DISTURBING SIGNALS FROM 2016 US ELECTION

Glass ceiling: The world’s most successful democracy was closest to undo one of its historical wrongs – by electing its first female president – but the glass ceiling remained intact on this front – and what is ironical is that the US has elected a president who has had a life of making misogynistic and sexist remarks. Now the US will have to wait for at least another four years if it has to correct that ‘historical social anomaly’.

A divided nation: The world had never seen society in the US so divided, at least in decades, since the days of segregation and counterculture. Okay, there is always this division – a group chooses this, the other one goes for that – but this all is at an electoral level. What is happening in the US after Donald Trump’s victory is suggestive of deep fissures in the US society. There have been violent protests in many states and though its over 24 hours, they are only going up.

No Obama mention: Though Donald Trump delivered a graceful victory speech beginning it with the words of thanks for Hillary Clinton who had called him to accept the poll outcome, he didn’t mention Barack Obama even once – like some words for his predecessor who led his country for eight years before him. Though Obama and Trump have had differences and Barack Obama candidly accept it, he did call Donald Trump to congratulate him immediately after the final results came in. And we all know, going by the life lived by Obama and Trump so far, Obama is a towering person compared to Trump.

A growing chasm with more than ever have-nots in the US: It is being said that the class who felt left out by the political elite of the US who rules the power corridors of Washington – the blue collar workers, people of small town and rural America who still feel the pain to manage their lives and families after the 2008 global economic crisis went en masse to elect Trump – even registered Democrats – even those who had voted for Obama in the previous two presidential polls. This poll outcome shows that all is not well and the US is no more that model of society that the world looked up to. Okay, there are other reasons and groups who have voted for Trump as well but a Trump victory propelled by have-nots of America (by American standards) tells us that disparity is rapidly growing there.

A fear psychosis that is pushing people to check immigration options to other countries: There are plenty of reports that many in the US are scramming to check immigration websites of countries like Canada or New Zealand.

The class wars: The fact that Donald Trump won even if he openly talked against Muslims and immigrants and was seen as a divisive figure when it came to racial discrimination tells us that the US society is somewhere breaking down and it is needed to be healed immediately. What Trump did may be now a past from his campaign rhetoric but we should not forget that there were plenty of people in the US who saw an appealing person in Trump because of this rhetoric only. Also worrying is the pieces of analysis which say that this Trump victory is because Trump’s predecessor Obama was a black American in a country of predominantly white people. The growing incidents of attacks on black Americans support it. And when it comes to Hillary Clinton, we should not forget that before being anyone else, she was seen as a Democrat of the Washington circle who once worked with Barack Obama.

Hillary is still the popular choice: Now, in 2012, Donald Trump had tweeted to let the world know that how much he despised the electoral college. He had said, “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.” Now it is this electoral college only that has given him the US presidency because Hillary Clinton is the winner of the popular vote. Going by a latest Forbes report, Hillary has got 59,926,386 popular votes, more than Trump’s 59,698,506 votes. That may not be much but statisically it places her on a high pedestal.

Disturbing! Isn’t it? Let’s hope that these signals get the required correctional measures (and the healing) soon.

©SantoshChaubey

WOULD THIS BE A DIFFERENT AMERICA? LET’S SEE.

Hillary Clinton just said that the US is more divided than they previously had thought. Well, she just lost the poll of her life because, in all probability, she is not going to stand in the presidential race again. She has had close calls – first in 2008 and now, in 2016. Then it was Barack Obama – a highly competent person who mesmerized not only America but the whole world.

Now it is Donald Trump – whom not only most in America but even most in the world were writing off.

So it hurts.

But like has been the US tradition, like Trump was graceful in his victory speech (even if we cannot give him any benefit of doubt because he was not ‘fully’ graceful), Hillary, though admitting the deep fissures in the US society, has gracefully extended him ‘an open mind and the chance to lead’.

Donald Trump was also graceful till this part – recognizing Hillary’s efforts, her career and her service to the nation. He began his speech with this point. But beyond that, though it was a balanced victory speech sans all the campaign rhetoric, it fell short of expectations.

Trump did not mention Barack Obama even once during his speech – someone who is going to succeed – someone who has been a popular president. Now we cannot say if it fits some pattern but logic cannot accept it.

So far Donald Trump has been known as wearing a reckless business attitude – a ‘profiteering from everything’ motto defines his existence – a life that has nothing credible to inspire people – a lifestyle that has been undoubtedly playboyish – a thinking process that reeks of sexism, class discrimination and racial domination.

So far, Donald Trump has been a character – he has been an actor – let’s see if he can now be the person that a US President needs to be.

We all know election campaign rhetoric and official rhetoric are entirely different. ‘Politics is nasty stuff’ – even Donald Trump accepted it in his victory speech.

If he realizes it and is going to follow it in his governance style, it will be good for America and the world.

For America, his election has deeply divided the US society. Clashes broke at many place, in many states after his victory became clear. Students organized protest rallies. There were incidents of arson and vandalism. Many US parents are worried that what they would tell to their children. Women are fearful of a president with a long history of anti-woman statements.

The world, too, has not taken it kindly. From world leaders to media outfits, they have shown displeasure and scepticism. It can be summed up in two expressesions – of the French President Francois Hollande who reacted on Trump’s election saying it has ‘opened a period of uncertainty’ – and of the UK daily The Telegraph’s report on the global reaction headlined ‘dear God, America what have you done?’.

Donald Trump has to change that if he has to have successful four years first. Second term or eight years, as he mentioned in his speech comes only after that.

©SantoshChaubey

TOMORROW IS THE GLOBAL D-DAY

So, it’s going to be the biggest electoral d-day of the globe tomorrow when the world’s most powerful and successful democracy, that is also the only superpower, will vote to elect its next president.

Though the world is increasingly becoming multipolar, it is still the US driven geopolitics when it comes to most international issues. And the US president is the most powerful person on the planet and it all depends on him.

Barack Obama, the 44th US President, is a man who is more inclined to focus on his domestic interests, reducing the footprint of active US intervention in global affairs, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria to Libya to Middle East countries. His efforts to mend ties with Iran and Cuba tell us his balanced approach here.

But that would not be the case always – in case a mercurial and controversial person assumes the 45th US Presidency – as no one is writing Donald Trump off – the Republican nominee.

There are very real chances that Donald Trump can win the polls. The final rounds of the pre-poll surveys are in and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, only holds a thin edge over Trump – Hillary’s 44.6 over Trump’s 42.4 – according to the Real Clear Politics index that gives us an average value of many polls.

And that is disturbing – until the final figures start percolating in – that show Hillary Clinton is going to go back to the White House.

Because of the person Donald Trump is – because of a reckless business attitude that he wears – because of a ‘profiteering from everything’ motto that defines his existence – because of a life that has nothing credible to inspire people – because of a lifestyle that has been undoubtedly playboyish – because of a thinking process that reeks of sexism, class discrimination and racial superiority.

And because it all reflects in the Presidential nominee Donald Trump!

So, if indeed Donald Trump wins, it will not be bad only for America but for the whole world. A man who openly endorses use of force, a man who openly reviles Muslims, immigrants and racial minorities and a man who hobnobs with dictators like Vladimir Putin can hardly be a good news – for America and for the world. 

Tomorrow will decide that.

Yes, there is always this remote possibility that Trump may emerge as a different, positive person from what he has been so far but we should not forget that it is only a ‘possibility’. 

©SantoshChaubey 

INDIA AND PAKISTAN IN HILLARY’S LEAKED SPEECHES

The set of Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches to the Wall Street bankers leaked by WikiLeaks has been categorized under different sections, i.e., Clinton Foundation, reducing emission, pro free trade, Wal-Mart, Egypt, Syria and terrorism, among others.

Since delivered to the bankers, as expected, the content is basically economic in nature but as the US profile is (entwined globally) and has Hillary’s career has been, it has myriad of political themes and geopolitical interests.

And as expected, China has some pretty frequent mention in terms of frequency – 62 times. The next thing to expect naturally would be about India, the next big thing to happen to the global economy after China. And if India has just 12 mentions, we can see why. When Hillary was saying all these things, China was on top of the mind. Bur China has now started stagnating (and slowing down) while India has become the fastest growing economy with ‘boon to market’ dividends like a young demography and a burgeoning middle class that will be soon largest in the world.

India’s 12 mentions are in four categories – Clinton Foundation, reducing emission, pro free trade and Wal-Mart – basically personal, environmental and financial in nature. As expected, it is both, positive and negative. If Hillary lauds India somewhere, she also cautions us on our trade and economic policies. And she also supports India’s stand on tricky issues like emission reductions.

Clinton Foundation: “So a few examples of what we’re doing at the Clinton Foundation. First, the Clinton Climate Initiative has a solid waste management program that works with governments and with businesses to reduce their dependency on landfills and develop systems to convert waste into new products or into sources of energy. For example, we are working with the city of Delhi in India to develop that country’s first integrated solid waste management system.”

Reducing Emissions: “And at that time you could not get China and India to agree to do anything on their emissions because they, I think understandably, one an authoritarian regime, one a democracy, a raucous democracy, were of the opinion it would interfere with their efforts to continue to grow, a totally rational response if you were the leader of China or India.”

Free Trade: “I thought I was doing pretty well. I’m making the case, making the argument for openness, fairness, transparency, claiming, look, Malaysia manufacturers want access to markets overseas as much as American manufacturers, Indian firms want fair treatment when they invest abroad, just as we do, Chinese artists want to protect their creations from piracy, every society seeking to develop a strong research and technology sector needs intellectual property protection to make trade fair as well as freer. Developing countries have to do a better job of improving productivity, raising labor conditions, and protecting the environment, on and on.”

Indian Ocean Nations (Trade): “More than half the world’s population lives in the vast region from the Indian Ocean to the Island Nations. Here we find some of our most trusted allies and valuable trading partners, many of the world’s most dynamic trade and energy routes. A few years ago, when our country was struggling through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, American exports to the Asia-Pacific helped spur our recovery. Our future growth will get a real shot in the arm if we reach farther into the burgeoning consumer markets across the region. […] And you are on track here in this state, in this city to take full advantage of a 21st century economy, and to help make sure that the United States remains a strong presence and a power in the Pacific.”

Wal-Mart (Trade): “I think that if India can ever get its regulatory system straightened out, you know, we have gone back and forth on opening up to retailers, large, multinational retailers. Wal-Mart just withdrew and it is a real shame and because one of the things Wal-Mart promised to do was to help set up the supply chain for agricultural products to actually get to the end user consumer. The harvest in India loses about 40 percent because there is no good storage; there is certainly no good cold storage. So if there is a way to get the politics to open up somewhat in India, you know, the market is just overwhelmingly large.”

But our neighbour Pakistan, our historical enemy who believes that maintaining friction and hostility in ties with India is the only way to look at par with India on global platforms, performs poorly even here. The leaked speeches mention Pakistan five times – and all in disturbed categories like Egypt, Syria and terrorism.

A further look on ‘Pakistan’ mentions clearly tells us that whenever she has quoted Pakistan, it is either for breeding terrorists and promoting terror or for illegally proliferating nuclear weapons. See it to reaffirm what you already know.

“We also were very concerned about the breeding of instability in terrorist havens in the Sinai which could be used just as the FATA between Pakistan and Afghanistan had been used by AlQaeda as launching sites for extremist attacks against Egypt, against Israel, against Jordan and further afield in the Gulf.”

“So the free Syrian Army and a lot of the local rebel militias that were made up of pharmacists and business people and attorneys and teachers—they’re no match for these imported toughened Iraqi, Jordanian, Libyan, Indonesian, Egyptian, Chechen, Uzbek, Pakistani fighters that are now in there and have learned through more than a decade of very firsthand experience what it takes in terms of ruthlessness and military capacity.”

“It depends upon how you define national interest. We certainly do with chemical weapons. We certainly would if Syria became even, in part, like the FATA between Pakistan and Afghanistan, a training ground for extremists, a launching pad for attacks on Turkey, Jordan, the non-tetarian elements in Lebanon and, eventually, even in Israel.

“And you know, it is like these terrible plots in James Bond movies where you have got some really creepy guy sitting around saying, I want to get a hold of some nuclear material, and I can bring the west to their knees and they will have to give me a hundred billion dollars in my private account. Well, unfortunately, there are people like that. And we saw what happened with the Pakistani scientist, Mr. Khan, who basically proliferated nuclear knowledge to as many countries as he could. He thought that was part of his religious mission to give the bomb to as many Muslim countries as he possibly could reach.”

Hillary’s words reiterate what we already know yet Pakistan behaves as if it can maintain its equal status with India on global platforms. Yes, it is not about a country’s size but its policies. And Pakistan’s policy of endorsing and promoting terror and proliferating nukes certainly make it one of the most rogue nations on earth.

©SantoshChaubey

YES, LEADERS CAN HAVE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE POSITIONS

WikiLeaks has released parts of paid (in millions), private speeches of Hillary Clinton that she delivered to audiences like the Wall Street bankers. The dump is part of trove hacked from email of John Podesta, Hillary’s campaign head. These so-called speeches have always been controversial. Bernie Sanders would always reiterate his demand to make transcripts of these speeches public. Donald Trump, though fast losing the race (of popularity and of ratings) with his misogynistic, crude, sexist remarks, continues to do so.

Yet Hillary refused to budge.

On their part, activists were always on the job. They had already flagged some excerpts in January and a comprehensive stuff is out now.

And on their part, Hillary’s team has gone on record to deny the authenticity of these papers, blaming them on Russian hackers who want to jeopardize Hillary’s electoral chances.

But on her part, Hillary doesn’t look so perturbed. Even if Trump mocked her on her answer, she sounded good when she answered why a leader needed to ‘have a public and a private position’ on an issue.

She said, “That was something I said about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie called ‘Lincoln. It was a masterclass watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. It was principled and it was strategic. I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do, and you have to keep working at it, and yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he used some arguments, convincing other people, he used other arguments. That was a great, I thought, a great display of presidential leadership.”

And it seems her explanation has gone down well in the public because now her team looks to own it (even if they will still disown the WikiLeaks trove). Her campaign manager Robby Mook said in a TV show after the debate, “Let’s be clear. I think there’s a distinction between what goes on in negotiations and what her positions are on the issues and have been on the issues.”

Yes, leaders can have public and private positions on an issue. That is only natural. That is human. Ethical politics is all about maintaining a fine balance between what you feel and what is needed.

©SantoshChaubey