Against everything and against everyone Donald Trump has become the President of the United States. This is the gist of the US elections. The long election campaign based on mutual deligitimization, personal attacks and low blows, led the unexpected candidate to victory.
Trump won despite the opinion of a large majority of US and international media outlets; despite polls of all kinds, carried out with traditional methods or based on the analysis of thousands of Tweets; despite the opinion of experts and even despite his own political party.
Nonetheless, it is evident that Trump won because a considerable portion of the American people was on his side. It’s too soon to say what will happen next, what will change and what will remain unchanged in the domestic and foreign policy of the Country. Trump is a veritable outsider, more than Regan was in 1980, and for the time being nobody knows who will enter his cabinet and occupy important posts such as the US State Department, the Treasury, or Defence. Trump is also much more fickle than Regan was, but to a certain extent
He will have to try to mend a strongly divided and polarized America.
There is reason to believe that some parts of his victory speech, in which he announced that he intends to be the president of all US citizens, are not set phrases. However, it is clear that The Donald will go to Washington with the mission of acting in discontinuity from the self-referential environments that Hillary Clinton was strongly identified with. And while it’s too soon to venture future forecasts it’s important to reflect on the recent past. When we say that Trump has won in spite of everything and everyone we are implicitly admitting that we were looking in the wrong direction. If all media outlets, political analysts and intellectuals were taken aback in disappointment it means that their personal preferences have influenced their work and that they – consciously or unconsciously – refused to see an important part of American society. Moreover, the polling failure could be due to the fact that these tools have become unreliable because people have learnt how to dissimulate their opinions, or because they have failed to survey truly representative samples of society.
Trump won because he managed to detect the needs of a number of Americans who were feeling cut out, who didn’t feel represented by Washington’s politics while Hillary Clinton, willing or not, was the less inclusive Democratic candidate.
Trump spoke demagogically appealing to the gut instincts of a number of American citizens, but he believed in a bottom-up political approach, against an establishment viewed as increasingly detached from the problems of “true” America, the America that lives far away from Boston, New York, Saint Francisco. He could count on hard core voters whose opinions are just short of racism and xenophobia, but he also managed to bring on his side large numbers of voters from suburban areas and de-industrialized districts who perceived Hillary Clinton as being indissolubly bound to lobbies and to the big multinationals that follow far different – if not opposite – criteria, compared to their daily needs. In short, Trump won largely because his opponent was Hillary Clinton, evidently too greedy for power and an integral part of the federal establishment to convince, for example, the black community. It was almost impossible for many African Americans to vote for Trump, but in all likelihood Hillary’s forced smiles were not enough to convince them, and it seems that many of them gave up on voting.
As happened in America, also Europe over the past hours experienced feelings of surprise and even of shock.
For sure, Trump will not be a president with whom it is easy to cope, but European governments should avoid making the same mistake committed by US media outlets and intellectuals. Turning a blind eye is never a wise move for those involved in politics. Trump is unquestionably unprecedented, but precisely for this reason we cannot take for granted that we know him completely. It will be important to act with caution: if we show preconceived hostility towards him we will have to expect him to do the same with us.