Donald Trump Defeats Clinton, Obama, Media, Pundits And History To Win White House

R Jagannathan

Nov 09, 2016, 01:17 PM | Updated 01:17 PM IST

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
  • Donald Trump is the next President of the world’s oldest democracy.
  • The US has elected the first man who has never held public office, as its Commander-in-Chief. It has declined to elect its first woman President.
  • Now that a Donald Trump presidency is a reality from January 2017, it is worth asking what’s in it for America and the world.
  • The Outsider has won. The Establishment has lost. The “deplorables” of the United States of America under the wayward leadership of Donald Trump, the renegade Republican who was disowned by many in his party, is the next President of the world’s oldest democracy.

    With nearly all US media houses calling it for Trump, pending any last minute miracle, it is now safe to say that the US has just elected the first man who has never held public office as its Commander-in-Chief. It has declined to elect its first woman President.

    Trump not only defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton but the entire Left-Liberal media, the pollsters, a White House determined to stop him (from President Obama to his wife Michelle and Vice-President Joe Biden), Wall Street, Hollywood, the Democratic Billionaire’s Club, the Republican aristocracy and assorted critics from all over the world, especially Europe.

    But it was not Trump alone who did it. This vote has come from below, largely from the frustration of the white male voter who has been alienated from the elite. The white voter believes that party elites – both Democrat and Republican – have focused more on the minorities and the super-rich, leaving them high and dry. More important, Clinton’s expected women vote did not materialise. Not surprising, though, in hindsight. If the rust belt is angry, it hardly follows that the women of that belt will be unsympathetic to what their men care about.

    This is significant. Trump cannot have won if his personal failings and boorish behaviour had been the critical factor in this election. Nor did Clinton lose because of her own failings, including the email scandal. That voters decided to ignore this shows that in politics, it is issues that count, especially when there is a significant difference between the two options. Trump promised change, while Clinton promised more of the same. So, if the prime desire was for change, whether the guy promising it has loose morals or a sterling character hardly matters. We have seen this in India often enough, where even convicted criminals and corrupt politicians keep winning the votes. Trump is the American affirmation of this same sentiment. When more important issues count, your own failings don’t.

    The media, by its constant and obtuse criticism of Trump, was possibly a major factor in Trump’s victory. In fact, it is possible to say that the stronger the media’s criticism became, the more strongly the Trump voter was determined to stay with him. As the trends became clearer, CNN anchors were asking themselves where they went wrong in presuming that Trump had no path to 270. But the joke is on them: they failed to see the tidal wave building under them, preferring to go with their prejudices.

    The mistake is to believe that when voters are being offered a real choice, personal factors will be decisive. These things matter only when you are choosing between two candidates who promise the same. Perhaps, if Bernie Sanders had been the candidate, the result may have been different, for Sanders promised change, but not Clinton.

    It is, in fact, possible to surmise that if one man is attacked so consistently, people will begin to wonder if there is an agenda behind it all. People know motivated criticism when they see it. We saw this in India in 2014, when the entire English media went hammer-and-tongs against Narendra Modi, and look what happened.

    While Trump is a wayward candidate as against the real strengths and commitment that Prime Minister Modi brings to his job, the underlying reasons for their victories are the same. The media wore blinkers, and so did the Democratic and Republican party establishment.

    It is worth speculating on why the pollsters got it so wrong, when all of them were predicting an over 65 percent chance of Clinton winning the election. It is unlikely that the polls were rigged or didn’t target a good sample. The simple truth could be this: the shy Trump vote, people who were reluctant to say they may vote for Trump got understated. This is one more lesson for the media: when you demonise someone so much, people prefer not to state their preferences openly. People say politically correct things when their voting intentions may be quite different.

    Now that a Donald Trump presidency is a reality from January 2017, it is worth asking what’s in it for America and the world.

    First, Trump cannot deliver on the bulk of his promises, for a wounded Democratic party, and even the Republicans, will be less than eager to cooperate in getting bills passed in Congress. Trump has promised to drive many illegal Hispanic immigrants out, but the law will ensure that this is done only to a limited extent.

    Second, Trump has promised a sharp cut in taxes, but that will be difficult to pull off given the state of the US federal deficits. But he will surely cut some taxes, and America Inc, not among his fan groups, will silently applaud.

    Third, Trump will face a Federal Reserve that may be about to raise rates. The Fed should have done it in September, but it is possible the Democratic in the board held back in order to prevent a market drop before the elections. But in December, this could tank the markets, as has already begun to happen. The Dow was down when news of Trump’s performance started emerging from the media channels.

    Fourth, Trump will keep America’s involvements abroad limited. He could also team up with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to get the Syrian crisis under control. But NATO members will be worried if Trump gets too cosy with Putin, although this is unlikely. Trump is likely to follow a more rational foreign policy, and focus on building US military strength rather than overextend its military might. This would be good for the US and the world.

    Fifth, countries like India may have to check if Trump will make H1B visas for Indian software services even more difficult. But this may not impact us much. The IT industry is being driven less by headcount and labour costs and more by automation. This means, Indian IT companies will benefit by recruiting more onshore and less offshore. This will impact Indian job creation, but it would have happened even if Trump had not been elected President.

    Sixth, Trump will have to reach out to the people he alienated – Hispanics, Afro-Americans and women. There is no reason to doubt that this won’t be done, since it has been the norm. Magnanimity is usually the norm when one wins, and Trump need not be different. If election rhetoric ever results in actual action in the same direction, it must be an exception to the rule. All extreme politicians shift to the middle once they are elected. Moreover, Trump’s team will push back against extreme positions. It is interesting that nearly 30 per cent of Hispanics voted for Trump. It shows that they believe the constitution will restrain him, and he may have other things to offer them.

    Seventh, Trump is likely to rework trade agreements and will be less than enthusiastic for new trade deals. But this has been the trend for a while, with Brexit being one indicator. In office, he is less likely to be an overt protectionist than his rhetoric on the stump indicated.

    Eighth, if Trump behaves as belligerently in office as when he was out of it, he could face legal and legislative push-backs, given that many women have accused him of molestation. His own Trump Organisation could come under scrutiny for tax diddles. He has reason to be reasonable to avoid creating too many enemies.

    Ninth, Obamacare is probably going to be junked or sharply drastically remodelled. Trump must get Congressional approval for any changes, and there is a fight ahead.

    Tenth, the biggest takeout is that America is a deeply divided and different country. It is no longer a two-party system, as the rise of Trump in the face of opposition from his own party shows. Of course, parties kowtow to winners, and in the short term the Republicans, especially those who were voted riding on the coat-tails of the Trump wave, will be happy to pay obeisance.

    The bottomline: The message won over money. Trump had a message, Clinton had money. We know who won.

    Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.

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