The election has changed America, and if Trump remains president for the next eight years, it will be a totally different nation.
Perhaps there is no better word than “stunning” to describe the results of the November 8 general election in the United States. The fact that a man called Donald Trump who spoke utter nonsense in a freewheeling way, and expressed so many bigotry and mocked minorities won by a handsome number of electoral votes, defeating a veteran politician like Hillary Clinton is indigestible to millions of Americans who were sure of a definite victory for their candidate. Hillary Clinton still got a higher number of popular votes.
Immediately after the results were announced, anti-Trump agitations erupted in many towns across America, the very first time such a thing has happened in an American election where the tradition has been to accept the people’s verdict with dignity and equanimity. Hillary and Bill must have spent the night of November 8 sleeplessly convulsing about their political fate. In any other normal election, no candidate could have gotten away by uttering such blatantly insensitive things about so many sections of the American community as Trump did. He got away with murder, rewarded by the white majority in the country for whatever nonsense he stood for and said during the campaign. Minorities did not do much for him, although he fared better than expected with them as well.
Donald Trump is the first billionaire to become the president of the United States. He mostly spent his own money including his private jet to campaign in the primaries and in the main election campaign. The word out there is that he really slogged by logging hundreds and thousands of miles non-stop and never showed any sign of fatigue. Without a doubt he will have to take some rest and recreation before his inauguration in January. Otherwise, he won’t be physically and mentally fit to take on the office of the president.
Most of Hillary’s supporters always reminded the American voters all through the campaign that Donald Trump was not fit to be president, but the voters didn’t care. Obama said that Trump cannot be trusted with the country’s nuclear code, but the people voted for him anyway. Trump suffers from chronic foot-in-the-mouth disease. He was never a politician and was used to saying the most horrible things. For years and years, he was known as a reckless and irresponsible public persona. America knew it very well. When he emerged as the final victor in the primaries from a field of 17 candidates, even Republicans could not believe it. His own party legislators and leading Republicans forsook him as a candidate they could not support for president. No leading Republican ever campaigned for him. But he was a ruthless and shrewd businessman who spoke his mind the way ordinary frustrated people talk. That was his prime attraction factor.
For long, American voters have been sick of professional politicians who promise something at the hustings, but do something else once they come to Washington DC. Most of them end up as consummate insiders who find ways to cling on to the power and pelf that they become addicted to. They become Beltway bandits. This was another point of difference between Trump and Clinton. Hillary is the consummate insider of the establishment, and most people feared that there will be a third term for Obama if she is elected. In fact, that is exactly what she said she would do once elected to the office. Ever since Obama became president, conservative gun-toting, right-wing, Bible-thumping white voters were unhappy that a black man had occupied the White House. They started all sorts of rumours about him to hound him out of office, and to their frustration, all their tricks failed. Trump was one of the leading voices then to cry hoarse that Obama was not born in the US. Eventually, during the last days of the election campaign, he admitted that Obama was born in the US and he would not make an issue of that any longer.
Then they decided to make him just a one-term president, and that too failed. In addition, they want to upturn many of his policies, which is exactly what Trump has promised to do. They see Hillary and Bill as corrupt and dishonest individuals who are just power hungry. It has been proven that the Clintons are liars and don’t come clean with the public. Bill’s peccadillos and Hillary’s email scandals are the prime examples. In fact, they were angry when Bill was first elected in 1992 and Hillary was put in charge of drafting a new public health policy, a first for any first lady of the United States. Republicans saw to it that she was defeated in her efforts. It took almost two decades before Obama came and got passed what is now known as Obamacare, which Trump has promised to undo with the help of his Republican-controlled Congress. Hillary had promised to improve upon it and not dismantle it. Bill is considered the real first black president of the United States before Obama. He was commonly referred to as the black man’s white man.
White Republicans were seething in rage when Obama and Michelle campaigned vociferously for Hillary. They decided to teach the Clintons a lesson by coming in droves to vote and showed who is really more powerful in the country when it comes to elections. If a vast majority of whites really showed up at the polling booths, then their candidate need not win the hearts and minds of the minority and that’s how Trump triumphed. Obama is the president most hated by the whites in recent times, and when he jumped deep into campaigning for Hillary along with Michelle, that nailed the coffin of the Hillary campaign.
Another factor that usually does not help the cause of Democrats and the Clintons is the support they get from the film fraternity of the Hollywood. According to conservative white Americans, Hollywood film stars are culturally and religiously a debased group of people who are a bad influence on the nation. Robert De Niro released a video in which he called Trump a punk and a thug. When Hollywood throws its support to usually the left-of-centre Democratic candidates, and that happens to be one of Clintons, right wing conservatives seethe with rage and come to the polling booths in droves to vote against their candidate. Conservatives do not like LGBTs and Hillary said she is in full support of them, and that did it for her again.
The so-called liberal media all supported Hillary. The Atlantic, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and many other newspapers endorsed Hillary. Trump continuously maintained that the media was influencing the outcome. He kept saying that the election system was rigged and he would not accept any result unless he was the winner. He had geared up to challenge the results if he lost.
Actually, there was not a single issue which Trump and Clinton agreed upon. They were polar opposites. Given the sexist and racist comments that were being uttered by Trump throughout the campaign, most people thought he is done in. Nobody expected that he would be able to tear down the so-called blue wall in decisive states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. But Trump painted the nation red with 290 electoral college votes as against 218 for Hillary.
It has been very hard for Democrats and supporters of Hillary to swallow this defeat. Even women on whom she counted heavily did not support her as much as she expected. That was a cruel blow. Hillary was in tears during her concession speech in which she admitted that this pain would last a long time. It will take years for the Clintons to reemerge, if at all they want to. Everyone believes that they will just disappear from public life soon. It seems the Clintons’ political saga is over.
To his good luck, Trump enjoys a Republican majority in both houses. However, lots of Republicans in the Congress were not his supporters during the election and no one knows how they will deal with his bills. Without a doubt, he will have a hard time negotiating his legislative wishes with some tough Republicans who hate him. With friends like such Republicans, he does not need Democrat enemies in the Congress.
The next obvious question is how this inexperienced and totally ignorant and uninitiated person that Americans have elected is going to conduct himself in the White House. He has promised a plethora of things he is going to do including jailing Hillary. It is usually very difficult for elected politicians to keep all their election promises, and most people are hoping that it will be the best if he breaks all his crazy promises, and does some sane soul searching. It will be interesting to see what kind of a cabinet he will put together as he had no supporters or surrogates save for his wife Melania and the former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani throughout the campaign. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is in charge of the transition team and since he has earned the reputation of being a good administrator, might find a spot in the cabinet. He has the support of some 30-odd retired US army generals from whom he can tap some talent.
What people are really scared about are his foreign policies. Trump has promised to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and one can imagine what kind of uproar this will cause. He has said that he knows more about ISIS than all the army generals put together and that he intends to bomb them out of existence. Building a wall at the Mexico border is one of his major campaign promises that he made repeatedly, and to start driving out some 11 million illegal immigrants from the country. He wants to put in place extreme vetting for future immigration into the country, stop immigration for Muslims until the US understands “what the hell is going on” with Muslims who really might become a threat to the nation in the long run, as it has happened in Europe.
Immigration policies are a hot button issue with white Americans who see a serious threat to their existence in the waves of new immigrants who do not easily assimilate into the US, and instead start demanding concessions and disrupt the American culture. One of the reasons the whites voted for Trump is that they are all fed up of ever so many immigrants and blacks and Hispanics who have come to enjoy social benefits from the US government due to the policies of Democratic governments. Conservatives believe in a sense of self-responsibility, and do not like to provide supporting crutches for life to anyone. The Democrats have cultivated a vote bank of minorities and immigrants and keep on expanding social benefits to one and all, which has deeply upset the whites for too long.
In India, left-of-centre and socialistic and pseudo-secular policies dominated the political ethos for almost 70 years, and that clearly upset a large majority of urban voters who supported Narendra Modi. The idea of social engineering in the form of reservations based on caste and in some instances even religion, without an end in sight, had angered a majority of urban voters.
Another burning factor was ignoring or neglecting merit in education, jobs and promotions, which was one of the reasons for people to vote against the UPA. This is exactly what white Americans felt during this election.
This is happening in many parts of the world. People are getting fed up of appeasement politics and not holding people to their individual responsibilities. Conservatives are not totally heartless, but they don’t want to go on helping anyone when they don’t show signs of taking up individual responsibility. And, on top of it, if situations and policies are allowed to wreck the local culture for too long, the patience of the sufferers runs out.
We should here recall Dr Manmohan Singh’s famous words, as Prime MInister, that Muslims have a first right over India’s wealth. Minority appeasement, whether asked for or not, was really burning up the majority both in USA and India. Leftists in India pushed their political and social agenda too far, and that is why they were thrown out and Modi voted in. Indians wanted a no-nonsense political leader to lead the country and that’s what they got in Modi.
If a majority of Hindus come out and vote, there is no way how minority candidates can ever win elections in India, and the both Trump and Modi have proved the point.
If Hindus wake up to this realisation of their voting power, there will be no chance for any left party or politician to get to the seat of power ever. Similarly, if white Americans come together and vote as they did on November 8, they can get whoever they want as their president without bothering about appeasing minorities and immigrants.
Before Trump called on Obama after the election, the two had never met each other in person. There must been a lot of discomfort as both had said awful things about each other.
Trump, in front of the cameras, behaved graciously and thanked the president for his cooperation in transition. He should better come to the realisation that a vast portion of the people really hate him, and better conduct himself in a really presidential way, and his victory speech alluded to as much. For sure, America is changed and if Trump remains president for the next eight years, it will be a totally different nation.
Dr Shantharam is an Adjunct Professor of Biotechnology, University of Maryland—Eastern Shore, Princess Anne. A former biotechnology regulator with the United States Department of Agriculture, served as a biotechnology consultant with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNIDO and UN-FAO. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Seed Science Center at Iowa State University, Ames.