Successes & Failures of 2016 U.S. Elections — Part 4


by Sunil J. Wimalawansa

“The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation” ― James Freeman Clarke

Read the previous parts of this series: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three 

( December 29, 2016, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) November 9th 2016 election results revealed that the predictions of virtually most political pundits and the mainstream media were wrong.  On average, 90% (ranged between 80% and 98% victory) of them predicted a clean sweep for Secretary Clinton.  So, what went wrong with the judgements of these remunerated leading pundits?  There were many reasons:

Effect of subprime crisis on ordinary people:

While most of the public lost money during the financial crisis in 2008 and after, those who were responsible for the subprime crisis, bringing in the recession and down fall of the economy, ironically were financially enriched and many were rewarded with bonuses.  As consequences of such major social injustice, stagnant economy, high-rate of true unemployment, and the poverty-trap for the middle and the lower-class, the messages from Mr. Trump resonated well with the ordinary but frustrated Americans who were getting squeezed from all sides.  This is further aggravated due to ineffective, centrally-driven failed policies by the ever-expanding Washington bureaucracy, and the corrupt and incompetent state and local governments.

Losing jobs, homes and livelihoods, a stalled economy, and never ending dishonest promises by politicians, made the constituents despairing.  Collectively, these generated the Trump-movement (‘Trumpisum”) against the reeking establishment.  Although his focus deviated at time during the campaign, he delivered right messages at the right time in a way that were resounding with the voters.

President’s Party politics:

During the last few weeks to the election, the president and the vice-president travelled across America mostly to swing-states to speak behalf of Secretary Clinton in several Democratic Party, political rallies.  Their visits to political rallies to speak behalf of Secretary Clinton were not cheap and mostly paid by the taxpayers’ money.  Public should decide whether the use of public funds for focused, political use was appropriate and/or these politically-motivated actions were violated the United States constitution.

If either one is proved to be the case, then the misuse of “public funds” for personal and pollical gains by future presidents and vice-presidents should be barred in all future elections.  The lack of presence and the availability/access to the sitting president in the White House for extended periods is also a problem that face America.  At times, the president was campaigning in different states, when he should have been available at the White House to make critical decisions behalf of for the country (incidents happened during that time), as the Commander in Chief.  

Protection of legacy vs. winning the election¾a conflict of interest” 

President Obama made his intentions clear when he urged the public to vote for Secretary Clinton in his place to protect his legacy, including Obama-Care and his other actions made through executive orders.  From Clinton’s point of view, she was eagerly seeking more time at the White House to wield the powers of the executive presidency.  This is despite previous and ongoing scandals, she was determined to regain the power and control for her family, as exposed by the   WikiLeaks.

People in swing-states, overwhelmingly voted for Mr. Trump.  Even though he lost the popular ballot by 2.5 million votes, he carried 2,625 counties, compared with just 487 for Clinton.  In addition, he won 30 out of 50 states and an extra 3.0 million votes (approximately, 5% excess votes) outside California and New York, which significantly aided the Republican down-ballots.  The voters were disappointed with a lack of progress over several years, unemployment, and the direction the country was headed.

Clintons’ and the mainstream media:

In contrast, Clintons’ basically had no new policies.  Except raising taxes for wealthy and cutting taxes at the bottom tiers, she wanted to peruse the same established policies, and seeking a third term of Obama-style administration.  This was repeatedly and astutely highlighted, and relentlessly argued by Mr. Trump and his surrogates in political rallies, and in few media outlets such as the “Fox news” channel.

These messages however, were either distorted or suppressed by the mainstream media¾television and the powerful newspapers groups, and diverted attention from policies to distractions.  Nevertheless, the contrast and the bias became too obvious to the populace during the election campaign.  Meanwhile, despite plausible presidential pardon, the congressional and the FBI investigations are likely to take its course to determine the justice in respect of alleged violations by the Democratic nominee, her associates, and the Clinton Foundation.

Political revolution: 

In almost every state (except for some West coast and North-Eastern states), messages from Mr. Trump resonated well with the voters.  This was particularly effective among the conservative, White, blue-collar voters, both men and women.  Irrespective of whether they were ‘blue or red’, the working class of constituents in the country.

What exited them were straightforward; protecting America, undesirable effects due to insecure southern border, novel and concrete action plan on immigration, break away from the energy dependency from the GULF countries, freedom to explore energy, creation of jobs and wealth, Protecting the second Amendment related to gun rights, reducing regulations, lowering taxes leading to increased personal savings, job opportunities and prosperity to the ordinary Americans.

Removing a dark cloud of regulations:

Mr. Trump spoke of elimination of overburdened regulations that negatively impacting economic growth and job creation.  He also spoke about other fundamental issues, such as abortion, Supreme Court nominees, reforming the failing Obama healthcare plan that is associated with increasing cost and massive job losses, poor coverage and non-affordability; enhancing the military capabilities, and revitalizing the United States armed forces and the infrastructure.

This was a winning package offered by Mr. Trump to voters of all ethnic groups.  It is up to him and his new team to make these materialize.  If he moves away from these fundamentals or fail to accomplish these, he will not only lose the credibility but will also lose the presidential elections in four years’ time.

On other hand, if he accomplishes more than 70% of what he promised, he will be assuring eight-years stay in the White House.  It is time now for him to make his promises into realities.  Despite the victory, the fundamental messages of Mr. Trump were not grasped by many Millennials.   In months to come, Republicans must ensure this group will be on board with them.  Next article analyzes the victory of Mr. Trump.

Professor Sunil J. Wimalawansa, MD, PhD, MBA, DSC: A Physician-Scientist, Social Entrepreneur, Educator, and Philanthropist, with experience in strategic long-term planning and cost-effective interventions.  He can be reached via:  



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