Trump’s Election And Its Implications For Africa

Vol 23 No 1

Category: ,

Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections has shocked far more citizens in the US and the rest of the world than those who have hailed his triumph. This deeply divisive figure, xenophobe, misogynist, climate change denier and racist, will assume the presidency of the only superpower in the world. This billionaire’s election campaign with its focus on an attack of the establishment, his tirades against illegal Mexican immigrants and calling for a ban on Muslims entering the US, succeeded in attracting sections of the white working class, whose lives had been blighted by unemployment and poverty wages as a result of the onslaught of neoliberalism and the financial crisis of 2007. This crisis affected the middle class as well and many rallied to Trump’s side. He owes much of his success in the campaign to his demagogic skills. But as he takes on his presidential role, he will require much more than his demagogy to deal with the disaffected, who will be waking up to the fact that they have been deceived.

Donald Trump’s victory was gained at the expense of Hilary Clinton’s defeat. These two candidates were among the most unpopular in the history of US presidential elections. Hilary Clinton, who as the first woman US presidential candidate, would have been expected to attract female voters from many parts of the political spectrum, but failed to do so. Many black women, deeply opposed to Trump, were not enthused by Clinton and failed to go to the polling booths. She was identified by many of the disaffected in the US as a prominent member of the establishment for over twenty- five years and tied to Wall Street. So they turned to Trump. Many of the youth, hungry for progressive policies turned to the ageing senator, Bernie Sanders who inspired millions and proclaimed himself as a socialist. There was no way that the bosses in control of the Democratic party machine would endorse Sanders as the Democratic candidate. He chose to support Clinton as against Trump after she won the primaries to become the Democratic candidate.

The formation of an independent socialist party remains a burning issue in US politics. Trump, who was scorned by the Republican hierarchy before his nomination in the primaries only gained their endorsement in the fight against Clinton for the presidency. Ideologically, the ruling classes in the US as elsewhere, are facing a crisis of legitimacy. They are losing control of the electoral process as is graphically illustrated by Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries and the Brexit vote in Britain.

Trump’s victory stirred deeply reactionary forces both in the US, Europe and the rest of the world. There is heightened tension between the rival imperialist powers, the US, Russia and China. In choosing his cabinet Trump turned to corporate US, to flawed politicians and retired army generals. He nominated Steven Munchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive as Treasury Secretary, Rex Tillerson , Chief Executive of Exxon Mobil, the biggest fossil fuel company in the world, as Secretary of State and Scott Pruitt, a close ally of the fossil fuel industry as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. This is the most anti-environment cabinet in history. His Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, was previously rejected as a judge because of racist comments. His national Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, a retired army general is outspoken in his views of the threat posed by Islamist militancy. With the deeply flawed Trump at the helm, this cabinet, more isolationist and protectionist than previous US administrations, will not act against corporate US business interests. Instead of promoting sustainable forms of energy as would have been expected following the US ratification of the Paris agreement on climate change, it will almost certainly encourage increased fossil fuel extraction and sales. It will also clamour for increased production and sales of armaments.

 In Europe, far right wing parties like Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France and fascist parties, are acclaiming Trump’s victory. Le Pen stands a chance of coming on top in the presidential elections in 2017.Trump’s latest call for the US to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”, further raises questions of his judgement in world affairs. The Guardian newspaper, the media representative of the liberal bourgeoisie in Britain in an editorial commented “Americans have elected their most unpredictable and dangerous president of all time.” As Trump steps into the presidential office, not only will America be living more dangerously but so will the rest of the world.

 Trump’s victory in the elections cast shadow a on the struggle of feminists all over the world, none more so than in Africa. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president and first woman to be elected as a head of state in Africa was quoted as saying “We are extremely saddened by this missed opportunity on the part of the people of the United States to join smaller democracies in ending the marginalisation of women.” In Africa, it is not only feminists who are alarmed at Trump’s accession to power. Environmentalists fear that he will sabotage the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In Africa, as in other parts of the global South, populations are suffering from the effects of climate change after years of inaction by rich countries like the US.

The rich countries need to increase their pledges to cut pollution and increase financial support to the poorer countries in their fight against global warming. Africa needs to turn away from its reliance on the export of oil and gas, minerals and cash crops and turn its attention to growing its own food. Trump and his cabinet as the most likely champion of fossil fuels rather than sustainable energy, face confrontation with environmentalists not only in Africa but the rest of the world

Trump is expected to continue the expansion of AFRICOM (United States African Command), the US military arm in Africa, to maintain its hold on the continent. It will remain involved in “the war on terror” in Africa from Libya and Mali to Kenya and Nigeria. It is not unlikely that in protecting its interests in Africa, it will come up against China, a rising power in the world.