US Elections 2016: The Rise of Religious Right

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Image Credit: magazine.whatislive.com

The US Presidential Elections of 2016 was touted to be one of watched and discussed event in the world. It was the battle of Gladiators in which a reality businessman like Donald J Trump was pitted against the Hillary R Clinton who is deeply entrenched in the establishment and having links to Wall Street. The US Presidential Election process is a long drawn one where two parties democrats and the republicans field contenders for the post who jostle for the popular vote among the electorate and whoever takes it then faces the nominated candidate of the other party or the incumbent president. In the election of 2016, Hillary Clinton representing the Democratic Party trounced the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders to win the party nomination and be in an election face-off with Donald Trump who as an outsider fighting on Republican tickets outed nearly 13 candidates to reach coveted nomination at Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. In this sense, this election was just not another election but the battle of Gladiators between establishment favourite Hillary Clinton and the outsider Donald Trump.

In run up to the election day November 8, 2016, both the candidates were dogged in controversy Hillary Clinton in the never-ending email server saga and the groping allegations that surfaced against Donald Trump on making lewd sexual advances on various women that caused such an outcry that it nearly made Trump’s rating plummet to all time low in polls. On the contrary, Hillary Clinton was dogged by the email server scandal which haunted her throughout her campaign and even led to her deposition before the US Congress in Benghazi Committee hearing. The email scandal was constantly in the headlines due to WikiLeaks dumping the emails of John Podesta (campaign chief of Hilary Clinton) and DNC which gave revealing accounts as to the internal workings of the Democratic Party and the media nexuses. The DNC leak by WikiLeaks blew up in face of the Clinton campaign which showed how the DNC Chief Debbie Wassermann Shultz conspired to make sure Bernie Sanders is denied Democratic Party nomination with unfavourable press discrediting his ideas which ultimately lead to her resignation at DNC Chief. Later the Podesta Leaks bombshell revealed how Clinton campaign managed an agreement with Bernie sanders to call quits and back way her for a presidential run and eventual endorsement by Senator Sanders. Podesta leaks also showed how media houses like CNN and its prominent anchors fixed the line of questioning or interviewing with Clinton Campaign for Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton lead the popular vote getting 48% i.e. 62,115,634 votes while Donald Trump got 47.1% vote with 61,003,417 votes which are nearly 11 Lac votes more than him but yet Donald Trump went on to win the Electoral College comprehensively with 290 to 232 EVs.

The Email leaks by WikiLeaks on DNC & later Podesta’s emails did substantial damage to Hillary Clinton who was already facing credibility deficit with voters. The FBI Investigations into email scandal though closed in July 2016 did not let the issue die down. The ghost of email servers once again came to haunt Hillary Clinton when FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to the US Congress on 29th October 2016 stating that the latest batch of emails discovered from the laptop of Clinton’s aid Huma Abedin and his estranged husband Anthony Weiner warrants re-opening or examination of Clinton email saga. The bombshell of reopening email investigations by FBI Director James Comey wiped out the lead which Hillary Clinton had in polls closing the race between the two candidates. Though FBI finally 48 hours before the election day gave Hillary Clinton clean chit in the latest batch of emails yet it sank the message and the narrative of the Clinton campaign what they had tried to build over last few months on the groping allegations on Donald Trump. The election campaign which had crossed all barriers of sanity was further mired by allegations of Russian involvement in propping up Donald Trump by hacking DNC emails and getting it dumped via WikiLeaks. Ironically the US Intelligence and administration categorically blamed Russia for the hacking, while Donald Trump soft-footed on Russia by praising Putin’s leadership and raising questions on NATO alliance being outdated.

The election process in the US began weeks ahead with many states like Florida, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina etc opening up for early voting based on their federal laws. Finally, the US went to polls on 08th November 2016 by the end of which most polls were showing Clinton ahead 3-5% of Donald Trump with once exception of LA Times tracker which consistently showed Donald Trump ahead. As the results started trickling it what seemed impossible few months back was now a reality than an outsider like Donald Trump from Republican party triumphed defeating Hillary Clinton convincingly so much so that the Blue Wall of Democrats in the North East US of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania breached as these turned red after decades fading away any remote chance Clinton had to be the first Woman President of the United States. The election results in the US Presidential Polls 2016 has severely damaged the credibility of mainstream media like CNN, NY Times etc who not only openly endorsed Hillary Clinton but failed to gauge the popular mood or the undercurrent of Change that propelled Donald Trump to victory.

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The election result of Donald Trump trouncing Hillary Clinton is worth analysis as to voting pattern which reveals a lot about US Politics, Demographics and what critical role it might play out in the decades ahead. It was generally estimated that Hillary Clinton would carry Obama Coalition of 2012 (Hispanics, Blacks, Asian Americans & Working White class) and add White woman voters from Republican Party basing on the groping allegation on Donald Trump. With widespread anger in the rust belt in North East US, the Obama coalition of 2012 totally unravelled with working white class who were ignored and left out of American development story chose to vote for the outsider Donald Trump. Hence, states like Ohio, Iowa, and Pennsylvania some traditionally democratic leaning states switched to Republicans with big margins. With White working class flipping over in the Rust Belt it was even more imperative for the Clinton to shore up the base and hope to add a surge of Hispanics, Blacks and White woman in states like Nevada, Florida and North Carolina to see her through. The final numbers as we would see going ahead reveal that Clinton strategy to expand the voting base failed to yield desired results for her.

However, the major blow to Hillary Clinton’s campaign was the white working Class vote in states like Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania some of which were democrat leaning state. The over pandering of minorities and lack of jobs in the rust belt made critical states in the North East US flip to republican side making possible for Donald Trump to win this election by a slender margin. The said fact is further corroborated as the Democrats polled nearly 62 million votes down 7 million from 69 Million in 2008 & 66 million in 2012, while the Republicans more or less polled their vote base from 60 million in 2008 to 61 Million in 2012 and 61 million in 2016. This exhibits that it is democrats who polled less for multiple reasons like trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton, email scandals, Obama care premiums, FBI Investigations & more importantly anti-establishment catalyst like Donald Trump against a perceivably biased Media. Hence the US Election 2016 was won by Donald Trump by one of the slenderest margins in history. This can be explained if we look into numbers of some key states like Wisconsin (10 Evs), Michigan (16 Evs), Pennsylvania (20 EVs) & New Hampshire (4 Evs) were Hillary Clinton had a difference collectively of mere 1,07,000 votes and only managed to win New Hampshire by a margin of 0.3%. In the end, Clinton lost swing states like Pennsylvania by 1.2%, Ohio (18 Evs) by a Landslide of 9% and states in Blue Wall like Michigan by 0.3% and Wisconsin by 1.2% which sealed her fate. The extrapolation of various numbers from gender to race to demographics only state end result with Hillary Clinton underperforming in critical battleground states and Donald Trump hitting the right formula to secure a majority of 270 in the electoral college.

To understand the dynamics of the US Poll Results 2016 it is imperative to delve into numbers and see what end result accounts for. After the majority of counting, Hillary Clinton lead the popular vote getting 48% i.e. 62,115,634 votes while Donald Trump got 47.1% vote with 61,003,417 votes which are nearly 11 Lac votes more than him but yet Donald Trump went on to win the Electoral College comprehensively with 290 to 232 EVs. This can be further explained as we dig deeper into nos from various Exit Polls and Results which reveal that Donald Trump leads the White vote by 63% to 31% among white man and 53% to 43% among White woman. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton secured 80% vote among Black men and 94% among Black Woman, 62% among Latino Man and 68% among Latino women, 65% of Asian Americans. Hillary Clinton game of demographics failed to clinch the electoral college primarily because the Obama coalition of 2012 failed to deliver on a voting day. The numbers of African Americans for Hillary Clinton actually came down from 92% under Obama in 2008 to 88% in 2016 taking away a huge chunk of vote bank in diverse states which made the race even tighter. This issue was further compounded by White uneducated voter swing of -20% for Democrats since 2008 and the fact that even White woman voters whom Hillary Clinton hoped to turn up for her voted for Donald Trump being traditionally a Republican vote bank. Hillary Clinton and the democrats hoped that Hispanics would turn out in large numbers in states like Florida, Nevada and North Carolina to give her the presidency but to their dismay Hispanic surge had limited effect in states like Nevada and the Hispanic vote in Florida was split as White Hispanics and the Cubans in Florida are traditionally Republican voters and voted for Donald Trump.

It is essential to study the numbers because they tell the real story and the patterns as Clinton lead in Urban Areas while Trump leads in Rural areas. Trump lead by big margins in White dominated areas and White voters which show a distinct pattern of majority consolidation in countenance to the fear mongering by Democrats pandering to minorities like Hispanics, African Americans. This election in an unstated way is an assertion of majority identity against politically correct and corrupt establishment that has failed to deliver to its voter’s election after election. The silent assertion of White identity is not only reflective of victory of Donald Trump but also the politicking by Democrats and left liberals who are equally to equally blame for fear mongering and political correctness which made Trump’s frank speak on Islamic terrorism and political corruption more convincing in wake of erupting scandals of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. The racial fault lines which had healed in 2008 with a large victory for first Black President of the United States have once again erupted with protest erupting across cities in the United States like New York, Miami, California etc where thousands have marched saying “Donald Trump, not my President”. It has been alleged that these protests have been orchestrated by George Soros who backed Hillary Clinton and contributed to Clinton campaign. It has been revealed by Politico that Billionaire George Soros organisation Democracy Alliance held a close door session to chalk out a plan with Donors, liberals and Union leaders to oppose the Trump Presidency on likely reforms it could make on legacy issues of President Obama. These protests have been followed by clashes and sporadic racial violence in the US further deepening the fault lines since this election campaign began. The demonization of Donald Trump by Liberals and the support of evangelicals to him (nearly 81%) have returned the spectre of White Supremacy which we had predicted in our book “The New Global Order” as the likely consequence of the 2016 US Presidential Election.

The demonization of Donald Trump by Liberals and the support of evangelicals to him (nearly 81%) have returned the spectre of White Supremacy which we had predicted in our book “The New Global Order” as the likely consequence of the 2016 US Presidential Election.

The Religious right in America of Evangelicals and Catholics overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. The evangelicals who are 26% of the American electorate and nearly 81% of them voted for Donald Trump as per the data available, despite reservations about Donald Trump of Misogyny, racism etc. while only 16% voted for Hillary Clinton. Catholics, who are 23% of the electorate, supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by 52 percent to 45 percent. White Catholics voted for him in far greater proportions than Hispanic Catholics, who favoured Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by, 67 to 26%. The evangelicals and Catholics who form part of the religious right in America overwhelmingly chose Donald Trump hoping he will appoint a conservative Supreme Court Justice, Defund Plan Parenthood, remove affordable care act to remove birth control and his stand against abortions some of which Hillary Clinton has actively campaigned for through her NGOs and otherwise. The trends and the voting pattern in the American Election 2016 further corroborate the resurgence of the Religious Right which could ultimately lead to deepening of racial fault lines in the US and the rise of White Supremacy in decades ahead.  Robert P Jones of Public Religious Research Institute has commented on the rise of the Religious Right in US Poll Results, “The wall of white Christian voters held”.

A Trump presidency would invariably lead to aggressive Christian and Evangelist growth and activity across the regions of the world looking for new greener pastures.

The rise of the religious right in form of White Supremacy is further underscored with Vice President-elect Mike Pence the running mate of President-elect Donald J Trump. In a recent post at Intercept, a leading website has stated that Mike Pence is a Devout Evangelical, who has steadfastly supported the movement to Defund Planned Parenthood, Abolish ALCA, and Blocking LGTB Rights. It also discloses the links between Mike Pence and Erik Prince the former CEO of Blackwater Inc who has trained a mercenary private army to fight in conflict zones across the world from the Middle East to Africa. It details in depth as to how Mike Pence and Erik Prince have contributed to the causes of religious right centred around the interpretation of Christianity. The same ideology has also been espoused by Roman Catholic Church and this only shows how deep the links are between the American administration and the Deep State which we have vividly covered in our book “The New Global Order”. It is also worth pointing out here that one of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisor is Walid Phares (earlier adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012) whose past has been mired with ideologically backing and abetting the rise of Christian Militias in Lebanon in the 1980s targeting the Druze and Muslim population in Lebanon sectarian strife. A Trump presidency would invariably lead to aggressive Christian and Evangelist growth and activity across the regions of the world looking for new greener pastures. This is just a glimpse and we shall cover the rising trend of Christian militias in our further posts.

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States is bound to have ramification around the world and more so its foreign policy. The unexpected win of Donald Trump has unnerved many of the American NATO allies and the allies in Pacific & Gulf region given the tough positions Donald Trump took in his campaign on the US Funding of NATO, Soft Stance towards Putin’s Russia and his commitment to Climate Deal and last but not the least Muslim ban which caused flutters with American allies in the Gulf like Saudi Arabia. However, the most critical issue before a Trump presidency would be how he deals with Russia & Assad with respect to Syrian Civil War that has killed millions and displaced equal no of people as refugees in far off lands. While Trump ostensibly has a good opinion of Vladimir Putin given his constant praise for the Russian leader and his links to Russia through advisors like Paul Manafort in respect of Ukrainian Conflict, his room for manoeuvrability remains to be tested amid pressure from Middle Eastern allies and the deep state that operates independently of the administration. Under a Trump Presidency, the US is more than likely to work with Russia in sorting out the mess in Syria with the political transition which is acceptable to all. This reset between the US & Russia however limited could provide future avenues for co-operation in shaping the geopolitics in Asia Pacific especially the Far East in respect to China. We have elucidated upon this in our book “The New Global Order”.

A Trump Administration will also have to come to face the prospect of rising tide of Right-Wing Nationalism in NATO Allies like France, Germany & Italy where anti-immigration wave is powering right wing parties like of Maria Le Pen in France that rails against the very idea of leftists liberals on the lines of what happened in the US Elections of 2016 or Brexit earlier on. The spectre of an aggressive Russia, coupled with rising right-wing nationalism in France, Germany and Italy will present a whole new challenge to American establishment as to how it sustains its sphere of influence which is gradually being challenged across the EU & the world. The United States under Trump Presidency will also have to deal with Hybrid warfare that has been unleashed by Russia in Europe and to a good extent in the US as was visible in the US Elections 2016. The Deep State in the US which works independently is more than likely to work in tandem with Religious right in the US to spread Christianity and Evangelist movement across the green pastures available in countries like China, India and Africa who are ripe for pickings.

While there are challenges that Trump Presidency will face on the Trans-Atlantic in Europe the bigger challenge which he will face is how to contain the Chinese Dragon and its quiet but creeping takeover of the Asia Pacific region. The flip-flop of Philippines and the issue of South China Sea will continue to test the US Foreign Policy and commitments to its allies in respect of freedom of navigation of seas. Though after being elected as President, Donald Trump has signalled his intent to back Japan against China and back South Korea’s defence commitments yet countries like Japan could soon under Shinzo Abe revise its pacifist constitution and rearm itself in wake of rising regional threats and receding American might. Donald Trump detente with Vladimir Putin’s Russia could signal a reversal of roles of the 1970s with China at receiving end this time. The Chinese who have constantly disregarded Russian Elites being deeply Eurocentric and have charted out their own way to stake a claim for leading the Global Order eventually in times ahead. Donald Trump decision to withdraw out of TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) could further help bolster China’s standing and reliability in the Asia Pacific region. With the rise of Chinese Dragon in the Far East, the detente between the US & Russia will become even more critical to maintain the balance.

Similarly, Donald Trump has viewed India very favourably with sections of NRI and Hindu Community openly backing him during the campaign for a strong stance against Pakistan and Islamic extremism that emanates in the region and the world. Since the US & India have already signed a strategic partnership and military and defence agreements like DTTI & LEMOA. We could expect further strengthening of ties between India & the US in respect of Indian Ocean Region when it comes to Navy, aircraft carriers and freedom of navigation of seas. While coming of Donald Trump as next President of US means a good news India yet it remains to be seen how he conducts his foreign policy viz-a-viz the deep state which has huge interests in the Af-Pak region. Donald Trump’s policy in West Asia specifically viz Saudi Arabia and Israel-Palestine dispute will be keenly watched given that Israel’s Right Wing party Likud under Benjamin Netanyahu would seek better ties with America under Trump than what Obama could deliver in last 8 years. In this sense Asia Pacific will be the key test to the US Foreign Policy and Donald Trump would have to calibrate accordingly as cancellation of TPP or Withdrawal from Climate treaty is likely to give a head start to China leaving a question on American leadership in the region and its reliability as a security provider.

The Ascent of Donald Trump is indeed a seminal moment not only in the US domestic politics but also geopolitics. The rise of Donald Trump could fuel the racial divide leading to contrarian rise of White Supremacy which could spark civil strife in the United States. A Trump presidency could make America turn more protectionist abrogating TPP, Climate treaty and cracking down on outsourcing to boost local manufacturing and jobs. Prospect of renegotiating NAFTA or building a wall on Mexico border could further test the US Foreign Policy, including the deportation of illegal immigrants and bigger checks on the entry of Syrian Refugees. Donald Trump will also be faced with the prospect of rising gun violence and NRA lobby which backed him in the campaign. While the US could face a host of internal turbulence, the foreign policy of Trump Presidency would be equally tested in conflicts like Syria, Lawless Libya, and Tragic Yemen or a Nuclear North Korea and other hot zones in Africa and Af-Pak. A Trump presidency is also likely to be tested on the delicate on the dance of power between Wall Street, Establishment and the presidency. But how a Trump Presidency stands for American values of freedom, liberty and democracy could very well define the way forward for the US & the World. With the election of President Donald J Trump in November 2016, the ship has truly sailed on what promises to be an enthralling journey amid the storms and turbulence before the calm returns.

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