November 9, 2016
The choice is made. More than 15 months of campaign has come to an end with the election of Donald J. Trump, as President of the United States. To say the path to the Presidency was smooth for the President Elect would be an understatement but, at the end, what matters is winning the Electoral Votes. With a 289 Electoral votes to Clinton’s 218, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. No doubt 2016 election will remain as one of the fiercest in Presidential history, the outcome was shocking as many expected Hillary Clinton to win.
The choice of Trump, denied Clinton the opportunity to shatter the glass ceiling, which made the office of the President a male dominated role for decades. The past weeks will go down as the craziest in Presidential politics with Donald Trump, unwilling to give up amid the email allegations that became a talking point and helped energize his campaign against the Clinton camp. With the election now behind us, it is unclear what went wrong for Clinton, despite the mishaps by Trump.
Clinton’s defeat is a surprise to those who believe Trump’s Presidential bid was doomed, the moment it began at the Trump Tower. Those in shock at the magnitude of Clinton’s defeat are her supporters, who for the past 15 months believed the candidate would win with all polls indicating Trump’s path to the Oval Office was slim. How Trump won this election is a matter for Presidential historians to study. Many thought a Clinton defeat was impossible, since Trump ran a controversial campaign that could help deliver victory to the first Female President.
A look at the level of insults this campaign season showed Trump, as the most vulgar candidate in election history. Part of his campaign promises was building a wall to keep immigrants out and during his campaign he called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals.”
In 2012 after Mitt Romney lost the election, the GOP was determined to gain minority support by changing the negative rhetoric and showing it is not a party against minorities. The emergence of Trump changed all that and the message with the insults helped alienate the same electoral bloc the Republican Party hoped to bring, giving Clinton the opportunity to appear as a better candidate.
As the Presidential campaign gained momentum, the popular view was Trump lacked the knowledge and temperament to be President. The debates showed the candidate as deficient in policy issues and while he is a savvy businessman, he did not demonstrate the knowledge and experience necessary to be President or leader of a free world.
Since the acumen to lead is a requirement for the job, many considered Trump an embarrassment, while some believed America would be taking the risks of putting in place a President with no skills in making proper decisions and judgment on domestic and foreign issues, but as it turned out, Trump was able to overcome the negative views to become President.
The Republican nominee also faced adverse reactions from members of his own party. He ran his campaign as an outsider with a plan to end the establishment and politics of Washington. Since party members were divided over their support for Trump, it became difficult for his presidential bid to survive amid the fracture within his party, putting him at a disadvantage from his opponent with a solid Democratic base.
Some established members led by the Bush clan, refused to vote for Trump. Also, Senator McCain did not vote for the Republican nominee and more than 40 Republican members of Congress including Governors refused to support Trump with their votes. Under such a strong opposition within his party, the belief was it would be impossible for Trump to win key constituencies he needed to take the Presidency from Clinton, but despite, Trump survived to win the election.
Another blow to Trump’s candidacy was the allegation of sexual misconduct. When the story broke, about 11 women presented claims of sexual improprieties against Trump. And with the election process so difficult, women were turned away from the candidate because they believed he showed no respect for women by thinking he could do anything to their body without repercussions.
Also, people saw the video and heard Trump brag about groping women, a powerful voting bloc no candidate wants to lose. After the stories of his sexual misconduct emerged, Trump failed to properly apologize but instead, blamed Bill Clinton and attacked Hillary for not supporting the women with assault allegations against the former President. As his poll numbers began to tank over the allegations, gaining back the support of women became difficult but as it turned out, he recovered from the loss on Election Day.
Also, Trump committed a political error by allowing Wikileaks as an agent for his candidacy. His association with Wikileaks turned support away from his campaign, while many considered him unpatriotic for letting Julian Assange meddle in U.S. electoral process. The organization that was once a model for preventing government encroachment on basic human rights became a political tool and not only that, most people thought the organization was used by one candidate to change the course of U.S election.
The fact that an organization that collaborates with the Russian government could hack into a Presidential campaign, with the goal to change America’ choice for President, is unprecedented and as a result of his collaboration with Wikileaks, many thought Trump would lose support and give Clinton victory but yet, he survived.
The candidate also demonstrated no faith in the U.S. electoral process, with his allegations of voter fraud. Trump claimed the election would be rigged before Americans had the chance to vote. He had no fact to back his allegations of election fraud and by promoting unsubstantiated fraud claims, some believed he became unpredictable and unappealing to Independents but still, he managed to defeat Clinton and won the Election.
There was also a general view that Trump is a bigot. One character portrayed by the candidate throughout his campaign was his inability to listen. He became intolerant towards those with a different opinion from him. Trump wanted things his own way even when people around him saw things differently and with such a leadership style, it was clear his campaign was near end however, he carried on through the election to defeat his opponent.
Besides the bigotry, Trump’s attack on the media was continuous throughout his campaign. In fact, no candidate accused the media more than Trump in U.S. election history. He claimed media bias numerous times and verbally attacked members of the press at his rallies.
At one point, Trump said he would “end the media,” a statement many believed is a threat to one of the bedrock of the constitution, the First Amendment. By threatening the media, he became a threat to free speech and the right of the media to diligently scrutinize a candidate for President, giving his opponent a leverage to attack his temperament but even with that, Clinton failed to win the Presidency.
The general view was Trump would lose to Clinton because of minority vote. He ran a negative campaign and made statements demeaning of Blacks and Hispanics at his rallies. Because of the negative tone of his campaign, minority votes moved away from Trump, making it impossible to get a sizable support from those key electorates that later voted in record numbers for Clinton but yet, Trump became President.
In this election, the electorates voted decisively to usher a new era for America by choosing Trump over Clinton. Despite all, what went wrong for Clinton remains unclear, but now that the election is over, the nation must begin the healing process to correct the divisive tone of the campaigns. The President Elect, made campaign promises he must now deliver because after all, it is why his supporters chose him over Clinton.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available on Amazon. Follow on Twitter @san0670.