There have been way too many commentaries on the ‘unexpected’ succession of Donald Trump to the White House.
However notwithstanding all those commentaries , I will endeavour to add my own little spin on those events.
Donald Trump’s win was ‘unexpected’ for two reasons: 1) the media said it was not going to happen and 2) the polls said it was not going to happen. And indeed, Hillary Clinton did win more votes in the total national count of the 54% who decide to vote, but lost out at the electoral college state level. Both Trump and Clinton were voted for by approximately 27% of the total possible electorate. But the poll margins expected, at the very least, a 4% margin for Clinton. Was it because those responding to the pollsters hid their true intent ; maybe too ashamed to say they were intending to vote for someone the media portrayed as a bigot, sexist and buffoon, but who responded to their anxieties about the future? Or was it that the low voter turnout dramatically skewed the potential for any accurate recording of those who in the end decided to vote?- I would suspect more the latter.
The role of the media in this campaign has been astonishing to an outsider. Not one US mainstream news agency supported Trump through his campaign. Even in little old New Zealand the bias in reporting pro Clinton and against Trump was extraordinarily obvious. One of the more obvious signs of this bias was the mass media taking up the Clinton campaign’s farcical claims that Trump was in bed with Putin, the Russians were trying to fix the election and Wikileaks was an arm of the Russian secret police. Where was the analysis of these absurd allegations ? Did this obvious bias result in a backlash from voters as has been claimed in some media reports? -I would very much doubt it- American citizenry have been taught to believe whatever the media says is the truth-why doubt them now?- however absurd the claim is.
However I do think one outcome of the media Trump-bashing frenzy has been to instill a high level of fear and anxiety in those parts of the American population who see themselves as marginalized: the gay communities, Hispanics to some degree, many blacks, as well as all those who are fighting for more rights and freedoms within the American state system. Are those fears justified?-we shall have to wait and see whether Donald puts his money where his mouth is! As one reporter noted recently- ‘all American presidential elections are like this; say anything you like in the run-up to the vote, but once elected become a sober and careful politician’. With Donald Trump, that may not necessarily be the case. All indications are that Donald Trump has an ego of unbelievable proportions, is not used to taking advice from singular or multiple sources , is in fact both sexist and racist and likes to make executive decisions at the minutist level. Will that make his decisions worse?- probably not, given the calibre of recent presidential policy decision -making. Will it make those decisions more unpredictable?- most certainly yes. We are in for uncertain times in the world.
We are also in for a world driven entirely by greed: well, more obviously so at least. In the past, that greed has been hidden by more subtle statements; ‘bringing democracy’, ‘removing human rights abuses’, ‘responsibility to protect’, regime change’, ‘efficiency’, ‘progress’ etc etc . The removal of environmental controls for instance, will simply make evident what was already in place; a total unwillingness by the American state to countenance a reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels and the degradation of the environment if it meant profits for the big companies were going to be reduced. “Growth’ is what drives money into the pockets of the politicians. The environmental Paris Accord is a political farce, and every politician knows it.
The other factor driving unpredictability in Trump’s decision-making is that he doesn’t need to be bought by the highest bidder;-unlike Hillary and the Clinton Foundation. As a billionaire, Trump has sufficient money that no-one can influence him through bribery and corruption, should he choose not to go there. The traditional methodology for policy decision-making in Washington has now been removed for four years- a very scary thought to those who have been buying privilege and influence in Washington for so many many years! And particularly scary for those in the military and arms industries and certain foreign states, who have relied on extensive lobbying and financial ‘incentives’ to ensure ongoing wars wherever they meet their interests.
Finally , the role of media and politicians in fostering the post-election anxiety and street demonstrations needs to be explored. The casual statements by both Hillary Clinton and Obama that Trump needs to ‘be given a chance” has the hidden and not so subtle or veiled implication that, once Trump makes his first wrong move as President, then we can go after him with whatever it takes to remove him.
The violent demonstrations on the streets in the U. S. as a result of the presidential election are unprecedented, and may be a sign of further clashes between the so-called ‘liberals’ in the pro-Clinton camp, and the bigots and racists and ‘fearful white folks’ who made up a significant proportion of the pro-Trump vote.
We live in ‘interesting times’, as the Chinese curse has it….