Mr Trump has a steep learning curve

Mr Trump has a steep learning curve

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

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We congratulate Mr Donald Trump on his victory in the United States presidential elections yesterday, admittedly with a reluctant sense of trepidation.

Reluctant because, while he won by the democratic process which we cherish, the election was much too bitter and divisive, largely because of Mr Trump’s scorching campaign, starting with the primaries last year.

Indeed, Jamaica and the world at large were gripped by the unusual election campaign and perhaps, more specifically, the conduct of Mr Trump, who broke all the conventional rules in the way he insulted various groups; admitted to what the rest of us regard as sexual assault on women; mocked a disabled journalist; attacked the media; and refused to release his tax returns against presidential custom.

There is a sense that with Mr Trump’s win, the United States and the world have entered uncharted waters under the administration of a man who has not shown any love for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is keeping the free world protected; has no qualms about the proliferation of nuclear weapons; and stays up late tweeting about inconsequential things against opponents.

To give him his due, Mr Trump galvanised a sizeable segment of the American population which is clearly feeling left behind. Regrettably, that also brought out the worst in some of his supporters, encouraged by the candidate’s loose language and fanned by claims that whites were feeling overwhelmed by the growing diversification of the United States.

But it demonstrated that, as part of the healing and reunification process, the concerns and fears of this large section of the country must be factored into any social and economic development plans going forward. A way must be found to help them understand that diversification of the population, while unstoppable, does not have to be a bad thing for them.

In this regard, Mr Trump has a steep learning curve. He campaigned on banning Muslims, deporting millions of illegal immigrants, and promising his supporters to "take back the White House" and "make America great again", which many saw as a "dog whistle" to return to an era when non-whites were not treated as equals.

He will also have to brush up quickly on foreign policy in order to quell nervousness among leaders across the world who question his temperament and commitment to the norms that kept the Western powers safe and in control. He will have to learn to listen to the generals and not insist that he knows more than them.

Still, we are hopeful that the indomitable spirit of the American people will hold the country together and that Mr Trump will be a fast learner. His vast experience as a businessman gives him some advantage in the area of the economy and we expect him to do well in creating jobs for those who have been left behind.

We also congratulate Mrs Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, who came within a whisker of being the first woman American president. She fought a good fight and crowns a lifetime of public service with the historic achievement as the first woman to head a major party presidential ticket.

We wish them both very well.

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