Everyone thought Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide. But then I remembered American comedian Bill Maher saying: “anything can happen in this stupid country”. And after 17 months of name-calling, fact-checking and a divisive political campaign, that is the reality the world must face.
Donald J. Trump, billionaire businessman, former host of The Apprentice and with no previous experience in public office, will be the 45th President of the United States.
After Barack Obama’s reasonably successful campaigns and governance, Hillary Clinton would sell his legacy to the public. Millions were insured by Obamacare, legalisation of same-sex marriage, and unemployment was halved. Foreign policies such as killing Bin Laden, improved U.S.-Cuba relations, Iran’s nuclear deal and promoting worldwide climate change discussions did not hamper Clinton either.
She had to focus little on getting women and minorities to vote for her. The problem was getting millennials. For the first time, the number of baby-boomers and millennials were the same – 69 million each.
Clinton was not a populist. She could have chosen a populist running mate such as Elizabeth Warren, which would have brought out more support from millennials who were distraught with Bernie Sanders’ loss. But she irritated Sanders’ supporters once again by choosing a boring centrist in Tim Kaine. In the end, 54% of millennials did not vote at all, compared to 30% of baby-boomers.
This anti-populist, pro-establishment ticket meant that not many people would turn out for rallies as they did for Trump and Sanders. Her changing stances on globalisation, the Iraq War and social issues such as same-sex marriage contributed to people’s lack of trust in her.
Clinton was not as unique as Sanders, so she relied on her campaign’s organisation, but even that was disastrous. She did not make any visits to Democratic stronghold Wisconsin as the nominee, who ultimately voted Republican for the first time since 1984, and in Michigan she pushed a late charge when polling showed her lead slipping.
When she brought out LeBron James in Ohio, it was a ridiculous sight. Ohioans did not want the establishment. She should have frightened people about the prospect of a President Trump. That would have made her supporters as fervent as Trump’s. They needed someone to rally around, not someone hosting a fundraiser.
“This anti-populist, pro-establishment ticket meant that not many people would turn out for rallies as they did for Trump and Sanders.”
The result was Clinton winning the popular vote by 0.5%, but losing the electoral college. While some may point to the rise of 4 million third party voters, Obama won in 2012 by 3 million more votes than 2016’s victor. It was not because Trump was better, but that Clinton was not good enough.
In order to see why Donald Trump won, his supporters need to be defined. The first Trump voter group were those who would vote for any Republican to keep a Democrat out of office. They subdivided into moderate Republicans and the Christian right, both of whom turned to Trump when Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out.
This group of ‘Never Hillary’ voters were led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who even disinvited Trump to his campaign event as he was “sickened” by Trump’s remarks on groping women. It was clear Ryan knew he was unqualified but was focused on the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The second voter group was those who did not like the political establishment for neglecting them, and voted for Trump’s ‘anti-estabishmentism’. Trump has said he wants to apply 45% tariff barriers to Chinese imports to protect U.S. manufacturing and has called NAFTA the “worst deal in history”, which has resonated with the Rust Belt, whose families have been decimated by globalisation.
Clinton’s previous statements on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her husband passing NAFTA – which outsourced manufacturing jobs and reduced incomes for those living in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan – made sure that the Rust Belt would not vote blue.
His anti-globalisation position was reinforced in his immigration policy, which secured him more voters and immigration unions. These voters were instrumental to his campaign, as they made small donations whereas Clinton drew funds from banks and foreign governments. As much as I disliked his campaign, I applaud him for gaining the working class voters and not siding with large entities.
The final voter group were the smallest by number and had gained attention from Clinton; the Alt-Right. These voters were tired of political correctness and Clinton supporters calling them racists and bigots, and found their America-first candidate in Trump. They were waiting for Election Day the same way Obama voters waited in 2008.
There were no political figures leading this brigade, as it was more of an online sensation. Milo Yiannopoulos is considered the closest the Alt-Right has to a leader but he has said he is “not a member of the Alt-Right”.
“You must regroup and reform the Democratic Party, by ousting establishment Democrats to let real progressives lead.”
My message to fellow liberals across the pond is to not hope for the country to fail. You are Americans first and liberals second, so hope the country prospers. Should it not, tell the people you can make things better. There will be those who disagree with our liberal values, which is human nature.
They should not all be called bigots or racists just for supporting someone we dislike. Yes, there will be fundamental differences, and there will be some bigots and racists. But don’t paint a broad brush over them.
You must regroup and reform the Democratic Party, by ousting establishment Democrats to let real progressives lead. Make Trump’s election a turning point for Democrats, so a phenomenon like him will never happen again.
Obama’s legacy is in tatters. The Democrats will have to resolve the conflict between centrists and progressives. The Republican Party of Lincoln and Reagan has gone, as Trump’s election was the largest middle finger given to the establishment in our lifetime. The left wing Democrat rise coupled with the far-right Republican rise has made the United States of America more disunited than ever.
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