THE world is coming to terms with a paroxysm of national anger and the reality of The Donald being the POTUS-elect. Despite many polls and experts saying otherwise, Donald Trump now occupies the United States’ Oval Office.
GUEST COLUMNIST PROF CHANGAMIRE
A question on many an analyst’s mind is: How did it happen? I do not presume to illustrate exhaustively the composite and complex reality that is America today as that will be invidious.
I will, however, endeavour to explain with the benefit of hindsight what went off beam for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, as became clear on election day.
Outgoing US President Barack Obama inherited a defunct economy, unemployment was at an all-time high in as many decades.
Americans were tired of war and longed for their troops to come home, which Obama managed to do exceptionally well.
During this time, Obama meticulously manoeuvred to get his transformational policies approved, chief among them, Obamacare, Iran-US nuclear deal, Wall Street reforms et al.
It is now apparent, however, those policies never at all resonated with the average American, and this is true.
Bernie Sanders, the Democratic rival to Clinton, had the same message as Trump on the other side of the aisle: The political establishment in Washington was broken and it needed fixing.
This is the message that carried Trump through to the White House.
The many voters didn’t care about his personality or his unprecedented verbal assaults, neither did they care that he was “un-presidential”, his businesses were in the red, he never filed tax returns nor was he politically correct.
They merely liked him because he was anti-establishment, the establishment that Clinton so perfectly represented, protruded and magnified in her campaign strategy.
The American people have shown that it is possible to differentiate personality from policy.
It was Obama who said during the mid-terms in 2014, that Americans were voting to keep his policies in place.
Not only did the Democrats lose that election, but also their control of the Senate.
As fate would have it, Obama repeated the very same line this time around and it cost them (Democrats) the presidency.
Despite approval ratings of over 50% — Obama’s policies just didn’t sell to the public, and to the average American, voting Clinton meant perpetuating the same establishment that was only looking at self-enrichment and cared for none, but themselves, the Trans-Pacific Partnership being a glaring example.
Should policymakers and advisers be accountable to the present, or to history? The Democrats chose the latter and it cost them gravely.
When disillusionment sets in, all rationale flies out the window. The American economy grew and cut unemployed by half from 10% to 5% and has added jobs for a record six years in a row.
The 2% farmers that feed the American population heavily rely on migrant labour especially from Latin America.
Trump has stocked nationalism and to dangerous levels. His vitriol is repugnant to every principle of the founding fathers of the US.
It can be closely linked to Adolf Hitler’s, blaming the Chinese and Mexicans for America’s woes, where the latter squarely blamed the Jews for the economic mess.
Trump in the White House doesn’t reflect on his person. Rather, it reflects the soul and conscience of a whole nation.
The year 2016 will go down in the annals of history as the year of the outsider, as the year that Britain pulled out of the European Union, Trump caused the biggest upset in US presidential elections, the African National Congress in South Africa lost control of all save one metro in local government elections and Zanu PF in Zimbabwe lost a by-election for the first time since its inception.
It’s a clarion call to governments across the world. The people are fed up and anything that offers an alternative is welcome.
As to whether that alternative is the best, only time will tell.
Prof Changamire is a political analyst and social commentator for Khuluma Afrika — a centre for analysis, commentary and investigative journalism.