Donald Trump has officially won the US elections and will become the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. He will become the leader of the most powerful nation in the world and will be able to control the country’s future. His win came as a huge shock to the vast majority of the world as practically every single poll out there predicted that Hillary Clinton would win. The New York Times even put Clinton’s chances of becoming the next president at a staggering 85 percent versus Trump’s mere 15 percent. However, it is now clear that all the polls were very wrong and that the United States is going to have perhaps the most controversial president in its history.
It’s important to note that not only did Clinton lose, she lost quite badly. It might have been slightly less shocking to the public if Trump would have won by a small margin, say 20 electoral votes more than her. However, he won by a landslide. Trump swept the floor and is predicted to win 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232. He beat her, which no one thought was ever going to happen, and he beat her by a huge margin, which no one even bothered to think about because it just seemed absolutely impossible. So how did he do it?
He stuck to his plan of winning the Rustbelt states (the northern part of the American Midwest). He won them all except Illinois. Trump put his focus on reaching out to blue-collar whites, evangelical Christians, and non-urban voters who have all expressed their worries about the economy. He spoke about bringing jobs back from abroad, encouraging companies to stay in the US, and renegotiating trade agreements; all of which strongly appealed to voters around the country but especially in these Rustbelt states. Trump beat Clinton by nearly 50 points among blue-collar white men and by almost 30 points among non-college-educated white women, yes women. An astonishing 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump; another unexpected result as most experts thought he had completely ruined his chances of receiving a decent proportion of the female vote after his offensive taped comments about women came out in October.
The Clinton campaign was quite confident they had Wisconsin, Michigan, and especially Pennsylvania and were sure they would come out on top if they won Florida too. However, they lost in every one of these states. Trump, against all odds, was able to destroy the Democrats’ “blue wall” by winning states that had eluded Republican control for a long time. His appeal to white-collar workers worked better than he expected and rumours about silent Trump supporters proved to be true. He flipped traditionally blue states and made them red.
However, Clinton indirectly helped Trump win by not paying enough attention to the region. Clinton didn’t make a single stop in Wisconsin during her general election campaign which led the state to vote Republican for the first time since 1984. She also wasn’t able to appeal to African-American voters the way Obama did which caused only 10% of them to go out and vote in Pennsylvania. However, it ultimately came down to anger and disenchantment with the current establishment. Most voters were tired of the status quo and felt that Clinton would only bring more of the same, so they were willing to gamble on Trump whom they thought might shake things up in their favour.
What has left many confused is the fact that Trump won the election despite not having won the popular vote. Clinton received more votes in total than did Trump, but she still lost, why? It’s quite simple. In the US voting system, what actually matters is the electoral college. A candidate has to get 270 electoral votes in order to become the president, regardless of the popular vote. The same thing happened in the 2000 election when Bush beat Al Gore 271-266 despite Gore winning some 537,000 more popular votes nationwide. A fair system? Well, that’s contestable but it’s the official US system which means that Trump won fair and square.
So how did the world react to his victory? Well, many leaders who had previously criticised him have now changed their tone to a more optimistic one. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Trump a “true friend of the State of Israel” and hopes they will be able to strengthen the unique alliance between their two countries. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also congratulated Trump on his victory and said he hopes peace will be achieved during his term in office. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and EU Council President Donald Tusk also congratulated Trump and hope to work well together in the future.
Trump’s win has also pleased many right-wing politicians in Europe who hope his victory might be a sign of the start of a new world order, one which will increasingly challenge the establishment. The Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders was very pleased with the US election results and congratulated the Americans for taking their country back and said he hopes the Netherlands will be able to do the same soon. France’s Marine Le Pen, who will be running for president next spring, also congratulated Trump and the US for the outcome of the elections. In the UK, Nigel Farage coined Trump’s victory as the second “revolution” of the year, the first one having been Brexit. Germany’s Frauke Petry was also pleased with the choice Americans made and said similar developments could soon follow in Europe. Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin sent Trump a telegram congratulating him on winning the elections and expressing optimism for improving US-Russian relations in the future.
Many believe Trump’s victory marks a turning point for the future of global politics. This year, the British voted for Brexit and the Americans voted for Trump, what could 2017 hold in store? 9 elections will be held in Europe in the next twelve months and the far-right candidates of each party stand a decent chance of getting elected. France, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are some of the countries that might see their government take a drastic turn to the right next year. With Trump in power in the US and possibly more like-minded leaders emerging in Europe, the establishment as we know it will change completely and each country will increasingly look inward and focus more on improving the fate of its own citizens than on helping with foreign trouble; a change countless Europeans desperately want to be implemented.
However, political leaders weren’t the only ones celebrating on November 9th. Several terrorist groups expressed their satisfaction with America’s choice for president. Social media accounts linked to Al-Qaeda and ISIS hailed Trump’s success as the beginning of “dark times” for the United States, marked by domestic unrest and new foreign military campaigns that would sap the strength of the American superpower. Throughout his campaign, Trump spoke about banning Muslims from entering the country and this rhetoric has helped strengthen the message of jihadists that the US is hostile to Muslims and to Islam and that the only safe haven for them would be to join the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq.
How about the reaction at home? Ever since Trump announced he was running for president, most Americans took it more as a joke than anything else. Even after he became the Republican nominee, he still wasn’t perceived to be a threat to Hillary. These dominant feelings combined with hundreds of polls that all predicted a Clinton win, put most Democrats at ease. Clinton’s defeat shook the country to its core and not only shocked but angered many who felt Trump shouldn’t have won and couldn’t possibly represent their country in a correct way. Thousands of protestors took to the streets in over 25 cities to express their anger at the results. They were shouting “not my president” and “we don’t accept the president-elect” and holding signs advocating for love, peace, and equality. Trump reacted with a tweet in which he said the protests were incited by the media and that what was happening was very unfair. He later commended the protestors on their passion for the country and said: “we will all come together and be proud.”
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016
The global and national shock will remain at least for the coming months as people try to come to grips with what just happened and how this will impact their future. The focus has now shifted to what a Trump Administration would look like. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has expressed his interest in becoming the next attorney general, Newt Gingrich might be given the position of secretary of state, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn could become national security advisor, and Trump finance chairman Steve Mnuchin is said to lead the Treasury Department. The most critical decision will be who to choose as Chief of Staff. It seems as though the choice will be between Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus or Steve Bannon, the Trump campaign CEO and executive chairman of Breitbart News. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel have both urged Trump to pick Priebus as they believe he would be the best fit for this important position.
The first 100 days of Trump’s presidency are still a bit unclear, but throughout his campaign he repeatedly vowed to make several changes. First of all, he said he would repeal and replace Obamacare. He said he would replace it with Health Savings Accounts; the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines which would also let states manage Medicaid funds. He also said he would completely renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from it if he wouldn’t get a good deal. Building the big wall on the US-Mexico border and reducing immigration has also been a big point he made during his campaign. His other major priority is to rebuild the nation’s “crumbling” infrastructure as soon as possible.
America’s future remains unsure but the election is now over and the result must be respected. Donald Trump might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is now the democratically elected president of the most powerful nation on earth. Protests won’t change the outcome of the election but will instead only incite violence and hatred. President-elect Donald Trump has many difficult tasks ahead of him, the most important one being uniting a country that seems more divided now than it has ever been. With the choice for Brexit in the UK, and now Americans choosing an unconventional leader, 2017 could be a year of more political surprises around the world. The most important thing should be that each person who comes to power has to have been elected democratically, by the people. As long as that happens, even though not all will like the country’s choice, it must be respected and accepted.