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The new presidential reality show

  • Published at 12:01 am November 18th, 2016
The new presidential reality show

Remember the sign that went around on social media after, defying all polls and expectations, Britain exited the European Union, or what the world called “Brexit,” actually happened? It went: “The United States and Britain are having a competition on who can self-destruct faster. Britain is in the lead, but America has a Trump card.”

Well, guess what? Hillary Clinton’s much touted “ace,” given to her by the media, the pundits, and corporate America and all the poll of polls, got “Trumped,” about the possibility of which Michael Moore had said a day before the election: “If elected, Donald Trump would be the last president of the United States.”

Such is the fracture in the United States, and we sit awed surrounded by not the purple haze of psychedelia, but rather the orange mist of insanity.

The biggest upset in the US presidential elections is best explained by, of all people, the conservative commentator, Glenn Beck.

“I don’t think we’ve listened to each other at all, and I know I’ve been at fault on this,” he admitted Tuesday night.

Beck, founder of The Blaze, also said people no longer trust the media “because they view us as speaking down to them, pontificating, telling them, and not listening to them.”

He pointed out that most supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton aren’t happy about the candidate they voted for.

“On both sides, the parties have to realise now: ‘Boy, we need to start reflecting the people and listening to the people.’ Because the people are entering a time beyond reason, as we’re seeing tonight. They’re not listening. And when you get into so much fear and so much anger, the mind’s mechanism is to just shut down reason and they’re not listening to reason -- and we have got to find our way to each other.”

Is it a little too late to start listening to the voices outside Metro-America? Paul Krugman, the Nobel-laureate economist, definitely thinks so: He fears a worldwide recession. He wrote in The New York Times: “Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in, eight years after the great financial crisis.”

At the time of writing this, the Asian markets had tanked, gold prices had gone up, gold being the traditional safety, when the markets suffer from insecurity but the European markets have come back somewhat from the day’s lows and the Dow futures which were over 3% down at one point, have retrieved since. Investors have nothing left to do but hope that Donald Trump will somehow work something out which will ease their initial panic. But there are choppy seas ahead and any stability today may be wiped out at the hint of any bad news. Only time will tell.

Mexico is fearing the Trump presidency the most. It is worried about Trump’s threat against NAFTA, a trade deal that allows it to sell its products to the US. Mexico is also worried about all the people who work in the US and sent remittances their homeland worth around $25 billion. The Mexican peso has also lost heavily against the dollar already.

It is, in fact, an astonishing victory for Trump, a man whom many, if not most, pictured as a comic opera authoritarian, a wannabe leader of the most important nation in the world. He “won it in spite of polls and experts and all the data nerds and get-out-the-vote consultants who laboured tirelessly for Hillary Clinton … in spite of the opposition of the Republican Party’s past presidents and presidential nominees and most of conservatism’s intelligentsia … in spite of the media that had gleefully lifted him up in the GOP primary and then believed (reasonably, but wrongly) that it had torn him down … and finally, in spite of his own acts of self-sabotage, which seemed egregious but turned out to be insufficient to keep him from his destiny.”

Under the two tsars, Trump and Putin, what’s in store for the Middle East? What about the IS-infested Levant with the lugubrious faces of suffering humanity in Mosul, in Aleppo? What will Trump do to Iran?

So, why did “President Trump” become a reality? In spite of all the apparent liberal attitudes of Americans, electing an African-American as president for two terms, the majority of voters still remain essentially white -- racism will still matter for decades yet. The angry white man! Why only men? Even the majority of non-college educated white women voted for Trump, in spite of all his overt sexism and misogyny. The white middle class has suffered severe economic hardships from the system -- the politicians, the corporate system, the foreclosures, and the insouciance of the “elite,” of which Hillary Clinton is an inseparable part.

The people of the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes -- Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin felt neglected; Clinton did not go once to Wisconsin. But Trump targeted them hard, and with his “shooting from the hip” style made them promises of protectionism including levying products coming from abroad, Mexico and China included, which would bring back the glory days of small town America. In fact, he has talked of new trade deals and fear mongering (about Islam, immigrants, etc), and has turned the heads of voters in a gush.

People never truly liked Clinton and never trusted her. The Millennials felt let down by the machinations of the DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz that derailed the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. It seems highly unlikely that Sanders supporters switched allegiance automatically to Hillary Clinton.

However, as we have seen during the campaign, he has no sure shot policy to Make America Great Again. He just said what he needed to say, and never had a clue how he would deliver on his promises. The Trump voters may wake up with a very bad hangover, but one can never undo a night’s reckless drinking and the ensuing stupidity.

So, America has chosen a demagogue for a president. Demagoguery is very much on the rise the world over with Putin in Russia, Modi in India, and China never likely to have democracy. The far right parties of Europe will feel emboldened, Europe already an economic cripple, with relatively strong Britain caught in the Brexit mess and the superpower Germany facing an election soon, which Merkel is approaching with much trepidation. Europe, in fact, is quite an impotent landmass.

Under the two tsars, Trump and Putin, what’s in store for the Middle East? What about the IS-infested Levant with the lugubrious faces of suffering humanity in Mosul, in Aleppo? What will Trump do to Iran? Impose new sanctions, making the Shia nation turn even more militant?

With the White House and the Congress both “coloured red,” what will happen to Roe v Wade? What about combatting the adverse effects of climate change? Switching from fossil fuels to renewables? Obamacare?

Does Barack Obama leave with any legacy worth speaking of?

Are we facing a meltdown? WWIII maybe?

Well, the “Presidential Reality Show” will begin come January and we do not have the choice to use the remote to switch to anything else.

SM Shahrukh is a freelance contributor.

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