Come January 2017 Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States of America. Local experts, Prof. John Stremlau, former vice president of The Carter Centre, and Tinashe Chuchu from the Wits School of Economic and Business Sciences, explain the outcome.
How did Donald Trump win this election?
Stremlau: I believe what we’ve seen is a sort of “whitelash” by Americans whose vote was an expression of their concern over a population that has become increasingly pluralised and diverse. People made their decision based on emotional reasons, not on logic. Even though Trump’s never been in government and has no experience, voters didn’t seem to have trouble with this. There also seems to elements of sexism that may have hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances.
Chuchu: What we’ve seen is the effect of the “silent voter” or “silent majority”. A lot of people agree with what Trump stands for, but were afraid to say so publicly. At the end of the day it comes down to numbers and we underestimated how many people are disgruntled with the way things are going in America at the moment, because those people weren’t comfortable to voice their discomfort in public.
Who voted for Trump?
Stremlau: It seems America is divided between the college education Western and Eastern states who voted for Clinton and the Hinterland and the South, where Trump won. Even though Clinton won the popular vote, Trump still took the election. Americans are going to have to do some serious soul searching about that. The fact of the matter is, the election has been going for the last two years, so people had a clear idea what they were voting for.
Chuchu: White working class Americans, especially in the Midwest and Rust belt voted for Trump. He had a lot of support from working class people who feel they have been left behind by the current government. Especially people in the coal industry in states like Pennsylvania, because he promised to keep open the coal mines. He even won in Michigan, where a the last time a Republican candidate won was in 1988 when George Bush Sr carried the state.
Everyone thought Clinton would win. How did we get it wrong?
Chuchu: Firstly, the polls were completely off, but the media played a big part in letting people believe Hillary would win. They declared her the winner before the election, because she was running against someone who was branded as a racist and sexist. The truth of the matter is there is an ugly side of America that the media didn’t want to expose and that is that a lot of people share the views of someone like Trump.
What does the outcome mean for America and the world?
Stremlau: This outcome raises a lot of questions about the American democracy and there will be some heavy soul searching to be done in the coming weeks and months. One thing is for sure, America will be far less of a factor in international politics than it’s been since the Second World War. The government will now need to reposition itself to accommodate the positions of the new president.
What does the outcome mean for South Africa?
Stremlau: It will probably not be good for South Africa’s trade relations with the US, although we really do not know much about what Trump will do in terms of foreign policy. He is a businessman though and wants to do deals, so it will be interesting to see what it does in Africa in this regard. It is also likely that he would support South Africa’s decision to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).