.
I’m not quite sure why the opinion pollsters were so wrong footed. If people were misleading in their answers, for instance by not wanting to admit to voting Trump (much like many British voters didn’t disclose to the pollsters their voting intent … perhaps because the media projected a message that people were stupid and/or racist for wanting to vote Brexit), I fail to see the point of misleading the pollsters as responses are given and reported anonymously.
It also has to be pointed out that Clinton actually won slightly more of the total popular vote with 61 million votes (47.8%) v Trump’s 60 million votes (47.3%) so huge voting numbers either way. If anything it suggests the electoral college system needs reforming if the person winning the most votes doesn’t end up in the White House.
I would also suggest the campaign went on for far too long and America should look to greatly reduce the length of presidential election campaigns and whilst they’re at it, consider abolishing the two term maximum presidency, for if the relatively young President Obama was permitted to have run again he would have been strongly backed to hold onto his position.
There’s something about Hillary
The Clinton factor seemed to be a big turn off for millions. Now whether that’s because she was seen as a poor candidate, a Clinton or a woman or for A.N. other factors is up for discussion, but clearly there was not the automatic, “easy assimilation” of votes from the sisterhood, in the way that Obama appeared to scooped up most African-American voters in both his presidential election wins in 2008 and 2012 when he attracted 95% and 93% of the African-American vote respectively.
The email scandal didn’t help her or the FBI’s last minute intervention in October to re-open the case, then mysteriously close it just days before voting. Too late. The damage had already been done.
On all counts, as President Obama said, she was easily the best qualified candidate standing for President and by popular opinion and polls defeated Trump in all three televised debates (and so she should have as a veteran politician debating with a non-politician).
Is Trump really that outrageous?
Many were understandably turned off by Trump’s comments on Mexican’s, Muslims, women and other ethnic groups. Say what you like about him but when it comes to equality he was an equal opportunities offender, happy to offend anyone whatever their race, religion or creed!
I actually never bought much of the bluster and for instance do not believe that a wall will be built to specifically keep our Mexican’s. Even if he wanted to it’s far too costly. Most estimates put the cast at around $25 billion, which is more than double the $10-12 billion Trump estimated. I’m pretty sure neither the USA and Mexican’s have got that sort of money to spend on a wall.
The Muslim ban is equally unworkable so why worry about it? To be clear he always said he had an issue with the “wrong kind of Muslims” not all Muslims. I think all right thinking people have an issue with those deemed to be terrorists, of whatever racial or religious background.
The election wasn’t edifying, but Trump played to his strengths. He isn’t a politician so couldn’t hope to win trying to act like a typical politician as Clinton would have wiped the floor with him as she did in the debates. I saw it all as hype and bluster, much like two boxers in the build up to a heavyweight title fight. I remember Mike Tyson in the build up to a title fight saying he’s “going to ear Lennox Lewis’s children” but I don’t recall that happening (then again I don’t think Lewis has children .. so we may never know if he would have done … perhaps Lewis believed the threat and choose not to have children!)
It was all hype, not to be taken that literally. More’s the pity for those who did buy the hype. The same happened with the Presidential election and Brexit. The Brexiteers said what they had to say to win the argument. If people didn’t stop to check the facts and do their own research they have only themselves to blame.
It’s the economy stupid!
As a highly successful billionaire businessman I would like to see him put the full weight of his business acumen to reducing America’s spiralling debt, currently estimated to be a colossal $19.5 trillion and rising. It’s a crippling economic debt that needs focusing on and too many politicians are ignoring it or failing to successfully tackle it.
Talking of numbers it was quite derogatory of many people and commentators to suggest that Clinton and Trump were all America had to offer as if they were disgraceful no hopers. Out of a population of 324m for it to be down to one of them is impresssive so firstly you have to say well done them. What are the odds of out of 324m citizen’s of the USA it would be one of these two who could be President?
One’s a billionaire and TV star and the other’s a seasoned politician, former Secretary of State and wife of a former President. Hardly losers in life. Let’s not forget they weren’t simply handed the Democratic and Republican nomination. That was the culmination of a long drawn out process, including numerous debates where there were around 17 potential nominees for each party which they won through to become their respective party’s nominee, so none of this was a given as they say.
It’s telling that one of his first meeting’s with a foreign party leader is that it was with Britain’s very own Interim UK Leader Nigel Farage last Sunday 13th November 2016. Trump regularly quoted parallels with Brexit and so it came to pass. Another reason why I fail to understand the shock reaction to what happened.
This result should actually give succour to the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Trump did not have the backing of many senior Republican’s during the latter months of the election campaign, yet he clearly had the popular public support – gaining an enormous 60 million votes and 290 electoral votes (270 were needed) to put him in the White House. Corbyn needs to stand strong and he too could find himself with the keys to Number 10 one day.
The result was democracy at work. Much like his hit TV show ‘The Apprentice’ after a long, drawn out, often painful process, we have a victor. President elect Donald J Trump – “you’re hired” is the outcome. It is pointless protesting and complaining that it’s a travesty. In a fair election he won. Also bear in mind the Clinton campaign seriously outspent Trump on advertising so you could argue the odds were stacked against Trump.
Trump offered a message of hope. A message to those feeling disenfranchised by the politicians running America, much like Brexit was a message to our leaders that there are concerns not being sufficiently addressed in terms of immigration, employment, affordable housing and the like. Whether you wanted this result or not, this is the result and as President Barack Obama said, America just needs to get behind Trump and support him in his presidency.
He won’t want to be a one term president so I do not believe he will be introducing policies in the next four years that will cause the American public to want to say “you’re fired” from the White House at the first opportunity. Why would he do that? He’s promised to “make America Great.” A catchy slogan. Many would say America is already great and that his job is to make it even greater. It’s time to accept the result and give Trump a chance.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
© Adrees Latif – Hillary Clinton photograph