Opinions Sat, 12 Nov 2016

Any lessons from election of President Trump for Ghana?

We all woke up last Wednesday to the stunning news of the election of the property tycoon Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States to succeed President Barack Obama.

Nearly everyone, politicians, pundits and ordinary folk worldwide had predicted a comfortable win rather for his formidable opponent Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State and wife of former President Bill Clinton. All the polls favoured Hillary and we had all settled down to the inviting prospect of America having its first woman President.

But it was not to be. The bumbling, proudly politically incorrect Trump who had no political experience whatsoever won the election to the astonishment of the whole world. Since what happens in America has some impact on what happens in other parts of the world, it is only fair that I devote the column today to looking at the possible ramifications of this surprise victory on our country Ghana.

Already, some of us are busy proclaiming the victory of the New Patriotic Party Flag bearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his party in the coming December election. There seems to be an agreement in this country that the Republicans in America whose party symbol is the elephant have their counterparts in Ghana in the NPP which also has the elephant as its symbol.

Both are rightist parties, believers in big business, trickle-down economic planning and avid exponents of neo-liberal orthodoxies, and both transfixed by macroeconomic axioms. Couple this with the fact that both share an anti-immigrant faith relative to citizens of neighbouring West African countries as the Aliens Compliance Order of 1970 showed, and the animus of Trump against Hispanics and Muslims demonstrated, then we have here a case of ideological twins.


Indeed, to square matters, Paul Adom-Otchere in this very paper last Wednesday even made the correlation between the visits of American Presidents to Ghana. Democrat President Clinton visited social democratic NDC President Rawlings in 1998, Republican President George Bush visited NPP President Kufuor in 2008, and Democrat President Obama visited social democratic President Mills in 2009. I myself even went ahead and wrote two weeks confidently ago that now President-elect Trump will lose, and that the pundits will turn around and compare him rather to our own President Mahama, as they have sought to compare former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan with President Mahama.

To complete the picture, our respective electoral histories since we returned to constitutional rule in 1992 are harnessed into the analysis to make one believe that a true correlation exists between the two countries in our political spheres. This is false. NDC wins, the Democrats win and vice versa since 1992.

We do not have similar sequential electoral histories because President Mills died in office and his Vice-President took over and completed his term, and ran on his own in that year 2012. In other words, whilst Hillary Clinton was running for a first term in office which was scuppered by President Trump, the case of President Mahama is different; he is running for his second term in office.

This factual recitation has not stopped the propaganda for mere political profit by some of us, actively assisted by deliberately skewed media reportage whose practitioners have even coined a word to describe themselves: a cabal. President Mahama is being compared to the defeated Mrs Hillary Clinton on the false unconstitutional basis that parties are mandated to serve two terms in office, after which they give way to another party. This false belief flies in the face of the strenuous efforts of the NPP flagbearer to win the 2008 election after the NPP had spent two terms in office. The strictures on the maximum two terms in office as President applies only to the individual and not his party.

Anti-foreigner rhetoric

no matter the permutations by self-interested pundits, one thing is clear. Even strong supporters of the Republican Party in our country were repelled and appalled by the divisive, anti-foreigner rhetoric of President Trump, threatening years of deep links between our two countries which are intensely personal as many of us have friends and relatives living and working in America. President Trump seems to realise this as his acceptance speech made conciliatory gestures to all.

Second, the victory of Donald Trump completely made worthless the polling predictions which the whole world believed in implicitly. Polls are no reliable indicator of anything, and we know in Ghana those who employ them as tools of persuasion. I have in mind the previous polls by Synovate and the Economic Intelligence Unit which always seem to favour the losers in our elections. In fact, the EIU confidently predicted the victories of Hillary and Nana Addo in their respective 2016 election. The only polls worth respecting are the ballots cast on election day. Indeed, the disaster and failure in the polls mimics the 1948 election in which the pundits predicted the victory of Thomas Dewey, who was handily defeated by President Harry Truman. Of course, one can play with the fact that the defeated Hillary was the Foreign Affairs minister and the former senator just as the NPP flagbearer.

The one matter left that should stick in our craw is the fact that Americans wanted change after eight years of Democratic Party rule. Trump ran and won as an outsider to the political establishment, whilst his ideological counterpart in Ghana is running on being a consummate and better insider who is experienced and competent. The Ghanaian counterpart is closest in comparison to the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, who is son of a president and brother to another. Edward Akufo-Addo was the second President of Ghana. I do believe the polls that President Obama is the most popular American President at this stage in his tenure. That did not translate into a Hillary victory which means it was not, as some are saying, that it was merely an anti-black election.

The truth of the matter is that Hillary Clinton was not that attractive as a candidate. Having been first lady to the long-serving Governor, Bill Clinton of Arkansas, then first lady of the whole America for another eight years, then a senator and Secretary of State, many could not fathom why she was running, except to compete with her famous husband who had a big bite of the cherry as first, state attorney-general, then governor and finally President. Her disdain for traditional feminine roles not linked to overt power moved many women to vote against her. She had a long record easy to attack and discredit. Was she the only available woman to be put forward by such a big party? The whole spectacle looked and smelt like establishment inbreeding, and now threatens the sterling narrative of the Obama presidency. The American people called a halt to the liberal consensus gone awry. Now we wait for the International Criminal Court to issue warrant for Hillary’s arrest and prosecution as demonstrations and protests in many American cities take hold. In the meantime, I offer my congratulations, President Donald Trump.

Writer’s E-mail : aburaepistle@hotmail.com
Columnist: Colin Essamuah