Donald Trump’s win has taken many observers by surprise. Yin Xiaohuang, a lifetime professor with the Occidental College, said Trump voters’ coveting for change, declining influence of traditional media and decisive role played by the silent majority in opinion polls all contributed to Trump’s success. And the election result is a double-edged sword for China. Here are his perspectives.
All signs were pointing to a Clinton win. All of the mainstream media voiced support to Clinton except two, while in the previous election, half of them supported Obama and the other half Romney. All big companies on the Wall Street and Silicon Valley sided with Clinton, while 200 esteemed Republican diplomats announced that they would not work for Trump. This is unprecedented. The whole Bush family including the senior Bush did not vote for Trump, as did Romney and McCain.
Three factors decided Trump’s win
First, Trump supporters were determined to bring change and they were more enthusiastic in casting their votes. Clinton supporters hoped to stay on the track of Obama and maintain the status quo, and lacked eagerness. Clinton lost support of the black people and other minorities. That’s the reason for her loss. Trump’s win kind of resembles Obama’s eight years ago: although they have different political claims, they shared the desire for change.
Second, traditional media failed to exert influence on public opinion as it used to. Trump’s campaign has used Twitter a lot and successfully delivered messages to American families. Traditional media have fewer audiences. Now, the one who controls the new media would prevail. The role of traditional media has lost its edge to new communications technologies in political activities.
Third, the silent majority played a decisive role. People who would not like to share opinions in polls actually supported Trump, while those vocal were in line with the mainstream media.
Personal quality is another element. Although Trump talks like crazy, he looks more of a real person, like the junior Bush in his presidential election. Although Bush was not as knowledgeable as Al Gore, he was more representative of normal people, instead of the polished elites.
Obama legacy gone and green light for Trump’s new policies
After Trump takes office, most of Obama’s legacy would be gone, including the Obama care, immigration action, and social welfare reform. The TPP and Framework Convention on Climate Change would also be put aside. Except for Trump’s rise to presidency, the Republicans also have control of both houses and would nominate two or three supreme court judges in four years. The administrative, judicial and legislative powers are all in the hands of Republicans. It will be easier for them to push through their policies.
Pros and cons for China
Trump’s rise to presidency is both good and bad news for China. At present, his policy toward China is still ambiguous. He’s practical and so would not apply idealistic principles like Clinton. He would not pay special attention to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Even to the European allies, he has made it clear that no money, no support. He would not step in the South China Sea dispute, and he would devote more efforts to fighting against terrorism and improving relations with Russia and China. This would contrast with Clinton’s tough stance to confront Russia and China.
Globalization however may receive a setback. The biggest achievement of the bilateral partnership is in the field of climate change. Although Trump may not completely drop the deal, he would not put much effort in this field. Besides, China is not familiar with him, and there would be a process for both sides to adapt to each other. It’s hard to guess who would be appointed the Secretary of State and who the Secretary of Defense. There is a big chance for Newt Gingrich to become the Secretary of Defense, or former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, because both of them are staunch Trump supporters.
Different from the Democrats, many Republicans made it clear that they would not work for Trump. Although he has got no clear policies to work with China, at least Trump would not pressure China regarding TPP, the South China Sea and East Asia issues. And he would not criticize China in terms of feminism or human rights.
Yin Xiaohuang is a professor at the Occidental College. He also holds the title of Changjiang Scholar awarded by China's Ministry of Education. The article is translated and edited by Rebecca Lin.
(Opinions expressed in the article don't represent those of the Sino-US.com)