Copyright. All rights reserved. Ram Jethmalani. 2017.
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The recent US Presidential election has indeed been a defining moment in the political culture, tradition and praxis of American democracy.
Everything was different from the very start. From somewhere, a rank outsider, not belonging to the cosy Washington political establishment sneaked in, and successfully ascended the primaries ladder to win the GOP nomination. He battled the establishment, both in his own party and the Democrats, confounded his opponents at every step, undeterred, unintimidated by the volleys of invective fired at him from every segment of the ‘politically correct’ opinion makers, the media, the business, the ‘liberals’, and even his own Grand Old Party. Finally, he sent a wave of shock and awe to all his opponents and establishments across the seven seas, and won the Presidential election.
No leading newspaper endorsed him or had anything positive to say about him – for them he was a sure loser from the very start. Most world leaders of countries within the US first circle voiced open hostility. Only Russia’s President Putin was friendly. Or was this really concern and unease about dealing with an unconventional loose cannon with no controlling umbilical cord with any time tested political establishment to keep him on leash? Or fear that he appeared to have the potential to shatter the cosy status quo of political correctness and double speak that they were enjoying even at these most turbulent times? It is well known that powerful political and economic elites of many countries are bound together at invisible levels by a strong thread of common interests. To countenance the successful rise of a man aspiring to become the President of the United States, who did not quite belong, was not ‘one of us’, whose politically incorrect hyperbole could shatter their charmed, camouflaged networks – not comfortable at all.
They tried it all, every accusation and abuse – his taxes, his bawdy locker room talk, a decade old, the string of accusing women appearing at the last stages of the election campaign. Hillary played the woman card, the minority card, the racist card, the liberal card, – but nothing seems to have worked. This was not what the people of America wanted to hear.
The hardest hit have been the media pundits and the opinion pollsters on both sides of the Atlantic. It was lead after lead for Hillary Clinton, despite leak after leak of her e mails (courtesy Wikileaks) with extremely serious revelations that certainly compromised the security of the nation, by any standards. But the media ignored them. They blamed it all on Russia, hoping to ignite the dread of Russophobia, but even that did not work. The role of the FBI in this matter also seems a little mysterious. First, closing up the private e mail server case against her in July 2016; then opening it up again on October 28, at the fag end of the campaign; and then closing it up again on November 6, just two days before the election. I can only say that the behaviour of the FBI appears pretty similar to that of our own ‘caged parrots’.
The pollsters and big data analysts are licking their wounds. Both they and the big media are now on a pathetic post mortem binge about what went wrong with their analyses. They appear to be generally unanimous in their conclusions that they were wrong in what they saw, heard and spoke. Or was it that they only saw, heard and spoke what they wanted to or were made to? Demonizing Trump became a spectator sport and he retaliated in full measure. But even the heavy media bias against Trump could not influence the voters’ demand for change, nor mitigate their anger against the establishment.
Clearly, this was a vote for change, pretty much like in our own election of 2014. The people of the US have passed a severe indictment of the Establishment and status quo. The women, the Hispanics, the minorities did not vote for Hillary in the numbers she expected. The Clinton camp, the media and the Wall Street barons were all living in a symbiotic fantasy dream, which infected the pollsters. The Newsweek, a heritage, seasoned magazine, did itself the greatest humiliation of having to withdraw millions of copies declaring Hillary Clinton as the winning candidate. Well, the Clinton camp, their embedded media, and the pollsters appear to have got blinded by their own hysteria, generated by their own wishful thinking.
One can only conclude that there was a vast disconnect between the Hillary camp and the people of the United States. Neither the political correctness that she spoke nor her perpetual abuse of Trump was what the people wanted to hear. They wanted to hear about more jobs, better earnings, higher mobility, protection of their identity and way of life, safety of their country and society; they wanted their dying cities to rejuvenate, their health care to be more affordable and accessible, and most of all they wanted protection from the ruling, invisible oligarchs of America who have blighted their lives. They did not hear that from Hillary. They heard it from Trump.
So Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States in January 2017. The hostile media will keep accusing him that he’s incapable of delivering; and protests against him will keep getting organized in the immediate future. But the American people know he is no usurper or occupant by force. He has been constitutionally elected as the next President of the United States.
The great think tanks have plenty to keep themselves busy with for a long long time. Perhaps they should start with this whole notion of ‘political correctness’ and liberalism in the context of the modern nation state in the age of the global economy and global terrorism, concepts that completely failed Hillary Clinton. Let not the paranoia of ‘political correctness’ and ‘liberalism’ curb freedom of expression of the common people or instil fear among them.
The previous establishment has learnt a bitter lesson that inclusiveness should not mean exclusion of the majority. Donald Trump should now ensure that as a true leader he should start building confidence and carrying the diverse segments of the American people with him, minorities, Hispanics, African Americans. He has made a good start with his victory speech on November 9, on the lines of ‘Sab ka Saath, sab ka vikaas’. Let him not veer from this path to make America great again.
The world will be watching his every step, judging his every word. He must govern wisely and well, and not let down his people, his country and the world. To what extent he will be able to change the rigid institutional systems that have come to exert a tight stranglehold on the lives of the common people of America remains to be seen. But let us all wish him success. His task is very tough.