My take on Trump’s victory
Now that the tears have dried and the rainclouds have passed, can we talk for a moment about why Trump was, against all odds, chosen by almost 60 million Americans?
A tsunami of nativist, anti-establishment sentiment has swept not just the US but the wider western world, showing no signs of slowing as we democratically embrace political outcomes that mirror horror movie plot twists. Large groups in society feel increasingly unrepresented and marginalised, incumbent leaders have failed to correct the unequal distribution of benefits that come from increased openness (America spends a pathetic 0.1% of GDP on policies to retrain workers that have lost their jobs through trade and technology), and the mainstream has been complacent in the face of this anti-status quo movement. These trends apply not just to the US but also the UK (Brexit), France (National Front), Germany (AfD), and heavens knows where else.
The country in which I currently reside will soon have at its helm a President with the ability and inclination to start a conflagration of destructive proportions; a man whose unwavering disdain for women, minorities, the environment, and civil liberties is evident in not just his rhetoric but also in his actions. Grave danger faces large groups of society if Trump executes even half of his pre-election promises: to repeal Obamacare, scrap NAFTA, ban Muslims from entering the country, cut abortion funding, cancel The Paris Accord. The New Yorker went so far as to declare the result “The American Tragedy”.
However, indulging in doom and gloom predictions is not constructive. I am convincing myself that things may not pan out as badly as we all think. Stock markets have not been rattled. Republicans control both houses but Trump has been rejected by many senior members of his party, meaning he could face a tough order of opposition from Congress. He may self-moderate, and he could turn out to be a foreign policy realist and strengthen US-Russia relations (which could more reliably guarantee European security than the status quo). He may surround himself with pragmatic, intelligent advisors and perhaps listen to them occasionally.
Beyond that, there is the potential that two positive changes stem from Trump’s stunning victory. Firstly, I hope his presidency shakes the establishment out of its crippling complacency. Prognosticators and politicians are so out of touch with voters that they all massively underestimated the magnitude of their dissatisfaction. Secondly, his unconventional ascension to President may shake the broken, antiquated two party system.
Although I am utterly disheartened by Hillary’s loss, I take solace in the fact that, throughout 2016, the world has witnessed women rising from the political ashes of men. Hillary Clinton has made history. Her tenacity, grace, and iron will is an inspiration to all women, showing us that, one day, we will be able to shatter the glass ceiling. HRC may not be the winner this week but she is still a champion. I was, and still am, categorically #withher.