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Caution has to be the posture one takes with the President-elect


The world is changing rapidly and many of the assumptions that for decades had been held to be true are now being disproved.

Last Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States showed us that much of what we believed works in political campaigns and what the electorate tends to reject can no longer be taken as gospel. The results of that election, in which Donald J Trump won the electoral college vote (though not the popular vote) by a landslide, took political scientists, strategists and pollsters, as well as ordinary people all over the world by surprise.{{more}}

Trump is now preparing to take over as leader of the ‘Free World’ and as difficult as it may be for some of us, we have to give his presidency a chance; we have no choice. Yes, it may be difficult to put behind us the many insulting and demeaning things he said during the election campaign and some of the more troubling aspects of his past, but we must respect the democratic process of the United States.

The simple fact that the most advanced probability models failed to predict Trump’s victory should caution us about predicting what Trump himself would do as president. Being wrong on predicting the outcome of the election pales in comparison with being wrong on how we approach our relationship with a Trump administration. This is true for all Caribbean countries, indeed every country in the world. Caution has to be the posture one takes with this president in waiting. Let us see what he does before we rush to judgment. It remains possible and indeed we should hope that under his leadership, our relationship with the United States will strengthen. So, for now, we wait.

Undocumented immigrants, including many from the Caribbean, could take a bit of reassurance from the fact that despite his words to the contrary, Trump cannot realistically deport 11 million people. At present, Congress funds removing 400,000 immigrants a year, so at present levels of funding, it would take more than 20 years to accomplish that task. Hence, even on his greatest signature issue, Trump is likely to discover that governing and campaigning are two different things.

This whole campaign season and last Tuesday’s results also provided several teachable moments for many groups, including us in the media. It is clear that the mainstream media in the US was largely out of touch with the 60 million people who voted for Trump, how angry they were with the establishment and their determination to bring about change.

We all need to re-learn the art of listening and genuinely trying to understand the viewpoint of other people, especially those with whom we disagree on what we consider to be fundamental issues.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the election results ripped the plaster off the festering sore of racism in the United States and provided proof of just how deep and wide the mistrust and divisions are in that country. On a positive note, those same results that exposed the racism also showed that the 18 to 25 age group has a very different outlook and perspective from their parents. There is hope for the future!