The 45th president of the US has been elected after an unusual campaign that was often acrimonious, blatantly populist and deeply polarising. Shocking political pundits and upsetting exit polls, Donald John Trump trumped Hillary Diane Clinton on the night of 8th November, 2016.
Business tycoon Donald Trump is a marked departure from the American peoples’ erstwhile choices for the occupant of the White House. A background in public or military life, an affable personality, a healthy dose of charm and a conservative family were all considered to be vital to attain the
highest office in the country. Donald Trump is none of the above!
Who is the man beneath the bombastic rhetoric?
Trump has never held a public office, government position nor served in the US military. He is a businessman, reality TV star and real estate mogul. His business interests range from real estate developments, to casinos and resorts. His stock portfolio is impressive and vast. He is a brash and outspoken man who rarely, if ever, minces his words. His political history, what little there is of it, is checkered. Trump has switched his political affiliations multiple times, even exploring the possibility of winning the presidential candidacy of the Reform party. Donald J Trump was born in Queens, New York on 14th June, 1946. He is the fourth of five children. He is a second generation American, as both sets of his grandparents and his mother were born in Europe and later migrated to America. His father, Frederick C. Trump, was a builder and developer who focused on operating middle-income apartments in Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn. His grandfather had already amassed a fortune setting the foundation for the Trump empire.
At the age of 13, Trump was sent off to New York Military Academy, where he rose to the rank of a captain. His parents believed that military school will inculcate disciple in the young lad. He went on to further his education at Fordham University, but later shifted to Wharton School of the university of Pennsylvania to pursue real estate studies and graduated with a degree in economics. Education and medical deferments helped Trump to steer clear of the Vietnam War.
He followed his family’s footsteps when it came to business. In 1971, after he was given control of the company, it was renamed, Trump Organisation. In 1974, he inherited close to fifty million dollars. The inheritance facilitated Trump’s acquisition of large properties in Manhattan. One of his first major projects was the remodelling of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Controversies were never far behind.
He has been investigated many times for questionable business practices and financial dealings. Trump has often bragged that he merely takes advantage of the laws of the land and has admitted to exploiting the loopholes in them.
But, those close to president-elect Trump, friends and family alike, are fiercely loyal to him. A father of five, and grandfather of three, he is extremely close and devoted to his family.
The President-elect is a businessman, not a politician; a fact that Trump has worked to his advantage. Throughout the election campaign, he refused to talk or conduct himself like a politician. Expect for refuting statements made earlier, as most politicians are likely to do at some point or the other, he sought to portray himself as a successful businessman who can create jobs and make ‘America Great Again’.
The Trump campaign effectively masked and overcame an uncomfortable truth; Trump’s companies have filed for bankruptcy four times, in 1991, 1992, and 2004 and most recently in 2009. In fact, it was revealed during the course of the campaign that, Trump had reported a staggering loss of $916 million in 1995 exempting him from paying taxes for years! Further, financial analysts opine that given the property boom and stock market, Trump has not added significantly to his inheritance. Yet, an aura of accomplishment and success surrounds the man.
Did the Democrats literally hand over the victory to the Republican candidate?
Early analysis suggests that Mrs. Clinton, in all likelihood, has won the popular vote. She is most probably second only to President Obama in the actual number of votes polled in her name. But the POTUS is chosen by the Electoral College system, thus awarding the presidency to Trump.
The Democrat’s campaign seems to have taken the white working class voters for granted. Trump may not have expounded on foreign policy or his stand on education, but he addressed their anxiety and concerns, with what some would call just flair and rhetoric. Traditional Republican supporters
and majority of the upper middle class voted for Trump, but surprisingly he seemed to have garnered a chunk of the votes of the minorities too. The Democrats also failed to drum up the passion and zeal for their candidate, though most poll pundits assumed that the women voters were in favour
of Mrs. Clinton.
While controversies in the form of FBI investigation, the unfortunate slip of tongue and the like dogged the Clinton campaign, serious allegations of sexual assault, refusal to disclose tax statements, etc. seemed to roll off Trump’s back without creating any impact.
Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and former First Lady of the US, seemed to have hit the proverbial glass ceiling. Was it gender alone that decided the outcome of this election or had the Democratic campaign actually lost touch with the disgruntled, anxious lower middle class America is the question that many are now struggling to answer.
Is this the new order of America?
Many consider Trump’s unexpected win as a sign of rising xenophobia and Islamophobia in the Unites States. A spurt in hate crimes was reported across America and the white supremacists took to social media in a candid show of support and solidarity. Trump, since the election, has chosen
to clearly distance himself from the Alt Right, and seemed perplexed at the suggestion that he may have ‘energized’ the unorganized group, that propound mainstream conservatism.
Unprecedented events have characterized the days following his election victory. As never before in the history of the United States, protestors took to the streets across America, albeit in small numbers, demanding that the Electoral College system be scrapped and the Presidency awarded to Mrs. Clinton!
The predicament that the White House and the American administration find themselves in is unparalleled. Never before has such dire potential conflict of interest scenario been witnessed by the American Presidency. As of now, Mr. Trump has rejected all calls for him to disassociate and step aside from his vast and varied business interests. He has gone so far as to claim that the “the law’s totally on my side” and that he “could run [his] business perfectly, and then run the country perfectly”. Critics and ethics lawyers see countless instances where the Trump administration and the Trump business empire could and will overlap. Should the status quo continue the grey area is likely to invite intense scrutiny throughout his stint in the Oval Office. Since winning the election,
Trump has settled a lawsuit against the Trump university for 25 million dollars.
Trump is an unknown quantity; both in the domestic and international political scene. The world leaders were cautious in their congratulatory messages. As the POTUS, his policy decisions have implications far beyond the shores of the US. His outright rejection of the climate change as ‘humbug’ and his support for clean coal, natural and shale gas to boost the manufacturing sector of America will have far reaching consequences on the environment.
As the businessman dons the mantle of the President, it will be interesting to see how much of the election promises will fall by the wayside. He struck aconciliatory and almost cordial note in his victory speech, stating that he will be President “for all Americans”. He is expected to surround himself with seasoned and popular politicians and diplomats. Each of his appointments will draw intense media scrutiny.
There has been no mention of the proposed wall between America’s neighbour to the south, Mexico. Trump has also dropped his war cry and desire to see Mrs. Clinton behind bars for supposed and alleged crimes. Whispers about a Muslim registry refuse to die down, yet the President-elect and his office have ignored them. Trump has announced that once he takes office, America will withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, calling it “a potential disaster for our country”. Instead, he proposes to “negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back (to America)”. His policy of ‘putting America first’ and proposed cap on employment visa will greatly impact enterprises in the Silicon Valley and software industry. The President-elect’s conservative approach to stem
cell therapy may be another blow to the advancement of many therapies that are in phase I and phase II trials.
Though Trump seems to have reconsidered his plans to downgrade Washington’s security commitment to allies Japan and South Korea, he seems to stand firm on his views on immigration. Plans to deport about two million illegal immigrants will be put into full swing once Trump takes office and he proposes to suspend immigration from terror-prone regions. The Trump administration is likely to take ties with China to new lows, as the administration plans to name the world’s largest economy and manufacturing giant as a ‘currency manipulator’. Trump’s tweets continue to create uproar. His attempt to catapult his friend and supporter of Brexit, Nigel Farage into the post of British ambassador, drew flak from both sides of the Atlantic.
Donald Trump, the President-elect, has a tough road ahead of him. Americans and the rest of the world wait with trepidation to see how much of his arrogant comments and combative views are mere rhetoric. The campaign has reinforced his persona as a brash, often rude and tactless person. While the world watches his every move, he has a harder task of earning the approval of a majority of his fellow countrymen.