4 Trump cards ‘The Donald’ played to perfection on his way to being President
As the dust settled on the 2016 US Presidential Election race, the reactions ranged from shock at pollsters data being wrong to anger at Social Media firms for influencing voter sentiments with fake news articles. The simple truth though is that Donald Trump, fondly nicknamed ‘The Donald’, probably had a much better read of the political game and environment of USA 2016 than anyone else had.
He stuck with his much criticized & ridiculed brand of politics with unwavering dedication throughout. By doing so, he showed his commitment for making different choices to those of the previous administrations. In my opinion, Donald Trump cleverly played 4 trump cards to make himself America’s 45th president-elect over the universal favourite Hillary Clinton.
Trump Card #1 — Pride over Policy
Donald Trump was definitely the 1st presidential candidate ever to have gone an entire course of election campaign without making any specific claims on the policies that he would advocate under his proposed term. There was no mention of specifics in any of his statements relating to Economic, Foreign, Immigration and Healthcare policies. Neither was there any clarity on trade and regulatory policy that his administration was proposing to follow. Most of his statements were populist, aimed at stoking the latent resentment of White Americans.
The demographic that had a major say in Trump’s ascension to power was the working-class white men, those affected worst by the loss of manufacturing jobs. They majorly belong to the Rust Belt, a term that refers to states that suffered from economic decline and urban decay caused by shrinking of the once-powerful industrial sector.
“She has betrayed American workers for Wall Street throughout her career”
- Donald Trump in a speech delivered at Pittsburgh, right in the heart of Rust Belt
When the American white national was already having secret misgivings about having given in and taken on a bit too much in becoming the famed melting pot of civilizations, Hillary was frequently found waxing eloquent about being liberal and welcoming — to both foreign workers and competition. Looks like it did scare the wary, self-doubting White American a little too much.
For Donald Trump though, the focus was not on how he would synthesise different pockets of society but rather on how best to convince an older, whiter and more rural electorate of his candidacy. Trump’s pronouncement of white first and everyone else strictly next sounded the self-preservation message that white nationalists’ half-angry, half-wounded prides were waiting to hear.
Trump Card #2 — Revenge over Romance
There’s a certain romance in standing up for the downtrodden, in being a champion for the minority groups whose rights are so easily trodden on and trampled by White nationalist sentiments.
If we stand with each other now, we can build a future where no one is left out or left behind, and everyone can share in the promise of America — which is big enough for everyone, not to be reserved for a few.
- Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party Presidential Candidate
The Democratic Party, unlike during any of the previous elections, was unstinting in their support for the concerns of African-Americans, Hispanics, Latinos and other minority groups. To the point that Hillary didn’t have any other message to the traditionally white nationalist Rust Belt voters except for a universal appeal towards love & compassion. Her bet was on White supremacy sentiments being dormant enough to see Donald Trump as inhumane.
Hillary courted a romantic’s world view. Instead, the voters proved that everybody loves a revenge story.
‘Make America Great Again’
— Donald Trump campaign slogan
It was the perfect premise. Ever so subtly, Donald Trump sold the idea that once upon a time America was the epitome of civilization. A time when every group knew its place, a time when the whites occupied the pride of power and all of them worked in harmony to run America as a well-oiled economic superpower. Also packed in the clever messaging was the notion that those times are long gone and as a collective, they had to join forces to restore the country to its glorious past.
Further extending it, most of his statements implicitly called for a revenge against the new American power that has unfairly rewarded the minorities with opportunities. Opportunities that have been snatched away from the hands of the majority. No surprises then that 58% of the white voters chose to look at Donald Trump as the saviour who can give back their rightful dominance in the American society.
Trump Card #3 — Men over Morals
Hillary Clinton was not the 1st women candidate to fail in an attempt to become the President of the United States of America. She was simply the one who managed to go the farthest before the eventual failure. History suggests over 200 women have tried without success in their presidential bids over the years. The very first bid happened as far back as in 1872. There is nothing more embarrassing than the fact that the world’s oldest democracy has never managed to elect a woman to the highest office it offers.
There has never been a better chance to put this embarassing record straight than during the 2016 elections. Simply because the opposing candidate Donald Trump was a self confessed sexual offender and an outspoken misogynist. To put things in the right context, we need to start with this statement:
“If Hillary Clinton couldn’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?
- Donald Trump’s thinly veiled tweet attacking Hillary
Donald Trump has at least 24 recorded sexual assault claims against him over the past 30 years. Yet 48% of the total voter population that determined the electoral tally and 53% of white women overall voted for Trump.
“She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina.”
— Donald Trump on Hillary Clinton
Trump set in motion the rhetoric that Hillary as a woman implicitly lacked the strength needed to be an American President, a traditional forte of White men. Unsurprisingly, there was a huge interest in Hillary’s illness and her general stamina to hold office. It gave the perfect excuse to discredit the idea that a highly qualified woman like Hillary was deserving of the chance to lead the country.
Amidst the women who voted for Trump, so internalized was the normalcy of white-male presidential power that they were ready to pardon him for the loose morals he had espoused all along. On the sexual assaults and open misogyny, it was so easy for them to tell themselves ‘this is the way men are’.
The fact is simple — even after more than two centuries of democracy, America was not ready for a Women President. And Trump capitalized on it.
Trump Card #4 — Elite-Free over Land of the Free
Taking on from the Founding Fathers, America has always taken great pride in being identified as the ‘Land of the Free’. A land where every person matters, equality is paramount and freedom is there to be enjoyed by all. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential bid espoused those age-old values of equality, freedom and liberty in her campaign agenda.
There has been a pattern among the American leaders of recent past. They typically have a law degree from the Ivy League schools or belong to a political family with a rich legacy or they are excellent orators who can hold audiences in rapt attention. These were the elites who went on to form the political establishment of the past few decades, the ones with politically correct statements that are carefully crafted to not offend any single community unfairly.
Donald Trump was neither of those. The cavalier that Trump was, his official statements were mostly the first thoughts that came to his mind and political stands were what he saw as the problem, no matter how simplistic it sounded. He was a refreshing change among an ocean of tight-lipped, stuck up, politically correct politicians. His statements continuously broke protocol and convention, bordering often on the lines of craziness. Case in point,
“These are radical Islamic terrorists, and Hillary Clinton won’t even mention the word.”
- Donald Trump citing mass shootings in Orlando and San Bernandino
Trump’s statement squarely accuses Hillary of shying away from tackling issues head on, of pushing an agenda that has been too condescending and less aggressive on his alleged perpetrators of violence, crime, terrorism — illegal immigrants, Muslims, Blacks etc.,
Perhaps, majority of the American voters were just looking for a leader who would call things as they themselves saw them, no matter if their perception was laced with unjust prejudices or not. 57% of voters who thought Terrorism was the major issue facing the country voted Trump and 54% of voters who thought Immigration was the major issue voted Trump too. They might have felt these were the two issues over which the elite establishment has continually failed them. Once again, Trump pounced on that weakness to firm up his claim to being the President.