Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1319, (10 - 16 November 2016)
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1319, (10 - 16 November 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Trump wins

Republican candidate Donald Trump defied all expectations and achieved a solid victory in US presidential elections against the candidate of the “establishment”, Democrat Hillary Clinton, reports Khaled Dawoud

Al-Ahram Weekly

The populist, anti-immigration Republican candidate for the US presidency, Donald Trump, achieved a shocking and solid victory over his Democratic Party rival, Hillary Clinton, after one of the ugliest campaigns ever seen in US history.

One key state after the other fell for Trump, defying expectations, including several key traditionally Democratic states such as Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan and New Hampshire, positioning Trump to become the 45th president of the Untied States.

The night of big prizes for the billionaire businessman, Trump, however, started in Florida with 29 votes in the Electoral College — a prize not just for winning the heavily populated state, but for dealing a heavy blow to several key assumptions made by the Clinton campaign in its bid to get her to the White House.

With a large population of Hispanics and women, Florida was expected to go to Clinton, who campaigned intensely there in the last few days of her campaign. Trump’s anti-immigration statements and proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico likely motivated more Hispanics to take part in the vote, but clearly not enough to make Clinton win Florida.

It appeared that Trump’s constituency, made up mainly of white, working class and rural Americans, came up in bigger numbers to defy all predictions made by the US media and pollsters who clearly favoured Clinton — not necessarily out of admiration, but more in fear of Trump’s racist statements and those that degraded and humiliated women. Indeed, one of the key losses for Clinton was that she did not manage to engrave her name in history as the first woman president of the United States.

Early polls showed that neither women, nor blacks came out in the big numbers expected to make Clinton win the hard race for the White House. US President Barack Obama came out heavily in support of Clinton in hope of energising African-American voters, but that didn’t seem to work well enough.

The elections results followed a frenzied day of voting across America marked by long lines and last-minute appeals for support from both campaigns. 

While the race tightened in recent days, Clinton seemed to enter Election Day with the edge on the electoral map. But Trump voiced confidence Tuesday about his chances in key battlegrounds.

“We’re going to win a lot of states,” the Republican nominee told Fox News, and the results proved his expectations in an upset victory, capping his improbable campaign that came from behind to vanquish 16 competitors in the rowdy Republican primaries.

The general election race between Clinton and Trump was no less gruelling. The presidential debates were marked by outbursts, interruptions and name-calling, as the candidates dealt with a slew of campaign twists that kept the race in flux all the way to Election Day.

The most recent bombshell was FBI director James Comey’s announcement 11 days before the election that the bureau was revisiting the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server use while secretary of state, after discovering new messages on the laptop of disgraced ex-Representative Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide.

Comey closed the case again Sunday, but Trump deftly used the brief probe to revive the email controversy in the final days. Wikileaks’ release of emails hacked from campaign chairman John Podesta’s account also became constant distraction for the Democrat’s campaign, as the messages revealed infighting, internal ethical concerns about the Clinton family’s foundation, and even evidence that the now-head of the Democratic National Committee leaked town hall questions to Clinton during the primaries.

Meanwhile, Trump dealt with — and denied — numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault that came out in October, following leaked footage from over a decade ago showing Trump making crude comments about women.

The candidates swept all that aside in the closing hours of the race, as Clinton cast herself as a unifying force after a divisive election and Trump cast his bid as the vehicle to bring jobs and security back to America.

“Today is our Independence Day, today the American working class is going to strike,” Trump said in Grand Rapids, Michigan, overnight Tuesday.

Clinton, in North Carolina, said, “We have to bridge the divides in this country.”

Trump clearly benefited from an anti-establishment mood in the electorate and deep voter dissatisfaction with the direction of the country. Concerns about healthcare, the economy, terrorism and illegal immigration dominated the race and are unlikely to be settled by Tuesday’s vote.

“The triumph for Trump, 70, a real estate developer-turned-reality television star with no government experience, was a powerful rejection of the establishment forces that had assembled against him, from the world of business to government, and the consensus they had forged on everything from trade to immigration,” The New York Times said.

It added: “The results amounted to a repudiation, not only of Clinton, but of President Obama, whose legacy is suddenly imperilled. And it was a decisive demonstration of power by a largely overlooked coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters who felt that the promise of the United States had slipped their grasp amid decades of globalisation and multiculturalism.”

Worried a Trump victory could cause economic and global uncertainty, investors were in full flight from risky assets such as stocks. In overnight trading, S&P 500 Index futures fell five per cent to hit their so-called limit down levels, indicating they would not be permitted to trade any lower until regular US stock market hours Wednesday.

Trump’s win also raises a host of questions for the United States at home and abroad. He campaigned on a pledge to take the country on a more isolationist, protectionist “America First” path. He has vowed to impose a 35 per cent tariff on goods imported to the United States by US companies that went abroad, and said he would no longer provide protection for key US allies such as Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan, without them “paying for that”.

Both candidates, albeit Trump more than Clinton, had historically low popularity ratings in an election that many voters characterised as a choice between two unpleasant alternatives.

During the campaign, Trump said he would make America great again through the force of his personality, negotiating skills, and business acumen. He proposed refusing entry to the United States of people from war-torn Middle Eastern countries, a modified version of an earlier proposed ban on the entry of all Muslims.

His volatile nature and unorthodox proposals led to campaign feuds with a long list of figures, including Muslims, the disabled, Republican US Senator John McCain, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, the family of a slain Muslim-American soldier, a Miss Universe winner and a federal judge of Mexican heritage.

Throughout his campaign — and especially in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in July — Trump described a dark America that had been knocked to its knees by China, Mexico, Russia and the Islamic State group. The American dream was dead, he said, smothered by malevolent business interests and corrupt politicians, and he alone could revive it.

He offered vague plans to win economic concessions from China, to build a wall on the southern US border with Mexico to keep out undocumented immigrants and to pay for it with tax money sent home by migrants.

Trump promises to push Congress to repeal Obama’s troubled healthcare plan and to reverse his Clean Power Plan. He plans to create jobs by relying on US fossil fuels such as oil and gas.

Trump’s victory marked a frustrating end to the presidential aspirations of Clinton, 69, who for the second time failed in her drive to be elected the first woman US president.

In a posting on Twitter, Clinton acknowledged a battle that was unexpectedly tight given her edge in opinion polls going into Election Day.

“This team has so much to be proud of. Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything,” she tweeted.

The wife of former President Bill Clinton and herself a former US senator held a steady lead in many opinion polls for months. Voters perceived in her a cautious and calculating candidate and an inability to personally connect with them.

Trump’s national security ideas, opposed by most of the elite voices across the political spectrum, have simultaneously included promises to build up the US military while at the same time avoiding foreign military entanglements.

He wants to rewrite international trade deals to reduce trade deficits. He has taken positions that raise the possibility of damaging relations with America’s most trusted allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

He has promised to warm relations with Russia that have chilled under Obama over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in the Syrian civil war and his seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get along with Russia?” he said at many rallies.

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