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Reuben Abati: The Sad News of Trump’s Triumph

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PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 18: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters during a campaign rally on June 18, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.Trump returned to Arizona for the fourth time since starting his presidential campaign a year ago. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)Democracy is tricky; it sometimes ends up as a parody of itself. When the people clamour for change, they can vote with their hearts, and prove impervious to plain sight reason, and overlook likely pitfalls. We can only hope that Donald Trump does not become the symbol of the change that Americans are seeking. That would be sad indeed for the free world.” – Reuben Abati, “Anything Can Happen in America”, The Guardian, March 6, 2016.

Earlier this year, I had written a piece titled “Anything Can Happen In America”, from which the quote above is excerpted, but I had virtually no idea that the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election could be so shocking, unthinkable and unbelievable. I was like the pollsters, the cultural activists, the Nobel Laureates, the American media establishment and the global community, minus Russia and Vladimir Putin, a Clintonite. I stood with her. When the unthinkable happened on Tuesday, and Americans chose as their 45th President, Donald John Trump, the real estate developer, reality television celebrity, a complete outsider who stumbled on politics and turned it into a celebrity show, I could only ask: how did it happen?

The triumph of Trumpism, a byword for incorrect conduct, misogyny, hate, racism, nativism, isolationism, anger, and defiance is sad news for the world. It is an assault on the ideals of American democracy. Trump’s triumph has left America more divided than it was a week ago, and the prospects of that nation rescuing itself from the tragic mistake it seems to have made may take long in coming. The same country that champions it the most has exposed the underbelly of democracy, that beloved option for global leadership, ironically.

Democracy is said to be driven by the values of good rather than evil, of humanity as opposed to inhumanity, individual freedom and rights rather than oppression, inclusion as different from exclusion but the same model of governance hands over power to the majority. As we have seen, the majority may not necessarily represent the will of all the people, or even the real majority, it is the choice that is made by the voting majority or as determined by the guiding rules as in the case of the United States: and no matter how stupid, illogical or unreasonable that choice may be, it is taken as the voice of the people and it is binding. This dictatorship of the determined majority has nothing to do with popular opinion or goodwill, but the actual choice that is made according to the guiding rules of the game.

Democracy, relying on the strength of numbers and local rules has fed many countries with statistically right but logically wrong outcomes. The outcome in the United States this week is completely confusing. And that explains why there have been protests across America by those chanting “notmypresident” to express their dismay over Trump’s surprise win. This is the first time in a long while that the outcome of an American Presidential election will leave the entire country so tragically divided the morning after. Even the international community is in shock. Trump’s triumph is a threat to the liberal standards on which the global order is anchored. Hillary Clinton in her concession speech said her defeat is “painful and it will be for a long time.” Not necessarily for her but for America and the rest of the world. The deepest cut is in America’s heart; the wound that has been inflicted therein by Americans themselves will be felt for a long time to come.

This year’s American general election should inspire a deeper interrogation into the nature of democracy and its many pitfalls. The people of the United States had a plain choice between good and bad alternatives. More than any other American Presidential candidate in this election, Hillary Clinton got the most impactful endorsements, yet she did not win. If the rest of the world had been asked to vote, she would have won by a landslide, but it was up to the Americans themselves to choose their own President, and they have just told us to mind our own businesses in our countries. Hillary Clinton is urbane, experienced, charming and gifted. She has proved her mettle as First Lady, Senator and as Secretary of State. She won the Presidential debates, ran a dignified and organized campaign and won the confidence of every critical constituency. Bernie Sanders who ran against her for the Democratic party’s ticket and Donald Trump, as well as their agents in many places threw mud in her direction, but the polls favoured her to the last minute.

The pollsters have been proven wrong by the choice that America has made. Hillary Clinton gave hope to generations of women across the world. Her emergence as America’s President would have broken the glass ceiling at the most powerful spot in the world, and energized young men and women across the world. America has decided to spit in the face of history and opt for misogyny birthed by ultra-conservatism. Confronted with the obvious choice of a decent, tested and experienced woman who could have given them the prize of two Presidents for the price of one, they chose a foul-mouthed, egoistic, bombastic, free-wheeling outsider with a wife whose body shape and naked assets would be part of a yet uncertain legacy.

America’s future post-Trump’s triumph is uncertain because what Trump stands for, the little that we know about that, raises nothing but anxiety, definitely not confidence. America has as President in waiting a man elected on the wings of sheer populism and racist, nativist propaganda. His campaign was anchored on the hate-propelled belief that the only way to make America great again is to shut out Muslims, blacks, immigrants, intruding neighbours from Mexico and Latin America, keep Americans for Americans only so they can have jobs and prosper, and the spin that America is not safe in the hands of women whom he considers fit only as objects and pieces of decoration.

By voting Trump, America with its intriguing electoral college system, which robs a popular candidate on technical grounds, has deleted the triumph of American-led neo-liberal progressivism in the global order. The sad news in part is that this is also a growing trend in Europe, the equivalent of Brexit. Trump’s triumph is however worse than Brexit. It is not likely “to make America great again.” It is more likely to reduce, if not jeopardize America’s influence as a stabilizing force in the global system. Donald Trump as Presidential candidate repudiated America’s commitments within the global system. He says he will pull out US troops and command stations in Europe and Asia. If he keeps to his words, he could create such instability across the globe that would result in countries which otherwise depended on the United States looking out for themselves security-wise.

Trump is perhaps America’s nemesis: too much rationalization and over-simplification of everything was bound to get the United States into trouble. The chasm between the American establishment and its ordinary people has been blown open. Washington is a living symbol of correctness on every stage, but now the people have rejected Washington and its politics. There have been about 44 female Presidents across the world, and now, the most powerful country in the world has proven itself to be less progressive than India, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Korea, Liberia, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Croatia, Nepal, Taiwan, Chile, Costa Rica, Philippines, Indonesia, Iceland, Malta, and even Kosovo! America preaches inclusion and unity in diversity, but the white, blue-collar and middle-class Americans who voted majorly for Donald Trump have shown that the average American is not interested in diversity; they want America to themselves alone. America is not a country of nationalities, it is a country of immigrants, and yet the settled immigrants want to shut the door of the land of dreams to others. Donald Trump exploited their fears. He has proven that it is possible to become President by appealing to the people’s basest instincts. Shameful.

Trump, Machiavelli’s “great-great-grandson” has through dirty tricks created a revolution from which even the same party that saw him as an outsider and treated his emergence as flag-bearer as an accident has benefitted. The Republican Party owes its ascendancy in the White House and Capitol Hill to this outsider who brought the tactics of Machiavelli, soap opera and television shows to push a failing party back to reckoning. Trump is neither Republican nor Democrat; he belongs to the party of the streets, of a racist American street motivated by a determination to reverse the misfortune of disappearing jobs in inner America, inability of make ends meet, pay children’s school fees or live decently. Americans chose Trump because he spoke the language of the streets and projected himself as their messiah. He projected himself, in his own words, as the champion of “the forgotten men and women of our country…People who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am their voice”. And so the people think, and so they voted for him so enthusiastically they even handed him the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina, which secured his victory and ended the emerging Clinton dynasty. He is the candidate of America’s children of anger.

Trump’s organized blackmail and dirty job may have given him the biggest job in the world but it will not sustain him there or make him a great President. The easiest thing to do is to promise the people change by pulling down the sitting government and the entire political Establishment. In Trump’s reckoning, he did not just defeat Hillary Clinton; he has defeated Barrack Obama, the entire Washington Establishment and its allies. Inexperienced, badly prepared and ignorant, as is the common consensus, Trump has to run the most complex governance system in the world. He can repudiate his campaign promises and turn 360 degrees. This is not beyond him. In the last year, his position on anything and everything has changed from one stop to another. Or he may choose to fulfill his bizarre promises and imperil the American Presidency and the global order. One option will expose and ridicule him. The other may fetch him the aggrieved assassin’s bullet or a one-term Presidency that could end up either as a tragi-comedy or a nauseating farce. The fulfillment of the Simpsons’ and Michael Moore’s prophecy is the highest point of America’s disillusionment. Soon enough, America will learn, at substantial cost, new lessons about its new reality. Take it easy, Hillary. Destiny is what waits for every person behind the dream.

Photo Credit: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

36 Comments

  1. tunmi

    November 11, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    There is nothing tricky about it. He is the majority’s choice. Let’s stop lamenting about it and focus on the takeaways and next steps.

    One thing to really take away from this election is that you cannot be condescending to people in regards to their choice. Trump is all of those things but you must respect people for their choice.

    • Rita

      November 11, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      He is not the majority’s choice as Hillary has more votes. He won by electoral college.

    • tunmi

      November 11, 2016 at 5:55 pm

      I meant majority by state and cumulative majority by state.

    • Lala

      November 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Have you seen the video of white kids in school taunting their brown colleagues with the slogan, ‘make America white again’?

      Go on the Guardian newspaper online – the U.K Guardian and see the correlation between Trump and Hitler. Hitler came to power on nativist and populist vote in the 1930’s by stoking fear against minorities- who happened to be Jews. He said that Jews had stolen their jobs and that the establishment were not listening to the people and based on his ability to tap into their fears, he was voted into power. We all know how that ended, of course with a holocaust.
      Go on the DailyMail, the KKK are planning a rally to celebrate Trumps victory.
      I fear that because African migrants came to America after the hardworking of civil rights movements, we unlike African Americans and Jews are least sensitive to underlying racism and its effects.
      During the rally, many Trumpsters were shouting Jew SA and it’s no secret that white men hate Jews and Jews are already organising themselves on how to respond to this.

      When things like this happen, let us not be quick to dismiss people’s anxieties and fears especially where history is repeating itself. I try to read opinion pieces from people on both sides of the argument so that I can form a balanced opinion of things.

      Yes, Trump has won and there’s nothing people can do about it but people who are worried about the wave of populism on which he won are seeing the very same 1930’s Xenophobia on which Germany elected Hitler which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews who were burnt alive in gas chambers. By the way, do you know what Hitler’s campaign slogan was? It was very similar to this: ‘Make Germany great again.’ The irony is that Hitler was an immigrant in Germany- he’s believed to be of Austrian decent. Trump’s mother was born in Scotland.

      Let our answers to everything not be too simplistic and childish. Our education is so that we can synthesise information without sentiments and agree or disagree objectively. If we can’t do this, then maybe Nigerian universities are handing us certificates without imparting into us the capacity for rational thinking.

      Peace.

    • anon

      November 11, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you lala. We can learn a lot from history.

    • ShushLala

      November 11, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      LALA please stop, the Guardian? really? Hilary is not electable simple as, it was her election to lose and she lost it, the electoral college is there for a reason, of course bigger states with more people cannot be compared with the rural states but it doesn’t mean that their voice should not be heard just because they are a small state, Trump won more states that Hilary end of.
      There will always be racism, misogyny and to an extent bigotry…..it’s the world we live in.
      It’s funny how Nigerians that can’t even marry outside their tribe and religion are quick to call white ppl racist are for real?
      The Americans made the right decision in electing Trump!

    • Vertblancvert.

      November 11, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      @Lala. “”I try to read opinion pieces from people on both sides of the argument so that I can form a balanced opinion of things.””

      You are something very rare and very precious. Not so much among the people I call my friends but definitely very much so it seems, among the majority of the Nigerian populace in these times, and most certainly in the high majority of those who comment on BN (not necessarily among those who read BN but certainly among those who comment).

      You try (you make the EFFORT) to hear from BOTH and ALL sides.
      You are vested in having a BALANCED VIEW.
      You do RESEARCH. (people come on BN to make comments and/or ask questions that a simple, quick Google search would correct, clarify or answer for them. They even ask questions or make comments that if they had unbiased eyes, and no preformed, prejudices along with a modicum of intelligence, they would have taken note of articles and posts, sometimes SERIES of articles and posts on this same BN that would have correctly informed the comments and questions they make and ask but because BALANCE is not what they are here for … )

      I thank God for you.

      It is because I know myself and I know my friends and my family and family friends, other families, and so many people through work, business associates, and work friends, etc that I know that many Nigerians, are not represented in the demographic(s) shown in the comments sections on BN. But I often read comments and am concerned that non-Nigerians reading from all over the world assume that what they see in the comments sections of BN represents an accurate and complete snapshot of all Nigerians and Nigeria. I, also, know that a significant percentage of those who comment on BN are NOT Nigerian although some choose not to state this and knowingly leave the impression that they are and some actually state that they are when they are not.

      For that quote above alone, and all it represents, thank you. You are as a breath of fresh air, or, as a rain shower in the desert.

      Peace.

    • tunmi

      November 11, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Continuing to lament after he’s won is medicine after death. Frankly I think his win is best for the United States. It can either help them or hurt them. It’s their racist attitudes right in their face, and they either acknowledge it for what it is or let it destroy them.

    • Strolling by...

      November 11, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      Lala, thank you!

    • Mujer

      November 12, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      Reuben, what happened in America started in Nigeria in 2015, moved into Phillipines and Britain this year, and then arrived the shores of Amreeka this November. It is many things wrapped in a political time bomb – disillusionment, downward social mobility, a generally non-inclusive economic system, increased and visible movement of a previously marginalized group toward achieving a higher social and/or economic standing than what was previously, arrogant and non-chalant leaders, massive oppression of the masses. When people are serially oppressed, they are vulnerable to their emotions. The most inhuman part is when the ruling class ride on these emotions without the intent to actually change the circumstances of the oppressed. When that happens, chaos erupts. Everybody has a snapping point.

  2. Mrs Oluwole

    November 11, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    This is a great writeup! “destiny is what waits for every person behind the dream” Hilary should not bury her dreams, she can still be the president. When people want change, they do not in most cases care about who is promising it, all they want to see, is CHANGE but something is telling me that Trump will not fulfill his promises. Obama promised to bring back home the troops fighting in Iraq, instead he sent more troops over. When Trump sees the reality on ground I.e, that a tree cannot make a forest, he will CHANGE his mind. Fingers crossed though.

    • bruno

      November 11, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      hillary can still be president ke? its like it hasnt sunk into the skulls of many of u. it is over for crooked hillary and the entire Clinton dynasty. her political career is over. this is the end of her. the next stop for hillary Clinton is prison.

      we are waiting for the person donald trump will appoint as attorney general. if that person (probably a republican)doesn’t like hillary Clinton forget it she is going to jail cause donald trump made a campaign promise to look this corrupt woman up if he is elected.

      obama u better use this ur remaining 70 days in office to grant hillary Clinton a presidential pardon. #lock her up #hillary for prison.

    • anon

      November 11, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Bruno you do know what trump feels about Gays dont you? Just asking. Imagine what he feels about AFRICAN AND HOMOSEXUAL.

    • ogeAdiro

      November 11, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      “Obama promised to bring back home the troops fighting in Iraq, instead he sent more troops over.” How many troops did the U.S. have in Iraq in 2008 and how many do they have there now? All this misinformation is nauseating.

  3. Cece

    November 11, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Exactly! Why cry over spilt milk? The majority was tired of Obama’s administration and knew some of his legacy might continue with Hilary Clinton so they voted for a different party. This election is really about the new party involved not Donald Trump. People want a change and especially someone not tied to the Obama administration. I am sure Donald Trump won’t enforce all those things he said about deportation because he will not be working alone as president. It’s also interesting to note that despite the women assault saga about Donald Trump, less women voted for Clinton than Obama during his campaign in 2008. Ask the people in America why they voted for Trump and not Clinton! Let’s face our own country and the issues involved.

  4. A Real Nigerian

    November 11, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    What does this ugly, disgusting man think he is writing? This shameless, corrupt Jonathan apologist who stole a plethora of money that has led to the indirect death of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians is talking about morals and democracy? STFU you dumb f*%k.
    Hypocritical, wicked, greedy, corrupt b!%#h a** n**%#r. You can only deceive the blind, brain-dead Nigerians with your smooth talk. Look at this corrupt f*#k.
    Typical, pathetic Nigerian man. Disgusting.

    • anon

      November 11, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      Its funny you hate nigerian men calling them out as whatever but you show great support for a white man who grabs women by their private parts. ????

    • A Real Nigerian

      November 11, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Where did I ever show support for him? Stop telling lies.

  5. A Real Nigerian

    November 11, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    May God help your f**%#ng souls, BN, if you don’t post my goddamn comment.

  6. A Real Nigerian

    November 11, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    F*#%ing TRIGGERED. This shyt article reminds me why I hate NIGERIAN MEN so much.
    STFU! How dare you, you f#*%&ng corrupt f#%k!

    • EE

      November 11, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      And I was just commenting how mellowed out you’ve become.

      Wrote too soon.??????

    • James

      November 11, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      BN needs to start moderating this site to maintain the quality standards.

  7. A Real Nigerian

    November 11, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Look at this sad, tragic, hopeless man who is corrupt and depraved talking about morals, talking about democracy. WTF!!! How DARE you!!!?!!??!
    Keep on censoring my comment, BN. This is f*#kng BellaNaija not BellaChina. Don’t censor me, goddamnit!
    This man needs to shut the f*@k up!!

  8. bruno

    November 11, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    if there’s one thing this election has taught me is celebrities, pop stars actors and actresses arent as influential or as powerful as the media like to make them out to be. just because u have 80 million follwers on instagram or 50 million twitter followers that doesn’t mean u are powerful or people will obey what u say or do what u tell them to do.

    who didn’t endorse crooked hillary. leonardo dicarpro lady gaga katy perry uzo aduba, Beyoncé jay z infact the entire Hollywood. even vogue magazine endorsed hillary. adele told her americans fans to vote for hillary. but still,hillary lost. im most surprised about beyonce. when beyonce endorsed hillary I thought it was over for trump. cause we the beeyhive obey the orders of the queen.
    the way the media like to do as if beyonce is so powerful and anything she says or does is final.

    beyonce endorsing hillary and hillary still losing the election can damage her brand. I have Been monitoring beyonce’s instagram to check if she will delete those videos and pictures of her endorsing hillary. lol

  9. Ngozi

    November 11, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    I agree with you Bruno 100%, all the celebrities couldn’t help Hitlary. Lol. Trump winning was the best choice after the democrats screwed Bernie Sanders. I knew Trump would win so I wasn’t shocked with the result. Trump’s message (although very rude) was able to reach out to the poor and the middle class. Now Hilary can go and rest and take of her health if she doesn’t go to jail. Lol.

  10. LemmeRant

    November 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    You will not write about your arrest and your experience with EFCC, its Trump you will be writing about.

  11. Mrs Oluwole

    November 11, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    @Bruno, yes beni, Hilary can still be president! Am not saying Trumps mandate is going to be stolen am just talking about dreams. You know, not giving up. Read about the 16th American president, his failures and successes and closer home, Buhari. So it has sunk into my brain, am just talking about the future.

    • Tosin

      November 11, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      I’m a dreamer too.
      NeverTrump, Never.

  12. ...just saying

    November 11, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    So writes the one who is soooo concerned about what happens in the other room of his former colleagues in Aso Rock and followed up out of Aso Rock. I’ve had no respect for this man since I read that crap.

  13. sheedah

    November 11, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    This piece here is talking to the apc who promised change,only for Nigerians to realise they were in for something worse.

  14. Lacey

    November 11, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    America got a president who they deserve! So I am wondering why the pain from Nigeria! All I can right now is how to make Africa and Nigeria great again!I really do not care right now about what will happen or what Trump is going to do!

  15. Blessed Child

    November 11, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    My people, always remember that power belongs to God. So stop cracking your heads. Most of the time man’s choice is usually not God’s choice. By the hand of God American people have made their choice. So fellow Nigerians pack well.

    • Mujer

      November 12, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      You are right dear. Let us remember that God’s hand sometimes is to punish a wicked and vile generation. What Amreekans just received is a combo of Pharoah and Nebuchaddenezzar. Waiting to see how they manage it.

  16. ebie

    November 12, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Make una leave God out of this matter o. Man- made things will never last.

  17. Bowl

    November 13, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    I am inclined to believe there is more to Trump’s victory above popular reasons adduced in the above write up.These reasons have refused to explain the victory to me.

  18. BEN10

    November 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I had such thinking but I never did believe it would really happen that way with Donald Trump.

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