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President T…no, sorry, still can’t say it

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

I thought I couldn’t be surprised by anything that the political arena could throw at me, after the “surprise” Conservative landslide in the 2015 General Election and the whisker-thin victory of the Leave campaigners in the Brexit vote.

Turns out I was wrong – again. Despite the number people warning me in the run up to last week’s US Presidential Election that he could do it, I never really thought that I would wake up at 4am, check my phone and find that the world had turned on its head.

I still find it very hard to comprehend how so many people could hear Donald Trump’s rhetoric over the past year or so and still be swayed in his direction. An American I heard on the radio in the run-up said he liked to think of their Presidential candidates as someone they’d be happy to invite over to dinner. Hillary, he said, would be like having a visit from the Health & Safety Inspector. Trump, I suspect, would come to dinner, grope your wife, leer at your daughter and kick your dog when it growled at him.

If you look at the actual number of votes cast – estimates show it was a rather sorry 58% of the electorate – then Hillary Clinton won the “popular vote”, although she is by no means a popular candidate. As, indeed, did Al Gore in the 2000 election when the count for Florida’s 29 electoral college votes went to the wire and beyond, before finally going to the Florida Governor’s brother. In fact, I’ve seen figures which suggest that Clinton actually pulled in more votes than Bush did in the first election he won, when independent candidate Ralph Nader split the vote.

The trouble seems to be that so many people felt they simply couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either candidate,  which really should give the Democrats – and those Republicans who were against Trump – food for thought. If a candidate can’t get the majority of a party behind them, are they really the right candidate?

Still, as with Brexit, the result is what it is and no amount of protesting or even rioting in the streets is going to change that. That’s the point of democracy, you don’t always get the result you want but it is still your right not to like it.

Maybe Trump himself, like Brexit Boris, never expected to actually win and is wondering what the heck he’s supposed to do now. A piece in the Wall Street Journal that’s done the rounds on Twitter seems to suggest that could be the case, with – it is rumoured,  – none of his team realising that the entire West Wing staff would be departing with the out-going administration.  Also, someone pointed out that the body language during their White House meeting showed Obama totally in control and Trump clearly looking ever so slightly out of his depth. I think the rather fabulous Fleet Street Fox calls it best in this Mirror piece which is at once both hilarious and scary

Still, if Trump takes Nigel Farage off our hands maybe we’ll cut him a wee bit of slack. As long as he and Putin don’t end their bromance and come to blows.

As that most gifted of scriptwriters, Aaron Sorkin, once wrote – decisions are made by those who turn up. Those who turned up on Tuesday made their decision and the rest of the world is going to have to manage it as best we can.

 

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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