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Rural America’s white-lash elects Trump

  • Published at 06:01 pm November 10th, 2016
Rural America’s white-lash elects Trump

America’s 18-month long nightmare has ended with a chronic headache.

In a shocking upset, Americans elected their first playboy president. Donald Trump has been in the public eye for 40 years. America knew a lot about him.

They learnt more gory details about his private conduct during the presidential campaign; yet, had no qualms about electing him.

If the Americans consider Donald Trump worthy of their highest elective office, the world should not quibble.

This was a contest between rural and urban America. For once, rural America won.

Born and raised in a millionaire’s family in urban America (New York City), Donald Trump managed to sell himself as the champion of rural America. Raised in a working class household in rural America (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Hillary Clinton failed to connect with her working class roots, and campaigned exclusively in urban America. Inexplicably, Clinton did not campaign in the predominantly white rural areas of three Democratic states, all of which she lost.

In her firewall state of Pennsylvania which Obama won twice, Clinton campaigned exclusively in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, while Trump campaigned in “rural Alabama” that lies between the two cities. Trump won by 68,000 votes (1.2%).

Hillary never visited another of her firewall states, Wisconsin, which Obama won twice during the campaign. Trump did, and won by 27,000 votes (1%).

Only on the last day of campaigning did Clinton venture into the cities of another hitherto blue state, which Obama had won twice, Michigan. Trump had frequented it several times, and won by 12,000 votes (0.3%).

Clinton spent an inordinate amount of time in iffy North Carolina, (which Obama won in 2008 and lost in 2012), and lost it badly, by 177,000 votes (3.8%). She should have campaigned more in Florida, which Obama won twice narrowly. Clinton lost Florida decisively, by 120,000 votes (1.3%).

Last month, Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s strategist for the 2008 campaign, expressed his surprise at Clinton’s strategy as she was attempting to expand her campaign to Arizona, which she was not going to win. Schmidt said that if Clinton only defended her firewall states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan) she would be elected president.

Why didn’t Clinton campaign in predominantly white rural America? When all is said and done, Trump won 306 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232.

However, Hillary Clinton has won over 200,000 more popular votes than Trump nationwide (Clinton: 59, 814,018, or 47.7%; Trump: 59, 611, 678, or 47.5%).

This will be the second time in the last 16 years that the losing Democratic candidate will have won more popular votes nationwide (Al Gore won 600,000 more votes nationwide than George W Bush in 2000), than the winning Republican candidate. This is a blot on America’s democracy.

This is the year of the working class whites

In June, JD Vance, a former marine and Yale law school graduate, wrote a sensational memoir about working class whites: “Hillybilly Elegy: A memoir and culture in crisis.” 

He captured the frustration and hopelessness of poor whites of Scottish and Irish origin living in the Appalachian region of America, who have seen good-paying local factory jobs disappear or go abroad, and are worried that their children will be worse off than they are. They are furious with both the Republicans and Democrats for letting them down, and have found a voice in the “outsider” Donald Trump.

And Trump has played them like the Pied Piper.

If the Americans consider Donald Trump worthy of their highest elective office, the world should not quibble. This was a contest between rural and urban America. For once, rural America won

There was a method to Trump’s madness

The Trumps have a history of discrimination against blacks. His father Fred was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927 in Queens, New York.

The realtor who was renting out Trump’s apartments in New York City in the 1960s said recently that he was told by Fred Trump, in Donald Trump’s presence, not to rent his apartments to blacks. President Nixon’s justice department sued the Trumps in the 1960s and 1970s for housing discrimination against non-whites.

A Trump associate told Rolling Stone this June that he heard Trump say: “Black guys counting my money. I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear Yarmulkes every day.”

It is such a mindset that propelled Donald Trump in 2011 to sire the “Birther movement” that accused President Obama of being foreign-born, and forced the president to show his birth certificate.

This fabrication ingratiated Trump to the Republican base. Thanks to Trump, over 40% of Republicans still believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya (therefore, his presidency is illegitimate) and that he is a Muslim (he is a Christian).

Before its publication, conservative commentator Ann Coulter sent Trump a copy of her 2015 anti-immigration book: Adios America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third Hellhole.

After reading it, Trump made anti-immigration the main plank of his platform. As he came down the escalator of the Trump Tower in New York, in June 2015, shouting imprecations against Mexicans (“rapists,” criminals,” “drug dealers”), his popularity among the Republican base shot up, never to come down again.

Trump then added Muslims to the list of immigrants to be banned.

This alarmed other minority groups such as Chinese-Americans, who had suffered discrimination, and Japanese-Americans, who were imprisoned in internment camps during WWII.

Trump alienated Native Americans by repeatedly calling Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (she is part Native American), Pocahontas. In an attempt to please his white base, Trump has repeatedly insulted all minority ethnic groups -- African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans.

There are three reasons why Hillary Clinton lost: 1) When Clinton first burst into the national scene in 1992 as the presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s wife, Republicans calculated that she would run for president some day.

On radio and Fox News, they have been vilifying her ever since, resulting in Hillary’s undeserved high negatives.

2)  The installation of seven servers at home to receive and transmit confidential state department correspondence made Clinton look irresponsible.

3) FBI Director Comey’s letter to Congress saying that more emails have been found that could be pertinent (they were not), 11 days before the election, reversed Clinton’s momentum.

Many voters mistakenly believed the Republican propaganda that Clinton would be indicted if she was elected.

Bottom line 

Good candidates win, bad candidates lose.

Jimmy Carter was a bad candidate and Ronald Reagan an excellent one in 1980. George HW Bush was a good candidate, and Michael Dukakis an awful one in 1988. Bill Clinton was a very good candidate in 1992 and 1996. George W Bush was a better candidate than Al Gore (2000) and John Kerry (2004). Barack Obama was an excellent candidate in 2008 and 2012. Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate in 2016.

Donald Trump was dangerous as a candidate, and could pose a mortal threat to America as president.

In a 2012 interview, retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter prophetically predicted the appearance of a Trump-like candidate: He posited that the republic was not threatened by foreign invasion, or a military coup, but by civic ignorance: “What I worry about is, when problems are not addressed and the people do not know who is responsible … some one person will come forward and say, ‘Give me total power and I will solve this problem,’” he said.

“That is how the Roman Republic fell. That is the way democracy dies,” he added.

Fakhruddin Ahmed is a Rhodes Scholar.

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