WHY TRUMP WON

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Fareed Zakaria is one of the few Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tors I lis­ten to. He of­ten of­fers an in­ci­sive world view plus a thought­ful sci­en­tific anal­y­sis of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics on CNN. Few other an­a­lysts demon­strate such pre­cise and in­formed knowl­edge of their sub­ject. I was some­what dis­ap­pointed, how­ever, with Fareed’s anal­y­sis of ‘Why Trump Won’ – a spe­cial broad­cast on Mon­day Au­gust 7, on CNN, re­view­ing the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, 2016.

For my part there are at least two forces act­ing on the po­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics of any coun­try, at any given time. One is a pull ex­erted by the forces of gov­ern­ment and cer­tain new can­di­dates wish­ing to draw sup­port­ers to them­selves; suck­ing them into their po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic vor­tex. The other is a push against such a ‘pull’ by forces ar­rayed against the gov­ern­ment or an am­bi­tious can­di­date, who is seen as a threat to the gov­ern­ment.

In his anal­y­sis Fareed stressed the ac­tivism, dy­namism and de­sire of the young Trump to be­come pres­i­dent of the United States. Us­ing the wide­spread loss of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs in the coun­try was a strong pull force to­wards Trump. It did not seem to mat­ter that job losses be­gan many years ago af­ter Pres­i­dent Nixon opened China to US busi­ness in­vest­ments. Of course, Trump never men­tioned which US po­lit­i­cal party, or pres­i­dent, started the glob­al­iza­tion process and the ship­ment of jobs from the US to China and else­where. Trump was an en­tre­pre­neur and multi-mil­lion­aire with no ex­pe­ri­ence in pol­i­tics or gov­ern­ment. That worked to pull dis­grun­tled vot­ers to­wards him.

On the other hand the push against Trump’s op­po­nent in the said US elec­tions was also sig­nif­i­cant. Fareed did not suf­fi­ciently em­pha­size that fact. By the time the elec­torate be­gan the vot­ing process, it was clear to ev­ery­one who fol­lowed US pol­i­tics that Repub­li­can Se­na­tors had dam­aged Hi­lary Clin­ton over the Beng­hazi is­sue and her per­sonal e-mails. Her miss­ing e-mails added fuel to the fire of Trump’s racist rant that Pres­i­dent Obama was not an Amer­i­can. It soon be­came ob­vi­ous that there were hack­ers, help­ing to keep the e-mail is­sue alive, and fur­ther erode trust in Hi­lary. And trust is a cru­cial is­sue to the elec­torate.

Yes, Trump cam­paigned hard and was bru­tal in his at­tacks on Hi­lary Clin­ton. But her re­sponses to his at­tacks were weak and off-tar­get. Proper man­ners and deco­rum did not al­low her to re­ply suit­ably to Trump’s bom­bast. In my po­lit­i­cal book, if you can’t hit back twice as hard against your op­po­nent, then you ought to step out of the game.

Fareed was on the money when he noted that two weeks be­fore elec­tions, the FBI an­nounced that it was look­ing into re­cently dis­cov­ered e-mails from can­di­date Hi­lary Clin­ton. That was her death knell and the FBI knew it. Trump and his peo­ple knew it, and so did many oth­ers. That mas­sive push against Hi­lary by the FBI was as great a force as that which pulled the US elec­torate to­wards Trump. When these two forces were com­bined it be­came clear that Trump would tri­umph. Why Trump won, may be matched by a sim­i­lar and op­po­site point: Why Hi­lary lost! Trump’s sub­lim­i­nal mes­sage to make Amer­ica white again, (not great again!) was not missed by those who mat­tered in the 2016 US elec­tions.

--- Peter Josie

Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist and au­thor Fareed Zakaria.

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