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Historic opportunity for America and the whole world: summary of the United States presidential elections

On 8th of November 2016 the United States presidential elections were held, which resulted in Donald Trump, a 70 years old nominee from the Republican Party, becoming the 45th president due to receiving the majority of the electoral votes (290 against Clinton’s 228). Although D. Trump won electoral votes, H. Clinton received the majority of popular votes – 59,462,301 votes against 59,272,991 votes for D. Trump. A thorough analysis of this very important event is yet to come; therefore, let’s only focus on the most important aspects of this event.

 

I. D. Trump’s victory – the result of “revolt of the masses”?

So who chose D. Trump? A consortium of American news organizations the National Election Pool interviewed about 25 thousand people: D. Trump received 53% of votes among men and 42% among women, 58% of votes among white voters, 8% among black and 29% of Latino/Hispanic votes.

Among those older than 45 years, 53% voted for D. Trump, among 30-44 years old voters – 42%, among 18-29 years old – 37%. Reuters/Ipsos after interviewing approximately 45 thousand people, presents the following statistics (the former number for men, the latter for women): D. Trump received 63% and 52% of votes among white, 13% and 4% among black, and 33% and 26% of votes from Latino/Hispanic voters. Associated Press notes that D. Trump is most popular among white men and women without higher education (70% and 60% respectively), while Clinton relies on women, minorities and young people. [1]

This digital data allowed a number of international experts, including the American diplomat Chas Freeman to describe Donald Trump’s victory as “a revolt of the masses” that have grown tired of national elites, who have ignored the problems of ordinary American citizens. [2]

The Wall Street Journal writes: “Mr. Trump’s support is a testament to the democratic power of discontented voters. It turns out that many of them live in states like Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin that Mitt Romney didn’t carry but Mr. Trump did. President Obama has too often governed as if the preferences of those voters are illegitimate, and this contempt was bound to generate a political challenge. Voters decided he was an agent of change and rejected the progressive agenda and the third Obama term that Mrs. Clinton represented.[3]

Russian analytics N. Epplée and M. Zheleznova state: “Trump defeated not only Hillary Clinton, but also the Republican Party, which nominated him, the American elites that rejected him, and media that openly opposed him. It turned out that one can become the US president with the support of electoral voters only.” However, experts clarify, it is not clear, “if it is enough to be the president for the next four years, considering the huge weight of promises and separation of not only the country, but also of the Republicans themselves.” [4]

It is possible that we yet not fully comprehend the importance of D. Trump’s victory for the future fate of American and global democracy. One thing is clear – the results of the US elections have shown that American democracy, for all its shortcomings and anachronistic, retains its vitality. D. Trump’s victory showed the whole world that it is the people and not the elites, who are the main subjects of politics. And this exact circumstance should make the political elite of all countries to seriously think about it. In this context one can agree with D. Trenin, who said that the defeat of Hillary Clinton is the defeat of the elites, but a victory of democracy. [5]

 

II. Gloss and poverty of the American industry of opinion polls

Trump’s victory was a complete surprise for the Americans and for the majority of the citizens of many other countries who blindly trusted the results of surveys conducted by sociological services and a number of influential US media. The vast majority of opinion polls predicted Hillary Clinton’s victory, but won D. Trump.

As Y. Paniev and E. Pudovkin note D. Trump’s triumph left analysts “naked in the middle of a room”. [6] Princeton University professor Sam Wang states that the entire industry of opinion polls failed at the US elections of 2016: “The business about 65%, 91%, 93%, 99% probability is not the main point. The entire polling industry – public, campaign-associated, aggregators – ended up with data that missed tonight’s results by a very large margin. There is now the question of understanding how a mature industry could have gone so wrong.” [7]

The German diplomat, the chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, says: “Both Brexit and the election process in the US showed us that the toolkit of current opinion polls is useless. In both cases the poll data predicted a completely different outcome.” [8]

In general, it can be said that such a serious discrepancy between the results of opinion polls and election results reflects not only the imperfection of scientific instruments, but also that the polls are gradually turning into a mechanism of manipulation of mass consciousness, and the media – in the corporate propaganda mouthpiece. [9]

 

III. The transition of power and the formation of D. Trump’s administration

On November 10, 2016 President Barack Obama met with D. Trump during Trump’s first visit to the White House as the president-elect to discuss a wide range of topics. Obama emphasized that his top priority is to ensure a successful and smooth transition of power.

According to the White House representatives, Obama’s administration will do its utmost for Trump and his key advisers, whose names are still unknown, “to be ready to defend our national security from the first day.”

Representatives of the intelligence and defense agencies will give Trump daily reports on security threats to the country and status of foreign military operations.

Furthermore, the administration plans to hold two series of exercises involving several government departments to introduce Trump’s team with how government responds to emergencies within the country, be it natural disasters or terrorist attacks. [10]

However, according to Press Secretary of the White House Josh Ernest, current US President Barack Obama and President-elect D. Trump did not resolve the differences of opinion during the first meeting.

Currently D. Trump’s transition team has started formation of his future administration. The overall picture is not yet available, but the US media suggest that the core of the future administration can include the following influential Republicans:

  • Governor of New Jersey and D. Trump’s advisor Chris Christie;
  • Governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson;
  • Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani;
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich;
  • Eliminated from the presidential race Doctor and Republican Ben Carson;
  • Governor of Louisiana Bobby Dzhindl;
  • Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton;
  • Former top manager of the Goldman Sachs bank Steve Mnuchin;
  • Former head of US military intelligence retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn;
  • Former prosecutor and now a senator from Alabama Jeff Seshns;
  • Head of the US bank JPMorgan Chase James Dimon;
  • Prominent political strategists Kellienn Conway and Stephen Bannon;
  • Head of the Republican National Committee Rins Pribus and others.

A careful reading of Trump’s first speech after his election victory allows to assume that his administrations might include many prominent representatives of the Armed Forces and intelligence services of the US. In particular, D. Trump said: “We have over 200 generals and admirals that have endorsed our campaign and they are special people. We have 22 Congressional Medal of Honor people.” [11]

 

IV. The contours of the internal policy of D. Trump’s Administration

It is too early to talk about D. Trump’s particular program in the field of domestic policy. Ideas that D. Trump expressed during the election race not necessarily reflect the real agenda of the next administration because election campaign rhetoric and actual politics are not the same thing.

First, it should be admitted that at the moment America is split. The current election campaign, full of compromising, open insults and accusations only exacerbated the contradictions. Therefore, the first priority of D. Trump will be the consolidation of American nation.

On November 9, 2016 D. Trump stated: “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It is time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans, and this is so important to me.” [12]

Secondly, D. Trump will have a lot of work on the restoration of America’s economic power. He inherited an economy plagued by structural problems and the 20-trillion-dollar public debt.

On October 22, 2016 at Gettysburg D. Trump unveiled a plan for his first 100 days as President of the United States. The plan included a promise to urge Congress to pass 10 laws in 100 days, including the Law on tax incentives and simplified taxation for the middle class.

After winning the presidential elections D. Trump declared: “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it. …We have a great economic plan. We will double our growth and have the strongest economy anywhere in the world.” [13]

Meanwhile, experts are skeptical regarding D. Trumps plans. Thus, the Avalon Advisors expert Samuel Rhines writes: “The next president will have less effect on the U.S. economy than the bevy of powerful, persistent forces that are slowing the nation’s growth. Demographics will be the largest drag, but high global debt loads, slowing innovation, China’s secular slowing and other central banks’ actions are all headwinds. Slow growth makes monetary policy more difficult to execute, leaving policymakers with few tools to spur growth.” [14]

Third, the US experts expect D. Trump to be active in the field of energy. At least, experts noted that Trump surrounded himself with the supporters of “shale revolution” and promised to support infrastructural (including pipeline) projects. [15] In practice, in addition to increasing production, this would mean, the creation of new jobs.

Fourth, D. Trump will have to make the final decision on the Obamacare healthcare reform (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). Despite the best efforts of Obama’s administration, millions of Americans still do not have health insurance, while insurance premiums are rising and the cost of health care is also increasing for patients with chronic diseases. [16]

Fifth, D. Trump promised to triple the number of staff of the services responsible for the deportation of illegal migrants, and bring the number of deportees to 1.2 million people per year. In the case of construction of the wall on the border with Mexico the ones to suffer the most will be tourists, workers, students and businessmen. D. Trump’s opponents note that trade with Mexico has allowed to create 6 million jobs in the United States. In general, 11 million illegal migrants are concerned right now, including those from Latin America. [17]

Sixth, the implementation of D. Trumps pre-election plans will largely depend on the Congress. In this regard, it is worth noting that on November 8, 2016, in addition to the presidential election in the United States, the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate were re-elected. Republicans retained their majority in both houses of Congress. In the House they control 54% instead of 56.5% of the seats, and in the Senate Republican representation decreased from 54% to 52%.[18] All this suggests that large differences and difficulties between D. Trump and Congress are not expected in the field of domestic and foreign policy. [19]

 

V. The foreign policy of D. Trump’s future administration

In his victory speech on November 9, 2016 D. Trump promised his voters: “we will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us. We will be. We will have great relationships. We expect to have great, great relationships.” [20]. Certainly D. Trump made a bit of an exaggeration, because the superpower (even more if it is the only superpower) by definition cannot have “great relationships” with neighboring states and regions.

First, on April 28, 2016 D. Trump promised that at the center of foreign policy he would put national interests of the US: “We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism. The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony. My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else.” [21]

Second, during his election campaign D. Trump promised to rethink the US relationship with NATO. His numerous statements regarding the reformation of NATO caused alarm in countries of Central and Eastern Europe and stimulated discussions in the EU leadership about the possibility of creating a unified European army. According to German expert Alexander Rahr, it is a question of the further financing of NATO that will be the biggest issue in US-European relations. [22]

Currently, the European elite, which expect Clinton to win, is trying to establish a dialogue with D. Trump. Thus, the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his hopes that D. Trump’s actions as the President of the US would be different from the statements that he made as a candidate for the post during the election campaign. [23] The Chairman of European Council Donald Tusk is less optimistic. “While respecting the democratic choice of the American people, we are at the same time aware of the new challenges that these results bring. One of them is this moment of uncertainty over the future of our transatlantic relations,” said Tusk on November 9, 2016. [24]

Third, D. Trump repeatedly spoken in favor of normalizing relationships with Russia and the joint fight against international terrorism. In addition, D. Trump rejected any suspicions about the influence of Russian hackers on the American elections.

US experts also admit that with D. Trump becoming the President, a warming period could begin in the relationship between the US and Russia. However, they note that it is yet not known who will be responsible for Russia in the US National Security Council, who will be the Deputy Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs, and who will be the new US Ambassador to the Russian Federation. [25]

On November 9, 2016 Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated D. Trump for his victory in the US Presidential elections and expressed his hope to “work together for removing Russian-American relations from their crisis state, to address the pressing issues of the international agenda and to search for effective solutions to the challenges of global security”. V. Putin also emphasized that the two countries need to build “a constructive dialogue on the principles of equality, mutual respect and real consideration for each other’s position”. [26]

According to the Kremlin Representative D. Peskov, it will not be easy to elevate the relationships to a sufficiently high level: “It is declaratively impossible to announce the atmosphere of mutual trust, especially after a series of injuries that these relations have suffered in recent years.” [27] In his opinion disagreements between Russia and the US cannot be avoided, but with constructive dialogues the relationship can be improved.

Fourth, D. Trump promised to improve relations with dynamically developing China and persuade it to compromise in the area of international trade, the RMB exchange rate, etc. In particular, D. Trump promised “to challenge China” and to raise taxes on goods from China.

On November 9, 2016 the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping congratulated Donald Trump on winning the U.S. presidency and stated: “I place great importance on the China-U.S. relationship, and look forward to working with you to uphold the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.” The stable and healthy long-term development of China-U.S. relations was in the fundamental interest of the Chinese and American peoples, Xi Jinping emphasized. [28] On the same day, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang declared: “We hope that the US can view our economic and trade relationship in an objective and unbiased perspective, and work with us to move forward this relationship.” [29]

On November 10, 2016 “People’s Daily” published article “China-US relationship will not suffer great changes”, which states: “It is no secret that there are disagreements between The US and China; however, it is more important that the two countries have already formed an efficient and mature model of conflict resolution. The development of Sino-American relationship has never been smooth, and in the future the interstate relationship of a new type between China and the US also cannot follow a perfectly smooth path. But China and the US are both mature countries that are able to handle a large number of complex and sensitive issues, can cooperate on bilateral, regional and global levels, and can resolve disagreements in a constructive way, all of that have been already proven by the reality.” [30]

In general, the election of D. Trump gives America and all of humanity a historic opportunity to build a better, more reasonable and balanced world order. But whether this chance is realized will greatly depend on the practical steps of the newly elected US President. In any case, politicians and experts must objectively assess the intentions and real actions of D. Trump, while avoiding any demonization or idealization of the politician, who is soon to lead the United States for at least the next four years.

 

Links:

[1] «Мы были богатой страной. Мы уже не богатая страна» //https://www.vedomosti.ru/politics/characters/2016/11/10/664302-mi-bili-bogatoi-stranoi.

[2] Американский дипломат: победа Трампа стала результатом «восстания масс» //https://ria.ru/us_elections2016/20161110/1481048559.html.

[3] President-Elect Trump //http://www.wsj.com/articles/president-elect-trump-1478680866.

[4] Эппле Н., Железнова М. Восстание масс. Приведет ли победа популиста к переизобретению демократии //http://www.vedomosti.ru/opinion/articles/2016/11/10/664301-vosstanie.

[5] Результаты выборов в США: Это поражение элит, но победа демократии //http://carnegie.ru/2016/11/09/ru-pub-65071.

[6] Паниев Ю., Пудовкин Е. Трамп преодолел законы политической гравитации //http://www.ng.ru/world/2016-11-10/1_6854_trump.html.

[7] Филиппов А. Социолог заявил о провале индустрии соцопросов на выборах в США //https://ria.ru/us_elections2016/20161109/1480949351.html.

[8] Филиппов А. Дипломат: Brexit и победа Трампа показали непригодность современных опросов //https://ria.ru/world/20161110/1481046190.html.

[9] Победа Трампа разоблачила коррупцию в американских СМИ, полагает эксперт //https://ria.ru/us_elections2016/20161110/1481054588.html.

[10] Шварц К., Бредемайер К. Трамп впервые посетил Белый дом в качестве избранного президента //http://www.golos-ameriki.ru/a/trump-visit-white-house/3590389.html.

[11] Donald Trump wins 2016 presidential election: victory speech, full transcript //http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/9/13569124/donald-trump-wins-2016-presidential-election-victory-speech-transcript.

[12] Там же.

[13] Там же.

[14] This Election Changes Nothing – At Least for the Economy //http://nationalinterest.org/feature/election-changes-nothing%E2%80%94-least-the-economy-18339.

[15] Американская энергоиндустрия приветствует победу Трампа на выборах //https://ria.ru/economy/20161110/1481045799.html.

[16] Паниев Ю., Пудовкин Е. Трамп преодолел законы политической гравитации //http://www.ng.ru/world/2016-11-10/1_6854_trump.html.

[17] Кому стоит бояться Трампа? //http://www.bbc.com/russian/features-37937400.

[18] Макаренко Г. Не только Трамп: как республиканцы получили большинство в конгрессе США //http://www.rbc.ru/politics/09/11/2016/5821dbee9a79476375b3f6cd.

[19] Боуман М. Трамп и республиканский Конгресс: разногласий не ожидается //http://www.golos-ameriki.ru/a/trump-republican-congress/3589794.html.

[20] Donald Trump wins 2016 presidential election: victory speech, full transcript //http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/9/13569124/donald-trump-wins-2016-presidential-election-victory-speech-transcript.

[21] Акопов П. Трамп намерен перевернуть внешнюю политику Америки //http://vz.ru/politics/2016/4/28/808016.html.

[22] Александр Рар: Победа Трампа изменит мир //https://rg.ru/2016/11/09/aleksandr-rar-pobeda-trampa-izmenit-mir.html.

[23] Штайнмайер назвал победу Трампа «землетрясением» //http://www.ntv.ru/novosti/1695556.

[24] Туск заявил о неуверенности по поводу будущих отношений между ЕС и США //http://www.vz.ru/news/2016/11/9/842871.html.

[25] Григорьев А. США – Россия: возможность новой «Перезагрузки» //http://www.golos-ameriki.ru/a/comms-on-us-rus/3589412.html.

[26] Путин поздравил Трампа с победой на выборах президента США //https://ria.ru/us_elections2016/20161109/1480966507.html.

[27] Песков рассказал о феноменально близких позициях Путина и Трампа по приоритетным вопросам //http://tass.ru/politika/3774987?utm_source=rnews.

[28] Си Цзиньпин призвал Трампа не конфликтовать и сотрудничать //https://lenta.ru/news/2016/11/09/xi_trump.

[29] Булатов И. Китай ждет объективности от США в экономических отношениях //https://ria.ru/world/20161110/1481064941.html.

[30] Китайско-американские отношения не понесут больших перемен //http://russian.people.com.cn/n3/2016/1110/c95181-9139822.html.