When Donald Trump won the US presidential elections in 2016, it was a shock all round. In fact, even Trump himself appeared visibly surprised when he received the news. His acceptance speech was as of one who had not prepared for the outcome.
Though he had put on a strong fight against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate was no pushover. Every indication was that she was headed for a win – which she technically did with the popular vote. Trump, however, tipped the scales against her through the electoral college votes.
Having elected their president, Americans settled to a wait and see attitude – hoping against hope that Trump would do better in office than he had done at the campaigns. But in four years, his style was no different from what he displayed in the 2016 campaign trail. If anything, he became more abrasive and at times even callous. He took radical decisions that rubbed many the wrong way – internally and externally.
Having withdrawn America early from all major world bodies, and having maintained a constant fight with several former US allies, many world leaders hoped, or perhaps even prayed for his downfall.
Internally, there seemed to have been an outcry from across the nation, especially in the last two years of his reign. The lacklustre handling of such devastating matters as Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter outcry only seemed to make things worse for the tweeting president.
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Thus, as the 2020 elections drew near, many analysts believed Americans had had enough of their 45th president. Predictions were that he was going to be vanquished at the ballot – and with a landslide victory. But this was not to be.
Though all indications are that he lost the 2020 elections, Trump has refused to fall with a thud. Not just because of his claims of rigging – which has kept his supporters hopeful – but especially because of the massive number of votes he amassed at the elections. While Biden has set a historic record by attaining more that 82 million popular votes, Trump shares this record-setting feat by garnering over 74 million votes.
In 2008, Barack Obama earned over 69 million votes in the presidential election, the most ever then. Now, both Biden and Trump have far surpassed that tally, setting a new record for the US presidential elections. Trump has therefore not been hounded out office with unassailable win as many had predicted. The question is: Why has Trump turned out to be such an enigma?
Back in 2016, analysts and commentators reviewed the Trump win from various angles, trying to understand the underlying issues, and especially what may have led to the results that defied the predictions of almost all opinion polls. Of the many hypotheses, The Economist proffered an interesting perspective.
They wrote, “Good people have been frightened and angered into backing a dangerous man.” The implication here is that, in spite of his abrasive style on the campaign trail, Trump articulated exactly what the “good people” wanted to hear. Trump’s rough-shod voice on the campaign trail resonated with many. His almost reckless utterances, though widely viewed as un-presidential, is exactly what this group was looking for.
Whereas this group has in its ranks nefarious far right diehards, it is mainly comprised of truly good people who stand for strong values. As mentioned here previously, these people perceive themselves and their values to be in danger of being obliterated by the pervasive liberal policies espoused by the Democrats.
Among these is the Church, especially the Evangelicals, which has increasingly felt ostracised, with all its Judeo-Christian values systematically dismantled under Democrats leadership. It is particularly this group that appears to have helped Trump to upstage the Democrats in 2016, and fully mobilised themselves in 2020 to give him a record number of votes.
What seems to be coming out of the US elections is that the fight between the liberals and the conservatives is desperate. The record turnout at the elections is evidence of a people that have developed strong world views at opposite ends, but which they are ready to defend at all costs. With almost 160 million voter turnout during a ravaging pandemic, these groups have shown that they are ready to do anything to defend their cause.
This is a trend that is likely to pick up among many nations, especially as fundamental values get undermined by a rapidly growing liberal movement. For a fact, a Trump would be a ready sell in Kenya, if he were to promise and deliver the moral and social value propositions. The “good people” are desperate.