Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water after the vicissitudes of Brexit in the UK (still an ongoing saga), hard on its heels comes the bitter, fight to the death American election, making it a double whammy inside six months of seismic proportions. If I hadn’t known the result by mid-morning on November 9th, I could have guessed it by the animated chit-chat from the Russians in the metro, with the word ‘Trump’ being frequently uttered, accompanied by feverish messaging on their mobiles.
Donald Trump had just pulled off a master stroke, resulting in his getting the keys to the White House on January 20th, 2017, after the official swearing in ceremony which will make him the USA’s 45th President. Florida was a huge swing State to go his way, then an hour later, Pennsylvania proved to be the denouement from which Clinton had no return in a contest that most of the world had made her out to be the first woman President as a foregone conclusion. Alas, no glass ceilings being smashed on this occasion. The map bore witness to this unlikely triumph, bathed in a sea of red, and Trump’s triumph had totally annihilated what many of his supporters saw as the ‘luvvy lefties,’ boot-faced feminists and chronically inaccurate and waste of space pollsters. Even at death, CNN couldn’t bring themselves to admit the impossible had happened, with their commentators dumb with stupefaction that a rank outsider had defied all the odds, not to mention the nefarious media.
As Trump predicted, it was Brexit times ten; and the ordinary man in the street had risen up and made his voice heard, leaving Hillary to weep into her pant suit, and her supporters crying into their nachos. The Trump camp was too full of racists, xenophobes, misogynists and deplorables to have any chance, they said- a parallel to the British Brexiteers who were deemed too ‘stupid’ to understand what they had voted for. So where had it gone so horribly south for Clinton? I met up with a couple of Republicans and a Democrat to learn.
When Joyce M. Miller enters a place, in this case Chicago Prime, people tend to notice her. Tall, flame-haired, attractive and confident, she announces her arrival in her unmistakable Virginian accent: ‘We did it,’ she exclaimed, eyes sparkling with joy, enveloping me in a bear-hug simultaneously; ‘Wow, I mean wow!’ She confesses to shedding a tear after the result, but couldn’t stop smiling the whole time she was with me. This also might have had something to do with the fact there was a pre-arranged Democrat victory party going on at the same time in Chicago Prime, attendees of which were forced to watch Clinton’s concession speech, much to their utter chagrin!
Jo, as she’s known to her friends, is a seasoned Moscow expat who speaks Russian fluently, and arrived here in 1995, following a stint in the early 1990’s as a Foreign Affairs Specialist in the commercial department of the U.S. government. Did you expect this result, I ask? ‘Not in a million years.’ she replied, ‘it’s completely blown me away!’ Jo expressed that the Republicans now have control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress. Clinton lost, according to Jo, because of her snooty attitude to people in that she believed people should answer to her, not vice versa.
Regarding Trump’s victory, she says it’s a victory for the ordinary people from the forgotten towns; the people who pay their taxes and work hard for it. Trump is a middle of the road sort of guy who’ll be keen to change the somewhat dis-United States into the United States again, and run America like a business until he starts to understand politics and its ramifications. Exactly the same labels that were applied to Reagan have also been applied to Trump.
What about relations with Russia? Definitely it will be high on his agenda as well as the significant European countries. Putin’s spokesman had suggested under Clinton we were headed towards WW3, but at least now we’re assured of some dialogue. She says that while Julian Assange played his part by releasing emails from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Clinton was the author of her own misfortune with her own health issues, Bhenghazi scandal, mendacious manner and the Clinton Foundation with its dubious sources of income.
Next up I met Anastasia Fedorova, now working in the TV department of Reuters. I approached her door with some trepidation as she’s a staunch Democrat and I wondered what reaction awaited me. I needn’t have worried. I asked if she was disappointed Clinton had lost and was met with a firm ‘no!’ She admits she didn’t like or vote for Clinton, but abstained instead. Some of her Democrat friends actually voted for Trump as they were vehemently against Clinton. She reminds me Zhirinovsky, outspoken Trump supporter, maintains relations will warm up which should change the world political dynamic for the better.
Anastasia expressed that Trump is the lesser of two evils and ‘the surprise Skittles flavour’ in that you never know what you’ll get! Anastasia had reservations about the Republicans dominating in the house, and declares that health and immigration should be at the top of Trump’s agenda. Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster as it was mandatory and expensive, favouring insurance companies in lieu of the end user â Anastasia was fined $250 for not having it while she was over here.
Regarding immigration, the questions on everyone’s lips are will Trump build the wall and what will happen to the ‘bad hombres’ already in situ illegally? In fact, following an interview with CBS, Trump stated that yes heâll build the wall, which the Mexicans are refusing to pay for (quelle surprise), with a combination of concrete and fencing, but then went on to declare he intends to remove 2-3 million undocumented illegals with criminal records. Trump’s acceptance speech indicated a change of tone to the point of being conciliatory. He appeared surprised, like a game show contestant not quite sure how to react when they’ve just won the top prize. Anastasia feels Americans are largely clueless as to what goes on overseas, and only the USA matters to them. The Republicans had many more serious candidates than the Democrats who only really had Clinton and Sanders as serious players â this was a recipe for trouble ahead. In synopsis, Hillary’s mantra of ‘we need a woman in the White House’ simply drove some Democrats away, many of them because they simply didn’t like or trust her.
Meet Paul Angotti, an engineer working in procurement and contracts for nine years in Moscow and four in Siberia. Paul is originally from Washington D.C. but has now built himself a lovely house in Florida. He had this to say about the election: I wasn’t surprised by the result except for Trump sweeping almost all of the swing States. Apparently enough people were fed up with the Obama administration, and the thought of it being continued under Clinton was a bridge too far. Hillary had a lot of issues, from being part of the aforementioned legacy, to the $21 trillion debt â she openly planned to expand it and even smiled while saying it. She also relied heavily on support from the minorities, special interest groups and feminists to support her left wing liberal agenda while calling others deplorable. Being dishonest and elitist didnât help her cause either.
Paul said: ‘The silent majority of Americans don’t want these liberal policies that have attacked the traditional values they uphold. Domestically, Trump is going to cut taxes, kick-start domestic investment in a bid to get America back to work again. He’s going to relieve EPA restrictions on energy and industry so we can run our factories and mines, burn coal and produce oil, and maybe even build new pipelines. He’ll get rid of the government’s obsession with banning weapons, but importantly he’ll make a concerted effort to have the police and public regaining trust in each other. He’ll also pay attention to the military and their needs, but not with a blank check.’
I asked Paul: ‘How about Russian/EU relations?’ He replied: ‘Whilst he [Trump] may not be a top public speaker, he’s a very skilled one on one negotiator; he doesn’t pull punches, so you know where you stand, and the Secretaries of State and Defence are key appointments. Most Americans don’t care what happens overseas as long as it doesn’t affect them. Remember, only 17% of Americans possess a passport, and most who voted for Trump aren’t in that category.’
‘Most of the public, due to what some see a biased media, have labelled Trump an out of control bigot with a short fuse.’ Paul continued. ‘Ask the people of Louisiana what they thought of him when he personally visited after the flooding disaster, with aid paid for out of his own pocket while Obama and Clinton were on Nantucket island vacationing. That’s the Trump some people ignore ‘ he’s not part of the Washington establishment and people like that, so he deserves a chance to show his true colours. All he wants to do is make America great again.’
So there you have it, and America has spoken loud and clear for change. There was a common denominator threading through people’s comments of the people I met in Moscow and others besides: people simply didn’t like or trust Hillary. She’s currently blaming the FBI director for her defeat like a recalcitrant child who refuses to accept she’s wrong, in my opinion. In her concession speech which was full of predictable platitudes and cliches, and being watched by a room full of gloomy down-in-the-mouth Democrats, I afforded myself a wry smile. Bill Clinton was hovering stoically in the background with stress etched on his face, no doubt wondering what might have been.
During her closing words, Hillary did manage to come out with one absolute gem: ‘I just want to say to all you young people out there starting out in business: you’ll get setbacks in life and you have to learn to deal with them’- never a truer word said. As for Trump, he’s talked the talk to land the biggest deal of his life, now he has to walk the walk and deliver on his promises.