In the last four days before the election day in the United States, as fellows of ACYPL’s election exchange programme every one we met, interactions across party lines and going by polls and social media it was clear that the election result would in favour of Hillary Clinton and was almost a foregone conclusion. It was the margin of victory and the states that would go in her favour that was the discussion point at all times.
What most Republican supporters spoke of was the way ahead for the party post the loss – would it reconsolidate or would it disintegrate, considering that it could mean perhaps being out of power for another term if not two. Historically n the US elections in most cases that the party out of power ( usually two terms) got a chance at coming to power. Those running for Governor/Senator on Republican ticket concentrated totally and exclusively on their own message minus what was being spoken at the national level.
We were, as part of our election visit, to observe polls in Indianapolis, the state of Indiana is largely a Republican state and was the first to be called in Trump’s favour. On seeing the large queues for early voting as well as on the voting day, one thing that struck was that this wasn’t as easy for Hillary Clinton as most thought, however the confidence on her winning with a slight margin was firmly believed. Even Fox News was predicting her victory. But then as voting closed in it all started changing as the evening progressed and by the time Florida was called it was all but over for the Hillary campaign. Our group participated in both the Republican and Democrats watch party which was happening close to each other, the mood at both places was of shock, but yet for entirely different reasons.
As results started pouring in there were tears in the Democrats camp and shocked yet happy cheering in the Republicans as state after swing state recorded leads for Donald Trump. This was a victory that all- news media, both camps and people who form the intelligentsia of America got wrong.
How did it happen? How did America which was calling out Trump for his extremely divisive, hate filled, misogynistic statements end up electing him as their President? Three important things emerge- how effectively Trump used social media and even his controversial comments ended up feeding news cycles for days, Obama’s Healthcare, ObamaCare and other policies had clearly upset the voters also considering Hillary wasn’t popular choice it worked against her, third was the ability of Republicans to mobilise their supporters and voters to head out of homes and vote.
The fault lines that everyone spoke of in America but went largely ignored now stands exposed, what appears to have made the biggest difference in Trump’s win was how the white voters across the board – of both sexes, almost all ages and education levels, and from mid- and higher income levels came out in his support, Edison Research’s exit poll, around 59.5 million mostly white people, including majority of women and students voted for Trump. In comparison Clinton’s lead among non-white voters was substantial, but not enough to make up the difference.
After the result, people still in shock but not in awe, are coming to terms with the idea of having Donald Trump as the President. The voters of America have endorsed his views with their vote and as much as they live in denial it is a reality they will have to live with. As protests erupt in many places post the victory, hopefully, Mr Trump would realise that he will have to win the support of all the ethnic and minority communities that he has been speaking against in order to be an effective President.
Most opportune time to quote the message on the Liberty Bell, the iconic symbol of American Independence, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”. Dear President let your government be for all not for the few your election campaign highlighted. The inclusiveness and assimilation of all is what made America great, reinforcement of that belief will make it greater all over again.