As Dogara, Anya lead other recipients Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital will quake today as high profile Nigerians from diverse walks of life- government, politics, the industry, professions, sports and entertainment circuit storm the city, the nation’s second largest, for the 13th edition of The Sun Awards. Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku will be…
Nigerians love hysteria. And we have had a surfeit of it since the November 8 presidential election in the United States was won and lost. Before the election, anxiety ruled and reigned in Nigeria. The people looked forward excitedly to the outcome. An overwhelming majority of Nigerians, on the basis of little or nothing, were hopeful of a Hillary Clinton presidency. They did not give the radical Donald Trump a chance. That is why the victory of the maverick billionaire came as a rude shock to them. They could not understand it, especially in the light of the fact that the projections favoured Clinton. She defeated Trump in the three presidential debates. Opinion polls consistently put her ahead of Trump. CNN (Cable News Network) electoral map pointed in her direction till the day of the election. Since the United States is accustomed to digital technology, it was thought that the margin of error from the opinion polls and the candidates’ performance ratings at the debates would not radically displace the projections. In fact, it was assumed that the actual voting pattern would follow the opinion polls and the electoral map. But all this came to nought. Trump rose from the position of presumed disadvantage and shot ahead of Clinton in the actual polls.
Since the unexpected happened, the watching world, particularly Nigerians, have been taken aback. Interestingly, however, nobody has accused anybody of any form of manipulation. Everyone seems to agree that Trump won the election fair and square. Hillary Clinton has since conceded defeat and has urged her supporters to do the same.
Given this mutually accepted outcome, all manner of commentaries and analyses have saturated the public space. Nigerians, particularly, have been trying to pigeonhole the situation. We may not bother about the diverse details here. But we can conveniently say that two broad perspectives have, so far, dominated the discourse.
The first presupposes that Clinton lost the election because Americans are not yet ready for a female president. That is why, according to the promoters of this point of view, Americans overlooked the transgressions of Donald Trump and chose him in place of a woman whose basic outlook was to integrate all Americans, irrespective of race, sex or class.
The second drawback for Clinton, as packaged by some analysts, was that majority of Americans rejected her for the simple fact that she was once the country’s First Lady. As the wife of Bill Clinton, a former U.S. President, many felt that it was too much to have Hillary move from the position of First Lady to that of president. The choice before Americans, therefore, was to throw overboard the Hillary Clinton aspiration and give someone else the chance to occupy the position, which her husband once occupied
No doubt, each of these viewpoints has something to commend it. But the problem here is that many an analyst did not look beyond these narrow, simplistic confines.
To make better sense out of this intriguing outcome of the American presidential election, we must look beyond the surface, plastic reality. If we must put the issue at stake in a straight jacket, we must appreciate the confidence and convictions with which Donald Trump approached the presidential contest. One indisputable fact about Trump is that he came into the race without pretensions. He expressed his misgivings about the way his country had lately been governed without let or hindrance. He told Americans and the world the way he felt about America and other countries and their citizens. He was angry that the racial purity of Americans had been watered down. He believed that his country had been polluted by external elements. He was worried that the essential ingredient that defined Americanness was now in short supply. He felt that America under the Barack Obama Presidency degenerated the most into this horrendous state of racial compromise and dilution. Trump was incensed by all these. His mission, therefore, was to rescue America, his dear country, from the stranglehold of foreign and strange influence. That was the point of his campaign message. That was why he declared pointedly: “We will make America great again.” He believed unwaveringly in this declaration. That was also why it did not matter to him if he stepped on any toes in his consuming bid to have Americans internalise and imbibe this message.
We must also note that Trump, throughout the campaigns, did not patronise anybody. He did not care a hoot about who Hillary’s backers were. He dismissed them with a wave of the hand. He told the Hollywood crowd that campaigned for Hillary – “we do not need celebrities to fill a room.” Their open support for Hillary did not bother him. He trudged on in the manner of a Spartan. That was conviction. That was doggedness.
In the course of his campaigns, Trump certainly stepped on toes. He abused women. He talked down on people of certain races, particularly Latinos and Hispanics. He lampooned Islam and its adherents. He saw Islam as a threat to world peace and, therefore, considered banning moslems from entering the United States should he be elected president. Trump also had disdain for Mexicans. He would build a concrete wall that will clearly demarcate the United States from Mexico. He promised illegal immigrants a bad day. He would expel them from American soil or clamp them into jail in the alternative. Trump was combative through and through. Yet, he never considered defeat as a possibility. That was why he declared that he would accept the result of the election only if he won. Trump radiated something more than hope. He treaded sure-footedly.
Hillary, on the contrary, did not tread the dangerous and controversial path. Her campaign message resonated with a familiar message: “Stronger Together.” She did not want to upset the apple carte. Hillary may not have offended anybody in the course of the campaigns. But going by the outcome of the elections, you could say that Americans did not find her message persuasive. Whereas Trump offered them something new, Hillary rode conveniently on the gains of the Obama presidency. But she overlooked something. The Obama presidency has some baggage, which a good number of Americans would like to do away with. One of them was his suspected romance with the Islamic world. Obama’s critics will readily tell you that while he was fighting ISIS, he was also attitudinising with Islamists in subtle and subterranean ways. It was believed, for instance, that Americans who bought into the Trump agenda were suspicious of the working visit of John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, to northern Nigeria in which he held meetings with the Sultan and key northern governors. A critical section of Americans were not properly disposed to Kerry’s sectional visit in the same way the Christian Association of Nigeria was ill at ease with it. Americans who want to claim back their country repudiated that romance. Thus, if Hillary played to the gallery or employed tricky diplomacy, Trump left Americans in no doubt as to where he belonged. The result is what the discerning American voter has chosen to stay with the unambiguous campaign message of a Donald Trump.