Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Why American elected Trump as President of USA?

Dr. Devendra Kothari
Population and Development Analyst
Forum for Population Action

Donald Trump is not the only villain in the world. All of us are equally guilty

 

Donald J. Trump did what millions thought impossible: he is 45th President of United States of America. Here is why?


It was an astounding feat for Trump to get elected. He has never held public office. He is widely known for a unique form of unpleasant character and corrupt capitalism. On top of this, he was hugely unpopular, even more so, according to most polls, than his opponent. True, if the U.S. were like the rest of the world, the person who got the most votes—Hillary Clinton, with in this case around 3 million more—would be the next president. Thus, Trump starts his term having very little legitimacy in the eyes of millions. But this does not matter.

Eager to demonstrate his readiness to take actions, Trump went directly to the Oval Office just after taking oath and before the inaugural balls, and signed his first executive order as President   to "minimizing the economic burden" of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Trump said that “This is a movement and now the work begins," before dancing with his wife, Melania, to "My Way" at the first of three inaugural balls. It appears that he is going to have his “way” during his tenure.

So how the hell did this happen? The Trump victory, as unlikely and confounding as it was, set off an enormous amount of head-scratching, along with an unprecedented avalanche of opinions and theories about how this came to be. This post analyzes why Donald  Trump won?

Recently, a post appeared at AlterNet, the authors suggested a number of “theories” of this election. [1]  Before we dig deeper, we need to stipulate at the onset that there can be no one single theory explaining why voters favored him. And I have my own explanation.

I arrived in the San Francisco Area just one month before Donald Trump was nominated as the Republican Party candidate for the presidency at the Republican National Convention held in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18–21, 2016. But he was widely branded as a unique form of obnoxious character by media - both print and television. One of the most trusted popular newspapers – New York Times – openly opposed and criticized his candidature. Many experts and even big ones in the Republican Party issued statements after statements against Trump’s capabilities to run the country.

I was totally confused and shocked why people especially media were cursing him? If he was such an obnoxious character why the ordinary members of Republican Party, in first place, elected him as its candidate in primaries with a wide margin? My friends and even my own relatives in USA were against Donald Trump candidature.  And that motivated me to verify the facts. 

Americans are more divided nation along political lines. During my stay in USA during summer 2016, I talked to people of both sexes and found majority of my sample, though it was very-very small, favored change and they thought that Donald Trump like Narendra Modi in India in 2014 could be an agent of change. The majority of American both republican as well as a small number of democrats thought Donald Trump could be an Agent of Change. Hillary Clinton was very familiar but she was seen an extension of President Barak Obama.  Further, Clinton was tarnished by perceived corruption for accepting money from Wall Street for her speeches. In addition, Hillary’s email controversy further damaged her candidature.  Clinton also lacked a strong central message. Her general election campaign focused almost exclusively on Trump’s unfitness for office. It was a negative strategy.  

Also, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy had provoked a wave of misogyny. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 52 percent of white men held a “very unfavorable” view of Clinton. It is ironic that in a country where women rights are far more progressive than many other countries, the United States was not yet ready for a woman president. Regardless of Trump’s derogatory remarks against women, a sizable number of women all over America voted for Trump in enough numbers to see him to victory (Refer: https://qz.com/832024/2016-presidential-election-results-hillary-clintons-loss-is-a-sign-that-america-was-never-ready-for-a-woman-president/) .

On the other hand, Trump was able to create an impression among people that a prosperous future was in store for the United States under his presidency.

Also, during my stay in the Bay Area, I spent a good amount of time at the book store Barnes & Noble and San Carlos Public Library. One book - The Price of Prosperity: Why Rich Nations Fail and How to Renew Them (2016) - impressed me a lot. And it helped me to my quest.

In this book, a former White House director of economic policy, Todd G. Buchholz,  exposes the economic, political, and cultural cracks that wealthy nations face and makes the case for transforming those same vulnerabilities into sources of strength—and the foundation of a national renewal.

Buchholz raises the question: Is the loss of empire inevitable? No. Can a community spirit be restored in the U.S.? According to him, the answer is a resounding yes. “We cannot retrieve the jobs of our grandparents, but we can embrace uniquely American traditions, while building new foundations for growth and change.” He offers a roadmap to recovery for USA and calls for a “revival of national pride and patriotism to help us come together once again to protect the nation and ensure our future”.

A sizable number of Americans, for a host of reasons, is feeling fundamental loss. Economic despair, lost jobs, fantasy-based economic policy, unwarranted involvement in Iran and Iraq and racism were too potent a cocktail for voters and that drove Donald Trump to victory. Voters took a risk, and that risk means white supremacists in the White House. It is widely felt that The US will be a minority-majority country by the middle of the century (that is whites will be less than 50% of the population), and  so a Trump is needed. 

At the same time, an average American could not understand why media including newspapers like The New York Times were apposing him totally. In the big picture, while the press wasn’t the only entity responsible for Trump’s win, it played a major role in making it happen.

And Donald Trump was smart enough to coin the slogans “Make America Great Again” and “America First”.  And that convinced the Americans that Donald Trump is a person who could solve their problems and ensure their future.

In Donald Trump win, one has to recognize that we live in a world where a political culture has become almost disconnected from truth that is “Post-Truth” politics. The term “Post-truth” is being defined as "a political culture in which politics (public opinion and media narratives) have become almost entirely disconnected from policy or truth. 

In other words, the Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. (In 2016, the term "post-truth" was chosen as the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year due to its prevalence in the context of that year's Brexit and Donald Trump election.)

For much of the election season, candidate Trump was allowed to say whatever erroneous thing he wanted without correction, while the flagging media used the Trump show to drive ad dollars to levels the industry had not seen in years. Initially, Trump bathed in this spotlight, as per the Fox News.

The biggest explanation is that voters wanted to have drastic change, though many of the things Trump said were contradictory and often untrue, but that did not seem to matter to 60 million or so voters. But, why were they willing to bet the ranch on a candidate with some of the most blatant flaws and inappropriate behavior of any presidential candidate in our lifetime needs more research based explanations.

In sum, if our political leadership does not recognize the Post-truth politics we may have many Trumps in future. In this context we should not forget the rise of Hitler in thirties. Moral of the story:  the politicians must pay close attention to or give heed to the feeling of the ordinary people and mold accordingly.

Post scriptum:
Whether we like him or not, India and the rest of the world will eventually deal with President Trump, reservations and personal distaste about his policies and idiosyncrasies notwithstanding.

We have to recognize that Trump’s first interest is to protect America’s interest. And that is right. Nevertheless, India must prepare for a situation where there is a clampdown on US visas for Indian businesses, professionals and passport holders. And the government must spot opportunity in adversity, it should take advantage of any American ban to speed up the reform process and lure American companies to ‘Make in India’.  For this, we have to unlock the human potential as well as create favorable conditions of doing business (according to World Bank’s latest ease of doing business country rankings, India comes in 130th among 189 countries).


[1] This post is greatly influenced by an article - Why Donald Trump won — and how Hillary Clinton lost: 13 theories explain the stunning election by  DON HAZEN KALI HOLLOWAY JENNY PIERSON JAN FREL LES LEOPOLD STEVEN ROSENFELDMICHAEL ARRIA ILANA NOVICK  JANET ALLON ALTERNET. It was originally appeared on AlterNet.  For detail, refer at: http://www.salon.com/2016/12/26/13-theories-on-why-trump-won-and-how-clinton-lost_partner/


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