Monday, November 14, 2016

Only silver lining in US election of Donald J. Trump

The 2016 U.S presidential elections, which was literally a reality TV show, is now behind us but the result of the election is even more shocking than the rise to power of a reality TV star who defiled everything the United States of America supposedly stands for on his way to become the country's 45th president. During the campaign, his opponent described half of his supporters as "deplorables" -- racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it. Regardless, Trump got elected. But there's a silver lining: majority of Americans did not vote for him - which means majority of Americans are not deplorables. 

On June 16, 2015 Donald J. Trump introduced himself to the world by connecting Mexican immigrants with rape and drugs, and then promised mass deportation and a border wall. In another hugely controversial statement on December 7, 2015 he called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States...". The statement provoked dismay and claims of racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia.

Screenshot of The Telegraph
It is worth mentioning that long before the presidential campaign started, Trump (and his father) were sued by the Department of Justice for racial discrimination related to their housing business in Brooklyn. They were accused of "anti-black bias" in apartment rentals in the city. Trump Management Corporation was accused of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in its operation of 39 buildings. According to the New York Times the Justice Department contended that Trump Corporation had refused to rent or negotiate rentals because of race and colors, and required different rental terms and conditions because of race as well as misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available. Assistant Attorney General at the time, J. Stanley Pottingar, told the New Times that the Trump case was referred to the Justice Department by the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

On January 23, 2016 Trump boasted that support for his presidential bid would not lose supporters even if he shoots somebody in the middle of 5th Avenue. This came after he pondered the prospect of killing journalists. At a rally in South Carolina, Trump mocked a disabled reporter by mimicking the reporter's impaired movement. In fact Donald Trump controversies abound, including the scandal involving the so-called Trump University which many of its students who paid as much as $35,000, according to The Atlantic, described as a scam. In March 2016, during the presidential campaign, a New York appeals court ruled that a lawsuit which was filed in 2013 claiming that Donald Trump's now defunct Trump University defrauded consumers can go ahead. According to the lawsuit the Trump initiative bilked thousands of students collectively of $40 million.

The list of Trump lawsuits and controversies is long. His treatment women and his attitude toward them is worthy of an honorary mention. His "blood" comments about Megyn Kelly who pressed him on his misogynistic and sexist comments about women revealed his impudent attitude toward women. Then came the story of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, and how Donald Trump bullied and ridiculed her because of her looks and Latina background. Then came the 2005 video footage in which Trump brags about sexual assault against women. The video was followed by a catalog of sexual assault allegations by several women.

My Take  

First of all, it is unconscionable that Donald Trump got elected president of the United States. His zero administrative experience, his temperament, erratic tweeting - sometimes at 3 AM - and his long list of lawsuits and controversies related to discrimination, racism, xenophobia, sexism and sexual harassment allegations should have eliminated him. Hillary Clinton was right: many - if not half - of Donald J. Trump's supporters could be put into what she calls the "basket of deplorables." Hillary later apologized for the statement -- but she should not have. There should be no apologies for calling out bigotry. Chances are anyone who supports and votes for a bigot is bigoted or does not care about bigotry. Supporters of Donald Trump, including members of Ku Klux Klan voted for a candidate who during the campaign flirted with racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, you name it; they elected a candidate who used fear-mongering and appealed to the dark side of the electorate. In the wake of his election the KKK, which endorsed him in April 2016, announced a victory parade to celebrate victory. Bona fide racists rooted for, and continue to root for Trump. Deplorable.

Donald Trump did not only embolden old school racists like established members of the KKK. His campaign inspired a new generation of racists among young students in schools and campuses around the country which are grappling with hostilities against minorities following the election. For instance, students at York County School of Technology were recorded chanting "white power" while carrying a pro-Trump sign; a prayer room for Muslim students at New York University was defaced with the word "Trump!" the day after the election; students in Royal Oak Middle School can be heard chanting "build the wall! Build the wall! in the school cafeteria. Racists graffi and hate crimes linked to Trump's campaign message have also been reported after the election.

Some analysts and commentators have argued that not all Trump supporters are deplorable because some of them are "well-meaning" ordinary Americans worried about "the establishment" and the state of the economy. I disagree. Anyone who shuns social justice in favor of  a divisive candidate who promises to fix the economy could be safely put into the basket of deplorables. According to Fareed Zakaria, Donald Trump re-made the political map because of huge support from working class whites, and right wing populism is one the rise across a variety of western countries, including in countries with strong economic growth. Many Trump supporters - mostly white working class men - used the economy in this historic election to mask racism and xenophobia, and justify their desire to "make America white again" by building a wall, banning Muslims from entering the United States, deporting millions of immigrants, amongst other things.

The only good news following the shocking outcome of the 2016 U.S presidential election campaign is the popular vote. According to CBS news Hillary Clinton is on track to winning the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election. Hours after she called Trump to concede she was winning the popular vote. It means majority of Americans cannot be put into the basket of deplorables - because majority of Americans did not vote for a deplorable candidate. Donald Trump got elected as a result of the Electoral College - a system he himself described in in a tweet in 2012 after America's first black president got re-elected as "a disaster for democracy" after America's first black president got re-elected; a system in which a candidate can win the popular vote and lose the election. Trump condemned the system regardless of the fact that Barack Obama won both the popular vote and the electoral college vote. That is how much he despised America's first black president.

When news broke that Donald J. Trump had been elected 45th U.S. president my fear was that he might have won the popular vote -- which would have meant that majority of the American electorate share his divisive views. I was relieved to an extent to learn that majority of Americans did not vote for him. Trump did not win the popular vote. It means majority of Americans do not subscribe to his views and did not want him to become president - hence the numerous anti-Trump protests in several cities and on campuses across the country following the election. The election of Trump offended the collective conscience of most Americans - many of whom took to the streets to express opposition. This, I think, is the only silver lining in what will go down in history as the most ridiculous U.S. presidential election campaign; a campaign that culminated in the election of the first most politically inexperienced, erratic, openly xenophobic, Islamophobic and sexist U.S presidential candidate who has never held public office or served in the military. The majority of Americans cannot be put into the basket of deplorables. Only a minority voted for Trump.

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