Trump: My Hopes, Fears, Prayers And Reflections

Benedict Rogers   |   November 11, 2016   10:11 PM ET

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton showed extraordinary graciousness, dignity, generosity and stature in their response to Donald Trump's surprising victory, and it is to their credit. President-elect Trump - words I find difficult to write - also showed surprising, uncharacteristic magnanimity in his victory speech and his meeting with President Obama at the White House, appealing for unity and speaking respectfully, for the first time, of the incumbent. I hope this lasts.

It may be that Trump's vulgarity, rudeness and threatening behaviour during the campaign - well described by Margaret Beckett - was all just an act, a show put on by a reality TV host playing to the gallery, or at least to his base. Let's hope so. For his behaviour during the campaign was among the most unbecoming for an incoming President.

Michelle Obama's line - "When they go low, we go high" - rings in my ears and stays in my mind. Boy, did they go low, and wow how amazing it was that the Obamas stayed high, even in defeat. I hope and pray that it is the case that the low levels to which Trump sank were simply a show, and that now he has won he will behave with the dignity and generosity of spirit his new office behoves.

There are, however, three things urgently needed right now.

First, no matter how much many of us may dislike it, we must accept the result - as we did with Brexit - and make it work. We must minimise the damage and seize whatever positive opportunities there might be.

Second, as with Brexit, it is imperative that the President-elect rein in his demons, especially his more extreme supporters. He must unequivocally condemn the wave of racist attacks, violence and hate speech which have occurred in recent days - the swastikers, the verbal abuse of racial minorities, the violent assaults on gay people. He must especially disown the Ku Klux Klan and their ilk - something he patently refused to do in the campaign. If he is not the racist that his opponents believe he is, he must act quickly to demonstrate that. He unleashed a lot of demons during the campaign which could tear the fabric of the United States apart if he does not act demonstrably and responsibly to bring the country together.

And third, those of us who do not understand how people could vote for a man like Trump need very urgently to listen and learn. When people are angry, they sometimes do stupid things - but that is not a reason to ignore the causes of their anger. Clearly, a significant proportion in the United States are very angry - angry at the establishment which they feel does not represent them, angry at their stagnant economic circumstances, angry that for too long they have not been heard by the political elite. The same is true in Britain, and that anger led to Brexit. The same could be true in France, Germany, the Netherlands and across Europe, with consequences that could be horrific.

Those of us, on the centre-right or the centre-left of politics, who believe in liberal democracy, open society and an internationalist outlook should be alarmed at rising populism in various forms around the world. From Modi in India and Duterte in the Philippines, to militant Buddhist nationalism in Burma and UKIP in Britain, to Putin and Trump, populism, nationalism and in some cases extreme racism and religious intolerance are all peas from the same pod. All these are varying shades of the same phenomenon, and they have their far left equivalents too. All play on fears, tap into anger and preach hatred.

But we should not just be alarmed. We should listen, learn and then act. We need to develop a vision that is true to the values of liberal democracy, one that celebrates diversity, promotes basic human rights and freedoms, protects the vulnerable, respects human dignity, liberates and empowers people and provides hope. A vision that is rooted and grounded in the realities of life, in an understanding of how hard the daily grind is for many ordinary decent working people, and is not consumed with lofty words and false promises, yet at the same time still lifts the spirits beyond the politics of anger and hate. A vision that offers real solutions.

Yet while our political leaders must focus on addressing the needs of their angry populations at home, they must not slip into a politics of parochialism. For many years, millions of people in countries ruled by dictators or torn apart by terrorists and religious extremists have looked to western democracies, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, to be their voice. We must not fail them.

Dissidents jailed and tortured in China or Russia, activists beginning to build a very fragile new democracy in Burma with the old military regime still powerful and still breathing down their necks, religious minorities across the Middle East, Pakistan and Indonesia, look to us to speak out for the basic human rights that we enjoy and which they have for so long been denied.

Over the past year or so hundreds of human rights lawyers in China have been arrested and detained, booksellers from Hong Kong have been abducted by Chinese agents, and Hong Kong's freedoms are being shredded. In North Korea, at least 100,000 people languish in political prison camps in dire conditions. In Eritrea, prisoners of conscience are locked up in metal shipping containers. In Burma, Muslims are facing a campaign of hatred which some experts say amounts to ethnic cleansing and may be a warning sign of genocide, while in Syria and Iraq Christians and Yazidis face what many believe is already a genocide.

In addition to the millions whose human rights are denied, millions more are in dire poverty, caused by war, natural disaster or bad governance. Humanitarian aid, development and efforts to tackle corruption - as well as to end the scourge of human trafficking or modern-day slavery - are challenges which the United States, Britain and the west cannot shirk.

In other words, we cannot and must not retreat either into isolation, protectionism or appeasement. As countries that still enjoy wealth and freedom, we must not pull up the drawbridge and disregard our responsibilities to others less fortunate than ourselves. We must reinforce free trade. And we must not coddle dictators.

Those thoughts are addressed most directly to President-elect Trump, a man who dismissed the Tiananman massacre as simply a "riot" and appeared to show admiration for the way the brutal butchers of Beijing quelled it. In particular, Mr Trump's friendliness towards Russia's Vladimir Putin is a source of deep concern. Putin is a bully, and we should speak the only language bullies understand: we should stand up to him.

My preferred choice for US President was Marco Rubio, as I wrote on these pages earlier this year, because he is consistent in speaking out on international human rights. There are many in the US Congress who continue to champion freedom around the world, in particular Congressman Chris Smith, and I hope they will keep a very watchful eye on Trump's foreign policy.

A key test will be who President-elect Trump appoints as Secretary of State. There are rumours that it could be Newt Gingrich. I have not studied Mr Gingrich closely, but one of my favourite films is Nine Days That Changed the World, a documentary he made about Pope St John Paul II's visit to Warsaw which sparked the Solidarity movement in Poland, leading eventually to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and the liberation of eastern Europe. If the messages within that film suggests that Mr Gingrich might share St John Paul II's passion for human rights and freedom and put them into his foreign policy, given the chance, that would be very welcome.

Similarly, while not without controversy, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence is known to have shown an interest in international religious freedom and human rights when he served in Congress. I may be clutching at straws, but if foreign policy is largely guided by Mr Gingrich and Mr Pence, things may not be as bad as we fear. As long as Sarah Palin is not let anywhere near a foreign policy or security role, please God.

The immediate consequences of the US election result have been chilling. In Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang, as well as among Islamic extremists and Burma's Buddhist nationalists, and in almost every authoritarian regime in the world, there have been celebrations. May President-elect Trump prove us all wrong, may those celebrations be short-lived and may America take its place once again in the world as a decent and bold champion of universal freedoms and human dignity and as a nation we can all look up to. That is my prayer tonight and every night until Inauguration Day - and into his presidency.

Trump's Victory Shows The Manifestation Of America's Discontent

Thomas Smith   |   November 11, 2016    6:08 PM ET

DONALD Trump's announcement to run for presidency in June 2015 was met largely with laughter and disbelief. Almost 18 months later, his seismic election victory sends shockwaves through America and again causes people to disbelieve- though there are few laughing this time round. It's unexpectedness is borne out of consistent polls that antithetically predicted a comfortable win for Hillary Clinton, and the often chaotic nature of Donald Trump's campaign. Several comparisons can be drawn between the U.S. election and Brexit; pollsters, academics and the media failed to foresee a large turnout in support for the anti-establishment, right-wing movements. Trump's unanticipated victory was underpinned by a surge of votes from white working class men (both university and non-university educated) and a smaller than predicted number of minorities and women voting for Clinton. Of the myriad of reasons that made millions more than expected choose the business tycoon, it was the disenchantment at the current establishment's approach to pressing issues, such as immigration and Middle-Eastern policy, that played the central role in securing his remarkable victory.

Although not apocalyptic, the state of affairs in the U.S. over the last decade has been turbulent at the best of times. A poll carried out by the Economist this week on whether respondents thought the U.S. was heading in the right/wrong direction revealed 32% more people believing their country was heading down the wrong track. In March of this year, 61% of respondents in a survey carried out by A.T. Kearney believed that immigration 'jeopardizes the nation'. The salience of immigration has also sharply risen in the minds of most Americans- in 2002 the Harris Poll found that just one percent of respondents ranked immigration as one of the two most important issues for government- this figure rose to 19% this year. Rhetorically brash and brazenly offensive, Trump's proposed solutions to America's ills evidently attracted millions of voters towards him over Clinton, whose liberal stance (she proposed to increase the number of Syrian refugees America accepts by 550%) did not sit well with those who favour a precautionary approach in the face of the mounting terror threat.

Immigration is one of multiple grievances and fears that U.S citizens hold. As many as 70% of Americans view ISIS as the number one threat to American interests; although Clinton did repeatedly pledge to eradicate them, Trump's stalwart claims of forceful and immediate intervention struck a chord with Americans anxious about the ISIS threat, and made Clinton's proposals appear liberal and overly tentative by comparison. His language throughout the campaign was colourful, and his often daring rhetorical devices used to win over attention and support - through the use of ad populum, ad baculum and ad hominem fallacies - instilled confidence that he would implement tangible change in American foreign policy and bolster defense in a climate against the backdrop of maximum levels of terrorism threat. On the economic side, both candidates repeatedly prioritised the middle class in a bid to successfully attract one of America's biggest demographics- but Trump's direct appeals to the middle class to ensure they would no longer be 'forgotten' with his proposals to collapse the current seven tax brackets down to three, and effectively reducing the income tax rate for low-income Americans to 0, was instrumental in drawing swathes of support from the disaffected working classes.

One of Trump's most vital components in his victory was that of his opponent. A full overview of the misdemeanors and dubious histories of both candidates would perhaps necessitate a short novel, but the actions of Hillary Clinton over her lengthy political life- the most notable being the deletion of over 30,000 emails and flirting with prison charges- was sufficient to repel enough people. Although her campaign was well thought-out, and her outlined policies in the televised debates logical and with substance, the combination of a deceitful history and imperfect policy ( her idea to make college education debt-free worried economists due to its potential impact on the national debt ) made Trump - who is not without his own plentiful scandals - the worthier option. Indeed, a poll by the Washington Post in August showed that 56% of Americans have a negative opinion of Clinton. Whether the more energetic, charismatic and 'cleaner' Sanders would have performed better than his female counterpart will always remain unknown, though Democrats will inevitably wonder about what could have been.

Brexit demonstrated that the collective rise of the disenchanted working classes and right-wing against the traditional establishment is possible, the U.S. election highlighted it is by no means a one-off. Citing his representation of 'the working man and woman', Trump embodied a protest against the status quo, and emboldened millions of Americans to translate their serious concerns about immigration, the economy and ISIS into a vote for him. Aggrieved by the current state of affairs and the Democrat incumbency over the past eight years, Hillary Clinton represented a continuation of establishment policies that millions of ordinary Americans felt 'silenced' by. To most people, the result on Tuesday came as the biggest shock is US election history. But to some, the element of surprise is not so considerable; for the millions of people who felt forgotten and afflicted by the establishment, and disaffected at the cautious approach to immigration and terrorism, were bound to rise up eventually.

Thomas Smith

Note To World: Hillary Clinton Won the Popular Vote. Yes, She Did

Alex Ratcliffe   |   November 11, 2016    5:57 PM ET

This is what Michael Moore, filmmaker and political activist, in his Facebook- post-gone-viral, has enjoined people to remember in his five-point plan for the morning- after one of the world's most dramatic election campaigns, and its ensuing results. "The only reason he's president," Moore wrote, "is because of an arcane, insane 18th-century idea called the Electoral College." Funnily enough, Donald Trump himself declared in 2012 that "the Electoral College is a disaster for democracy" and this about the very 'College' which has earned him the position of President-elect of the United States.

The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors usually nominated at their state conventions. According to the College, the candidate who wins the majority of popular votes in a state wins that state's electoral votes (decided mainly by population). So the election, as we saw through the night, is in reality a battle to win specific state victories that will give the candidate the 270 required electoral votes. Thus millions of votes cast can be irrelevant to the results if the voter does not live in a competitive state.

How the electors per state are elected, whether they are compelled by law to vote for their party's candidate, this is another long story. The reason this method is being discussed now is because it is rare that the popular vote does not agree with the electoral vote, and although this method 'usually works', this time it hasn't. The last time the electoral and popular votes did not coincide was in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won the electoral vote. What is being hotly debated now is whether or not Donald Trump has a mandate to effectively govern, given his failure to secure the popular vote.

The point is this: perspective, for those who feel this is one of the darkest days in history. Out of nearly 120 million votes cast (of a population of nearly 330 million), Hillary indeed won that popular vote, but the sum total of votes cast indicate an electorate divided. There would have been protests on the streets no matter who won.

This division and uncertainty is nothing new after the experience of Brexit; that horrible sense that the rational world is crumbling down around you; that no matter how much we talk of unity there is disunity; no matter how much we wish to expand, embrace, love and progress, the equal and opposite reaction still comes: to restrict, divide, hate and regress. Almost like scientific law.

For myself, though an avid student of Government and Politics, a hopeless idealist and admittedly a fan of the politics of The West Wing more so than House of Cards (more factual though it may be), I will not be following the media circus that will build around the trajectory of the career of the new President, because I will resist distraction and getting sucked up into the dark hole of fear and confusion that will inevitably be felt when viewing the next 100 days. How much do we need to know to get on with what we have to do? To re-establish balance and unity? I have to remember this.

I will not be glued to my screen for every word from the White House; I will probably not even be watching the inauguration, to avoid the uncomfortable cognitive dissonance of watching the new President Trump swear on the Bible; I will definitely not be following those political 'leaders' who will be schmoozing with the new President, all the ones that previously distanced themselves from him, and who will be formulating (and possibly reversing) the policies for the nation; I won't listen to the spin-doctors who will try to tell us Trump's 'character' has changed overnight and we now have a responsible man in the presidency (though I will continue to hope and pray for this miracle and his epiphany); and I will not be thinking about and fearing what may come next, unacceptable and unpalatable as that may well be.

Instead I will take heart from Obama's calm and rational recent speech after the win: "Stay encouraged, don't get cynical; don't ever think you can't make a difference... We all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, which is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy".

And Hillary's final words in her dignified and inspiring concession speech. What courage, fortitude and resilience. You really have to hand it to her: "Never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it... for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. For, there are more seasons to come, and there is more work to do."

King Lear said: "This is not the worst, so long as we can say, 'This is the worst' ". That meaning may be obscure, but we can take from it that this is not the worst, if we take this now as an opportunity to gather our resources, work together to unite, and build on the goodwill that does exist and with the people who want to heal, and go forward. Always forward.

""Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always." (Mahatma Gandhi)

Am I a hopeless idealist? Maybe. But right now, today, from where I sit and how I feel, I am sure that Hope Trumps Fear.

What Will Trump's Global Effects Be?

Danielle Cuaycong   |   November 11, 2016    5:39 PM ET

Donald Trump's contentious victory as the 45th US President will undeniably have rippling effects experienced throughout the world due to the transformations in relationships with other countries that will occur after Trump implements his various policies.

Colossal criticism has been asserted by Trump on the membership of the US in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), an intergovernmental military alliance. For the past 60 years, American foreign policy has been shaped around NATO. Trump condemned the organisation by claiming it as superseded and stated that its members were churlish allies who benefit from the USA's munificence. Hence, Trump has proposed he would retract American forces from European and Asian countries unless they pay up. NATO is indubitably dominant, composing 70% of the global total of combined military spending. Trump's chief complaint lies with the issue of the NATO members not meeting their expectation of spending at least 2% of their GDP on defence, with only five of 28 allies doing so. With the US spending the most defence, significantly more than the 2% of GDP asked from NATO members, Trump wants America's European allies to "pay their bills".

Trump has stated his belief in easing tensions with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, praising him as a strong leader, claiming they would have a peaceful relationship with one another. Albeit Obama claimed he wanted to "reset" the US-Russia relations and start fresh during his term, the ties have remained strained, feeble and indignant. It must be noted that Trump has not elaborated much on what the idea of 'easing tensions' actually entails but both Russia and the USA share the intention of fighting against the radicals of the so-called Islamic state of Syria.

Perhaps the fundamental change to the world will be the escalation in tensions between countries after the execution of Trump's policies. With the intent of scrapping the NAFTA between the US, Canada and Mexico, and the potential withdrawal from the World Trade Organisation, protectionism will be on the rise. With a fervent desire to stop 'job losses', Trump has the wherewithal to impose tariffs of 45% on China and 35% on goods shipped from Mexico. Subsequent effects of tariffs include an increase in prices for consumers, a decline in imports and potentially, retaliation from China. Implementation of these tariffs will result in 'de-globalisation' and is likely to increase tensions between the US and China even further.

However, Trump's argument for this is to enable Americans to gain their jobs back because the increase in tariffs will impel domestic production to occur and a spell of 'self-sufficiency', prompting more Americans to be employed in the manufacturing and production of these products. By increasing the employment levels, the standard of living of Americans will increase, especially those who have not seen substantial change under Obama.

Despite the likelihood of an increase in protectionist policy, a Donald Trump presidency is expected to be welcome by China, which is expecting a more isolationist US foreign policy. Another task of Trump's tasks on his to-do list is to suppress the likelihood of Asian countries such as North Korea to develop their own nuclear weapons while encouraging countries such as Japan and South Korea to reduce their dependency on the US and develop more nuclear arsenals for themselves.

US politics is deemed to be in entire shambles with Trump calling Kim Jong-un a "bad dude" yet also stating that he would happily negotiate with him. These somewhat erratic statements by Trump make the US less hopeful for a 'safe' America but we can only sit back and watch how Trump approaches exceedingly complex political issues between countries like North Korea and the US. Perhaps, he could even use his "You're fired" phrase from The Apprentice to North Korea when discussing nuclear weapons.

With the Paris Climate Agreement having being ratified in April 2016, the president-elect proposes the notion of "cancel(ing)" all of the climate change regulations that Obama implemented during his term, within his first 100 days of office. Obama recognised that early on, he would be unable to push through significant legislation as the Republicans held both houses of Congress and, subsequently, Obama compiled a plethora of initiatives to decrease the USA's greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption using regulation. However, the flip side of the coin means that Trump has the power to immediately order the regulators to cease enforcing the rules with the identical authority Obama utilised to get these in motion. Examples of what Trump will cancel include the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to let states develop strategies to decrease carbon pollution from power plants by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. Thus, it will be no surprise that there will be a notable hitch in the reduction OF greenhouse gas emissions. To the dismay of green organisations across the world, Trump has a set idea of using coal for manufacturing, despite the lack of fossil fuels and the negative externalities of COAL consumption.

However, it should be noted that Trump has argued that human-caused climate change is a lie and is a "hoax created by the Chinese" in an attempt to reduce the competitiveness of US manufacturing by using more renewable energy sources or less efficient energy. Furthermore, the US remains legally bound to the Paris Plan for 4 years so we could still expect to see Obama's climate change plans materialise. Moreover, although environmentalists will not be a fan of Trump's plan, the focus is on providing cheaper energy for families across the nation and through this, employment levels are expected to increase, placing a positive multiplier effect on the US economy and for subsequent generations.

We can expect to see significant changes with Trump's presidency, from his protectionist policies to his flimsy approach to protecting the environment. There is the possibility that Trump will be able to fulfil President Bush's aim of a "Europe whole and free and at peace" but Trump's intermittent personality and radical approaches to ethnic minorities in the US induces more fear in both the US and the UK. The only way we can approach the next four years is by "keeping calm and carry(ing) on."

Presidential Reflections - A New World Order

Gavin Callaghan   |   November 11, 2016    5:34 PM ET

I'm currently writing this blog from 37,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

I'm on my way back to the UK from Miami where I have been campaigning for Hillary Clinton in the Sunshine State.

Like most people I'm shocked at the result.

As I reflect on the campaign, I cannot help conclude that there are striking and obvious similarities between the way in which this election played out, and our Brexit referendum in the UK. There was a generational division in the vote with middle aged and older voters delivering the White House for Donald Trump whilst the under 30s - who will live longer with the consequences of this vote - voted for Clinton in a landslide. Immigration was a central tenant for both campaigns and instead of hope, Trump and Brexit traded on hate.

As far as I can surmise, the truth is this; there is a New World Order in play. It's led by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. It is scary. But it could get worse. That's unless the progressives on both sides of the pond act quickly to remind people what progressive politics has done for them and what it will do in the future. We must learn to once again speak with emotion and conviction about our plans and celebrate our historic achievements.

I believe there are four main parts to this new world order; the realigning of our national values, the manipulation of the democratic process, technological revolution and control.

Firstly, there is a fundamental shift in values and virtues. For instance, intelligence, expertise, fact, reason and civility are now seen in the contemporary political arena as vices akin to untrustworthiness and deceit. Instead, the world is implicitly instructed by Trump and Nigel Farage to accept ignorance, misogyny and hate as the best traits to define a nation because they speak to a 'rebellion against the establishment'.

I think progressives must wake up to this if we are to change the hearts and minds of people who support Trump and Farage at home and abroad. Whether we like it or not, the start line for our conversation has moved backwards. We like to think we are living in a wholly inclusive and tolerant society but just isn't so. 

The truth as borne out on June 23 and November 8, is that Britain and America are more intolerant, more hateful and more divided than at any time in the last three decades. Politicians have exploited difference for political expediency but what is worse, they have been allowed to do it, virtually unchallenged until it is too late and the public's views are already deeply entrenched on issues such as immigration and the economy.

Our differences are magnified by social media and 24/7 rolling news. Trolling has taken the place of civilized debate. We are told education doesn't matter as much as it once did, but that life experience is more important. We have come to regard expert opinion and corruption as one and the same. And people have come to believe passionately, deep in their hearts, that there is a better Britain and America out there - one that has been lost - which these votes will somehow rescue.

It's why we need to see the task before us as one where we renew our commitment to challenging hate and intolerance wherever it appears. We must convince our countries that tolerance, decency and respect are the values we want the world to associate with our great countries and which lead to healthier and happier places to live, work and raise families.

Some will say that time alone will bear this out. In other words, Trump and Farage will be found out for the liars and hateful political creatures that they are; that the countries they have changed forever will wake up to the fact that we have more in common than divides us. They may be right. But I don't believe we should leave it to chance. Particularly given how volatile politics is at present.

That's why it's time for the rebuttal. It's time to talk up our progress, not just protect it.

As President Obama often alludes to; if you had a choice of which moment in history to choose to live, you'd always choose now. Despite the many harsh contentions of 21st Century Britain and America, our nations are more prosperous, healthier, fairer, more equal and more just that at any time in human history. It is the triumph of previous generations of Democratic and Labour activists.

In 2012, on the eve of the last presidential election, I sat in downtime Columbus, Ohio and listened as Obama explained that elections should always be about two things; "the future and hope".

I don't think this election met those tests and I don't think that is part of the structure of this new world order. Trump will argue he was hopeful about the future as he aimed to 'make America great again'. But the actuality is, he labored on about the past, wanted to turn back time and hate triumphed over hope.

So if the world is as outraged by Trump's victory as they appear to be, then it is time to really challenge the far-right. And it starts by reminding the world that the people who have actually stood up against the status quo for centuries have been the progressives, not the reactionaries. The people who are largely responsible for the advances in national prosperity, improved healthcare and delivered a more equal and just society than before, were all progressives. Is there more work to do? Of course there is. But never forget that Labour and the Democrats have got more right than they have got wrong over the last century and we need to reclaim that credit with the public.

And that leads to the second aspect of the New World Order. Democracy.

I believe in democracy but it needs to rigorous and reformed. I believe that in order for democracies to function as they should, it requires the presentation of reasoned, balanced arguments that inform voters and empowers them to make decisions based on the facts. That means our democracy extends beyond the ballot box and the physical act of casting your vote. It extends to the media, the strategists and the pollsters. Each have a responsibility to promote healthy debate, inform positions, prevent catastrophe and present the facts.

All parts of the democratic process should work together, hand in hand.

Too often in modern politics that hasn't been the case. Balance has been ostensibly omitted. In years gone by our consumption of news was controlled by journalists and their editors who would ensure that the sources were checked, double checked, and true. There were also only a select few sources of news; the main broadcasters and four or five national tabloid and broadsheet newspapers.

Today, we decide what news we receive as we fill our iPad, iPhones and tablets with the apps we want and we follow the journalists, bloggers and commentators we want on Facebook and twitter. The result is that we create echo chambers where rumour fills the time between the traditional tip off and the source being checked. Before you know it a lie is half way around the world. It's devastating for political campaigns and politicians. Yet as Brits come to terms with Brexit and Americans realise the reality of a Trump presidency, its increasingly becoming a toxic component of our democratic process.

Put plainly, today politicians can choose to manipulate the public very easily. They fill social media with lies and deceit and then sit back and watch as opinion poll after opinion poll demonstrates their gambles have landed. They never need the approval of an editor or a favourable journalist to get their message - however warped - out into the public domain.

No two people have done this better than Donald Trump and Nigel Farage.

In the UK the democratic process was manipulated to allow the country to vote to leave a union of 28 European countries, that saw Britain lead in the world, negotiate international treaties and trade deals and foster the longest period of peace in our continent's history. In the US the first black president will hand over the keys to the White House to a man who is openly supported by the KKK. This isn't a positive direction for anyone and it certainly isn't progressive.

I'm not suggesting democracy always has to be inspiring, but it has to rid itself of the intrinsic iniquitousness and depravity that now underpins its ability to function as it should.

However, I don't wish to categories all Trump and Farage fans. Progressives did stop listening and that should be a lesson we take away from 2016.

Anti-immigration is a large part of the Trump/Farage appeal to many people, but the year 2016 is also the year in which politics has had to confront the harsh realities of a technological revolution that has not been to the benefit of generations of workers. For the 11 years that I have been a student of British and American politics, we've known that advances in technology were costing people jobs, particularly those over the age of 50. We actively choose not to act on the basis that the remedy for this problem was simply too difficult.

But we got away with it in 2005, 2008 and 2012 because these people effected weren't voting.

Now they are.

Trump's success in Ohio and Michigan and Brexit's success in places like Barnsley and Sunderland are testament to the feeling of abandonment felt by many millions of voters who have seen their jobs become redundant in an economy that puts a premium on the power of technology over the power of people.

Between 1997 and 2010 in the U.K. it was the creative economy that was the second fastest growing behind the financial services. Jobs in graphic design, social media and multimedia journalism substituted the traditional jobs in factories and mines that were no longer needed. The same can be said for the automotive and aviation industry in the US, where great feats of engineering and scientific discovery have increased the efficiency of productivity but reduced the necessity for human hands to build. 

Now the republicans led by Trump and UKIP led by Farage have seized the chance to speak to these people's grievances and have appeared to put their futures first in their list of political priorities. 

It's Labour and Democratic territory but it's been lost to hard right extremists. 

It will be uncomfortable for some progressives but in order to win these voters back we need to be prepared to have conservations along the lines of British jobs for British workers, British homes for British workers and Benefits for Brits.

As Obama went on to say in Columbus in 2012, 'I don't believe that government can solve all of our problems, but I don't think it's responsible for them either. I don't want to spend all of our time blaming other people. I believe we're all in this together. I believe that we have to take responsibility for ourselves, but also look out for one another". 

And it was his focus on responsibility that hit home with me because it speaks to the Trump and Farage appeal around 'control'. If people really do want more control of their lives, then they must be prepared to take more responsibility. The shift in power that we are seeing in the UK and US towards greater control for the population - toward a more direct form of democracy - means the state or the establishment can no longer be to blame for the troubles facing working and middle class families.

The line that it's 'people power' who are 'giving the establishment a good kicking' is often part of a Farage interview script. But what will he do when it's not the fault of the EU or the establishment? What will Trump do now that he actually is the establishment?

In my view, having now campaigned in both countries in 2016 and seen for myself what is happening on the ground, it is clear that Trump and Farage are not politicians, and this is not a new world order, capable of coming up with progressive policies to change the fortunes of millions of Brits and Americans. Only progressives can do this.

Right now too many people have hate in their heart. You see it and hear it in cars and conversations, in schools and churches, in offices and street corners. Immigration stirs something in people that leads to venom. We are so blinkered by the narrative of hate and division peddled by Farage and Trump, that we fail to think for ourselves. To imagine something different.

As the brilliant LBC presenter James O'Brien said this week, by voting for Trump, 'people have voted to make their lives better and others' lives worse.' The same can be said for the people who voted to leave the EU.

Progressives must take back the narrative on immigration and the economy but also show, once again, the value in taking responsibility for yourself and your community. History proves that we are the ones who think big, who create bold policies that positively transform countries. It was Labour in the UK and FDR and the Democrats in the US that after the second world war, had the foresight and the vision to create the New Deal and the NHS, the Marshall Plan and the Welfare state. We built housing and New Towns, put a man on the moon and had the first black president to lead the free world.

So let's see this calendar year as a moment to shrug off our collective timidity about our progressive record and about our capacity to deliver big again in the future.

I know that there is much to be genuinely downbeat about if you're a progressive in trans-Atlantic politics right now. Brexit has unleashed demons in every town, city and region of the UK and the 45th president of America is openly racist, sexist and allegedly a serial sex offender.

Both UKIP and the republicans have fought campaigns on the most pernicious platforms since before the Second World War. They have encouraged their electorates to replace reason with fiction, to ignore science and fact and instead put premiums on difference and division. Their words have resonated - even to the households of people who should know better. The toxicity from one neighbour towards another is visible in all communities the length and the breadth of both countries. So it would be easy to walk away and quit. 

And yet as I return to the UK with friends who traveled stateside to be the change they want to see in the world, I take away the words of Hillary Clinton, the most inspiring female politician of my lifetime, who said in her concession speech on Wednesday, "To all the young people, please, please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it. It's always worth it. And we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives."

And with that, we progressives prepare ourselves to confront the challenges of our generation and say loudly and clearly that we are fired up and ready to go again. 

Trump Won! Get Over It, Metropolitan Liberals

Youssef El-Gingihy   |   November 10, 2016    6:13 PM ET

An avalanche of post-mortem election analysis is being unleashed. However, much of it seems to operate in a vacuum. There are various critiques of Trump. He may certainly be appalling and objectionable but there is a huge amount of hypocrisy at play here, which needs to be unmasked. Let's take the points one by one.


Yes he clearly ran a divisive, xenophobic and sexist campaign. His conciliatory victory speech provides a ray of hope. He has stated that he will govern for all citizens. He was also generous towards Hillary - no suggestion of imprisoning his opponent for example.

And if we really want to discuss racism then it is worth recalling that the Bush and Obama War on Terror is responsible for 1.3 million deaths according to Physicians for Social Responsibility. Obama, so beloved of urbane cosmopolitans, is thus the black Nobel peace president, who has bombed seven Muslim countries.


Segments of the Trump movement, including the alt-right, are deeply worrying and appear to be laying the foundations for a far-right mass movement. If Trump goes on to deport millions of immigrants, build a wall and bar Muslims from entering the country then we will have fascism in our time.

However, there is a one word response to all of this - Snowden. Trump did not create a big brother mass surveillance state. The NSA did. Post 9/11, there has been a steady erosion of civil liberties. Obama extended the Bush national security doctrine. Again, liberals might want to look themselves in the mirror when they acquiesced by rehashing arguments around "not worrying if you have nothing to hide".


The Trump phenomenon did not just happen overnight. It is the product of decades of the decay of democracy - a dysfunctional neoliberal economic system only working for the elite and leaving millions of disenfranchised people behind. And a broken political system captured by vested interests embodied in the personage of Hillary. On the other hand, Trump presented himself as beholden to none of these interests. The Trump constituency did not have any progressive alternative and so were naturally drawn to him.

Let's remember that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) made a cynical calculation when they chose to sabotage the democratic process and work against Bernie to ensure Clinton got the nomination. They were prepared to risk a Trump victory rather than have Bernie win. So the DNC are complicit.


Well let's start with Clinton. She is a liberal war hawk and her record speaks for itself. She supported the Iraq war. And unforgivably she did not learn the lesson. As Secretary of State, she overrode the Pentagon's warnings about the consequences of the NATO bombing of Libya. This has unleashed anarchic chaos in Libya and across Africa not to mention uncorking the migrant crisis.

She also pushed for the destabilisation of Syria by supporting Islamist groups against Assad. As her emails show, she was fully cognizant that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were arming ISIS specifically. At the same time that the Clinton foundation received donations from Saudi Arabia, the US State department negotiated arms deals to Saudi. In other words, Clinton is part of a global network elite of the military-industrial complex and Middle Eastern client states guaranteeing the geopolitical hegemony responsible for much of the current instability and chaos in the region. Frankly Trump's isolationism is refreshing.

As the New York Times pointed out recently, Clinton is also a hawk on Russia. Yes Putin is an authoritarian ruler abusing human rights. But the current tit for tat escalation of war games is terrifying. Only last week, UK defence secretary Michael Fallon stated that the UK would be ready for war with Russia in 2 years. Turning the new cold war into a hot war would be apocalyptic.

Trump is in favour of rapprochement with Russia. As John Mearsheimer points out in the US foreign policy bible Foreign Affairs, NATO expansionism right up to the borders of Russia has provoked Putin. Clinton was also one of the architects of the Pivot to Asia policy, which aimed to surround China with US naval bases alongside the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement excluding China.


Clinton was previously in favour of free trade agreements but was forced to back down due to populist pressure.

Trump has stated that he is anti TTIP, TPP and may even reverse NAFTA. Perhaps metropolitans do not really get what these trade agreements would mean so let me spell out just how bad they are. They would open up public services to corporate takeover. They would likely make public or state ownership difficult. They would then lock in privatisation through Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses. They would also enforce enclosure of the commons through intellectual property rights. So drug patents would be extended to combat cheap generic medicines. Patenting of the human genome would be enforced. Farmers would have to buy seeds from corporations. I don't know about you but that sounds like a dystopian world to me.
Trump clearly connected with the millions left behind. His policy proposals gave them hope that neoliberal globalisation is not some irresistible force of nature. Protectionism may not exactly be progressive but it appears preferable to the unsustainable status quo of wage stagnation and decimation of well-paid manufacturing jobs.

Trump visited Flint, Michigan during the water crisis. He pointed out it used to be the case that water in Mexico was undrinkable and cars were made in Michigan but now it was the other way round. This was manna for the people of Michigan. No Washington politician would have dreamt of saying this. Clinton had not even bothered to visit Wisconsin since April. Such astonishing complacency helped hand the state to Trump.

That the wealthiest country in the world cannot even provide clean, drinking water to citizens in its aptly named rust belt is hard to compute. Metropolitans simply have no frame of reference. Clinton dismissed the same people as a "basket of deplorables" underlining just how out of touch she is. Towards the end of the campaign, she was hobnobbing with the super-rich in the Hamptons. Because the Clintons now prefer to be amongst their own. Bill Clinton has clearly forgotten about his modest background growing up in Arkansas. Together, the Clintons have made close to a quarter of a billion dollars since leaving the White House in 2001, according to the Financial Times.


Trump has promised public investment spending on infrastructure helping in the process to create jobs. The appalling state of national infrastructure is in desperate need of this. Here, he almost sounds Rooseveltian in promising some kind of New Deal.

However, he will come into conflict with the likes of Paul Ryan and the Republican party hell-bent on welfare cuts and deficit reduction fetishism. Confusingly, Trump plans to lower taxes. This is a hangover from neoliberal trickle-down economics that does not fit into the rest of the paradigm. It's not at all clear how he will square this circle.

His plans to repeal Obamacare are also a regressive step unless he replaces it with universal healthcare, which seems highly unlikely. He has also previously called climate change a hoax, which is very concerning.


Is he? Or is he really the explicit, uncensored, unfiltered embodiment of those values, which makes him so unpalatable?

Well a brief history lesson may be in order for those with amnesia. The US is a settler state founded on the extermination of the indigenous natives. It was then built on slavery and a legacy of race war including mass lynchings and Jim Crow segregation right up to the present day with the mass incarceration of and police brutality against black males.

The US is the only country to drop the nuclear bomb. Not North Korea or Russia or Iran. Watch JFK and LBJ defence secretary Robert McNamara in The Fog of War explaining how mass atrocities were unnecessarily committed through the firebombing of Japanese cities during WW2. This is why the gung-ho US general Curtis Le May pointed out that, if the allies had lost the war, they would have been prosecuted for war crimes. The US war in Korea was responsible for a million deaths and Vietnam for a further 2-3 million. And now 1.3 million killed in the war on terror.

So is Trump really an affront to our values or are we all just in denial? Perhaps what the establishment and even liberals really cannot stomach is that Trump unpeels the mask to reveal the grotesque and dark reality beneath.

In The Aftermath Of Brexit And Trump - It's Time For Us All To Make Friends

Lexi Rose   |   November 10, 2016    6:01 PM ET

'When they go low, we go high.'
Michelle Obama's mantra from Clinton's campaign needs to be carried through the next four years.

Brexit made me sad and angry. Waking up to Trump becoming president also made me sad and angry. But you know what, they also made millions of others feel heard. People who felt ignored cast their vote and had their say. And we who don't agree with their choice need to listen up and think about why. It's time to accept those changes and now work out how we can all move forward together, not divided.

Ever since yesterday morning, I've been bombarded facebook updates, tweets and overheard others lamenting the results. It's true, the result of the election is not what I wanted. I've had my rants, I've made my witty quips. And now it's out of my system it's time to be a grown up and move towards acceptance.

There's no point in sulking over 2016 and the events that have unfolded.

We can sit and brand it 'the worst year ever' or lament over what could have been. But after witnessing two very strongly fought campaigns on either side of the pond that many branded as divisive we need to realise something. How we deal with what happens next will be what truly defines this year.

Judging and alienating those who think differently to yourself is just as divisive and hate mongering as these campaigns have been considered. The 'bashful brexiteers' and 'timid trumpettes' shouldn't be made to feel like they have to hide. We need to ask more questions and listen to the answers and try to understand each other.

We've struggled to get through 2016 in one piece and if we don't change our approach then next year is going to be even harder. 2017 should be about building friendships, uniting fronts and finding compromise.

I'm not saying we shouldn't keep fighting for what we believe in. Don't stop questioning the terms of Brexit or pushing against Trump's views. Keep campaigning for equality, justice and fairness.

But whilst we continue to fight we must respect everyone's right to their opinion. We have to listen to the disenfranchised and include them in our discussions.

Fight for what you stand for and stick by your principles. And before you sigh, shrug and move on with your lives I have one last plea: remember how angry you are feeling right now. Still remember the feeling in 6 months. Harness the energy and passion it's given you.

Get a piece of paper and a pen right now and write down the things that worry you most about yesterday's result. Stick them on your fridge or next to your computer screen and vow to fight for those things.

Promise to write to your local politician when one of these things flares up. Keep hold of your anger and use your energy and voice to make sure you're damn well heard.

Because that's all that will work.
People power.
Pushing for what you believe.
And not closing your mind to others.

It's all very well to sit and grumble about today's result. But maybe instead recall how Barack dealt with those who booed Trump and his values: "Don't boo. Vote."

Don't moan, don't whine. Engage and fight on. But what we need right now - last Obama quote I promise - is "a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law, and respect for each other."

Because if we keep our minds and hearts open through these difficult times then perhaps we'll actually get somewhere in the next four years.

Graeme Demianyk   |   November 10, 2016    5:53 PM ET

They’ve been arch-enemies for years, but until today Donald Trump and Barack Obama had never actually met. And their first encounter was at the White House, with the whole world watching.

The President-elect and the outgoing President were set for one of the most uncomfortable political meetings of all time.

It was set against Obama saying Trump was “uniquely unfit” to lead the country, and Trump spending years questioning - wrongly - whether Obama was born in America.

After their private meeting, Obama told reporters the 90-minute meeting was “excellent” - and his successor said he looked forward to receiving the outgoing President’s “counsel”. A surprise to many, Trump revealed they had “never met each other”.

At the close of the Oval Office sit-down, Obama said to Trump, “We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed the country succeeds.”

Here are the first set of pictures to emerge

Obama told the journalists:

“I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President-elect Trump. It was wide-ranging.

“We talked about some of the organisational issues in setting up the White House. We talked about foreign policy, we talked about domestic policy. And as I said last night, my number one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our president elect is successful.

“And I have been very encouraged by the I think interest in president elect Trump’s wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces and I believe that it is important for all of us regardless of party and regardless of political preferences to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face.

“And in the meantime Michelle has had a chance to greet the incoming First Lady and we had an excellent conversation with her as well. And we want to make sure they feel welcome as they prepare to make this transition.

“And most of all I want to emphasise to you, Mr President Elect, that we now are gonna want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed then the country succeeds.”

Trump then spoke:

“This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes and we were just going to get to know each other. We had never met each other.

“I have great respect - the meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half, and it could have, as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer. We really, we discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties. I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel.

“He’s explained some of the difficulties, some of the high flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved. So Mr President, it was a great honor being with you and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.”

Graeme Demianyk   |   November 10, 2016    5:01 PM ET

They’ve been arch-enemies for years, but today President-elect Donald Trump met President Barack Obama at the White House in one of the most uncomfortable political encounters of all time.

Their problems are well-documented. Obama said Trump was “uniquely unfit” to lead the country. Trump spent years questioning - wrongly - whether Obama was born in America. 

Obama mocking Trump five years ago at a White House correspondents’ dinner underlines the enmity between the two.

It was thought there would be little by way of access to the historic meeting.

In any case, the face-off was eagerly anticipated

In lieu of a transcript, people were trying to imagine how the encounter went down

There was no love lost, either, between Trump and Vice President, Joe Biden, during the election campaign.

Perhaps things were going to run more smoothly than many imagined

And their first contact could have been awkward

Perhaps a Star Trek metaphor best sums it up

In the event, it was as awkward as predicted - but maybe could have been worse

Aubrey Allegretti   |   November 10, 2016   12:36 PM ET

Nigel Farage has sparked outrage and cries of racism for his blistering attack on President Barack Obama

The Ukip leader, who advised Donald Trump during the Republican’s successful election campaign, had branded Obama a “creature” and a “loathsome individual”. 

He said in a radio interview on Thursday:

That Obama creature - loathsome individual - he couldn’t stand our country. He said we’d be at the back of the queue, didn’t he?

Many couldn’t believe their ears when they heard his words.

But once the comment’s gravity took hold, it riled thousands of people, including Gary Lineker.

The former footballing legend led the charge of people who accused Farage of using racist language to attack America’s first black President. 

Not everyone was convinced. One social media called Lineker out, saying he needed to “look up the definition of racism”. 

So Twitter swiftly obliged: 

Many lamented the state of British politics, including Times columnist Caitlin Moran, who suggested Farage’s outburst was “the absolute anal low-point of a year when bigotry stopped disguising itself”. 

Labour MP John Woocock also spoke out, saying Farage’s comments had “clear racist tones”. 

Even Charlotte Church waded into the debate, calling for media outlets to stop giving Farage air-time given he had stepped down from frontline politics.

Farage made the comment in an interview with TalkRadio on Thursday, as he was due to fly to the US after Donald Trump’s shock election victory. 

He also suggested he could be forced to step in to stop Trump sexually assaulting Theresa May when the two premiers meet. 


Trump's Twitter Triumph: How Social Media Changed The Game At The US Election

Mark Hawtin   |   November 10, 2016   11:48 AM ET

Mark Hawtin and Amanda Lyons, GAM

For the first time in US election history the battleground was social media, with the new arena completely altering the way candidates amplify their reach and power.

Obama was the first President to embrace digital media in his 2008 election campaign. He understood the power of the internet to get people engaged on a scale like never before . Lessons were learnt and future candidates begun to understand the importance of this new medium, although Trump and Clinton ultimately took very different approaches.

When Donald Trump first put his hat into the ring to stand for President he was considered a joke, therefore it was important for him to build his following as quickly as possible. He already had a strong social media presence (4.3m Twitter followers in October 2015) due to his role in The Apprentice, his use of Twitter to regularly voice his opinions, and his arguments with other celebrities. Trump built on his existing persona of being argumentative and started posting simple, inflammatory statements to get people talking. He understood that plain speech and emotional messaging worked. His posts were retweeted by both those who agreed and disagreed with his statements, in the name of debate. This instantly increased his reach as network effects started to come into play.

Over 70% of the US population is on Facebook at least once a month (229m MAU), and 178m of them are on Facebook each day; this compares to 189m monthly average users (MAU) and 132m daily average users (DAU) in 2012. Engagement also increased in this period from 70% to 78%. Similarly, Twitter's user base also increased from 40m MAU in 2012 to 67m today. The ability to reach almost all of the US voting public at any time and have the ability to fully control the message and the discussion is incredibly powerful.

Social media is also incredibly important when you consider its reach in the 18-25 year old demographic. This cohort has been traditionally very hard to reach, and even harder to engage in politics. Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have brought that demographic into play, with both candidates on both platforms. Their families were also active online, with Donald Trump's four children boosting his campaign through their postings. While young voters typically lean to the left and naturally favour Hillary, the Clinton camp were reliant solely on Bill (70 yrs) and Chelsea (36 yrs).

By the time of the election Donald Trump had a far wider reach than Hillary Clinton on both Twitter (13.5m vs. 10.5m followers) and Facebook (13m vs. 8.6m followers). Donald's concise messaging and often controversial statements were perfectly suited for the 140 character medium and ensured high reach and frequency. Social media provided him with the means to talk directly to people. Although he was ridiculed by journalists and the political elite, they were in fact the ones out of touch while he was listening to what the public was saying. Conversely, Hillary's messaging was unclear and did not provoke debate or conversation.


Source: SocialFlow

The two camps also differed dramatically in terms of how much and where they spent their campaign dollars. The New York Times estimated in March 2016 that Trump had earned just shy of $2bn in free media coverage compared to $10m in bought media . This compares to $746m in free coverage for Clinton and $28m in bought media (this was before they were officially the party candidates). As of 19 October the Trump campaign had spent $68m on media buying and the Clinton campaign had spent $237m, however the breakdown of this spend differs considerably. Trump focused his spend on digital, whereas Clinton focused on staffing field offices around battleground states. Despite Trump spending considerably less, he was able to make his dollars go further by concentrating on digital where ads can be targeted, re-targeted and refined to ensure the highest ROI.


Source: Fast Web Media

Social media also played an important role in causing the surprise/shock felt by a Trump win. It is designed to make us feel more connected, but instead many people refine their Facebook and Twitter feeds to follow like-minded people. Karen North, professor of digital media at USC, believes that we "seek opinions that confirm our own." Consequently, the traditional press (who were on the whole against Trump) were confident of a Clinton win. This, combined with outdated polling techniques, helped to contribute to the surprise.

Sara C Nelson   |   November 10, 2016   11:23 AM ET

Trainer firm New Balance has come out in support of Donald Trump, on the day he won the race to become the next President of the United States.

In a statement released to the Wall Street Journal, a New Balance spokesman declared the company’s support for President-Elect Trump.

“The Obama admin turned a deaf ear to us and frankly with Pres-Elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.”

But the move has prompted a backlash against the company, with many disgruntled Twitter users reacting to the news by placing their New Balance shoes in the dustbin and in one case even setting them on fire.

Like Trump, the brand has long opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement between 12 countries which aims to curb tariffs and foster trade to boost growth.

New Balance wants to make a trainer with 100% American parts but fears the TPP, as backed by the Obama administration, will stymie this as it becomes cheaper to import them from elsewhere.

A statement on the New Balance website states: “We’re proud to be the only major company to make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the USA, which represents a limited portion of our sales.

“Where the domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes Made in the USA.”

Trump has called the TPP a “death blow” for US manufacturing and doubts now linger over the future of the agreement altogether, Reuters reports.

“Before last year, TPP approval on Capitol Hill looked highly likely, but now neither candidate is willing to support a deal that could have implications for US jobs,” the agency wrote ahead of the presidential election.

By contrast, rival running shoe maker Nike supports the proposed TPP. 

Brexit, Trump And Contemporary Politics

Adam Hamdy   |   November 9, 2016    9:31 PM ET

How did the pollsters get it so badly wrong? Why did the mainstream media miss out on the issues that shaped these votes?

My new novel, Pendulum, emerged from the idea that the digital world connects all of us in random ways, exposing us to a previously unimaginable network of information and people. The Internet is changing the foundations of society, affecting how we think about the world and the way in which we interact.

I'm currently adapting Pendulum for NBC Universal and am simultaneously writing the sequel as a novel. I'm immersed in the Dark Web, fascinated by social media, and studiously track any research into how technology is changing behaviour. One doesn't need a PhD to know that western society is becoming increasingly polarised. The US presidential election is a prime example of that polarisation in full effect. Donald Trump, a man who seemingly has no qualifications to make him suitable for office, has just trounced Hillary Clinton, a Secretary of State with a career in politics, winning states that had polled to swing for her. How did the pollsters get it so badly wrong?

Donald Trump - The President We Didn't See Coming?
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wiki Commons

Flawed Methodology
It's very simple: their methodologies didn't reflect reality, but instead reinforced their prejudices. Pollsters don't tend to publish raw data, instead they apply methodology that is supposed to better extrapolate the sample to the state or national vote. In this election, many pollsters were giving Hillary Clinton a six to ten percent advantage in their methodology, meaning that if a sample of 1,000 people showed a 510/490 advantage to Trump, the final published poll would show somewhere between a 52% to 54% advantage to Clinton.

This inherent advantage was based on the assumption that Clinton would be able to mobilise the Democrat vote the way Barack Obama did in 2008. But the primary results suggested more Republicans would be voting this time, and when they did release raw data, poll after poll showed more people saying they'd vote for Trump, and a greater number of respondents identifying themselves as Republicans. If pollsters had simply published raw data, or corrected their methodology to reflect the outcome of the primaries, a Trump victory would not have come as a shock to anyone. Tracking attendance at candidates' rallies was another good gauge of the likely result: if people can be bothered to come to a rally, they're likely to get out and vote.

Hillary Clinton - Let Down By The Pollsters?
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wiki Commons

I've heard a number of people say that in light of the Brexit and Trump victories, we should treat polls with caution. I'd argue that the polls have been accurate, but the methodology applied to the data has been flawed. In future, pollsters might want to consider sense-checking their methodologies with a wider range of people, or publish the raw data to enable individuals to judge for themselves.

Mainstream Miss
The EU referendum saw thousands of conversations happen outside the mainstream, with opinions formed, challenged and crystallised on social media. I repeatedly saw issues being discussed which were never addressed by mass broadcasters or newspapers, and the same thing has just happened in the US election. Alt-right figures such as Paul Joseph Watson, Mike Cernovich and Alex Jones have built up huge followings, influencing the views of millions of people through extended social media networks that retweet and share their videos, articles and opinions.

As with the Brexit vote, these alternative media figures have been sharing information and engaging in conversations that simply haven't hit the mainstream. Among other things, these pundits have been fuelled by the Podesta Emails released by Wikileaks, and have been suggesting that Saudi Arabia has donated more than $50m to the Clinton Foundation, that Hillary Clinton was given advance notice of CNN debate questions, that the DNC conspired to deny Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination, and that Wall Street had a hand in selecting Barack Obama's cabinet. These are just a few of the serious allegations that have remained largely unchallenged and unaddressed by mainstream media, but which have informed the opinions of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of voters.

If these allegations are true, mainstream outlets have been remiss in not investigating, and if they're untrue, their dissemination highlights a serious problem for politicians. In a world where individuals can reach millions of people, how does one combat the spread of false information? Reputations and campaigns can be ruined far below the mainstream radar.

Increased Polarisation
In theory technology has opened us up to the world, but in practice it's actually making us myopic. Our tailored news and social media is self-selecting. We tend to watch and listen to networks we agree with, or follow like-minded people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Our opinions are reinforced because nearly everyone we interact with shares the same views, and when we are faced with someone who has reached the contrary position, we simply cannot understand how a reasonable person can have done so, leading us to dismiss them as stupid, irrational, or irrelevant.

If we're not seeing the same things, or experiencing the same journey, our conversations are robbed of context. Our decisions can seem unreasonable or irrational and the natural response is to deride them as stupid or bigoted, which only polarises and drives people even further apart. The constrained format of social media means that messages have to be delivered in short tweets or posts, and nuance is lost. Discussions quickly degenerate into shouting matches or abuse. Anonymity facilitates that degeneration, giving unidentifiable trolls licence to say things they wouldn't dare put their own names to. And the sheer volume of material pumped out by people means that it is almost impossible for anyone to keep track of the ins and outs of an intricate argument. Doing something shocking, shouting the loudest, and holding the most extreme views gets you heard above the noise, and those kind of messages tend to be simple enough for people to digest quickly.

If we don't make a concerted effort to establish context, either by sharing experiences or going beyond our comfort zones and engaging with people who may not naturally be part of our cohort, then this polarisation will only get worse, and we may one day look back at the 2016 US presidential election as a paragon of moderation and reasoned debate.

Five Quick Lessons From The 2016 US Election Results - What A Donald Trump Win Tells Us

Ifeanyi Abraham   |   November 9, 2016    6:28 PM ET

Donald Trump has just been announced as the 45th President of the United States of America winning 278 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton's 218 electoral votes (4 more states to go).

People ask why Nigerians are so interested in the outcome of the American elections. The truth is apart from the thousands of Nigerians that live and school in America, America still remains a key travel destination for a lot of Nigerians, and the new president will have a lot to say about immigration.

America also holds a strategic place in world business and trade whether it's in crude oil or fashion.

The signs were there pretty early and as I watched CNN in the early hours of this morning, I wondered about the reaction of people when all the results finally came in.


Donald Trump and the Republican Party took the key states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio early in the elections leading to early panic in the Clinton camp as Hillary was expected to win in Florida.

Barack Obama won 334 electoral votes in 2008(the first real year I took interest in the American elections) winning a very strategic election, posting victory in states that were ordinarily out of democratic reach and showing that topics like racism, participation of African Americans, etc; which were heavily talked about before the elections did not affect final results as much as was expected.

As Americans claim to be in shock and CNN shows us pictures of sad white, black, Hispanic Americans, I couldn't help but think about some lessons we can learn from this;

1. Internet And Polling Sentiment Is Not Yet Strong Enough To Be Truly Representative Of Everyone: Fundamentally polls are flawed and the crowds do not speak with the loudest voices. It's easy to overthink how popular you are.

"77% of the electorate are women, people of color, young adults under 35 and Trump can't win a majority of any of them!" - or logic - "people aren't going to vote for a guy like Trump or against their own best interests!".

Facebook likes, Mannequin challenges, retweets, twitter polls and Instagram sentiments may work in business but don't win you elections, actual voting does. They are fun to watch and laugh at but you can't force a closet anarchist to change his vote.


2. People's True Intentions Are Difficult to Change. The American elections seem to have been decided by people's true intentions and their fears of changing a 240-year male dominance.

3. Certain Sentiments Are Easier Talked About Than Actually Changed: In 2008, the first Black president became President of the United States and suddenly everyone began to talk about a maturity of the American society. On his way to winning, Obama defeated Hillary with his message of "the past versus the future" to pick up the democratic nomination, something a lot of people doubted would happen pointing to what the stronger sentiment was for them. A black Male president or a Female white president, they eventually chose the Male black president vs the female white president. In 2016, the sentiment still remains the same and the struggle to paint Trump as unserious hasn't been able to erase the main sentiment.

4. In America, "Sins" Are Different: Throughout the election seasons, people's perception of Hillary as untrustworthy and dishonest continued to rise to the top. Every time she made statements on her views about gay marriage, women in leadership, the wars in Iraq and her involvement in Syria, there was always the question of whether she was being sincere or just saying what was needed to win the elections. Trump was portrayed as many things, from tax evader to minorities hater to certain sexual accusations, but ultimately Hillary's sins have been judged to be bigger. Even among the democrats, people are less excited to vote for Hillary than they were to vote for Barack Obama.

5. Democracy Is The True Winner In All This: As twisted as it may seem, a Trump victory is actually a victory for democracy. People can truly decide to rise above the expectations of their friends, society, other countries, etc.' and vote with their hearts for who they want, not caring how the media has painted him. Whether they chose fear over progress or not, you can't take away that the results show Democracy as the true winner.