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Comr. Ahmad Ibrahim SajohHonourable Commissioner State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Yola  

By Ahmad Sajoh

The World is in shock due to the surprise that accompanied the American election of Tuesday 8th November 2016. Most people including this writer never gave Donald Trump a chance to win. But win he did. The question since the historic election had been how? How did Trump overcome all the predictions, opinion polls and the poor showings during presidential debates to emerge victorious? What lessons are there to learn from this turn of events? To understand what happens it may be necessary to look at source of the issues that really shaped the elections.

First and famous is the question of American strength. Americans are really carried away by the notion of their country being the strongest in the world. Over the years, America had suffered major set-backs in terms of law and order, internal security and its foray in world military politics. The growing influence of Russia in shaping middle eastern military policies, the reduction in American troops in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other places as well as the creation of the Islamic state have all combined to show America as being weak. Additionally, the Arab spring had shown the world that the Middle East and north Africa have the potential unified and united action.

Hence to all average American, the strength of America is under threat and hence it needed a very strong president not a “woman”.

The second issue that may have engineered the surprise is the “supposed” untrustworthiness of Hilary Clinton. Events that occurred while she served as secretary of state had definitely made her an immensely qualified person to be president based or her experiences in government. But it also opened her to the biggest baggage she had to carry in an election year. The use of her private e-mail server for official purposes made her very untrustworthy among American voters. This was made worst by the FBI opening a new investigation a few days to the elections.

Another very critical factor that worked against Hillary Clinton was her health status. Diagononised with Nneumonia during the campaigns, Hillary Clinton almost fell down during one of her outings. Americans are indeed apprehensive of electing a president that may likely die in office or remain incapacitated due to health concerns. As such many saw a Clinton vote as a gamble.

The status of the American Congress is also a major factor in deciding how the elections went. Already the Republicans controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives. And with 1/3 of the seats up for grabs in the 2016 elections, Republicans worked very hard to maintain their majority regardless of their views on Trump who is their presidential candidate. It is hard to convince ordinary voters to vote for a particular candidate at one level and another at a different level. So there was an American “SAK” during the November 8th election in the USA.

Let it be known that it has not always been just such extraneous factors that determined the outcome in favour of Donald Trump. No the man himself played a significant role is attracting voters that gave him the surprise victory. Donald Trump is a first timer in big time American electoral process. He is aged 70 years and had studied in the University of Pennsylvania. He has ensured a strong connection with the American grassroots through his brash and no-holds-barred style of talking throughout the campaign. With his slogan of “Lets make American Great Again”, he comes out as a “fighter” capable of defending American. Compared to a weak democratic candidates seen as both a woman and not very healthy, he comes out in the mould of a modern day “Smooking Joe” the American hero with two guns blazing ready to defeat the enemy. He is also a very successful person who has built an empire through construction works, real estate and ownership of a chain of casinos. As a promoter of gambling, Donald Trump is himself a professional gambler in politics. Part of his gambling method which paid up handsomely was his altercations with the American establishment. He came out as fighting not just Clinton or the Democrats, but the entire American establishment including the leadership of his party. He disagreed with the “Washington establishment” whom he often referred to as power mongers siding with big corporations against ordinary people. For an enlightened community like the USA, these kind of rhetoric very easily clicks with the people.

Donald Trump also picked on issues that was popular with the people in America but needed a radical gambler in politics to mention. Some of these issues are immigration, the drug menace, gun control and indeed unemployment some of his acidic talks such as barring Muslims from entering the USA may sound outrageous but they get very well with all American public that is daily exposed to stories in the media which identify murderers as “Muslims” whether they are Americans or immigrants. Keeping away Mexicans and other “Latinos” may be extreme but with increasing contraction of job opportunities for Native Americans, any suggestion that these immigrants are taking away their jobs will find listening ears. As for the change in policy relating to children born in American being automic citizens even the
practice of Nigerian  ruling elite who send their pregnant wives to the US to give birth is enough to expose the policy as not popular with native Americans. I had this argument with an Americans as far back as 1998 in the city of Kansas when I was made an honorary citizens of the city. They believe that this purposive births are intended to deny their children opportunities in the future.

It eventually turned out that many Americans had simply hidden their sympathies for trump and his Some what “Radical” disposition until the right moment. And this is the biggest lesson of the 2016 US presidential elections, Politicians in America and indeed anywhere else in the world including Nigeria should not assume that words expressed by political bigwigs at political gatherings or the enthusiastic chants of supporters at campaign rallies represent popular opinion. The people may feel differently and at the appropriate time they are bound to express their preferences which may turn out to be totally different from the popular positions.

The second lesson is that established power mongers at the nation’s capital or other political centres of governance may not necessarily control the minds of ordinary voters. So those who often rely on endorsement by major stakeholders at party or government levels may not necessarily have their way with the electorate.

Another lesson had to do with popular messages given during campaigns. Often times, people tend to want to be politically decent by avoiding hard hitting statements often referred to as reckless. During the 2016 American elections, what determines which statements are acceptable or not should be the position of the electorates on election day and not necessary what the establishment views as acceptable or otherwise.

Perhaps the biggest causality of the 2016 American election is the media. The Press had always prided itself as the shaper of electoral outcomes especially in developed societies like the USA. That position had been demystified. Donald Trump fought the media throughout the campaign even calling them election riggers. The Press had in turn chummed out opinion polls consistently putting Clinton ahead of Trump in the end, all the supposed “Media support” and opinion polls by the Press did not translate into victory for Hilary Clinton. It was Donald Trump the supposed underdog, the looser of all Presidential Debates and the man with the “Reckless” statement that emerged victorious. That is a very big lesson for all of us and we must all concede defeat.

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