© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Donald Trump: The Road To The White House
By Chikezie Omeje
He was not predicted to win, although the polls anticipated that it would be a close race. But to the surprise, nay, shock of many people in the United States and around the world, by Wednesday morning, Donald Trump, the Republican Party candidate, had cruised safely to a historic presidential election victory, which has left pundits stunned.
Trump, the first US President-elect without any record of public or military service, defeated Hilary Clinton of the Democratic Party – a candidate described by President Barack Obama as “probably the most qualified person to ever run for the oval office.”
Trump’s victory shattered expectations and revealed deep anti-establishment anger among American voters and set the world on a journey into the political unknown.
The Republican nominee has achieved one of the most improbable political victories in modern American history, despite a series of controversies that would easily have destroyed other candidacies, extreme policies that have drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle, a record of racist and sexist behaviour, and a lack of conventional political experience.
So what gave Trump his victory over a more experienced candidate? Despite Trump’s shortcomings as a candidate, analysts say he tapped effectively into the anti-establishment anger among working class Americans and those ordinary folks in rural areas who turned out in huge numbers in this election.
Right from the beginning of his campaign, Trump projected himself as the anti-establishment candidate determined to change the face of governance in America, and painted his opponents as establishment politicians.
During one of the presidential debates when he referred to himself as a politician, Trump quickly retorted, “I can’t believe I’m calling myself a politician.”
This was why he defeated other Republican candidates such as Ted Cruz and Mike Rubio who had public service record as senators. And this was why Clinton’s opponent during the democratic primaries, Senator Bernes Sanders, also did very well and nearly caused an upset. Even though he is a politician and a senator, he had presented himself as an outsider in the Democratic Party establishment.
In fact, some analysts have suggested that if Sanders had been the democratic presidential candidate, the party could have won the presidency. Clinton has been a regular feature in Washington for more than three decades as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State. While her experience makes her uniquely qualified for the oval office, she faced an electorate that has deep distrust, even resentment, for politicians.
Thus, some would say, Trump was also uniquely qualified to take advantage of the peoples’ desire for change and anger at regular politicians. He had never held any public office nor contested any election. All his life has been in the private sector where he has been successful as a businessman, building a vast empire and popular brands.
When he gave his first victory speech Wednesday morning, Trump captured this phenomenon. He told a cheering crowd of supporters: “ We did not run a campaign; this was an angry movement.”
Anti-establishment issues that endeared him to mostly white American voters are his stance on immigration, trade and economy. He promised Americans that his immigration plans would make the people safer as undocumented immigrants and “criminals” would be thrown out of the country.
His immigration policy dovetails into his economic policy as it would keep jobs for Americans. This is sweet music to working class Americans whose concerns have not been addressed by Washington.
Although Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and trade has been described as impracticable, it appeared to have resonated with majority of Americans.
Other issues that appeared to have defined this election include the Clinton email palaver, which made the electorate to distrust her further and the racial divide that has polarised the country. Foreign policy is also an area of fundamental difference between the candidates. While Trump plays on fear and said he would make America safe by banning Muslims and others from entering the country, Clinton espoused partnership with Muslims and Muslim countries.
Trumps election has provoked despair in other parts of the world due to the uncertainty it portends. No one knows what President Trump would do. It remains to be seen how he hopes to “To Make America Great Again.” But the world, and many in his country, would hope that he proves them wrong about him.