So, after what seemed like the longest and most divisive political campaign in history, America finally voted. Where does the historic election of President Donald Trump now leave us?
It was an unusual and unique campaign with both candidates polling the highest recorded numbers for unpopularity, leaving voters with the difficult choice for many of voting for what they personally regarded as the least worst option. Much to everyone’s surprise the people spoke, in an unexpected capacity to most observers, loudly informing us that they considered Hillary Clinton as the worst option for the White House.
There are many people left scratching their heads, questioning how this could happen. It’s quite simple. Hillary could not carry states that had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and, particularly, could not motivate African American voters to come out for her as they did for him. Trump, in turn, gave his supporters something very obvious and tangible to vote for; a return to the America that they used to know, or at least what they think it was. Also, tapping into the feeling across parts of the country that Washington D.C. does not represent their interests and only an ‘outsider’ can change D.C. for the better. Whether he can deliver on his promises is a matter for another day but his message was clear and achieved the result he had hoped for.
There had been, throughout the campaign, an erroneous assumption that it was hers for the taking and the electorate would turn their back on him, being more loathed than her, and take their chance to vote for the first woman president. However, there were a number of factors in Trump’s favour. Cyclically, it was the turn of the Republicans to take control of the White House as only once previously had a Democrat gained a third term for their party, and that was as a result of the unusual circumstances before, during and after World War II. Also, it was the first time the people had the chance to cast their ballot for a female candidate. Unfortunately for those who wished to finally smash the glass ceiling, and elect a first female president, it turned out that Hillary Clinton was not the candidate to reach this particular political milestone.
The world is now coming to terms with the surprising news that it will be President Trump who takes office on January 20th. Since the announcement in the wee, small hours of 9th November there have been a number of knee-jerk comparisons with the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, largely because of Reagan’s media and acting background which parallels with Trump’s reality TV persona. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Trump, unlike Reagan who served as Governor of California for two terms, has no political experience whatsoever. However, as he readies himself for public office for the first time, Donald Trump should certainly look to emulate Reagan in one specific regard. Reagan realised he had limitations and became adept at recognising those who were better suited to doing key government jobs and letting them get on with it. One wonders if Trump will approach things the same way?
Given his campaign rhetoric, Trump has a number of key issues to address; the war on terror, the future role of NATO, relations with the rest of the world and renegotiating trade deals, amongst others. What Trump does has yet to be seen, but healing a country divided is surely at the top of his list.