Saturday, November 12, 2016

US Elections – the world holds its breath

This column was published on Monday, November 7 - the next day, Donald Trump won the US Presidential Elections. 

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

At the time of writing this column, the polls reveal that the Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump race for the US Presidential candidacy has tightened, with the ABC/Washington Post poll giving Secretary Clinton a three-point lead. As we review the history of the two candidates, we are puzzled that Mr. Trump surpassed his Republican rivals – such men of note as Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and Governor of Ohio, John Kasich to emerge as the candidate.  We believe that Hillary Clinton was the obvious choice for the Democratic Party –  Michelle Obama has joined her on the campaign trail, declaring that she is the most qualified person to have ever aspired to the US presidency, emphasising, “Yes – more than Barack, more than Bill.”

How then did Mr. Trump emerge as the Republican candidate? Let us remember that the media plays a very important role in creating our role models and forming our opinions.  In his younger days, Trump had movie-star looks and in his more mature days he made himself into a television star by creating “The Apprentice” series. 

“The Apprentice” had an avid audience and so he made a lasting impression              particularly on perhaps a less intellectual segment of the population who would have spent more time in front of the tube and less time reading. 

Add this to the loss of jobs among less-educated white folks in certain states and the increasing diversity of the American population which perhaps has awakened latent racism.  From social media, we learned that there was widespread resentment towards the Obamas among folks who could not countenance a black family in the White House. 

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has pointed out that a prominent African-American face on the Trump stage is promoting his own cult, actually -, as Mr. Trump’s audiences are largely the white working-class.  Despite the Access Hollywood video and the many women who have come forward accusing Trump of sexual harassment, he remains firmly in the race -  the white male leader whom we are acculturated to accept unconditionally.

Like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton would make history if she is elected President.  Indeed, she has already made history as the first woman Presidential candidate.

However, as the French say whenever there is an issue, “cherchez la femme”.  This means that regardless of the issue, people are always looking for a woman to blame.  Despite her admission that she made a mistake in using her personal email for classified correspondence, some refuse to forgive, while Mr. Trump can get away with his shocking behaviour on camera and some very disturbing allegations of sexual harassment. It seems a woman needs to be on the path to sainthood to be accepted as a leader, regardless of her phenomenal achievements. The international community may be impressed that she is so experienced, articulate and has been an advocate for children from her very early years.  Such is the trial of women the world over, as we still hammer at that glass ceiling.

Tomorrow we will learn whether the people have decided to choose the movie-star over the star for advocacy and service to country.  In a democracy one must respect the will of the people and in making their choice, the US electorate will signal to the world their priorities or their prejudices.

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