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The sad news of Donald Trump’s triumph – by Reuben Abati

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Americans chose as 45th President, Donald Trump, the real estate developer, reality television celebrity, a complete outsider who stumbled on politics

“Democracy is tricky; it sometimes ends up as a parody of itself.  When the people clamour for change, they can vote with their hearts, and prove impervious to plain sight reason, and overlook likely pitfalls.  

“We can only hope that Donald Trump does not become the symbol of the change that Americans are seeking. 

“That would be sad indeed for the free world.”  – Reuben Abati, “Anything Can Happen in America”, The Guardian, March 6, 2016.

Earlier this year, I had written a piece titled “Anything Can Happen In America”, from which the quote above is excerpted, but I had virtually no idea that the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election could be so shocking, unthinkable and unbelievable. 

I was like the pollsters, the cultural activists, the Nobel Laureates, the American media establishment and the global community, minus Russia and Vladimir Putin, a Clintonite. I stood with her. 

When the unthinkable happened on Tuesday, and Americans chose as their 45th President, Donald John Trump, the real estate developer, reality television celebrity, a complete outsider who stumbled on politics and turned it into a celebrity show, I could only ask: how did it happen? 

The triumph of Trumpism, a byword for incorrect conduct, misogyny, hate, racism, nativism, isolationism, anger, and defiance is sad news for the world. It is an assault on the ideals of American democracy. 

Trump’s triumph has left America more divided than it was a week ago, and the prospects of that nation rescuing itself from the tragic mistake it seems to have made may take long in coming. 

The same country that champions it the most has exposed the underbelly of democracy, that beloved option for global leadership, ironically. 

Democracy is said to be driven by the values of good rather than evil, of humanity as opposed to inhumanity, individual freedom and rights rather than oppression, inclusion as different from exclusion but the same model of governance hands over power to the majority. 

As we have seen, the majority may not necessarily represent the will of all the people, or even the real majority, it is the choice that is made by the voting majority or as determined by the guiding rules as in the case of the United States: and no matter how stupid, illogical or unreasonable that choice may be, it is taken as the voice of the people and it is binding. 

This dictatorship of the determined majority has nothing to do with popular opinion or goodwill, but the actual choice that is made according to the guiding rules of the game. 

Democracy, relying on the strength of numbers and local rules has fed many countries with statistically right but logically wrong outcomes.  

The outcome in the United States this week is completely confusing.  And that explains why there have been protests across America by those chanting “notmypresident” to express their dismay over Trump’s surprise win. 

This is the first time in a long while that the outcome of an American Presidential election will leave the entire country so tragically divided the morning after. 

Even the international community is in shock. Trump’s triumph is a threat to the liberal standards on which the global order is anchored.  

Hillary Clinton in her concession speech said her defeat is “painful and it will be for a long time.” Not necessarily for her but for America and the rest of the world.  

The deepest cut is in America’s heart; the wound that has been inflicted therein by Americans themselves will be felt for a long time to come. 

This year’s American general election should inspire a deeper interrogation into the nature of democracy and its many pitfalls. 

The people of the United States had a plain choice between good and bad alternatives. 

More than any other American Presidential candidate in this election, Hillary Clinton got the most impactful endorsements, yet she did not win. 

If the rest of the world had been asked to vote, she would have won by a landslide, but it was up to the Americans themselves to choose their own President, and they have just told us to mind our own businesses in our countries.  

Hillary Clinton is urbane, experienced, charming and gifted. She has proved her mettle as First Lady, Senator and as Secretary of State.  

She won the Presidential debates, ran a dignified and organized campaign and won the confidence of every critical constituency.  

Bernie Sanders who ran against her for the Democratic Party’s ticket and Donald Trump, as well as their agents in many places threw mud in her direction, but the polls favoured her to the last minute.           

The pollsters have been proven wrong by the choice that America has made. Hillary Clinton gave hope to generations of women across the world. 

Her emergence as America’s President would have broken the glass ceiling at the most powerful spot in the world, and energized young men and women across the world. 

America has decided to spit in the face of history and opt for misogyny birthed by ultra-conservatism. 

Confronted with the obvious choice of a decent, tested and experienced woman who could have given them the prize of two Presidents for the price of one, they chose a foul-mouthed, egoistic, bombastic, free-wheeling outsider with a wife whose body shape and naked assets would be part of a yet uncertain legacy. 

America’s future with post-Trump’s triumph is uncertain because what Trump stands for, the little that we know about that, raises nothing but anxiety, definitely not confidence.  

Continues…

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