The election is over. Why did Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) lose? The political climate for her seemed so favorable. What went wrong?
I am reminded of an old proverb: “The winds were so favorable. Why did the winds sink the boat? A rep of the winds said, Captains of the boat sank it.”
Why did such a tried and tested politician lose to an utterly inexperienced and uncouth contestant? Well, because millions of Americans are hurting. He felt their pain. Did he really, or did he just use their pain for political ends? It is debatable. It is hard to imagine how a person who has wallowed in immeasurable wealth and luxury of silver spoons and golden plates could feel the pain of the penniless. Maybe he did and HRC didn’t? Or if she did, she could not show it?
Or was it the overt and covert xenophobia and racism of certain sections of American society that DT tapped that put him on the top? Maybe to some extent. Or was Electoral College system the main culprit, for HRC did win the majority vote? Of course it is a flawed system, but that is how American presidential elections have always been won or lost. Something else may have gone awry.
Here is my take on this most bizarre of our presidential elections. All the above may have contributed to it, but Trump won for three primary reasons.
One, because he is charismatic, uncouth and extempore. HRC is none of that. She may also have appeared to some too polished and as such, untrustworthy and uncharismatic. According to its author Max Weber, charisma has little to do with reason. It appeals to emotions. It has been used for achieving positive or negative outcomes. Examples of both types of charismatic leaders and their “achievements” abound. Sir Winston Churchill was a positive charismatic leader. Adolf Hitler was on the negative side of charisma. There are gradations of charisma on its positive and negative dimensions. Trump used his charisma to ride on the emotions of others to achieve his political ambitions.
Two, Trump won because captains of the Clinton ship misread the winds. Polls used to be more reliable when America was a more homogenous society accessible to pollsters and media managers. The ideal of reaching a statistically “representative sample” of a highly heterogeneous population may prove daunting.
Three, and probably the most important reason Trump won has to do with continuity versus change. Sociologists have long rated world societies on the continuity-to-change dimension. From its very founding, and because of it, America has always scored high on the side of change, sometimes positive, sometimes negative change. Time and again, barring notable exceptions, Americans have voted for change over status quo. Trump was seen as the agent of change; HRC as the agent of status quo. The overwhelming force behind the voters’ choice this time was a desire for change: No more four or more Obama years regardless of how good they may have appeared to millions of other Americans.
One last word regardless of how trite it may sound. Politics is like a game of chess, or any other game: Someone wins. Someone loses. This game is over. Let us continue to play the game.
Aqueil Ahmad lives in western Orange County.