Fareed Zakaria is one of the few American television commentators I listen to. He often offers an incisive world view plus a thoughtful scientific analysis of American politics on CNN. Few other analysts demonstrate such precise and informed knowledge of their subject. I was somewhat disappointed, however, with Fareed’s analysis of ‘Why Trump Won’ – a special broadcast on Monday August 7, on CNN, reviewing the US presidential elections, 2016.
For my part there are at least two forces acting on the political dynamics of any country, at any given time. One is a pull exerted by the forces of government and certain new candidates wishing to draw supporters to themselves; sucking them into their political and economic vortex. The other is a push against such a ‘pull’ by forces arrayed against the government or an ambitious candidate, who is seen as a threat to the government.
In his analysis Fareed stressed the activism, dynamism and desire of the young Trump to become president of the United States. Using the widespread loss of manufacturing jobs in the country was a strong pull force towards Trump. It did not seem to matter that job losses began many years ago after President Nixon opened China to US business investments. Of course, Trump never mentioned which US political party, or president, started the globalization process and the shipment of jobs from the US to China and elsewhere. Trump was an entrepreneur and multi-millionaire with no experience in politics or government. That worked to pull disgruntled voters towards him.
On the other hand the push against Trump’s opponent in the said US elections was also significant. Fareed did not sufficiently emphasize that fact. By the time the electorate began the voting process, it was clear to everyone who followed US politics that Republican Senators had damaged Hilary Clinton over the Benghazi issue and her personal e-mails. Her missing e-mails added fuel to the fire of Trump’s racist rant that President Obama was not an American. It soon became obvious that there were hackers, helping to keep the e-mail issue alive, and further erode trust in Hilary. And trust is a crucial issue to the electorate.
Yes, Trump campaigned hard and was brutal in his attacks on Hilary Clinton. But her responses to his attacks were weak and off-target. Proper manners and decorum did not allow her to reply suitably to Trump’s bombast. In my political book, if you can’t hit back twice as hard against your opponent, then you ought to step out of the game.
Fareed was on the money when he noted that two weeks before elections, the FBI announced that it was looking into recently discovered e-mails from candidate Hilary Clinton. That was her death knell and the FBI knew it. Trump and his people knew it, and so did many others. That massive push against Hilary by the FBI was as great a force as that which pulled the US electorate towards Trump. When these two forces were combined it became clear that Trump would triumph. Why Trump won, may be matched by a similar and opposite point: Why Hilary lost! Trump’s subliminal message to make America white again, (not great again!) was not missed by those who mattered in the 2016 US elections.