A pre-election poll suggested that 72% of the people who surveyed had the opinion that the country is on the wrong track. Mr. Donald J. Trump who detected that anger among the electorate and tapped it to win the Presidency is on the way to the white house. It is a historic victory that stunned the ‘Political Class’ in this country and the Globalists around the world.
The recently concluded campaign for the Presidency was characterized as one of the most acrimonious in history and vitriolic in tune that has brought disrepute and scorn upon the candidacies of Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, one is described as misogynist, xenophobic, sexist and racist and the other as deeply corrupt and untrustworthy.
Obviously, the polls were wrong, and projection models turned out to be flawed. The pundits in the media who were veterans of previous presidential campaigns got it totally wrong as well. Defying all predictions, American voters swept Republicans to power, handing the GOP the White House, the Senate and the House in a wave very few who saw it coming. Academia will now spend the coming weeks and months studying just how and why everyone missed it!
What has gone wrong? According to Peggy Noonan of Wall Street Journal written months before the election, ‘the rise of Donald Trump is directly attributable to “protected” Americans dismissing the needs of “unprotected” ones. Noonan who was a speechwriter for President Reagan defined the protected class as not only wealthy Americans but also financially successful people in Government, Media, Hollywood, and Wall Street and Tech sector with strong careers. They have money; they live in nice neighborhoods and ‘they can pretty much do anything and they are insulated’.
“The protected make public policy and the unprotected live in it” Noonan added. In other words, unprotected Americans with less money, less access to good schools and less opportunity than the ‘Elites’ ( also dubbed as ‘Establishment’), who mostly live in rural and suburban America are left to fend for themselves without help from either Democrats or Republicans.
The protected class, the types of Think Tanks, Career Politicians, Bureaucrats and Lobbyists continued to make policies that have enormous negative consequences on the lives of the average American, and it appears to have gone on for so long and that it finally reached a boiling point. In short, the story is that Trump, the Republican nominee, was able to tap into that feeling of alienation and succeeded.
Undoubtedly, the election of Trump is also viewed as a rebuke to the Technocratic driven policies, increasing centralization of power in Washington and unchecked Immigration policies that are heavily favored by the Democrats. Obamacare has become a hot button issue towards the end of the campaign as soaring costs of premium was seized upon as an issue by opponents and used it to sway a significant number of voters in the Blue States to go Red.
It has been said that in every election, people ultimately vote with their pocket book and there is no wonder then, the economy and the jobs were trending as top priority issues for the electorate. Trump was able to hammer home the issue that the loss of manufacturing jobs from the Rust Belt States was directly attributable to the Trade deals like NAFTA and promised to renegotiate to make it more of a ‘Fair Trade’ than ‘Free Trade.’
The failures of the Obama-Clinton foreign policies loomed large over the discourse of the election debates as well. Trump has questioned the wisdom of spending Trillions of dollars in foreign wars where America gained few advantages while wreaking havoc in the regions, especially in the Middle East, and creating millions of refugees fleeing their homes. A case in point is the US support for the Al-Nusrah Front in Syria, an offshoot of Al-Qaida that is fighting for the overthrow of the President Bashar al-Assad. The atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians, Yezidis and other minorities in the region and the threat of terrorism from these Islamic groups at home remained top concerns to many voters across the nation.
People of faith have also witnessed increased hostility and scorn from the ruling class in Washington and reacted strongly with greater mobilization and participation that certainly cushioned a Trump victory. The vacant seat in Supreme Court and its future direction also weighed heavily on this conservative segment of the electorate.
The United States was the leading proponent of globalization but the recent Brexit decision and the Trump election clearly points to a re-thinking on the part of the voters in both countries. An upswing of nationalism based on culture and sovereignty was apparently a hidden component that might have energized the largely white middle class, especially in rural America to go and vote for a change in this election cycle. However, it is unfair to characterize this whole group as ‘basket of deplorables’ though some elements who support racism and anti-immigrant policies might be part of the entire equation.
Despite the torrent of criticisms from all quarters, the United States is still considered the lone superpower in the world and a beacon to millions who value democracy, freedom, and justice. However, it is also viewed now as a nation in decline. With 90 million people out of work and 50 million people on Government assistance and 20 Trillion dollars in debt and with anemic growth in GDP and no real income growth for the middle class in last several years, the country was ready for a change.
In summary, the election of Trump is mostly about the economy and jobs, and it is also about the ‘forgotten man’ whom the establishment looked down with disdain. When someone came along and listened to their voices and connected, a tectonic shift has taken place in America; a Trump presidency!
(Writer is a former Chief Technology Officer of the United Nations)
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