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Trump’s victory has lessons for us

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While we were still recovering from the shock of the shattering victory of Donald J Trump in the US presidential elections, against all the odds and in defiance of all the predictions of the pollsters and political pundits, we got a rude reminder of our own of present-day realities. For the second time within a month, the passage of a weather system, not only reinforced the message that we are still in the storm season, but also reiterated that climate change, a phenomenon not taken seriously by the likes of the new president, has shifted the boundaries of our vulnerability.{{more}} No longer can we feel relatively secure in November and December, as the ‘Christmas storm’ of 2013 so vividly demonstrated. We are still assessing the extent of damage from heavy rains, floods and landslides and the further strain on our finances, personally and nationally.

What I find most worrying, as if the Trump factor were not enough, is how officialdom here responded to the weather system. On the Wednesday 7:30 a.m. news, on the state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation, there was an announcement from the Ministry of Education that it had been advised by the National Emergency Organization (NEMO) and the Met Office that the weather system, then underway for at least a couple hours, would last about “one hour more”.

So, with this great foresight, the Ministry advised parents not to send their children to school, (never mind some were already there and many others on the way). But not only was the Ministry behind the times, between it, NEMO and the Met Office, they GOT IT WRONG, VERY WRONG! The rains and thunderstorms, with the accompanying floods and landslides, continued right through the day.

Now, how could that be? How could persons, charged with the responsibility of leading us, be so far off the mark, so late in response? Of course, one does not expect that as soon as there is a heavy shower, we get some advisory about closing schools and the like, but a clear prediction of one more hour of rain? I have heard and seen criticisms of these institutions before and was inclined to find them unwarranted, but this one has jolted me. Who is leading whom?

What it does is to further fuel a lack of confidence in the authorities and institutions of state. Bad as that it generally, in a natural disaster, that can lead to a catastrophe. We can only go on the Ministry’s statement that it had been so advised by NEMO and the Met Office, but when the reality turns out so different, you can see why it leaves room for all kinds of braying animals to cause confusion. Credibility is necessary for leadership,

It is that lack of confidence in the authorities on which Donald Trump rode on his way to the presidency. We all scoffed at him, listened to the reassurances of those in office, took note of what the pollsters and pundits were saying. But…, we ignored the most important element in the equation, the American people. Trump did not, for he seized on their discontent, their sense of alienation, to rail against the establishment, including the leadership of both parties.

His rhetoric took hold and in spite of all the charges of his “lack of experience”, how he was “unqualified to do the job as president”, (quite unlike the ‘most qualified’ Hillary Clinton), in spite of his openly racist, sexist and ultra-nationalist positions, in spite of his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, racist statements, he struck a chord of response with the people. Not even the charges of sexual misconduct could stop him.

He lied and in turn accused the establishment of lying, a fact that most Americans know to be true. He dodged taxes, and in American style said that it proved his genius and suitability to deal with tax-dodgers. Above all, he played to the gallery. Recognizing the American weakness about maybe losing ‘top dog’ status in the world, he promised to make America (white America) great again.

After all, the ‘great’ America had fallen to the stage where it had to accept a black man to lead the nation. No, to rectify that, you needed a ‘strong’ white man, a man who was against the establishment, the direct opposite of his opponent, a woman, supported by those privileged few who have nothing in common with ordinary folk.

We can say what we want, but the USA has inherited the mantle of world ruler from the British, whose yoke they cast off to get independence. For them it is not “Rule Brittania,” but “Pax Americana”, do it the American way. But when people are dissatisfied, when they feel alienated, reason does not always get a welcome.

It is a lesson not only for the American establishment. We too must learn, lest we fall prey to the same.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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