Trump pledges to be president for all Americans
DONALD Trump stunned America and the world, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States.
The Republican mogul defeated his Democratic rival with at least 290 electoral votes, securing more than the 270 he needed to succeed Barack Obama, plunging global markets into turmoil and casting the long-standing global political order, which hinges on Washington’s leadership, into doubt.
“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division,” Mr Trump told a cheering crowd of jubilant supporters early yesterday in New York, pledging to work with Democrats in office.
“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans,” he said, in a conciliatory address in which he paid tribute to his defeated opponent and thanked his staff.
“Hillary has worked very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country,” he said of Ms Clinton, whose hopes of becoming America’s first woman president were brutally dashed.
During a bitter two-year campaign that tugged at America’s democratic fabric, the 70-year-old bombastic tycoon pledged to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims from the country and tear up free trade deals.
His message was embraced by a large section of America’s white majority who have grown increasingly disgruntled by the scope of social and economic change in the past eight years under their first black president, Barack Obama.
Many Americans from minority backgrounds expressed dismay at Mr Trump’s victory, which some saw as the result of what some observers said was a backlash against multicultural America.
Mr Trump openly courted Russian leader Vladimir Putin, called US support for NATO allies in Europe into question, and suggested that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons.
Ominously for Washington’s European allies, one of the first world leaders to congratulate Mr Trump was Mr Putin himself, in a rapid Kremlin statement.
Mr Putin expressed hope for “bringing US-Russia relations out of their critical condition” and said “constructive dialogue” would be in the interest of both countries.
The businessman-turned-TV-starturned-politico will become commander-in-chief of the world’s sole true superpower on January 20.
The results prompted a global market sell-off, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe and billions being wiped off investments.
America’s allies have been dumfounded by Mr Trump’s rise, but EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said, “EU-US ties are deeper than any change in politics. We’ll continue to work together, rediscovering the strength of Europe.”
Although he has no government experience and has been as well known for running beauty pageants and starring on his reality television series The Apprentice as he is for building his property empire, Mr Trump will be the oldest man to ever become president.
Yet, during his improbable political rise, Mr Trump has constantly proved the pundits and received political wisdom wrong.
Opposed by the entire senior hierarchy of his own Republican Party, he trounced more than a dozen betterfunded and more experienced rivals in the party primary.
During the race, he was forced to ride out credible allegations of sexual assault from a dozen women and was embarrassed but apparently not ashamed to have been caught on tape boasting about groping women.
But the biggest upset came as he swept to victory through a series of hard-fought wins in battleground states from Florida to Ohio.
Ms Clinton had been widely assumed to be on course to enter the history books as the first woman to become president in America’s 240year existence.
Americans repudiated her call for unity amid the United States’ wide cultural and racial diversity, opting instead for a leader who insisted the country is broken and that he “alone can fix it”.
Mr Trump has an uneasy relationship with the broader Republican Party, but it will have full control of Congress and he will be able to appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice to a vacant seat on the bench, deciding the balance of the body.
So great was the shock of defeat that the normally robust Ms Clinton did not come out to her supporters’ poll-watching party to concede defeat, but instead called Mr Trump and sent her campaign chair.
The election result was also a brutal humiliation for Mr Obama, who for eight years has repeated the credo that there is no black or white America, only the United States of America.
Mr Trump’s shock victory is just the latest evidence that globalisation has eroded faith in liberal political leadership.
From Britain’s vote to leave the European Union to the rise of far-right populists and nationalists in continental Europe, opposition to open trade and social and racial tensions are on the rise. –