Trump’s win a shock to the sys­tem

Malta Independent - - US ELECTION | EDITOR'S PIC -

A shock­wave.

There’s no other way to de­scribe the mas­sive change Amer­i­cans voted for Tues­day.

In elect­ing Don­ald Trump to the White House, Amer­i­cans handed the reins to some­one whose cam­paign was premised on an un­re­lent­ing chal­lenge to the sta­tus quo, dis­trust in gov­ern­ment and dis­missal of the politi­cians from both par­ties. They chose a man who promised to chan­nel their anger, as much as carry their hopes. He didn’t merely prom­ise change, he promised dis­rup­tion.

The ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the Trump pres­i­dency are dif­fi­cult to mea­sure. In his ugly, knock-down fight against Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, his per­son­al­ity was a draw more than his poli­cies. The stump speeches that drew thou­sands to rau­cous ral­lies were laced with pro­pos­als but pow­ered by his one word po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy: “Win­ning.”

But it res­onated in a way few ex­pected with white, work­ing-class Amer­ica, across the Rust Belt and in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, where the scars of the Great Re­ces­sion en­dure and win­ning felt like a long-lost con­cept. He un­der­stood their anx­i­ety about jobs mov­ing over­seas and im­mi­grants mov­ing in. He claimed to hate the lib­eral me­dia as much as they did. He sounded like no politi­cian ever.

This was their up­ris­ing, the el­e­va­tion of a 70year-old re­al­ity-TV and real es­tate mogul will­ing to speak their truth, re­write rules and in­sult any­one along the way.

It is noth­ing short of whiplash - for Amer­i­cans and peo­ple around the world who were alarmed by his harsh rhetoric about long-time al­lies and other cul­tures.

Trump’s vic­tory comes eight years af­ter a coali­tion of blacks, His­pan­ics, women and young peo­ple elected the first black pres­i­dent

Ed­i­tor’s pick

and ush­ered in what many viewed as a new era of pro­gres­sive dom­i­nance in pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics. Tues­day’s re­sults are a stun­ning, if con­fus­ing, in­dict­ment of the poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who nev­er­the­less re­mains pop­u­lar.

“There’s noth­ing like it in our life­time,” said pres­i­den­tial his­to­rian Dou­glas Brink­ley, who in the days lead­ing up the elec­tion dubbed a Trump win a “so­cial rev­o­lu­tion” on par only with Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt’s club­bing of Her­bert Hoover for his han­dling of the Great De­pres­sion in 1932.

To many pol­icy ex­perts, econ­o­mists, mil­i­tary brass, diplo­mats — the es­tab­lish­ment, Trump would say — Trump’s pro­pos­als are viewed as im­prob­a­ble, im­pos­si­ble, and at times un­con­sti­tu­tional. Democrats and Repub­li­cans in Wash­ing­ton re­coiled from his pro­posed ban on Mus­lims from en­ter­ing in the US. Few think his vow to force Mex­ico to pay for a wall along the bor­der is work­able, at best. And re­ally only Trump knows if his prom­ise to “bomb the s—t out of” the Is­lamic State group in Iraq and Syria seen is any­thing more than blus­ter.

There’s mixed ev­i­dence on whether Trump’s vic­tory is an en­dorse­ment of such plans. Vot­ers sent enough Repub­li­cans back to the Se­nate to give the GOP con­trol of both cham­bers, a clear gov­ern­ment man­date.

But for all the talk about im­mi­gra­tion, exit polls showed it was a low pri­or­ity for most vot­ers. Just 1 in 10 vot­ers said im­mi­gra­tion was the most im­por­tant is­sue facing the coun­try. More than half of vot­ers op­posed Trump’s plan for a “big, beau­ti­ful wall.“

Clearly, what many vot­ers op­posed was Clin­ton. The for­mer sec­re­tary of state and vet­eran of two decades of po­lit­i­cal bat­tles proved to be an ex­ceed­ingly dam­aged can­di­date, dis­trusted both by her sup­port­ers and op­po­nents alike. Her historic can­di­dacy, to be the first fe­male pres­i­dent, failed to rouse the en­thu­si­asm or emo­tion that drove Obama’s coali­tion to the polls. Her dis­con­nect with white, work­ing-class vot­ers ap­pears to have been her down­fall.

Even Obama’s dire warn­ings — “the fate of the Repub­lic rests on your shoul­ders” — didn’t do the trick. It wasn’t enough to scare peo­ple about Trump. Amer­i­cans had fears about Clin­ton, too. Her pen­chant for se­crecy was spun into scan­dal with bru­tal im­pact. Her use of a pri­vate email server as sec­re­tary of state not only dogged her for months — but re­turned at pre­cisely the wrong mo­ment in late Oc­to­ber when FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey no­ti­fied Congress he was re­view­ing new emails for ev­i­dence that she or her hands mis­han­dled clas­si­fied information.

Comey cleared Clin­ton again Sun­day, but in the nine in­ter­ven­ing days, as a cloud of sus­pi­cion hov­ered over her, nearly 24 mil­lion peo­ple cast early bal­lots. That’s a size­able chunk of all the votes cast for pres­i­dent.

Trump’s win made a mock­ery of all the usual po­lit­i­cal rules. He had vir­tu­ally no ground game, his ad­ver­tis­ing on tele­vi­sion didn’t come close to match­ing his ri­val’s. He largely ig­nored the prac­tice of voter tar­get­ing and an­a­lyt­ics, el­e­vated to re­li­gion af­ter Obama’s two vic­to­ries. Clin­ton’s cam­paign raised $513 mil­lion — roughly dou­ble what Trump raised, in­clud­ing $66 mil­lion from his own pocket. While poll­sters and po­lit­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als in both par­ties dis­missed him, he de­clared he had gal­vanised long-alien­ated vot­ers into a move­ment. “The for­got­ten men and women of our coun­try will be for­got­ten no longer,” Trump de­clared.

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