Donald J Trump has been elected as the 45th president of the United States. This came as a surprise for many young people, heralding their candidate, Hillary R Clinton. It has, unsurprisingly, elevated the anxieties of minority and LGBTQ populations around the US. The derogatorily named ‘Millennial’ and ‘SJW’ generation are in shock. But reality does not follow the whims of the isolated echo chambers of the online world. The election has been one of the more decisive elections in recent memory, and has brushed off the dust which covered the tenuous links in American society. The divide has always been there. It has not worsened. It has only been uncovered, once again.
Pathways towards ‘progress’ have been favourable towards the mainstay of society over the last few decades. The inclusion of the African-American population into the US status-quo has been relatively successful. Obama, the incumbent, promised hope, and he achieved it in the form of a figurehead for racial tolerance. Then, from this election only eight years ago has the complete opposite now come to fruition? The answer lies in ‘Hope.’
Trump has seized onto the anxieties of middle-America in spectacular fashion. The lower-middle class family living in the Rust-belt of the Midwest, namely states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. All states that were once the heartland of America’s industrial capital, now mainly based in China and Mexico. The Blue-collar worker whose father and grandfather worked the factories of this aptly named dilapidated ‘rust’ belt, gaining their union-benefits and pension, supporting their families with modest income. The regions are now derelict. The families who populate these towns are void of their primary income. They resort to service sector roles, or mining. While our younger generation cry out to them to adopt technology, embrace it, make it their own, this is no easy feat for individuals who have not had the same educational benefits of the younger generation. These people are stuck and disillusioned.
‘Drain-the-swamp’ is an oft proclaimed sub-slogan of the Trump campaign, an appeal to rid Washington of corruption. The core Republican states were galvanised by this rally cry, believing their Government to have been ineffective in the curbing of job-loss and immigration in the South-Eastern states, but also curbing the job losses and factory closures of the Rust-belt. These issues have plagued the US political atmosphere since the Bush administration. Alongside fear of Islamic extremism from Al-Qaeda and now Daesh, the culmination of anxiety was too great for the Democratic Party to quell. Obama promised ‘Hope’ to these people, yet was unable to fulfill this promise. But people do not appreciate attempts, they appreciate change. Trump is that change in the eyes of many Americans in 2016.
Trump’s victory was down to populism. He appealed to the fears of the US citizens at the expense of another demographic, namely immigrants. Many may be perplexed as to why some Latino regions voted to elect Trump. This is possibly due to their view of themselves as naturalised American citizens as opposed to immigrants. They have paid their dues and see themselves as Americans, they are proud to be assisting in making their homeland ‘Great Again’, as they now face the same competition they once posed to US citizens. This is not conclusive of all regions, however. California, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado all voted for the Democrats. Areas of larger diversity, it would be easy to assume that the reason Trump was elected in the traditional heartland of the US boils down to racism. Populism and racism do go hand in hand, but as is the case in most of world history, the economic issues underlie these trends. As a younger and more fortunate generation it is important for us not to lose sight of these underlying reasons compatriots decided to vote for Populism. Whereas it is easy for us to judge them superficially on racial and sexual issues, understand that their anxiety and fear for their futures is as great as ours.
The next four years will be turbulent, however. Whilst one should sympathise with people’s choice in Trump, his embrace of uncertainty and populism in the American heartland is likely to cause more harm than good. His recent appointment of Climate-change denier Myron Ebell as the leader of the transitional EPA is a step in the wrong direction. He has threatened to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, which is dedicated to curbing the impact of emissions on our environment and attempting to revert the issue by adopting green-energy. The reasons for this again lie in the rust-belt. His heartland of voters now have job access to pipelines and coal-mines which are set to be bolstered and developed under the Trump administration. Whilst countries such as China and India are dedicated to be forerunners of widespread green-energy, the US is not. The economic region which voted Trump want results, and the continuation of labour work in these regions is paramount for their continued support. It would be a bitter pill to swallow if they were forced to transition to green, albeit not an impossibility.
Other issues include the fear of forced exportation for the millions of illegal immigrants who reside in the US. This may divide families and increase the backlash from minority groups and the millennial generation. This is unlikely to be implemented due to
the cost and impracticality of such an attempt, yet who knows what Trump is capable of with the entire government now under his and the Republican Party’s grasp. Domestic issues aside, the world is now watching. Russia and China are happy. Europe is not. Does Trump’s election mean a shift towards the East? It may be unlikely, but not an impossibility. It is likely that both China and Putin wish to embrace this new presidency to reduce sanctions and bolster trade. The former may even have a positive influence on the US’s climate policy. But the future of Europe’s eastern brethren may be in doubt with the opportunistic trends Putin has been implementing in the Russian Duma.
Trump, has alleviated the anxiety of his core voters in spectacular fashion. It is unfortunate for the rest of us that his election has increased ours.
Sources https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-picks-top-climate-skeptic-to-lead-epa-transition/ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/us-elections-2016 http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/videos/2016-11-09/election-upset-what-happened-in-the-rust-belt-states - Hyperbole https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rust_Belt https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/09/europe-leaders-cannot-hide--nerves-amid-donald-trump-congratulations https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/09/putin-applauds-trump-win-and-hails-new-era-of-positive-ties-with-us