SFS On-Topic: 2016 Election Results

"Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City." Spencer Platt/Getty Images

“Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City.” Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On November 8, 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defied pundits and polls to win the 2016 Presidential Election over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. As Trump’s team translates campaign rhetoric into actual policies, the SFS community has weighed in on the implications and possibilities of a Trump Administration for different areas, including the economy, foreign affairs and immigration.

Election Results

“Clearly they blew it, and they blew it quite spectacularly. The pollsters clearly have a lot of homework to do,” commented Dr. Irfan Nooruddin, Hamid bin Khalifa Professor of Indian Politics, about the gap between pre-election polling and the final result. Nooruddin said polls failed to account for Trump’s popularity, especially among rural white voters, which contributed to the sense of this election as an upset.

Dr. Shareen Joshi, Assistant Professor at SFS, reflected on the way gender issues were ultimately passed over by voters for issues of race and religion. “If there was ever a moment in history where gender could determine the outcome of a major election, this was it. Americans were given the opportunity to crack the highest glass ceiling in the world,” she wrote. “Donald Trump’s brand of gender relations may be offensive, but other considerations are more important in the voting booth. This is astounding.” For the full article, click here.

“Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction by a ratio of 2-to-1 and Trump was the only candidate who promised not only to change direction, but also to punish the Democratic and Republic establishments responsible for the status quo,” wrote Dr. Michael Green, Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Foreign Service, in Korean Joongang Daily. Green discussed how feelings of disenfranchisement contributed to Trump’s election, and what implications this has for his administration going forward. The full article can be found here.

Engy Abdelkader, a senior fellow at the Bridge Initiative, commented on the uptick in hate crimes following the election. “In the span of just a few days, the word ‘TRUMP’ was scrawled on the wall of a Muslim prayer room at New York University; in two separate incidents in California, Muslim women observing hijab were physically attacked by men speaking about Trump’s election; and in New Mexico, a Muslim college student was attacked by a classmate wearing a Trump shirt as he attempted to remove her hijab and insinuated that she was a terrorist,” she said. “These attacks were anticipated because many Americans, both for and against Trump, viewed his win as a win for racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.”

Considering A Trump Administration

These are fundamentally new ideas. It will really require a wholesale reevaluation of all of U.S. commitments around the world, because that’s essentially what he’s signaled during his campaign,” said Dr. Victor Cha, D.S. Song-KF Chair in Government and International Affairs. Cha examined the effects Trump will have on international relations in East Asia for South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing comments the President-elect has made about potential solutions to conflicts in the region.

SFS alumnus Peter B. Doran (MAREES’06), Vice President at the Center for European Policy Analysis, provided international perspective in his overview of the significance of Trump foreign policy for Romania. Doran emphasized the importance of Romanian investments in defense and the likelihood of general international political continuity thanks to institutions. For his full interview, in Romanian, click here.

The likelihood that institutions would serve as a check on presidential power, thus preventing some of the more extreme proposals that came up during the campaign was brought up during an Election Day event co-sponsored by the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service and SFS. “I find it strange that Americans are so alarmed by a Trump presidency, because for me that shows that deep down they don’t believe in the checks and balances that the American system provides,” said Dr. Adhijit Iyer-Mitra, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies. “And for me, I feel those checks and balances will come out to play big time once Trump becomes president.” Click here to read more about this event “What the World Thinks: International Perspectives on the 2016 Election.”

Stepping into his role as chief diplomat, President-elect Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the countries’ alliance going forward. “He’s going to work on chemistry and rapport and planting the idea that in the chaotic world that Trump is going to discover, Japan will be one of his best friends,” said Michael Green, Associate Professor and Chair in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy. “A lot of Asia, and I suspect the Europeans, too, are looking to Abe” for signals of how Trump intends to engage the world. Read the full story here.

img_2720On Election Day, BBC Arabic interviewed SFS students Munir Pavez (SFS ’20), Wasil Rezq (SFS’20), Ali Marhoon (SFS ’18), Shifaa Alsairafi (SFS’18) on the outcome of the elections. “We spoke on a wide range of issues, ” said Marhoon. “Including how we explain the Trump phenomenon, the two presidential candidates’ foreign policy agendas for the Middle East, and if we, as students of Arabic background, felt threatened or insecure about the future.” Click here for the full podcast [interview in Arabic].

Dr. Angela Stent, Director of the Center of Eurasian, Russian and East European studies, provided insight on the conflicting views of potential future policymakers in Trump’s administration for the Irish Times. She noted, for example, the difference stances potential candidates for Secretary of State hold with respect to Russia, among other issues. “He said lots of very provocative things in his campaign. Let’s see how much he actually tries to implement,” Stent said of Trump. One of these statements concerned Trump’s openness towards other U.S. allies including Japan, China and Saudi Arabia developing nuclear weapons. “That goes against what Russia has been working toward on nonproliferation,” Stent told Vox. “I think that the Russians would welcome a lesser U.S. role in the world, but not these other things.”

In a panel hosted by Georgetown’s Asian Studies Program and India Initiative on the implications of the U.S. presidential election for Asia, Professor Victor Cha discussed how a Trump administration will impact international relations dynamics in the region. “We throw around terms like isolationist and other things when it comes to the Trump administration, and we don’t know,” said Cha. “But I think one of the things we do know is that it’s not ideological.. Some people would call it ‘pragmatic.’ And so I think what that means is, we can’t always predict. That can be seen as negative in the sense that it’s opaque, and that can be seen as positive in the sense that we can’t assume he’s going to take one certain path.”

Regarding the environmental consequences of the Trump administration, Professor Andrew Bennett has expressed concern with Trump’s reported appointee to head the EPA, Myron Ebell, a climate change denier with no background in science. “The EPA will play a critical role in implementing the Paris Agreement, and if the U.S. does not uphold its commitment to that agreement, China and others may back out of their commitments to reduce CO2 emissions,” he said. “Climate change differs from other issues in that damage to the climate can become irreversible if the Trump administration allows the world to surpass acceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.” Read his op-ed here.

Katharine M. Donato, Director of the Institute for the Study of International Migration and Donald G. Herzberg Professor of International Migration, quantified and dispelled negative narratives surrounding U.S. immigration that diffused throughout the 2016 election cycle, urging President-elect Trump to undertake immigration policy reform. “Comprehensive immigration reform could attract the best and brightest worldwide and meet growing demand for high- and low-skilled labor,” she wrote. “It could also encourage family reunification in productive and important ways.” Read the full article here.

“The best recipe for shared prosperity is to support trade agreements, while strengthening the social safety net and improving workforce adaptability,” wrote Associate Professor Dr. Rodney D. Ludema. Discussing American trade policy in the context of the 2016 election, he explained factors that have led to anti-trade sentiments and steps the Trump administration should take in order to improve the prosperity of Americans. For the full article, click here.

Implications for Millennials

Nikunj Beria (GHD’18) wrote an op-ed for the Huffington Post, where he discussed the danger of Americans laying the foundation for what he calls an “ideological wall”, arising as a result of the recent elections. However despite his warnings, Beria expressed some hope in the ability of American citizens to counter the divisions sprouting from ideological differences. “The construction of this symbolic wall can be stopped through America’s robust institutions and established system of checks and balances,” wrote Beria. “Now Americans, who voted against the divisive forces, have the responsibility to unite the country and prevent the division, much like the Berlin Wall divided Germany.”

Fr. Matthew Carnes, S.J., Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, wrote of the election in The Hoya, “It was a profoundly important moment, and an exhausting one. There is a temptation to simply Snapchat it.” Carnes continued, “But our Jesuit values here at Georgetown remind us that we are part of something bigger than an election, and that the real measure of our efforts comes not simply by casting a vote, but through our work over the long haul.” Find the full article here.

Future administrations and our country will suffer if our best and brightest sit this one out,” wrote Professor Daniel Byman for Slate. Byman is Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs at SFS. Byman urged students considering public service not to be dissuaded by their disagreements with Trump or his campaign’s policies. Instead, he argued that now, more than ever, the  perspective of young people is needed. For the full article, click here.