Don’t call it an “upset.” Tuesday night’s victory by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton was months, if not years, in the making. The people “surprised” by Mr. Trump’s win (and there are many millions of them) are those who placed too much stock in the wisdom of the elite, measured according to flawed surveys and allegiance to often-archaic norms of the political establishment.
First of all, on behalf of the Cayman Islands, let us congratulate Mr. Trump on his most impressive achievement. As a territory in the geographic and financial shadow of the United States, the culture and economy of Cayman are greatly affected by the risings, ebbs and tidings of our great neighbor to the north. We welcome the peaceful transfer of power from current President Barack Obama to President-elect Trump, and are hopeful that the policies of the Trump administration lead to the further strengthening of our ties.
In every election, there are winners and there are losers. The biggest winners, of course, are Mr. Trump and running mate Mike Pence, followed by the Republican Party that Mr. Trump shook to its core in the spring primaries (and which on Tuesday retained its hold on both houses of the U.S. Congress), and also the American people, who made their voices known in this grand exercise of democracy, chose their favored leader and will no doubt abide by the results of the election.
As one veteran political journalist observed, for the first time in four decades, America will have an incoming White House administration that won’t directly involve a member of the Bush or Clinton family in office or in the Cabinet. It’s a “blank slate.”
The losers, on the other hand, are Mrs. Clinton, her running mate Tim Kaine and the Democratic Party, which was decimated as returns rolled in from across the nation. Even before the official primaries, when the Democratic Party leadership complacently ordained Mrs. Clinton as their presidential hopeful, they selected a synthetic candidate powered by focus groups, micro-polling and Madison Avenue–like mechanisms.
(Apropos, here’s a business legend: A company thought it had created the “best” brand of dog food ever, containing the finest ingredients, a precise mixture of flavorings, and a scientifically-balanced blend of vitamins and nutrients. The packaging was deemed superb and the marketing campaign unsurpassed. The only problem arose when “dinner time” came around: The dogs wouldn’t eat it.)
As opposed to spontaneous, Mrs. Clinton was pre-packaged and robotic. She was an uncomfortable public speaker who, at times, made her audience uncomfortable just listening to her. She lacked what good and credible communicators cannot lack, namely authenticity.
Next in the losers’ column are the U.S. news media, particularly major outlets that purport to have a “national” audience. Starting with the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN, they in effect put their core product — their credibility — on the line by the way they handled coverage of this election. They allowed their opinions and biases to creep into, even dictate, their news content. It was an arrogant assault on the very principles of responsible journalism — and one from which the industry may never recover.
And finally, there are the pollsters, prognosticators and social “scientists.” Their complete misreading of public opinion on the U.S. presidential contest is the second black eye to be suffered by the profession in recent months.
The first was the Brexit vote in June. Simply put, they got it wrong, and in the process provided misleading campaign narratives that were gobbled up and regurgitated by an overeager press.
The U.S. election again demonstrated a maxim that all journalists and observers ought to take to heart. Here’s what the pollsters don’t know: Everything.