Can we call the USA a democracy if the candidate with the highest number of votes is denied the presidency?
I think it’s fair to say the world is currently in shock at the reality of Donald Trump becoming the 45th President of the United States. As a man who is completely inexperienced in politics (not to mention a racist, sexist homophobe), the question that many of us are asking ourselves this week is… HOW?
On November 8th, I was lucky enough to bag a ticket to the biggest UK viewing party outside of London – in our very own student union. The night began rather optimistically, with the building overflowing with Clinton supporters and “Sweet Home Alabama” playing on repeat. Premature polls put Hillary in the lead and we were all quietly confident, shown through our jubilant cheers when California came in as a Democratic victory. Half an hour later, we were crying into our VKs as Trump won Ohio, Florida and the all-important Pennsylvania. It was all over.
Despite (currently) winning the popular vote, it seems Hillary was not enough for America. She was by no means a perfect candidate – but with decisive policies on tax reform, disability & LGBT rights, and gun violence prevention, one would think she was at least the preferable candidate. Trump’s policies include building a physical wall on the southern border (and making Mexico pay for it), repealing Obamacare (leaving a potential 40 million Americans without healthcare), and a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States (as part of an aggressive “crush and destroy” rhetoric against ISIS). Yep. Scary.
So why on earth did Hillary lose?
It seems she represented something that the Americans have an underestimated hatred for: the establishment. Apparently her controversial email scandal earlier this year was enough to convince Americans that she carried the same secretive, distrustful traits as her husband.
But we would be wrong to assume that sex and race played no part in this momentous decision. To put it simply, the USA did not want a female president. Nor did they want somebody endorsed by Obama – many have dubbed this election as a “white protest vote”, making us question whether the attitudes of the American people have progressed at all in recent years.
What should we be most worried about with President Trump?
Is it his aggressive foreign policy? The undo-ing of all of Obama’s hard work? Or is it the power he now has over the Supreme Court? Specifically, whom Trump will now appoint to fill the Court’s one vacant seat is significant. And more seats are set to become vacant over the next four years – which would give Trump a serious amount of power over the US justice system.
So all in all, the glass ceiling remains unbroken, and the USA is still to have its first female president. Hillary told us in her gracious concession speech that we must give Donald the chance to lead. Only time will tell – maybe he’ll surprise us all.
But in the meantime, if the USA are done with Obama… can we have him?