So near and yet so far

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

wait­ing with bated breath if he would carry out this threat upon tak­ing office in Jan­uary.

The 2016 elec­tion also saw the most vig­or­ous cam­paign by an in­cum­bent out­go­ing pres­i­dent for his party’s can­di­date as Obama criss-crossed the na­tion to boost Clin­ton’s vote bank.

Per­haps for the first time, we saw the first lady was also a show-stealer on the cam­paign trail and what a dis­cov­ery Michelle Obama turned out to be as she im­pressed every­one by be­ing a great or­a­tor just like her hus­band.

Obama him­self went on the of­fen­sive against Trump, whom many even among prom­i­nent per­son­al­i­ties in the Repub­li­can Party branded as un­qual­i­fied and not hav­ing the qual­ity and tem­per­a­ment to be the com­man­der-in-chief of the world’s most pow­er­ful na­tion.

Per­haps Obama’s overkill in sup­port of Clin­ton could have had a backlash ef­fect on vot­ers against the back­drop of his own plung­ing pop­u­lar­ity in pub­lic opin­ion to­wards the tail-end of his eight years in office.

Obama him­self had de­scribed Clin­ton as the “most qual­i­fied can­di­date ever to run for pres­i­dent in the his­tory of the United States”.

She has in her four decades in pub­lic ser­vice been a se­na­tor, first lady and sec­re­tary of state.

Much of the hopes of the outside world es­pe­cially to see a woman pres­i­dent in­stalled at long last in the US also rests on the sim­ple logic that the vast ma­jor­ity of women in Amer­ica would nat­u­rally want to see and vote for one of their own gen­der in such a high office. Imag­ine what it would be hav­ing three of the world’s most pow­er­ful na­tions be­ing led by women at the same time after Ger­many and Bri­tain?

But in pol­i­tics, logic doesn’t al­ways work and that’s why it’s called the art of the pos­si­ble and the im­pos­si­ble, too.

Many would tend to be­lieve that among other rea­sons, Trump, who has never held any pub­lic office, had won be­cause of his pledge to close Amer­ica’s bor­ders against il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

Just as the Brexit ref­er­en­dum ear­lier this year in Bri­tain was suc­cess­ful on the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue or the no­tion that the coun­try would be bet­ter able to con­trol mi­grants upon leav­ing the Euro­pean Union.

On a much smaller scale, a po­lit­i­cal novice in Aus­tralia, Pauline Han­son, turned into an overnight sen­sa­tion with her an­ti­im­mi­gra­tion cam­paign that got her elected into Parliament some 20 years ago and later be­came leader of a po­lit­i­cal party.

Trump has in­deed pulled off what House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Speaker Paul Ryan de­scribed as the “most in­cred­i­ble po­lit­i­cal feat in my life­time”.

He has also gal­vanised sup­port for the Repub­li­cans with the party now dom­i­nat­ing both the House and the Se­nate which ac­cord­ing to CNN an­a­lysts means that Trump is pre­sid­ing over the most pow­er­ful White House in American his­tory.

The world, as well as the global stock mar­kets, re­acted in shock to Trump’s up­set win as every­one was try­ing to di­gest how this mav­er­ick bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man and real­ity TV star with ab­so­lutely no po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence could emerge as the 45th pres­i­dent of the United States.

Trump’s vic­tory had been to­tally un­ex­pected es­pe­cially after some star­tling reve­la­tions in the last two weeks with sev­eral women com­ing out to say that he had groped them and with some locker room talk go­ing vi­ral as well.

In a way, it has proven true the say­ing that Amer­ica after all is a big Hol­ly­wood.

I posted on the What­sApp chat group com­pris­ing ex-col­leagues in Ber­nama this line shortly after Trump had clinched the 270-vote elec­toral col­lege mark needed to win the pres­i­dency – My head­line: “Trump Tri­umphs”. That would make a per­fect news­pa­per head­line for me.

Some hours later, I re­ceived this post­ing from Zulka­fly Ba­harud­din, an ex-Ber­nama jour­nal­ist who has lived in Wash­ing­ton for decades – AU, Wash­ing­ton Post took your sug­ges­tion for head­line: Trump Tri­umphs.

“You made my day. I can work at Wash­ing­ton Post,” I told him.

Ac­cord­ing to Zulka­fly, Trump had won on a mas­sive swing by blue-col­lar work­ers who are just fed up.

To them, elect­ing Clin­ton as pres­i­dent would be more of the same kind of ad­min­is­tra­tion Amer­ica is so used to hav­ing all these years un­der the Wash­ing­ton es­tab­lish­ment.

It’s still too early to say what kind of a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion it would be and more im­por­tantly if he would opt for a dif­fer­ent kind of per­sona from the one we saw through­out the cam­paign.

I waited the whole night after CNN had dis­played on the screen a ban­ner say­ing that Clin­ton would soon make her con­ces­sion speech. That soon came al­most shortly be­fore mid­night.

I couldn’t bear to watch how dis­ap­pointed she was deep in­side though she man­aged to put up a brave front to face and thank her cam­paign work­ers who have slogged for the past two years.

“I am sorry we didn’t win this elec­tion. This is painful and it will be for a long time,” she said as many in the au­di­ence were seen wip­ing their tears.

On Trump, she only had this to say: “I hope he will be a suc­cess­ful pres­i­dent.”

All said and done, it’s been a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion like no other in liv­ing mem­ory with an out­come peo­ple could only think pos­si­ble in their wildest imag­i­na­tion.

REUTERSPIX

Pres­i­den­tial de­bates left noth­ing to the imag­i­na­tion.

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