The weather was fine in Floréal yesterday morning and the breakfast food display at the US embassy quite appetising. The faces looked glum, however, as the results of the US presidential election began to trickle in, proving everyone wrong. Donald Trump is now the president of the most powerful country in the world! Melania Trump, whose greatest contribution to America so far has been plagiarising Michelle Obama’s speech, is now – take a deep breath – the first lady!
Then the man who promised to make America great again; the man who became widely known for his acrimonious speeches and his extremist rhetoric, waltzed onto the stage, to the surprise of the whole world and, basking in the glory of his victory, he thanked his supporters. Far from echoing his favourite jabs from the campaign trail on the stage, and far from his threat of having Hillary Clinton locked up, he instead paid tribute to her for “a hard-fought battle”.
Trump did not win on the platform of his policies. He did not win on a clear manifesto other than the sound bites of making America great again. Many pundits thought he had no chance of winning and that the presidency was Clinton’s for the asking. It turned out that establishment politics had run out of gas as a public philosophy. A new world order is here.
It is the victory of extremism over lack of charisma. It is the victory of bigotry over dullness. The victory of ignorance over insipidness; of sexism over opportunistic feminism; of division over lack of unity; of lies over lies. America has made its own bed in the muck of ignorance and bigotry and Trump is now gleefully frolicking in it.
Trump rode a wave of extremism which seems to be sweeping over the world fed by a feeling of despondency over establishment politics. It is perhaps significant that one of the first politicians who congratulated him was French Extreme Right Wing Party President Marine Le Pen. His victory has shocked America and the world is still trying to wrap its head around that. The guy who, a few months ago, we refused to call a clown out of respect for the red-nosed profession, has slowly but surely made his way to the highest office in the world.
In Mauritius, we can’t help comparing Trump’s victory with the vire mam wave which swept over the country two years ago. The same wave which saw a chai wallah beat the biggest party in India. A victory by default. In the US too, only 42% of the voters polled said they liked the person they voted for. As many as 25% voted for one candidate because they did not like the other. Many explicitly said that they voted for Trump because they hate Clinton!
Well, now Trump is in office in a bitterly divided America. He has zero experience in running a country at any level. He is an iconoclast who was elected on very pompous promises. A situation not too dissimilar to ours or India’s. Once the euphoria of the victory has subsided and the reality of office hits him in the face, Trump will learn the lesson the Indian and Mauritian politicians have learnt. That getting elected is one thing. Delivering on promises made to the electorate is quite another. In the case of America, the whole world will be praying that Trump does not deliver on his!
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