They say that a week is a long time in politics, and what a week it has been with the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America.
In last week’s column is discussed the US Electoral College system and explained how winning the most ‘popular’ votes isn’t always enough to secure the Presidency, which was timely given the way the election eventuated. While Donald Trump won the Electoral College 306 votes to 232, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote 61,779,507 (47.9%) to 60,830,919 (47.2%). This makes Trump just the fifth person is US history to become President without winning the popular vote.
Strategically he was able to pull this feat off by winning over traditionally democratic states in the industrial Midwest like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Collectively these states are known as the “rust belt” and have suffered huge economic decline, population loss and urban decay due to the shrinking of its once-powerful industrial sector that has been hit hard by increased automation, the effect of some free trade agreements and the outsourcing of jobs out of the US to countries with cheaper labour markets.
On the face of it, it appears that some of Trump’s unconventional economic policies resonated with these populations who for years have felt neglected. So where to from here? President Trump, and his Vice President Mike Pence, will now need to set about the enormous task of making over 4000 appointments to their administration, most notably Chief of Staff, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence.
The campaign is over and now is the time for governing. I, for one, will be watching with great interest to see how the Trump administration progresses what many consider to be an unconventional and somewhat controversial policy agenda. Earlier this week President Trump called Prime Minister John Key to offer his sympathies over the Kaikōura earthquake.