By Tayo Ogunbiyi
Last year, it was hurricane Buhari in the Nigerian national elections. This time around it is hurricane Trump in the United States. Against all odds, Mr. Donald Trump has bulldozed his way to the White House, thus becoming the 45th President of the United States. This is the first time in the history of the United States’ political structure that a contestant considered an ‘outsider’ would be elected President. Trump is not your typical everyday politician. His own political party was not actually in his support. Major media houses in the country were against him.
But all that matters no more. In a uniquely dramatic and historic poll, Trump won in key swing states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, as he marched towards the White House. However, unlike Trump who had earlier stated that he wouldn’t concede defeat if he lost the election, Mrs. Clinton called to congratulate the President-elect even while awaiting a few outstanding poll results. While addressing a group of his supporters at his campaign headquarters in New York, Trump pledged that he would be “president for all Americans”. He promised to connect with a lot of the people who had not supported him with a view to uniting a seriously divided country.
In a largely uninspiring and dull speech, Trump said: “Now it’s time to bind the wounds of division. I say to Democrats and Republicans, it is time to come together as one united people.”I pledge to be president for all Americans”. Trump further added: “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” Offering a hint as to how he was able to walk his way to the White House against all odds, Trump revealed that it was not really a campaign but a movement that had given him victory.
In sharp departure from his characteristic brutal tough talking tone, Trump’s speech was unusually subdued and patronizing. He caught a picture of one who is humbled in victory as he commended Mrs. Clinton and her team for a hard fought poll. Could this be the sign of things to come? Now that Trump has triumphed, could it be that the world might be seeing a more urbane and sober character? Well, time will tell.
But then, the outcome of the United States Presidential election still leaves so many questions unanswered. For instance, how did a political rookie like Trump record such unbelievable feat of upstaging an established politician of Mrs. Clinton pedigree? How did a man who primes himself as being smart, having cleverly (or mischievously) evaded tax for eighteen years, find his way into the White House? Why did Americans prefer a candidate who pledged to shut the doors of the country on other nations?
How did a supposedly woman abuser warm his way into the electorate’s hearts? How did a man who publicly called a fellow contestant “a nasty woman” triumph at the poll? These are some of the questions that political commentators, analysts and experts might be attempting to proffer answers to in the coming days. In the meantime, one could see the similitude of the Buhari change mantra antic at play in the just concluded American election.
In the Nigerian experience, the electorate massively voted out the previous administration based on their disappointment over the economy, recurrent fuel crisis, perceived corrupt tendencies, security challenges and infrastructure decay among others. Though most electorate were not really certain about the competence and preparedness of President Buhari to handle the top job, they, nevertheless, expressed their frustration with the past administration by massively voting it out of office. A case of when we get to the bridge, we will cross it? In same manner, it is plausible that the American electorate merely used this election to express their frustration at the inability of the American political system, over the years, to really turn things around for the people. When current American President, Barack Obama, began his campaign for the presidency, his slogan, “Yes we can”, was about hope and change.
Like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and Bill Clinton, Obama dazzled Americans with his messages of hope and new beginnings. He spoke glowingly on how he would create jobs, improve the economy, regulate taxes, reduce deficits, improve energy and education in addition to promoting world peace. The magic paid off! Swayed by these promises, Americans overwhelmingly elected Obama president, thereby making him the first African-American to hold sway at the White House. However, with millions of Americans out of work, and many others underemployed, Obama lost the momentum. Suddenly, his ‘Hope and Change’ slogan was being sarcastically derided by Americans with: “We hope he changes.”
As he comes close to the eighth anniversary of his presidency, things are no longer at ease in the country. A recent survey indicates that more Americans see him as ‘incompetent’ or ‘lame duck’. His foreign and domestic policies are being fiercely criticized. According to a recent ABC polls, 65% of his countrymen are of the views that America is on the “wrong track.”
The outcome of the just concluded American elections in which the Republican swept all the major stakes, without a doubt, could be a reflection of the poor rating of Obama. The electorate possibly meted out their disenchantment with the system on Mrs. Clinton who is equally deemed an embodiment of the ‘rigged’ American system.
Meanwhile, there are reports that financial markets across the world plunged sharply as Trump won at the poll. It will be recalled that Trump had threaten to rip up a free trade agreement with Mexico and tax money sent home by migrants to pay for building a wall on the southern US border, if elected president, caused the peso to hit a record low.
Now that Trump has triumphed, it will be interesting to see what relations between the US and Russia would look like. It would equally be fascinating to see how Trump employs a ‘rigged’ system to make America great again. Now that Americans have spoken through their votes, one only hopes, in Nigerian parlance, that they have not ‘entered one chance’.
Ogunbiyi writes from Lagos