A First-hand experiential analysis of American Presidential elections
After waiting hours for the results of the American elections, many people went to sleep, hoping that they will wake up and hear a different result. Those who though they were having a nightmare, woke-up and the dream was still a reality. If you are in the Eastern part of the United States, you knew those in the West, such as California, had just finished elections as you went to sleep based on the three hour difference. Also, the global markets, opened with a crash.
During the Republican Party primaries, Donald J. Trump’s sixteen opponents did not give him a chance to win. He disappointed their expectations and ran an unconventional campaign.
Again, the pollsters did not give him a chance of winning the presidential elections on November 8, 2016. He won without support from ex-Presidents and former Presidential candidates of his own party. It should be mentioned that Trump had never been considered a Republican, but “converted” to run for President under the Republican banner. Nonetheless, the former star of the reality-TV show The Apprentice won. There are many lessons from the American elections, but I will only mention a few here.
Do not believe the Polls.
For years, pollsters have dominated the American election systems. This time they got it wrong. The polls predicted that former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton will win and become the 45th President of the United States. Either they got the analysis wrong, or those they surveyed lied. It is probably true that some people who claimed they would not vote for Trump because it was not socially desirable, actually lied and voted for him. This group did not want to be seen as supporting an alleged bigot or someone that was painted by incumbent President Barack Obama (and others) as “uniquely unqualified.”
Political-correctness has been rubbished.
Donald Trump commented that even if he shot someone, he will not lose any supporters. He mocked women, minorities, war veterans, people with disabilities and it did not seem to hurt him. It remains to be seen how America will heal itself. He talked about building a war, without giving details of how he would make Mexico pay for it. Even arrogantly claiming to “know more about ISIS than the Generals”, did not hurt him. He boldly told African-Americans to vote for him because they don’t have anything to lose. Apparently, some people liked his rash candidness. The belief that if you are running for office, you should watch what you say, no longer holds water.
The magic of the media.
Donald Trump, a former reality show star with a star on Hollywood, used his mastery of the media to his great advantage. He knew that outlandish statements will get attention. Even, sex-related pseudo scandals could help. He used fear politics through the media, to his advantage. Trump’s divisive tactics worked. He was always in the news, much to chagrin of his opponents. He consistently attacked his opponents and anyone against him. He was taken as a joke by some people, but the joke is now on them. Trump is a master at the branding and name calling. His use of phrases like “Crooked Hillary” stuck with raucous responses of “Lock Her UP” from his supporters. It shows what the Nazi propagandists believed that if you tell a lie long enough, people will believe it. Also, “Making American Great Again” resounded with non-urban white America, even though the phrase was coined by Ronald Regan over thirty years ago. By contrast, Hillary’s “Stronger together” was a week slogan for many.
When the people are frustrated, they will choose whomever.
Several Americans, especially the uneducated whites, have been frustrated with the establishment and the economy. They claimed the foreigners (illegal aliens) were taking away their jobs. It did not matter that Donald Trump had allegedly used the same illegal aliens in his various business. The concern was legitimate to the extent that even a Bachelor’s degree, could no longer guarantee a job with livable and living wage. It appears as though those in Washington were out of touch with the plights of some Americans and just like Brexit, the people, gave the red card to establishment and said no to the status quo.
Money makes a difference in politics.
Donald Trump came into prominence because of his supposed success as a Real Estate mogul, propelled by the millions he inherited from his father. Although he lost almost a billion dollars twenty years ago, his actual net worth is not known because he refused to release his tax returns. He poured millions of his own money into his election campaign. One thing that you can admire about Mr. Trump is that he knows how to use the system to his advantage, whether filing for bankruptcies or avoiding taxes. The irony is that the average person on the street that supported Trump, will never make the kind of money he has made and has probably paid more taxes that Donald Trump in the past ten years. The amazing fact is that Hillary Clinton outspent Trump almost 5-1 in campaign spending.
The power of the vote
I was privileged to work as an Election Judge in the main election, the early voting and the primaries. There was an unprecedented turnout. Standing for over thirteen hours was quite interesting when you are inundated with people of different personalities. Although, the minorities did not turn out as they did for the 2008 and 2012 elections featuring Barack Obama, the Hispanics came out in record numbers and were expected to turn things around in Battleground states like Florida. However, the turnout of rural white voters and dissatisfied minorities countered the Hispanic surge. Also, the millennial did not come out as much as they did in the last two Presidential elections because neither of the candidates inspired them. It could also be that the young voters felt they were voting for either a grandmother or grandfather that was not in touch with burning issues for young America such as school loans and affordable college tuition.
The influence of foreign issues on American politics
The Russians have been held liable for the hacking of emails that cast a very negative shadow on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Also, the ties of Trump and his allies to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is yet to be established. Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State has been over-shadowed by the killing of the Americans in Benghazi. It did not matter that she was involved in the killing of the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks on America, Osama Bin Laden. The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement and NAFTA (that Bill Clinton signed into law, but negotiated by George Bush) featured prominently in the debate. Who will bring back American jobs that have been “shipped” overseas? Syria, ISIS, and Boko Haram in Nigeria were mentioned on the campaign trails. Also, the deal with Iran did not go well with many Americans. In other words, trade and security were major issues.
Whether or not his enemies and pundits like it, 70-year old Donald John Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2017, with a foreign-born first lady and complete control of Congress (House of Representatives & Senate).
Alex O. Atawa-Akpodiete, worked as an Election Judge in the American Presidential Elections, including Primaries and early voting.