On the 8th November people across America voted in the most hotly debated, widely publicised national election the world has ever seen. Whilst loyal Democrats were ‘with her’ and the Republicans were determined to ‘make America great again’, many were left undecided, faced with a choice between ‘the most unpopular US presidential candidates in history’.
Celebrity businessman turned politician, Donald Trump certainly made an impact with his unconventional and often controversial campaigning style, whilst his rival Hillary Clinton fought hard and professionally to the bitter end, despite facing an unfortunately timed media storm. It is safe to say that the result was unexpected, not only for the 48% of Americans who won the popular vote for Hillary, but for most countries abroad. The Oundle Chronicle
approached a variety of people connected to Oundle to gain their perspectives on what a Trump government means for the future.
By Ruby Goodall
Tom Pursglove is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Corby and East Northamptonshire
The election of Donald J Trump as the 45th President of the United States marks a seismic political shift, but despite all the furore, the democratic decision of the US people must be respected and upheld.
I come at this ‘new world’ with a unique insight, having had a twenty minute meeting with Donald Trump in his office in Trump Tower, back in 2012. It was a chance occasion, having been in a brief dialogue with the Trump Organization on the issue of wind farms. At that time, I had no idea that I was meeting with a future US President, but not only did I find him to be incredibly personable and engaging – two patently vital qualities in any world leader – but I also found him to be very knowledgeable and enquiring on the subject matter.
Who knows what the future will bring, both in the United States, and internationally, but even in these early days in the run-up to taking office, it is noticeable that the President-elect is reigning back, turning his attention to the challenges at hand, and appointing a Cabinet; drawing on a wide array of ability and talent. The job of governing is a difficult one, with the realities of it undoubtedly focusing the mind.
From a UK perspective, we must work constructively with the new administration. It would damage our national interest if we failed to do so. It is very pleasing that we are ‘at the front of the queue’ when it comes to securing a trade deal, and that can only be a good thing. We have a proud ‘special relationship’ with the United States – a relationship that must endure, and which transcends any one presidency.
Adam Begley is the former literary editor of the New York Observer, and author of Updike
The election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States is an unmitigated disaster for the country and the world. The threat comes from his inexperience, his bigotry, his disregard for constitutional guarantees and, most of all, from his unstable temperament. A man so thin-skinned that he can be goaded with ease into foolish and self-destructive behaviour does not belong in the Oval Office. I’m particularly worried about remarks Trump made as a candidate that suggest his eagerness to curb freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Respect is due to the President, whether or not one trusts him (or her). But every concerned American citizen should be watching closely, with special attention to any sign of encroaching authoritarianism. We should all be prepared to speak up and protest. It’s possible that Trump will govern more reasonably, honestly and decently than he campaigned, but I doubt it. Brace yourselves.
Matt King is Head of Politics at Oundle School
The polls were wrong. The media were wrong. The so called experts were wrong. But, should we really be surprised by the verdict of the American electorate? How did a man who made claims such as: ‘It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming’,and ‘All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected’, win the race to the White House? Or perhaps this will be remembered as the election that Hillary lost. How did it happen?
The electoral system can take some share of the responsibility. At the time of writing Clinton had received 48% of the vote and Trump 46%, but, under the Electoral College system, it is not how many votes you win nationally, it is where you win them; a winner takes all system. In the swing state of Wisconsin, Trump won by only 20,000 votes and took all ten Electoral College votes. One more vote than second place is what the system asks, and therefore it is entirely possible to win the popular vote but not the Electoral College vote.
Trump was able to successfully attract the white working class voter who felt ignored by the ‘political establishment’ in a manner in which previous Republican candidates had been unable to. Trump had seen a 16% increase from 2012 with voters earning less than $30,000 a year. Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota had voted Democrat for the past six Presidential elections; Trump was able to win all but one, amassing 70 Electoral College votes. In these states huge numbers of voters who do not have a college degree transferred their vote from Democrat to Republican, with Trump making 20% gains in the key states of Wisconsin and Iowa. This was reflected nationally with a 10% voter increase for Republicans of those who had ‘some college education’ but were not a college graduate.
Many have suggested that Clinton lost the election rather than Trump having won. It may be harsh on the Trump campaign to say that Clinton threw it away, but, it is certainly true she was unable to inspire in the same way Obama had. Clinton was unable to retain the same level of support with core groups of voters. Clinton lost 5% support amongst 18 to 29 year olds, 6% with Latinos, 5% of African Americans, and was only able to achieve a 1% increase with female voters despite some calamitous errors from Trump. All these groups were crucial in swing states and could have led to a different result.
Perhaps it would be fair to say that for many voters neither Clinton nor Trump inspired, and they decided to vote for an alternative candidate who, realistically, had no chance of winning. The Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, secured 3.26% of the vote and we have to go back to the amazing efforts of Ross Perot in 1996 (8.4%) to see a stronger performance by a third party. Over four million more people voted for a third party in 2016 than in 2012, and perhaps that says more about the major candidates.
So what is a Trump presidency going to look like? Republican candidates often move to the right, if such a term is still appropriate in modern politics, for the primaries and then move to a more moderate position for the national election. Trump broke with this convention and continued to occupy similar ground. There is no doubt in my mind, that he will be more moderate than much of his rhetoric during the campaign. His speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning suggested a softened approach and he spoke of a desire to unite the country. In his first interview as President-elect, his approach towards Hilary Clinton, the infamous wall and the abolition of Obamacare had all calmed. He has also reiterated his concerns with the Paris Agreement and global warming campaigns, as well as his position on pro-life.
Perhaps this is a reflection of a broader movement moving away from conventional politics. UKIP gained 3.8 million votes in the last UK election, we are still waiting to see the effect of Brexit, and now Trump! We will have to wait to see whether Trump is able to ‘make America great again’ and whether this electoral trend continues in Germany and France next year.
Leigh Giurlando served with the US Peace Corps for three years, has lived in the UK since 1993 and has dual citizenship
I was with Hillary, unequivocally. I had investigated the backstory to most of the ‘scandals’ that had dogged her career and was satisfied that there was much muckraking about nothing. I admired her long record of public service and her commitment to issues that impact families, children and women. But within political agendas, these issues are ‘soft’, and politicians don’t get credit for the work done in these fields. It’s an indication of how little we have progressed when I say that her focus on women’s issues remains a radical position. She understood that when politics engage with issues that impact women across the world, economies grow and prosper. It was deeply disappointing how little her work was appreciated by the press and the public, and it was shocking how personal the criticism of her public service became. Her defeat was a great loss for America and for the world stage.
I will never forgive Donald Trump for the way in which he conducted his campaign, prefacing every reference to ‘Hillary’ with ‘crooked’, and inciting his rallies to a frenzy of neo-fascist chants of ‘lock her up’. His campaign rhetoric was thick with angry emotion, invective, and misinformation, and thin on policy.
I’m not taken in by his rapprochement with the New York Times. We’ve seen how he responds to bad press, and his lack of respect is a serious concern. The transcript of his recent interview with the NYT is revealing; even when sitting at a table with professionals, he is unable to articulate informed detail.
People might be reassured that he ‘has an open mind’ about climate change or torture, but to me, it just sounds like he doesn’t have a clue. His phony scripted public messages direct to YouTube are chilling in their artifice. I am very concerned about his response to the unprecedented complexity of conflicts of interest his businesses will inevitably present; his long history of unethical business practices is well known and alarming. Now, as President-elect his communication remains intemperate, ill-considered, undiplomatic and ill-informed; far from what is regarded as ‘presidential’.
There is nothing about Trump that does not outrage me. I’ve never considered myself to be a patriot, so I am surprised by how strongly I feel about how the election of this man is an affront to everything that is good about America. However, he lost the popular vote, and won the election with less than 50 percent of the vote; he does not have a mandate. I can only hope that those who are able to hold him to account will be vigilant and ensure that our values of decency and honesty prevail.
Rupert Reichhold is Chair of the East Northamptonshire District Council
The American people elected Donald Trump as President. Theresa May’s message of congratulation was right. The choice of President is for Americans to make and Her Majesty’s Government should continue the long established practice of good relations with the government of the United States, following the examples going back to Churchill, Attlee, Macmillan and Margaret Thatcher.
Britain’s alliance does not mean agreeing with the USA on everything. It is effective, and has worked most effectively, when successive Presidents and Prime Ministers have communicated very frankly with clear understanding of each other’s domestic and other constraints. Our common language and not too dissimilar institutions can help toward this understanding.
Britain and the USA were the founding partners of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), in which the Supreme Allied Commander is always an American and the Deputy is British. NATO ensured that the Cold War with the USSR’s Warsaw Pact did not slide into a hot war. Mr Trump said during his election campaign that ‘NATO is obsolete’. While all organisations need adjustments to meet changed conditions we must hope that he thinks again and does not withdraw the USA, and its resources, from NATO. If he does, then Britain, France and Germany will need to fill the gaps to try and ensure that a NATO minus the USA continues to be an organisation capable of fighting effective wars when these become necessary.
This has implications for relations with Russia. Like earlier pre-USSR Russian rulers, Mr Putin wants Russia to be respected: this is fair. He also wants a big say in the policies of neighbouring, previously USSR states, such as the Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia. The latter two are now NATO allies: Britain and the USA are committed, as a last resort, to fight for them if they are invaded.
Theresa May should try to persuade Mr Trump, if he withdraws the USA from NATO, to help her try and persuade Mr Putin to back off if he threatens to invade our Baltic allies. This and decisions on the serious conditions in the Middle East call for wise diplomacy.
The Americans face large questions about economic and political relations with China, North Korea and Japan; and indeed how Chinese governments relate to Russia to their west.
Ending on a note of optimism: Donald Trump’s very moderate statements, when he knew he had won, are consonant with Abraham Lincoln’s speech, after the Civil War, which began: ‘With malice towards none and charity to all…’