Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Donald Trump deserves to be congratulated for his win

Donald Trump won the US presidential election

Donald Trump won the US presidential election after a bitterly fought and divisive campaign. PHOTO | FILE 

By Benji Ndolo

It was quite a campaign. One-and-a-half years of utter madness.

It was a terrible journey for those who followed the presidential election in the US.

Unlike 2008, it was not about optimism and possibility. It was about fear, anger, and revolt.

Barack Obama broke records and expectations, becoming the first black man to win the White House.

His message and demeanour were full of hope, enthusiasm, and decency. America was a better place and a world of possibility was born.

But after the talk must come the walk. While Obama saved the country, and the world, from economic collapse in 2008, the expectations about him were super high and went largely unmet.

From Obamacare to global affairs, health premiums went up as Isis roamed the globe wreaking havoc.

It is my feeling that the president was too diplomatic and his political party, including the Hillary Clinton election machinery, a bit out of touch.

It seemed Mr Obama could only give a good speech and shed a tear as police became unruly and rioted, leading to the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

Health insurance premiums soared on an initiative that gave cover to 40 million people.

His record has been decent, not golden, even though his personal conduct has been exceptional.

Like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders connected with the electorate, especially the rural folk.

He sensed their despair, their frustration with the Washington talk and gridlock.

People everywhere are increasingly insecure, populations are growing, resources are dwindling, suspicions, hate, and terrorism seem to be on the rise and politicians are walking around in suits and ties, talking a lot and doing little to change things.

Sanders began what looked like a sure political revolution.

Although he seemed angry and old, he effortlessly connected with young people and inspired hope and optimism for change against the establishment.

He railed against the status quo. But he was knocked out during the primaries.

One thing about politics and public life is the importance of favourability.

And, unfortunately, women are held up to a higher standard than men.

As the campaigns progressed, it became clear that the two frontrunners — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — were the two most unlikely picks of both party formations.

The Republican Party openly revolted against its candidate.

And in the Democratic corner the pressure continued to mount on Clinton.

The anger against her grew, as did the attacks. But the media loved her and were openly biased against her adversary.

So it was that as the Americans went into voting on November 8, it was a most poisoned atmosphere, full of anger, despair, and disillusionment.

But even the complex electoral college mathematics could not stop Donald Trump.

The world was stunned and there were demonstrations on the streets.

They say every cloud has a silver lining. Well, for me the lesson is that it is possible to come from outside the political establishment and win — as long as you can persuade people and connect with their needs and problems.

So, Donald Trump deserves to be congratulated for winning after a hard-fought campaign.

We should wish him well as he begins the tough task of leading his country and the world.

The writer is a commentator and strategist and the founder/director of ON, based in Nairobi.benji@onekenyagroup.org