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Anshul is a Political Science and Law graduate from the University of Delhi. He is interested in political, legal and policy developments and frequently writes on related themes. You can contact him on anshulkumarpandey [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Election of President Donald Trump

Note: In keeping with President-Elect Trump's utter disregard for facts, no links are being provided in the article below.

Defying all the poll predictions, controversial real estate business tycoon and television celebrity, Donald J. Trump, was elected as the 45th President of the United States on Wednesday, 9th November 2016. The date is important, as it will go down in history as the day on which one of the most remarkable events in the 21st Century took the world by surprise. A substantial number of world leaders seemed to be in a state of panic and confusion, as most of them had been preparing to congratulate Mrs. Clinton as the next President. However, in a spirit that has defined his entire career, The Donald, as he is known to the American public, defied all odds and traveled the narrow path to victory which led him to the White House.

Unconventional and Bitter Campaign

Mr. Trump was roundly slammed by the mainstream media, his Democratic Party opponents as well as colleagues within the Republican Party, for his outlandish policy proposals as well as controversial statements denigrating immigrants, women, minorities, veterans, the disabled etc. which led many to conclude that he did not possess the temperament, experience or the wisdom required for the post of the Commander in Chief of the American armed forces. To the majority of observers, his campaign seemed to be mired in endless controversy and on the verge of implosion, which suggested that either he was not serious about his bid to become the President or more dangerously, that he seriously believed in everything that he was advocating. His constant about turns on his own statements, coupled with a complete disregard for factual accuracy, flustered long time political observers on both the right and the left, who were shocked at the unprecedented show of callousness from a major party nominee. The general consensus, before going to the polls, largely among the educated and opinionated section of the American public, was that Mr. Trump was seeking to capitalize on a wave of resentment caused by the export of American jobs to other countries, fears regarding immigration, racial tensions and general stereotypes against anyone who was not a white male American. This was in stark contrast to the long line of preceding American Presidents, including incumbent President Barack Obama, who had sought the highest office of the country, by associating themselves with the shared values of the American people. One thing more that separated Donald Trump from all the recent Presidents was that he had no prior combat or political experience. He was a TV celebrity cum real estate business tycoon, who was perceived fit to entertain and not to govern.

Hobbled by deep distrust, extremely bad press, just a handful of endorsements, grim poll predictions and a lesser budget than his opponent, The Donald went around his rallies, telling people about the number of votes that he had polled in the primaries ('highest in the republican primary history'), denying the fact that his statements were controversial, denying climate change as a scientific fact, threatening to jail his opponent and promising 'extreme vetting' for immigrants coming from countries 'compromised by terrorism'. In short, he just remained himself. And, perhaps, therein lay his key to the oval office, because, in complete contrast, his opponent, Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton, 'the most qualified candidate for the office of President in the United States History' according to President Barack Obama, came across as a darling of the 'establishment', never letting people know what she really thought and never uttering a word in public that was not scripted, and hence being 'fake'. Trump was the original bigot, Clinton was the fake saint.

A day before the polls, the election experts, political commentators, reporters, journalists, pollsters and vocal public opinion was convinced that Trump had a very very slim chance of becoming the President while Clinton was the favorite. There had been some last moment ups and downs with both the campaigns which had increased anxieties, but had done nothing to signal that the applecart has been completely upset.

Election Night

As the votes began to come in, people around the world settled down for some time to relive the moment from 2008, when Barack Obama had won the election against his Republican rival Sen. John McCain and had thus become the 1st African American President in the United States History. If Hillary Clinton were to win this election, which she very well was, the American people, women in particular, would have clinched another historic first, that of the election of the first female President of the United States. The added bonus seemed to be the satisfaction of seeing the loss of Donald Trump, who was smeared as the symbol of orthodox patriarchy, treating women as objects and workers as disposables, basking in the company of white supremascists and outright fascists, defying the established norms of his own party (not for good, for worse) and being an insufferable racist in general. If everything was to go down well with the results, liberal Americans would wake up the next day filled with pride and happiness.

One by one, as all 'battleground' states went to Donald Trump, pride, happiness and hope vanished from the faces of those supporting the Clinton campaign. By the time it had become clear that Mr. Trump was going to become the next President of the United States, Mrs. Clinton had locked herself in a hotel room, probably because her campaign had not thought it as important enough to draft a concession speech, and her many female supporters outside were reduced to tears in the face of the 'impossible'.

The people had spoken. Donald Trump was going to be the 45th President of the United States of America.

and Acceptance

The power of the verdict of the United States Presidential election was on full display as the markets around the world tumbled, world leaders scrambled to prepare a strategy of dealing with the incoming Trump Administration and people in America rioted on the streets, repulsed by the outcome. How could the impossible happen? How could the same states who had voted to elect President Barack Obama, now elect Donald Trump? How could the people trust such a xenophobic, racist, misogynist, run of the mill bigot? How could the people NOT trust Hillary Clinton, who had dedicated 30 years of her life fighting for them?

The answer was there for everyone to see, if only they wished to see it. The countryside of the United States was reeling with loss of jobs, reduction in standard of living, ageing infrastructure and hostility to immigration. By dismissing these claims as the claims of a racist, sexist, xenophobic - in short - politically incorrect mob, the Democratic Party alienated a large section of the working class of the country, trying to pursue a loftier 'global' agenda. While as a consolation it can be said that Mrs. Clinton polled nearly 2 million votes more than Mr. Trump, the fact is, there is no runner's up trophy in a Presidential Election. You either win or you lose. And Donald Trump had won according to the electoral college system that determined the winner of the race.

Soon, the focus shifted from the loss of Mrs. Clinton to the win of Mr. Trump. Was Donald Trump serious about pursuing the outlandish policies that he had vaguely outlined while running for the office of President? What all had he said about the specific issues that concerned other countries? No one had thought it worthy enough to listen to what Mr. Trump had to say on various issues of ancillary concern to the American public, as his remarks were always controversial and he wasn't winning anyway. Now that he had won, an American newspaper observed, the same kind of remarks, from now on, would determine troop movements and market sentiment.

Indo-US Ties under President Trump

The question of single most importance to an Indian observer is, how is President Trump going to conduct his Foreign Policy? What is going to be the future of Indo-US ties under his administration and what does India stand to gain, or, more importantly, lose, from such a foreign policy? 

The President-Elect has grumbled about the number of H1B visas being provided by the US, while those close to him have expressed dismay over the number of Asian CEOs in the Silicon Valley. However, in an event organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition, the President-Elect professed his admiration for "the Hindus" and Prime Minister Modi. He has promised that under his administration, India and America are going to be the "best friends".

In keeping with the President-Elect's campaign promise of fighting "radical Islam", India should use all available opportunities to shore up support against the proxy war being fought in Kashmir by Pakistan through the use of terrorism.Unlike any other President, President-Elect Trump has indulged in unprecedented behavior with respect to his policies and campaign promises and therefore it would be too early to comment upon the shape that Indo-US ties will take in the future. Only time will tell.