Analysing the 2016 US Election Results: Global Governance Student Blogs

Global Governance, 9 November 2016

Analysing the 2016 US Election Results: Student Blogs

“Elections are a big deal. They’re also in ideal opportunity to upend the term’s curriculum and teach – responsibly and responsively –  on breaking news (this probably works better in the Politics department than with Anthropology or Classics, but, hey). This morning, rather bleary eyed and admittedly shell-shocked, our Level 5 Global Governance students decided to tackle the following challenge:  ‘explain what just happened, and analyse the consequences’. They divided into four groups: (1) How Trump Won; (2) How Hillary Lost; (3) US-UK Special relations; and ‘Global Governance’. The students had two hours to talk it out, download data and evidence from a wide range of online sources, write the following mini blogs, and then present them to the class.  I enjoyed very much what they had to say, and am pleased to share it as a great example of the cutting-edge, real-world focused driven teaching that we specialise in here at CCCU.”

– Dr Amelia Hadfield, Reader in European Foreign Affairs

Group 1: Analysing How & Why Trump Won

g1The unprecedented rise of Donald Trump in the political conversation was captivating, yet the American people, particularly his opponents never took himself and his campaign seriously. As Trump’s momentum surged, his adversaries mounted criticism; through labelling him as a sexist, racist homophobe. None of this however, deterred his core support; and surprisingly seemed to attract some undecided voters along the way. All of this was going on in the background of a seemingly poor election campaign on both sides, and it was not until the evening of November 8th that all these preservations were made into a reality. The question that now lies, is how did Donald Trump manage to win the 2016 U.S. Election? Firstly, Donald Trump is no ordinary Republican. Growing up in New York, this aided Trump in contesting the states in the North-Eastern region of the country; where the Clinton camp were more than confident that these states would support her. In fact, Trump won both Ohio and Pennsylvania, as these results were a sign of things to come. In addition, Trump knew more than anyone that the southern belt states would never have supported Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, so this allowed him to focus more time and money into winning northern states. Thus, showing an element of complacency from Democrat politicians – especially Clinton. Moreover, the unconventionality of Trump and his positions struck a chord with a large proportion of the American people; who seemingly appeared disillusioned with the political establishment, as well as fearing Clinton would have been a vote for continuing the status quo. Therefore, it could be argued that Trump won so many votes, not necessarily because of his ideology, but because of his anti-establishment image that has propelled him to the White House. All of this represents a change in the status quo of the US election, meaning that an unexpected outcome becomes more realistic.

– Emelie Printz, Natasha Gough, Rhys Day and Dean Jeffery

Group 2 : Figuring Out How &  Why Hillary Lost

g2Hillary had a 3-1 lead. She had superior backing, superior media coverage, superior campaign management and an opponent who was giving her the election on a plate. And she lost. The problems started when the DNC decided to push for an unpopular candidate (her) to represent them rather than a popular candidate (Sanders). She is widely disliked for several reasons, the email scandal caused trust issues for the voting populace, although the extent of the scandal was exacerbated by the republicans and FBI. Her experience in the establishment turned into a hindrance not a benefit, she was seen as the face of what is wrong with America, those downtrodden by the economy saw her as the cause of the problem and not the solution. The messages she transmitted were lost in a vacuum. It wasn’t clear who precisely she was targeting to win votes for, or what her policies or messages were, compared to Trump with his recognisable although meaningless “make America great again”. In turn, these mixed messages lost her a huge amount of the minority vote which defected to trump, undoubtedly feeling left behind in the economy and angry as a result. As a candidate she was passive. Trump practically handed her the election on a silver platter, but her tactic of letting him ‘talk himself out’ seems to have backfired. She failed to be aggressive and assertive enough to take him down. Failing to call Trump out properly for not paying tax (which ironically voters seemed to admire). Failing to challenge him over his sexual assaults and misogynistic speech. Failing to cite his bad business decisions and his repeated bankruptcy. Allowing Trump to freely say she was unfit to be president, despite him having zero experience of public office, and a few years of experience on the apprentice. Trump wound up scoring heavily in key areas; e.g. highlighting her wealthy backers, alleging hypocrisy, and more broadly citing a ‘fixed system’ in which she was so deeply embedded and benefitted from. It seems the voters think he had a point too.

– Ned Watkinson, Ed Shooter, Michael Nguyen, Siobhan Simmonds

Group 3: US – UK Foreign Policy : The Season finale! Or ‘from ancient grudge break to new mutiny?’

g3Following the results of yesterday’s US presidential election, one question resonates strongly with many of us: how will this affect US – UK relations? Trump has previously stated that the UK “will be treated fantastically”, but is this an actual possibility? Or will Theresa May finally get fed up with Trump’s idiocy and tell him “he can’t sit with us”. Based on economic interest, our relationship might not be so special any longer (even if your mum told you so). In trade terms, and geopolitical terms, it seems probable that if you don’t have anything to offer America, Trump isn’t likely to care about what you want; something that will pose a large issue for the Special Relationship. Key is security, defence, foreign policy, and trade.  Is Trump committed to the current setup? Unlikely. Dear Donald no longer seems to have ‘much love’ for the NATO clique. Implicitly, he’s suggested that NATO, and its treaties can be ignored, and consequently that the US may not – will not (?) – guarantee to aid the fellow members of NATO. So much for having our backs, dude. However, Theresa May has clarified (unsurprisingly) that the UK will maintain a strong relationship with the US. Helpfully, Trump probably won’t bomb the UK because he has golf courses in Scotland. Win for Sturgeon, Scotland is finally useful – yay! Our take on the Special Relationship? : “WRONG”

– Elizabeth Bailey, Beatrice Rhodes, Zorana Foley, Nia Smith, and Katarina Hill

Group 4: US and Global Governance (Power, US Interests, and the UN)

g4Trump’s take on international relations and his foreign policy approach (admittedly still a little…. ambiguous?) will likely impact all areas of global politics. His policies so far indicate a strong tendency to putting America’s interests first, following his electoral line of “Make America great again!”. Both at home, and aboard, presumably. He has advocated an increase in military action such as the use of nuclear weapon against ISIS. What fail safes are there be on his goals? Can we suggest his past profile as a powerful businessman? Will this realistically influence his behaviour and attitude as a President, i.e. seeking stability and balance (rather than anarchy) to increase his and America’s benefits continuously. But will this be undertaken cooperatively, or unilaterally – i.e. regardless of the effects on the other states or the international system. Equally however – of his idea of leading the country is based on making money (cutting ‘’useless’’ costs, saving time-even if that means decreasing in quality, as long as there is an increase in numbers), this may impair global governance. Not a great fan of the UN, Trump has suggested that America will save money by cutting its energies and financial support for the UN, and rowing back from key agreements, e.g. climate change. This suggests he has little faith in international relations (basic cooperation between states and working with multilateral institutions). Rather, his view is that America can be big on its own and needs neither help or approval from anyone else. Although it is not likely that he will succeed in everything he promised, his rhetoric on these topics alone is dangerous, simply because – being so politically inexperienced – his impulsive behaviour could unintentionally provoke other actors and result in conflict.

– Petra Eskutova, Ruxandra Maria Cojocaru, Joshua Andrew and Arijana Kauzlaric

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