Hillary Clinton had portrayed the Trump campaign as divisive. Even she quoted Abraham Lincoln saying “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. But Trump is not the cause of the division within the American society rather a symptom of the division. Perhaps such erroneous perception and inability to figure out the real troubles of the American society played a role in Clinton’s defeat. This may help to understand why Clinton lost while the more puzzling and key question is what the secret of Trump’s victory is?
In order to discover the secret of Trump’s astounding victory, two crucial components of his campaign should be identified: who are the electorate that voted for him and how he had persuaded them. Data on voters clearly show that white Christian mainly working-class Americans with conservative views constituted the core of Trump’s electorate. The Clinton campaign had largely missed to consider this particular majority group of population as she had been much obsessed with minorities leading to disregarding hence alienating the majority. “Though Clinton’s platform was inarguably more progressive than Trump’s, she failed to communicate those policies to the voters who needed to hear it most. Instead, she focused on girl-power anthems and cultivated wealthy celebrity surrogates who were incapable of addressing the grievances that fuelled Trump’s campaign” says Sarah Jones from the New Republic.
In a way, election campaign is an intimate communication between voter and candidate. A voter identifies problems and figures out which candidate is likely to help solve them. Meanwhile the candidate identifies his/her potential target electorate and figures out how to persuade them. The Trump campaign skillfully caught up with the pulse of the time. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton built on her previous campaigning experience and failed to send a proper message to white working-class Americans. Hillary often referred back to her time as Secretary of State and cited her past successes while Trump’s backlash was “Hillary Has Experience, But It’s Bad Experience”. He lambasted her failures such as the Benghazi tragedy and email scandal. More importantly, Trump tapped into the veins of angry white Americans providing a ‘forward-looking’, often wishful and mesmerizing though, vision for the future to come.
Not various minorities such as Latinos, Muslims, women, Afro-Americans, LGBT communities but the majority white Christian Americans decided the outcome of the US election 2016. They had become fatigue of talks about both minorities and external problems and threats. They utterly needed a domestic focus. The Trump campaign caught the moment by emphasizing the domestic focus. However, Clinton got stuck in appeasing already attracted minorities and focusing on external issues to the apparent irritation of conservative white Americans, who were increasingly feeling minority with the domestic problems remaining unattended despite their factual majority. This portion of population is dissatisfied with demographic change, living standards, unemployment, and lack of social benefits, and feels frustrated by the previous administrations, which have let them down. “Trump has been able to appeal to a certain group of folks who feel left out or are worried about the rapidity of demographic change, social change, who, in some cases, have very legitimate concerns around the economy and are feeling left behind”, Obama said. But the president maintained that these people do not make up “the majority of America”. It appears that Democrats failed to properly assess the scale of folks, who had bought into Trump’s promises, and turned out to be crucial in the defeat of Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s electorate perceives Muslims and immigration as a threat to the socio- economic welfare and a threat to their identity. Trump came up with one solution for the two problems: his identity-based solution was to address both the threats to socio-economic welfare and to the identity. His radical proposals on banning Muslims’ entry to the US, deportation of illegal immigrants, and construction of the wall in the Mexican border were seen through the lens of white Christian Americans as a solution to the imminent threat to their identity, and ultimately as a solution to the socio-economic problems. Many Americans view immigrants as grabbing their jobs and sucking taxpayers’ money as social benefits. Yet drug trafficking and criminal activities are often associated with those of Latino background. And almost all presidential candidates had talked about and promised tackling the immigration issue. They all forgot their promises once the election campaign had ended.
In his first interview after the election victory Trump said that “We’re losing this country. That’s why I won the election. And by the way, won it easily”. Trump chose to play the identity card instead of lecturing on liberal values and detailing economic and other programs. He skillfully addressed the sentiments and emotions rather than the intelligence of potential voters. Trump’s identity-based policies represented a temptation to both those who are concerned over the identity threat and those who are concerned over socio-economic problems.
The previous US administrations had used identity politics to rally domestic support for external interventions in Muslim countries. Now trump played the same card but just for the election campaign. Moreover, the previous administrations and election campaigns had scapegoated Islamic extremism and immigration in particular from Mexico and other Latin American countries for problems and failures for nearly 15 years. Also media and opinion makers had depicted Muslims and Latino immigrants. Apparently, most voters for Trump genuinely perceive Muslims and immigrants as a major source of threat to their welfare and life-styles. “Muslims have become popular scapegoats in every election since George W. Bush became president” says Daniel Bush from PBS. But what Trump did differently from the previous campaigns is that he scapegoated the administrations and Washington establishment for failing to settle the problems regarding Muslims and immigrants, and offered radical solutions such as imposing total ban on Muslims’ entry into the United States, and deportation of millions of Mexican immigrants. In fact, Trump won primaries due to such radical statements, which boosted his popularity.
Interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq didn’t solve but amplified the problem. For around 15 years of the so-called war on terror, Americans felt fatigue of too much talk about Islamist extremism with little effect of counter-extremism policies and actions. The war on terror and interventions drew enormous amounts of funds and resources, which could be used for the well-being of American citizens. Yet these massive military campaigns failed to produce the intended outcomes. Instead, the US got stuck in the Middle East and elsewhere, and had to go through troubled times with Russia. “Trump, under the rubric of “America First ,” was critical of military interventions driven by a particular internationalist narrative such as the global war on terrorism or the responsibility to protect rather than interventions to advance traditional notions of national interests”. And here is another issue: amid growing tensions with Russia, the US allocates big funds to defense systems in Eastern Europe for NATO. Tensions with Russia over Ukraine and Syria, on-going turmoil in the Middle East, and related US and NATO efforts and actions have captured the focus of media and administrations hence diverting attention and resources from immediate socio-economic needs of Americans to outside problems.
Trump would seek to bring into reality some of his pre-election promises and could retreat from some others. Many checks-and-balances are in place in the US. So, the president alone is not able to implement significant portion of policies. Even if the president was able to make sure necessary support from proper authorities, just the practicalities wouldn’t allow for successful implementation. Just a few quick examples: how one can identify who is Muslim and who is not. If citizens of a whole Muslim-majority country is banned from entering in the US, what about non-Muslim citizens of that country? If all Muslims are banned, how they would identify Muslim citizens of non-Muslim countries? Yet alone there are so many economic, business and lots of other sorts of vital ties between the US and Muslims and Muslim countries, where Americans are utterly interested, and billions of dollars from Muslim countries are invested or deposited in the US. Another example is that how one can pack millions of illegal Latino immigrants into busses to send to their home countries. These are just a few very simplistic practicalities. In Trump ’s telling , “America’s problems are simple, self-inflicted and easily reversible, once the right man is sitting in the Oval Office”. Yet there are most complicated issues concerning NATO or free trade. NATO is not just about security and military alliance. The US is much dependent on global integration in general and transatlantic integration in particular. Revising the terms in NATO and free trade agreements is much easier said than done. Neither NATO nor free trade is American charity, and both are as much beneficial to the US as no less than that to other participants. Leaving trade agreements and increasing taxes and levies on imports into the US will trigger consequences. The United States’ trade counterparts like China, India, Brazil and others will seek retaliation and substitute for imported US goods and services. Yet one can imagine creation of jobs at home by bringing back US companies from China, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia and the likes, where salaries are incomparably lower than in the US, means rising costs at the domestic market and much less competitiveness abroad. Yet large portions of the American consumers perhaps many of who voted for Trump would encounter higher price US-manufactured goods at Walmart stores instead of Chinese-made cheap alternatives they have used to have. Many immigrants do such ‘dirty’ or low-paid jobs in the US many Americans wouldn’t. A white working-class American would feel the impact of his vote when he will have to pay much more to a white American nanny or nurse than the immigrant. Of course, this is not most Trump voters hope for. “History shows it can be hard to fulfill vows that sounded easier to make in front of cheering crowds on the campaign trail”.
One absolutely significant point is that some republicans opposed Trump not because of his statements, but just because they didn’t expect him to win. Even many republicans understood concerns of white Christian Americans but they either didn’t dare or didn’t want to do what Trump did. House Speaker Paul Ryan “repeatedly criticized Trump throughout the campaign, slamming his call to ban Muslims and at one point calling his attacks on a Mexican-American judge the “textbook definition of racism,” only to embrace him in the election’s closing days”. Ryan immediately congratulated Trump on “His Big Night” and also spoke with his running mate Mike Pence”.
“I think Trump has the idea that things move very quickly in his world, but his world is very different than the political world,” said Behrends Foster, a partner at Bluestone Strategies. But Trump is well-aware of that a big deal of his proposed solutions and policies are too unrealistic to be implemented due to a range of reasons. As a star reality showman, he is skilful in dealing and even playing with emotions and sentiments of people using the problems they face. Trump was lucky enough as he led the potential electorate to buying into his unrealistic promises. Trump’s electorate just ignored Clinton’s calling him ‘Putin’s puppet’, serial sexual misconduct accusations by women, and wider anti-Trump because he had already won their hearts. In order to bring his presidency ambition into reality, he made quite controversial statements and magnetic promises to appease angry white Christian working-class Americans with conservative views and mesmerized them into voting for him.
From the moment of Trump’s victory speech, he has started to show signs of retreatment from his previous statements. “He offered unusually warm words for Mrs. Clinton, who he has suggested should be in jail”. It is likely that his tone would increasingly change for more realistic and less emotional. Yet his first meeting with incumbent president Barack Obama is another sign of such a change in tone. Furthermore, much of his pre-election promises are missing in his plan for first 100 days. But that is not the change his voters expect. They expect him to deliver what he has staunchly and enthusiastically promised. Now it is not clear whether he would be able to deliver. What is clear at this point is that the history has repeatedly demonstrated leaders such as Trump quickly rising in the wave of high popular expectations is likely to end up face to face with frustration of those people in case of failure to deliver. Yet possible conflict of interests between Trump’s business and presidency is and will remain under the spotlight of media and public. Imagining the public frustration to be seen in the light of that conflict, it would just add more fuel to the anger and discontent.
A conclusion is that white Christian Americans feel that their identity and socio- economic wellbeing are threatened by Muslims and immigration. US administrations had scapegoated Muslims and immigration for many problems and failures for many years. Moreover, media and opinion-makers have played a significant role of demonization of Muslims and immigrants. In that context, many Americans view the Washington establishments as too incompetent to address those imminent problems. At this point, Donald Trump stepped in the election campaign 2016 with his anti-establishment agenda to play the identity card. He was courageous enough to be politically incorrect and offer unrealistic and drastic solutions and policies to win hearts and votes of Americans. Ultimately, he mesmerized white Christian Americans into voting for him to become the president of the United States of America. But it is too naïve to expect the Trump presidency to cause a drastic change in the US foreign policy. Trump would struggle between efforts to realize the expectations of his electorate and uniting the much divided America. Yet another challenging task is to do all that without harming vital US interests abroad. Furthermore, once he is in the Oval office, Trump will have access to absolutely confidential reports, which would probably soothe his defiant temperament and anti-establishment rhetoric. Anyway, the Trump presidency would definitely refresh both the foreign policy and the domestic policy. Whether that refreshment would turn out positive or negative is much dependent on Trump’s ability to deliver, which is anyone’s guess.
A self-inflicted wound: Trump surrenders the West’s moral high ground
For the better part of a century, the United States could claim the moral high ground despite allegations of hypocrisy because its policies continuously contradicted its proclaimed propagation of democracy and human rights. Under President Donald J. Trump, the US has lost that moral high ground.
This week’s US sanctioning of 28 Chinese government entities and companies for their involvement in China’s brutal clampdown on Turkic Muslims in its troubled north-western province of Xinjiang, the first such measure by any country since the crackdown began, is a case in point.
So is the imposition of visa restrictions on Chinese officials suspected of being involved in the detention and human rights abuses of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.
The irony is that the Trump administration has for the first time elevated human rights to a US foreign policy goal in export control policy despite its overall lack of concern for such rights.
The sanctions should put the Muslim world, always the first to ring the alarm bell when Muslims rights are trampled upon, on the spot.
It probably won’t even though Muslim nations are out on a limb, having remained conspicuously silent in a bid not to damage relations with China, and in some cases even having endorsed the Chinese campaign, the most frontal assault on Islam in recent history.
This week’s seeming endorsement by Mr. Trump of Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds, who backed by the United States, fought the Islamic State and were guarding its captured fighters and their families drove the final nail into the coffin of US moral claims.
The endorsement came on the back of Mr. Trump’s transactional approach towards foreign policy and relations with America’s allies, his hesitancy to respond robustly to last month’s missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, his refusal to ensure Saudi transparency on the killing a year ago of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his perceived empathy for illiberals and authoritarians symbolized by his reference to Egyptian field marshal-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as “my favourite dictator.”
Rejecting Saudi and Egyptian criticism of his intervention in Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the United States and Mr. Trump a blunt preview of what they can expect next time they come calling, whether it is for support of their holding China to account for its actions in Xinjiang, issues of religious freedom that are dear to the Trump administration’s heart, or specific infractions on human rights that the US opportunistically wishes to emphasize.
“Let me start with Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Erdogan said in blistering remarks to members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). “Look in the mirror first. Who brought Yemen to this state? Did tens of thousands of people not die in Yemen?” he asked, referring to the kingdom’s disastrous military intervention in Yemen’s ruinous civil war.
Addressing Mr. Al-Sisi, Mr. Erdogan charged: “Egypt, you can’t talk at all. You are a country with a democracy killer.” The Turkish leader asserted that Mr. Al-Sisi had “held a meeting with some others and condemned the (Turkish) operation – so what if you do?”
The fact that the United States is likely to encounter similar responses, even if they are less belligerent in tone, as well as the fact that Mr. Trump’s sanctioning of Chinese entities is unlikely to shame the Muslim world into action, signals a far more fundamental paradigm shift: the loss of the US and Western moral high ground that gave them an undisputed advantage in the battle of ideas, a key battleground in the struggle to shape a new world order.
China, Russia, Middle Eastern autocrats and other authoritarians and illiberals have no credible response to notions of personal and political freedom, human rights and the rule of law.
As a result, they countered the ideational appeal of greater freedoms by going through the motions. They often maintained or erected democratic facades and payed lip service to democratic concepts while cloaking their repression in terms employed by the West like the fight against terrorism.
By surrendering the West’s ideological edge, Mr. Trump reduced the shaping of the new world order to a competition in which the power with the deeper pockets had the upper hand.
Former US national security advisor John Bolton admitted as much when he identified in late 2018 Africa as a new battleground and unveiled a new strategy focused on commercial ties, counterterrorism, and better-targeted U.S. foreign aid.
Said international affairs scholar Keren Yarhi-Milo: “The United States has already paid a significant price for Trump’s behaviour: the president is no longer considered the ultimate voice on foreign policy. Foreign leaders are turning elsewhere to gauge American intentions… With Trump’s reputation compromised, the price tag on U.S. deterrence, coercion, and reassurance has risen, along with the probability of miscalculation and inadvertent escalation.”
Trump’s effects on diplomacy
No longer has Trump’s haphazard behaviour persisted, more will be easy for his administration to enact actions against China, Iran and Taliban. The state department is in a quandary because of it, on each front. Trump’s entrenched eagerness to remain “great” and “first” on the chessboard of International power, could damage the world more ahead than before.
Following the Iran’s attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia’s oil infrastructure, US wanted to deploy troops to the Kingdom. It is primarily a justification for why the US has been imposing sanctions over Iran. Is troops deployment a solution? Or will it provide safe horizon to Kingdom oil’s installation? Or will it be revolutionary in oil diplomacy? Or is it the only target retaliated on, by Iran. However, such kind of engagement has short term beneficiary spots, while in broader perspective it has consequential effects for all stakeholders. The episode of nuclear deal has, as a factor of quid-pro-quo, been further dramatised by the state department, withdrawing from. Notwithstanding, the deal has advantageous prospects for the Middle East, and an exemplary for rest of nations, has been further dramatised by the US, in order to seek its diplomatic wins. What significant at this point, is an agreement to reback to the deal.
Embracing a different economic model, China, is plausibly on a runner-up position to the US. Whether it’s 5G tech. Or leading status of green energy, or ultra-scales exports or its leading developments for the nations having indigent economies, is a source of chaos for US administration. The current trade war is an antidoting tool for the whole scenario. The US should, I assume, eye China’s hegemony a piece of cake, and welcome its come out while securing its interests under the umbrella of cooperation. This logic, while posing no threat, seems to be long term functional. Is it?
Trump, according to many native writers, is psychologically unfit, unstable and fickle, however have had strong narrative to prevent America’s engagement into “useless wars” and end “endless” wars. Following this token, Trump announcement of troop withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan put the world politics and even his administration into chaos. This divided strategists and Washington security officials, which was underpinned by the resignation of James Mattis and recently John Bolton. The ten months of peace process which followed the US’s announcement of troop withdrawal, precipitously ended, putting once again the international and national politics into chaos. Trump, grandiloquently fired a tweet that talks with Taliban are dead and futile. The argument he contended was the Attack in Kabil, where one American soldier with 12 other people were lost. The policymakers and high officials in Washington who already negated the policy of troop withdrawal and then after peace deal. They, of course are winner in this policy discourse, have staunch beliefs in their opinion, who may make Trump’s change of heart. The Kabil attack was given, probably, an agent of resurgent for Obama’s approach. However, Trump’s administration had already scripted their policy framework for the region, and pretending Kabul attack was perhaps a way of redemption from the peace talk.
Trump’s factor in US foreign policy was chaotic to his subordinates for which, he attempted to compensate by cancelling peace deal with Taliban. However , on the domestic front, it is likely to be more pluses than on diplomatic front given to Trump in next year’s presidential election. Let’s see which side the wind blow.
Trump Cannot Be Impeached Over Ukrainegate, But Pelosi and Schiff Can Be Charged Criminally
Pursuant to United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304 (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court issued an unmistakable clear edict concerning the foreign affairs powers of the President of the United States.
In its majority opinion, the Court held that the President, as the nation’s “sole organ” in international relations, is innately vested with significant powers over foreign affairs, far exceeding the powers permitted in domestic matters or accorded to the U.S. Congress.
The Court reasoned that these powers are implicit in the President’s constitutional role as commander-in-chief and head of the executive branch.
Curtiss-Wright was the first decision to establish that the President’s plenary power was independent of Congressional permission, and consequently it is credited with providing the legal precedent for further expansions of executive power in the foreign sphere.
In a 7–1 decision authored by Justice George Sutherland, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government, through the President, is categorically allowed great foreign affairs powers independent of the U.S. Constitution, by declaring that “the powers of the federal government in respect of foreign or external affairs and those in respect of domestic or internal affairs are different, both in respect of their origin and their nature…the broad statement that the federal government can exercise no powers except those specifically enumerated in the Constitution, and such implied powers as are necessary and proper to carry into effect the enumerated powers, is categorically true only in respect of our internal affairs.”
While the Constitution does not explicitly state that all ability to conduct foreign policy is vested in the President, the Court concluded that such power is nonetheless given implicitly, since the executive of a sovereign nation is, by its very nature, empowered to conduct foreign affairs.
The Court found “sufficient warrant for the broad discretion vested in the President to determine whether the enforcement of the statute will have a beneficial effect upon the reestablishment of peace in the affected countries.”
In other words, the President was better suited for determining which actions and policies best serve the nation’s interests abroad.
It is important to bear in mind that we are here dealing not alone with an authority vested in the President by an exertion of legislative power, but with such an authority plus the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations – a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress, but which, of course, like every other governmental power, must be exercised in subordination to the applicable provisions of the Constitution.
Separation of Powers Doctrine
In other words, neither the U.S. Congress nor the U.S. Senate can say or do very much of anything to prevent or interfere with this power, and if they do, they can in fact be held responsible for violating the Separation of Powers doctrine pursuant to the U.S. Constitution wherein the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) are kept separate.
This is also known as the system of checks and balances, because each branch is given certain powers so as to check and balance the other branches.
Each branch has separate powers, and generally each branch is not allowed to exercise the powers of the other branches.
The Legislative Branch exercises congressional power, the Executive Branch exercises executive power, and the Judicial Branch exercises judicial review.
National Security and Foreign Affairs
The Curtiss-Wright case established the broader principle of executive Presidential supremacy in national security and foreign affairs, one of the reasons advanced in the 1950s for the near success of the attempt to add the Bricker Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would have placed a “check” on said Presidential power by Congress, but that never passed, or became law.
If Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats really wanted to interfere with or prevent President Donald Trump from engaging in the activity that they are trying to prevent vis-a-vis Ukraine, China, and Joseph Biden’s alleged corruption and its effect on National Security, they would have to first draft, propose, enact, and pass sweeping legislation, and this could take years and would most probably never pass.
Even so, it could not affect President Donald Trump’s actions already occurred, since the U.S. Constitution prohibits ex post facto criminal laws.
Turning This All Against Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff
To that end if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Adam Schiff persist in pushing said “impeachment proceedings” against President Donald Trump, it is actually they who could find themselves on the wrong side of the law, with formal and actual charges of Treason, Sedition or Coup D’ Etat being levied upon them by the U.S. Government.
The consequences of that occurring, are truly horrific indeed.
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