What you need to know:
- He has stated that he will deal with terrorists using extreme measures, including torture and waterboarding, which Obama abolished.
- Trump's anti-immigration and anti-Muslim stance has raised alarm, not just among American Muslims, but among people across the world.
- His trade policies may affect millions of workers in China and other places.
Many Kenyans must have experienced a déjà vu sensation when Donald Trump won the United States presidential election last week.
It felt like March 2013, when Kenyans woke up to the reality that the country had voted for people who had been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Many, including myself, were dumbfounded by the fact that so many Kenyans could deliberately choose candidates who might have participated in the slaughter and mass displacement of fellow Kenyans, and who had yet to clear their names of these charges.
The election and its contentious results negated the very essence of the 2010 Constitution. However, with the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval declaring the elections free and fair, the fate of the nation was sealed: Kenya became dangerously polarised along ethnic lines. Worse, the elections “normalised” impunity in the country.
After the elections, several commentators, bloggers, and State House operatives tried to convince the nation that the UhuRuto victory was a symbol of reconciliation between warring tribes and that Kenyans should “accept and move on” so that the country could get on with achieving its goals and potential.
Those questioning the results of the election and the integrity of the candidates were dismissed as rabble-rousers and sore losers.
DEAL WITH TERRORISTS
What happens in a small African country like Kenya, however, is quite inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. But what happens in the world’s most powerful nation affects everyone on this planet in one way or another.
Donald Trump has promised to reverse a lot of the Obama administration’s policies.
His anti-immigration and anti-Muslim stance has raised alarm, not just among American Muslims, but among people across the world. He has stated that he will deal with terrorists using extreme measures, including torture and waterboarding, which Obama abolished. His trade policies may affect millions of workers in China and other places.
In the United States, there is widespread disaffection and anxiety about the Trump presidency. Supporters of the Democratic Party presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, have vowed to carry out protests countrywide.
The liberal press has been particularly despondent and pessimistic about the election and the future of America. David Remnick, writing for The New Yorker, called the US election “an American tragedy”, adding that Trump’s victory was “a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny and racism”. He warned that while he did not see fascism as part of America’s future, the election of Trump could be “the way fascism can begin”.
Paul Krugman, in a New York Times op-ed article, asked: “Is America a failed state?” Echoing Krugman’s sentiments, Viet Thanh Nguyen, also writing for the New York Times, commented: “America is an imperial country and its decay might now be showing … Empires rot from the inside even as emperors blame the barbarians.”
JOBS BEING LOST
Across the Atlantic, the Daily Mirror depicted the Statue of Liberty with its head in its hands, asking: “What have we done?” The online Salon magazine quipped: “Our first black president will hand over the White House to someone endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. Just let that sink in.” Joshua Keating, writing for Slate magazine, called the US election “America’s Brexit. Only worse”.
He was not too far off the mark. Just as a majority of white working-class British people chose to leave the European Union because of their anxiety about jobs being lost to immigrants and the country being inundated by Syrian and other refugees, white working Americans decided to “take back their country” from forces that Trump convinced them were affecting their livelihoods and security.
Canadian author Naomi Klein says that neoliberalism — embodied by Hillary Clinton and her hyper-connected network of billionaires and Hollywood celebrities — is to blame for Trump-style extremism. Many Americans feel that the success of what she refers to as the “Davos class” is directly linked to their own impoverishment and indebtedness. Trump’s victory, she says, was a “neo-fascist response to rampant inequality and insecurity”.
Commentator Sarah Jaffe says that Trump emotionally echoed a large number of Americans’ outrage and gave them a place to vent their anger. The US election was thus a revolt of sorts against the establishment.
Is a Trump presidency the beginning of the end of America as we have known it? Only time will tell.