In the words of Barack Obama, ‘the election (Trump’s victory) is probably the biggest political upset in the history of the American elections’.
The recent election in the USA, which threw up the eccentric billionaire Donald Trump as President has shown and established the current wind of Nationalism, just as Brexit, sweeping the western world. The recent campaigns leading towards the USA elections was so harrowing that it was described as the most toxic in contemporary history.
What is the Trump phenomenon? This is a nationalist fervour towards the rise of America (i.e. America first) over the ideas of globalization and liberalism, which has seen the USA lose some ground.
In the words of Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom “It is clear that the forces of liberalization & globalisation, which have ravaged countries like U.S, U.K and France, have left a lot of people behind.”
A lesson that could be learnt from this election is that the world of America does not start and end in the urban jungles of LA, Manhattan, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago.
It is an established fact that in contemporary politics, majority of the voters go to the polls based on one major issue which the writer refers to as the ‘ONE ISSUE DOCTRINE’ in politics. In this case either the economy or immigration (or both) trumped everything else.
The Trump phenomenon could be attributed to a large chunk of America being forgotten i.e. Middle America, where most of the states voted Trump. The Obama Presidency and the Hillary attempt at the presidency was characterized by the term ‘Coastal Elites’ (a group of powerful and rich people) who inhabit the cities & towns along the American coast line to the detriment of a lot of Americans in the hinterlands. These coastal elites drew the narrative for the Hillary attempt and it was clear that they were not in touch with the real feelings and desires of the majority of the Americans in the south, mid-west and west of the USA.
What the Trump victory and the Brexit vote in the UK have proven, is that when a people are patriotic to their country and are more enlightened about the central and most serious issues that concern them as a nation. No amount of rhetoric or media hype would derail/ distract them or make them lose focus.
There was so much negativity towards Trump in the media, which is unhealthy for any country, especially a developed one like the USA. The assault on him was unrelenting. Why! It seemed the media had already taken a stance in the election.
The Trump phenomenon defied all logic. No matter what was thrown at Trump, it all seemed to bounce off; he was just the quintessential ‘Teflon Don’ (bullet-proof, in local parlance).
The issue with this election was the stark contrast between opposing views (there was little middle ground).
Issues that propped up included:
- Globalisation vs. Nationalism
- Conservatism vs. Liberalism
- Economic Prosperity vs. Morality/ Good Character
- Poor America vs. Rich America
- The People vs The Elites
- Rural America vs. Urban America
- Reality vs. Façade
Why did Trump win? The P.R angles:
In PR context, messages are sent, delivered and feedback interpreted. The clarity of Trump’s messages was one of the reasons that worked for him. He spoke on the real issues affecting majority of the people i.e. the Economy, Immigration. His mantra “make America great again” struck a cord with the people. Even his not too nice statements/ description of his opponents such as ‘Little Marco’, ‘Crooked Hillary’ and ‘Lying Ted’ went straight to the point without need for further explanation. He spoke in the language that his audience (ordinary people) understood (without regard to political correctness). To be honest, Political Correctness was never part of the American culture, Americans are known to ‘say it as, it is’, and this was exhibited by brutal frankness on the part of Trump.
Trump connected with the average American (his target audience/ voters), not the foreigners.
In order for Trump to get his message out, social media platforms e.g Twitter and small internet based media outfits were used to maximum effect (much like Obama’s use of Facebook in 2008). The Trump campaign strategy was to use earned-media coverage to remain in the spotlight and cut costs, which led to a spending of about half of what the Clinton campaign spent on advertisement.
Trump represented someone who could bring prosperity and reclaim the real identity of the USA, which was more important than political correctness, nice talk, Affordable Health Care Act, gay marriage, globalisation and climate change.
Trump represented a rejection of the establishment and politicians, a breath of fresh air into the politics of the USA. If a hungry man is an angry man, it can be said that majority of the states in the USA were angry and their anger has led to the removal of the establishment in the two major parties. The Don was just the tool. While on their part Hillary’s campaign, according to the Huffington Post, suffered from a sense of neglect and arrogance. This was said to have come from her staff. In summation, citizens of other nations should not claim to know more than the inhabitants of those nations about the peculiarities of those nations.
For those aspiring to leadership, in particular, never judge a country by only an assessment of urban areas or cities, to the detriment of those in the rural areas; continuation down this path, leads to peril. The major issue here is that Hillary lost traditionally Democratic states, this says a lot about the actions and strategy of the Democrats (there must have been something wrong, for the Democrats to lose both the Senate and the House of Representatives).
What was the major motivation of the people? Was it the love of Trump or the dislike/ disdain of Hillary? Rather it was an affirmation of the assumption that majority of the people in the states in middle and rural America felt forgotten and left out. Secondly, that the establishment had failed them in different ways i.e. reduction in living standards, huge debts, business closures and loss of jobs (this was the reality).
Donald represented those who wanted to take back their country i.e. about the real identity of America and economic prosperity. Here is a man who broke most of the stereotypes of a candidate for the White House. Trump broke all convention wisdom/ principles for political campaign strategies. i.e being a divorcee. A lot of candidates who have tried 10% of what the Don was alleged to have said or done, have had their political careers stopped abruptly. Yet this did not de-motivate his voters. Quite unconventional.
In 2006, the Writer in an article titled ‘Youth and Democracy’, outlined the role of youths in a democratic dispensation. The first is Vigilance & Advocacy, Secondly, Participate by observing their civic responsibility of voting and being voting for. Finally after the elections, exhibiting sport manly camaraderie by accepting the results, except there are clear cases of irregularities.
The current situation in the USA, where a candidate that invokes strong feelings, won the elections and the youth are incited to take to the streets, without rebuke from the losing side, is most disheartening to democratic ideals, especially when it is coming from the standard bearer of Democracy in the world today.
The protesters against the Trump victory are setting a bad precedent which could heighten tensions and could boomerang against them in the future. It is a sad commentary on American politics, when a losing side cannot observe some tolerance to accept the result of an election.
If the USA is to be the Big Brother of the world, it should act in the best possible way by showing good example. If Obama’s election did not elicit such protest, then why should Trump’s election?
The election of both Trump & Obama highlights the beauty of democracy, where majority carries the vote and anyone can get to the highest position, if they can reach out to the majority. Rural vs. Urban America (8 years ago, Obama was the majority. Today it is Trump). The writer had always advised, after the victory of Obama 8 years ago, for society to be wary of the pendulum swinging from the left which Obama represented, to the right which Trump represents.
It is to my understanding that the famous phrase in the USA is ‘anyone can become President in America’ and ‘anyone can become anything they want to be in America’. It should be noted that there are no clauses to the phrases e.g. ‘you cannot be, president if you make politically incorrect statements’.
Political maturity, which the No 1 nation in the world is supposed to represent, should show direction to other less-developed nations of the world, how not to protest a fairly conducted election, and to eschew violence and accept verdicts of elections that go against their party/ candidate. What does this say about minorities and the fairer sex, when the first time in living memory/ contemporary history that a well conducted election would be protested by a losing side is when a black man is president and a woman lost the election? Leaders should heal a nation after elections, and not lay landmines in the way of the incoming Government. What sort of example is this to less-developed nations?
If America is the land of freedom and worship, where is the respect for the conservatives now (it should be noted that respect is a two way street), quite ironical. Those who voted for Trump and Brexit should be given some credit and respect; they are entitled to their own decisions, as well. This was a democratic process that was carried out and people should respect that unless there is more to the protests, than meets the eye.
In conclusion, It should be noted that from various perspectives (philosophical, sociological and cultural), Great and developed countries in today’s world re-invent themselves through the democratic process every 4, 5, 8 or 10 years. Therefore America should be allowed to go through the process. It is the opinion of the writer that the disgruntled members of the pro-Hillary camp should snap out of their spell and accept reality that someone else won the election i.e. there is a new sheriff in town. No side wins all the time, you win some, and you lose some. Just respect the process. This is the beauty of Democracy.
In the words of Marine LePen, the leader of the National Front Party of France, the election of Trump “is a new dawn in a great movement sweeping the world”.