America: The Day After Trumpís Ambush
Like most observers around the world, I stayed awake all night and watched as the election results from the American Presidential elections began to trickle in in the early hours of last Wednesday. By sunrise Donald Trumpís ambush on Americanís and the rest of the world was complete.
Shock, anger, disbelief, and trepidation, are just few of the words that have been freely used by commentators to describe Trumpís unprecedented Triumph. But the reality of the situation was that millions of Americans, and others who followed the elections across the world, were just too numb for words. Many simply did not see it coming, and it showed in the streets, especially in the major cities of America, where massive protests against the outcome of the elections have continued as I write this.
For months prior to the elections, numerous opinion polls by respected pollsters had the Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton ahead by various margins. She was up by 12 percent just two weeks prior to the election, before the FBI under James Comey, decided to lend Trump a helping hand through its widely condemned intervention.
By the time the FBI comically wrote back to Congress to indicate that it had discovered no substantial evidence to warrant the reversal of its previous position end the investigation of Clinton over her use of a private email server while in office, her lead had shrunk to just 3 percent or less in most national polls.
Even so, the polls and numerous permutations did not foresee a Trump win. They pointed at the numerous huddles he had to overcome through the delicate American Electoral College system particularly in the crucial swing states or battleground states of Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. Besides, werenít millions of the college educate white voters supposed to be firmly in Clintonís corner? Were the millions of Latino voters in Nevada, Florida, California and Texas, not supposed to be upset by Trumpís persistent denigration of their creed? What about the African-Americans Trump discriminated against in his housing estates early in his career.
And what about Americaís proud women, the natural heirs to the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Maya Angelou, to mention just a few? No fewer than 15 women emerged from the shadows in the weeks before the election with sordid tales to tell about the then GOP candidate. Were the outcome of the election not expected to reveal their utter revulsion at Trumpís demeaning orientation towards the scores of women he serially kissed against their wishes while groping others by their genitals for good measure?
Was Trumpís refusal to release his tax records not also expected to be a major handicap going into the election? Lest we forget, it was the problems he encountered with the American tax authorities, and not the scores of fellow Americans he had machine-gunned to death, that eventually landed the famous gangster Al Capone in jail.
In the run-up to the election, Donald Trump broke every conceivable rule and template for candidates seeking for election to Americaís highest office and it still did not matter in the end. It did not matter principally because of the many reasons I advanced last week on the eve of the election itself.
Americans, and the rest of the world, did not reckon with the crude nationalist sentiment that has been simmering in Europe for quite a while and is set to shape the content and character of global politics in the near-most future. Last week, I warned that if the silent majority of largely uneducated white voters in the suburbs and rural areas of America energised by Trump xenophobic rhetoric turned out in sufficient numbers to have their say, they could tilt the election in the critical swing states in favour of the GOP candidate. My view turned out to be an understatement.
The apt description of what occurred is that Trump simply activated hundreds of thousands of sleeper-cells of neo-Nazis and white-supremacists in the critically swing states nearly all the pollsters probably knew existed, but never fully contemplated their actual electoral value until after the elections. The same scenario played out in Britain with the Brexit referendum. In Nigel Farage Ė leader of the British Independence Party, Trump actually found a soul mate.
The outrage has left Americans and the world with a major problem to ponder for the foreseeable future. The outcome of the elections has also, undoubtedly, called into question the moral authority of Americaís continued leadership of the so-called free world even as the unavoidable consequences of Trumpís election have continued to emerge.
Already, reports have emerged about attacks on Muslims and minorities in some cities while signs of ďMake America White AgainĒ have also appeared to confirm some of sentiments I claimed motivated some of Trumpís supporters in my piece last week.
But while all those who wish America well will do well to pray against the return to the violence that marked the civil rights riots of the 1950s and 1960s, it is hard to see how Trump intends to follow through with many of the campaign promises he used to woo the extreme right elements of America with such unimaginable recklessness.
Most of the promises are in direct conflict with the First Amendment of the American constitution except if the framers of the document never knew that Islam existed or that the freedom of religion could one day apply to Muslim-Americans Ė which is doubtful since Thomas Jefferson was known to have kept a copy of the Quran in his study.
The bigger worry is how Trumpís victory is likely to be interpreted in the rest of the world. For Nigeria, some pro-Biafra groups have continued to celebrate his victory on the social media in the dubious belief that his xenophobic credentials will hasten the actualization of their infamous Republic.
In Europe, Trumpís victory will further accelerate the frightful rise of right-wing nationalism and resentment of immigration in whatever guise. I was not surprised that among the first individuals to congratulate Trump was a certain Marine Le Pen, leader of the extreme right-wing party in France Ė the National Front. I was also the least surprised that Nigel Farage whoís vociferous campaign, and strong opposition to immigration resulted in Brexit, is among the strong supporters of Donald Trump.
It is pretty much the same in the rest of Europe. In Norway the Progress Party with its strong anti-immigration views won 22.9% of the vote in the 2009 election, the best result in the party's 38-year history. In Italy, the Northern League party under Umberto Bossi retains 85 out of the 945 seats in Parliament. Denmarkís Danish Peopleís Party which is also strongly against immigration controls 25 out of the 179 seats in Parliament, while in Finland another ultra-right-wing party - the True Finns under Timo Soini has 39 out of 200 Parliamentary seats.
All these groups are certain to have been encouraged by Donald Trumpís unprecedented victory and his extreme politics. In the final analysis, therefore, much as all right-thinking Americans have much to fear and regret about a Trump presidency, the greater peril will be how his triumph is interpreted and reacted to by the rest of the world. This election has been an American tragedy without parallel in modern history.