Out of my mind: Him or her?

US Presidential elections 2016: Professionals thought that the irresponsible statements by Donald Trump will make him unpopular. But he won in many primaries.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published: November 6, 2016 12:05 am
us presidential elections, us elections 2016, us presidential elections, hillary clinton, donald trump, trump india, clinton india, us elections india, world news US Presidential elections 2016: While it is the emails which could be the undoing of Hillary Clinton, the revelation that Donald Trump is a crude male chauvinist is not shocking, as he has never pretended to be anything else. (Source: Reuters Photo/File)

It seems like the closest presidential election in a long time. John Kennedy won by a mere 1,00,000 votes in 1960. The Chicago machine of Mayor Daley had delivered Illinois. Richard Nixon declined to object. Of course, always, there are two separate results. The popular vote is what most people look at. But the real number is of members of the Electoral College on either side. It is possible not to win majority vote but still win. In 2000, Al Gore lost Florida narrowly due the ‘hanging chads’. (American states have separate vote count systems. The Indian way is too advanced.) Florida carries a lot of Electoral College votes and winner takes all.

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This election is unique for many reasons. This is the first time a woman candidate has won the nomination of her party. She is of course a thoroughly professional politician, having worked at state and federal level in executive and legislative positions. Plus eight years as First Lady. The Man is a total amateur in politics. He is a businessman, a media star who fronted successful TV talent contests. He is flamboyant. He is the first candidate to have got his party’s nomination without ever having served in any capacity at any level.

The campaign has been unorthodox and often bitter. Professionals thought that the irresponsible statements by Donald Trump will make him unpopular. But he won in many primaries. He got free TV coverage by making outrageous statements. Trump has turned the amateur status to his advantage. His listeners are shell-shocked and unlikely to be surprised by any further outrage. Indeed he has won new votes by plumbing the depths of voters’ prejudices. Democrats are incredulous that he has come this far defying all rules of politics. He claims to be the champion of (white) workers deprived by globalisation. The subterranean message is that when Barack Obama became the first black president, many white voters felt a loss of entitlements. The Tea Party movement, a right-wing populist party which can harness the anger of people who believe they have been deprived, created Trump.

Hillary Clinton’s problems are due to her professionalism. She has a massive sense of entitlement. No other woman has come close to her achievements. But by the same token, it was her arrogance which gave her the idea that she could conduct US foreign policy on her own private email server. How Obama let her do so is hard to explain. Of course he owed a lot to the Clintons when he got elected in 2008.

It is the emails which could be the undoing of Hillary Clinton. The revelation that Trump is a crude male chauvinist is not shocking, as he has never pretended to be anything else. So while the Democrats were cock-a-hoop when the recorded dialogue between Billy Bush and Trump came out, the liberal media jumped on it and then over-gilded the lily by getting many women to reveal that Trump had behaved crudely with them. The lucky break for Trump has come during the last few days of the campaign with more emails being released by the FBI. If you are choosing a president, what would you care about — guarding your country’s secrets or the misbehaviour of the president with women? I predict Him to win.

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Meghnad Desai
  1. M
    Nov 6, 2016 at 7:15 am
    The writer does politics superbably. This piece is well written and insightful. I would love to read what has to say about the politics in South Africa at the moment. India needs this man to teach the next generation of politicians, but more urgently the next batch of journalists.
    1. H
      Nov 6, 2016 at 6:18 am
      The way communication have grown have a lot of advantages and even more disadvantages. 100 years back, we will not bothered about a thunderstorm lashing a place 100 km from where we live. Today if the same thing happen 15000 km from where we live, we will attribute it to Global warming and believe that such incidences will make our land submerge in sea in the near future. it doesn't really matter that humans are yet to find a reason as to why the earth is not warming outside,though the Mantle and core which runs to 8000 km (compared to the crust of 30km) which temperature ranging from 1000 - 4300 degree. We are also worried about the pollution created by bursting a few dire crackers in Delhi when a volcanic irruption which spews out gases amounting to bursting crackers in Delhi for months/years, disappears without a trace. Like wise, educated Indians were always feeling bad with the way our politicians behave and conduct themselves. However after watching the way a presidential election is conducted in US either at a personal level or at the way voting is don, we should not have any such bad feeling and could even feel proud.
      1. R
        Nov 6, 2016 at 3:09 pm
        Not sure, this is the worst US elections I have seen in a long long time, a one horse race (Clinton). The best election was Obama vs McCain (a respectable figure, though I don't subscribe to right wing values). First, it was Obama vs Clinton and then he drubbed the Maverick! After that year, Romney/Ryan could be tolerated, this year is a complete dump. And, is it just me wondering, why is Paul Ryan their Speaker (who never become Presidential candidates)? They made him Speaker and elected Trump, of all people? Who in the world is strategizing for the Republicans?! Seriously, the tea party movement has left the party with a serious brain drain. From Powell, Rumsfeld or David Frum - they've fallen to Cruz, Trump and whatnot... what an epic meltdown post Iraq War...
        1. B
          Bhavani Bhaksar
          Nov 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm
          The author is not wrong but I find this an oversimplified viewpoint. It is not just between security and misbehaving with women. It is global warming, regulating wall street, and numerus other issues. It is not just about her being hawkish and him being a lying demagogue. Also, pretending that their decision doesn't affect India is simplistic. Want to admit it or not, the U.S.A is a major player in the world, affecting our politics with our neighbours. Of course, we will survive whoever wins. But our handling of diplomacy will be very different depending on their position.
          1. H
            Nov 6, 2016 at 1:12 pm
            The world needs a tough man to lead the USA, and the world.
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