UNMC Reacts: The 2016 US Presidential Elections

On the 8th of November, the results of the 2016 US presidential elections sent shockwaves reverberating through the globe. How did the students of UNMC react to this historic event? IGNITE decided to find out.

Age of the Donald? Donald Trump's victory in the presidential elections has stunned the rest of the world. Source: InsideGov

Age of the Donald? Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections has stunned the rest of the world. (Source: InsideGov)

IGNITE’s foreign correspondent, Yee Heng Yeh, pointed out similarities between Trump’s victory and the Brexit scenario in the UK to that of the current political climate in Malaysia.

The results of the Brexit vote seemed to go against that of the popular opinion. (Source: BBC)

The results of the Brexit vote seemed to go against that of the popular opinion. (Source: BBC)

According to him, “In the UK, obvious parallels to Brexit were being drawn, particularly in regards to how it is a protest vote of a disenfranchised, underrepresented working class. And although the actual value of such a vote can be questioned, it nevertheless indicates a lack of inter-political discourse.”

I think this is also very much an issue in Malaysia, and if we want actual political progress ourselves, we need to engage with those on the other side, especially in terms of overcoming the rural-urban divide.

The rural-urban divide in Malaysia's politics is a very clear one. In the 2013 general elections, 108 out of 133 seats won by Barisan Nasional (BN) came from rural seats, whereas 72 out of 89 seats won by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) came from urban and semi-urban seats.

The rural-urban divide in Malaysia’s politics is a very clear one. In the 2013 general elections, 108 out of 133 seats won by Barisan Nasional (BN) came from rural seats. 72 out of 89 seats won by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) came from urban and semi-urban seats. (Source: Politweet.Org)

Bervyn Tan, a third year chemical engineering student who is currently on exchange to the University of Birmingham, claimed that Trump’s defeat of Clinton was expected, but saddening at the same time.

“Hillary Clinton was fighting an uphill battle against a blatant demagogue that appealed to a significant fraction of the voters. Trump is someone that would bring change, albeit a possibly terrifying one. Somehow, it is something the USA is attracted to. I was betting on Sanders to win until Hillary was selected as the Democrats’ preferred candidate.”

A group of women react as voting results come in at Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's election night event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

A group of women react as voting results come in at Democratic presidential nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s election night event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. (Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Bervyn also noted that society’s fear of being called ‘politically incorrect’ has allowed someone like Trump to win the elections.

“People these days are so afraid of being “politically incorrect” or wrong, discussions and debates can’t occur in peace without “hurting feelings”. People don’t openly debate on important issues anymore, and America ends up having an openly racist, sexist, misogynistic, over-confident, underqualified president.”

He was also quick to point out that Hillary Clinton had herself to blame for not running a successful campaign.

Hillary has actually done poorly as a presidential candidate. She played her cards wrongly by being overconfident and complacent during her campaigns.

Hillary Clinton blamed FBI director James Comey, claiming that the renewed investigations into her emails "stopped our momentum".

Hillary Clinton blamed her defeat on FBI director James Comey, claiming that the renewed investigations into her emails “stopped our momentum”. (Source: BBC)

International Relations student, Netusha Naidu believes that a Trump presidency speculates a tide of mostly negative uncertainties. However, she says it is difficult to be a pundit due to the general lack of unpredictability that is shaping public opinion.

“Although to be really honest, a lot of the media commentary might just end up being hot air for a while. Often after such staggering outcomes, people anticipate many radical changes overnight. The reality may not be the case because bureaucracy, and not forgetting big governments, do not work that quickly. Thus, rash decisions are difficult to achieve (but concerns over military ought to be raised due to how much power Trump might have as the President).”

“A democratic decision has been made, regardless of what we think, and efforts should be focused on ensuring the security and progress of society.”

America has been swept by a wave of anti-Trump protests that has extended to its fifth day.

America has been swept by a wave of anti-Trump protests that has extended to its fifth day. (Source: Chicago Tribune)

Netusha also stressed on the importance of moving forward and not giving up on the values and beliefs that nurture democracy.

All in all, I think people should keep moving forward and not give up on the values and beliefs that favour the nurturing of democracy as well as tackling problems that have arisen during the elections.

Ethan Hue, currently in his second year of study in Biotechnology, voiced out a heartfelt opinion of his fears.

“People should be nice to each other. We try, even though we may not want to, because that is the only way civilized society can possibly function. Apparently, no one has told this to Donald Trump, who spews forth an unending flow of bigotry, hatred, and anti-intellectualism. Yet the people of America have chosen him to lead and to represent them.”

Trump's victory in the elections has heightened fears of an increase in the occurrence of hate crimes and bigotry. Trump has been endorsed by white supremacist group the KKK, although he has sought to distance himself from them.

Trump’s victory in the elections has heightened fears of an increase in the occurrence of hate crimes and bigotry. Trump has been endorsed by white supremacist group the KKK, although he has sought to distance himself from them. (Source: CNN)

“The unexpected result of this election provides a troubling revelation- that just under the surface lurks a terrifying mass of hate. And all it takes is one man with a broken filter and a loud voice to say ‘what everyone is thinking’ for the illusion of civility to shatter into a million pieces.”

The fact is that Donald Trump speaks for the people. May God have mercy on us all.

IGNITE’s Editor-in-Chief, Lhavanya DL, who is also an International Relations student, seems to have a different perspective on the issue. As a Malaysian who is concerned about what the new presidency means for her nation, she thinks that a Trump presidency would be better for Malaysia.

“He calls for protectionist and insular policies. Which is good for the rest of the world who are being taken advantage of as cheap labour and whose lax environmental standards are being exploited by American companies. The infamous Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), basically a form of American imperialism, would be sidelined. The vicious beast, neoliberalism would hopefully be curtailed somewhat.”

Trump repeatedly campaigned isolationist policies, which some believe may result in a more stable global geopolitical scene.

Trump repeatedly campaigned isolationist policies, which some believe may result in a more stable global geopolitical scene. (Source: The Washington Post)

“On the other hand, as a president he does not have as much power to enact the ridiculous measures he has called for. Trump winning the election highlighted the flaws of a democratic system. However, that same system will now work against him in parliament, in the senate and various other bodies to block his less intelligent and more radical agendas. He will have an army of political aides to make sure the decisions that come out of the white house will be intelligently crafted (just like his winning speech).”

Frankly speaking I am all for ‘making America great again’ but please don’t impose that on the rest of the world. And maybe one day Americans will be smart enough to vote another Bernie Sanders into power.

 

 

By Saran Anandan

 

 

"They say that great minds think alike, but also fools seldom differ"

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