Why would Trump have a problem with Modi?

There is bipartisan support for closer relations with India in the US Congress and the Senate.

 |  5-minute read |   12-11-2016
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On the eve of elections in India, political parties routinely accuse each other of politicising and polarising certain issues of public interest to gain political advantage. But in the US, polarisation and divisive factors seldom decisively tilt the result of the Presidential race.

The 2016 election is the exception to this rule and it will go down in American history as the most divisive.

For the first time, election result has been greeted with protest marches in over two dozen American cities; protesters chanting that Trump isn’t their President!

Statspeak

54 per cent women voted for Hillary, while 53 per cent men preferred Trump. 63 per cent of white men; 52 per cent white women and 33 per cent of Latinos voted for Trump, while nearly 80 per cent African-Americans and 66 per cent Latinos preferred Hillary.

Interestingly, 94 per cent African women voted for Hillary, whereas the figure for Trump was embarrassingly low: 4 per cent.

55 per cent of voters in the age group of 18-29 chose Hillary, while 53 per cent of those aged 45 years and above voted for Trump. 59 per cent urban population supported Hillary, while 62 per cent rural voters preferred Trump.52 per cent college degree holders voted for Hillary against 52 per cent non-degree holders voting for Trump.

58 per cent Protestants and 52 per cent Catholics preferred Trump against 39 per cent Protestants and 45 per cent Catholics who chose Hillary.

hillarybd_111216101126.jpg 94 per cent African women voted for Hillary, whereas the figure for Trump was embarrassingly low: 4 per cent. (Photo: AP)

At the end of the day, the angry ageing white men and women, frustrated, uneducated white collar workers, rural and semi-urban residents feeling excluded, Protestants and Catholics and high earning upper middle class Americans formed the Trump support base that outnumbered the educated, urban, liberal, blue collar workers and anxious non-whites, including the Hispanic, African-Americans and other immigrants.

During his campaign, Trump unabashedly played on the fears of the upper middle class about higher taxes and millions of immigrants pouring in USA if Hillary moved in to the White House. Yes, 20 million Americans benefited from Obamacare but millions were angered by higher insurance premiums.

Polls projected that Trump was better suited than Hillary to handle the economy and create jobs. He also exploited the sentiments of millions of Americans who felt that the US was losing its international clout and was being pushed around; it wasn’t great anymore.

While his outrageous remarks about Muslims and Mexicans might have horrified liberal Democrats, they resonated with right-wing Republicans.

Disclosures

Resurfacing of media reports about Bill Clinton’s sexual misdemeanours and controversial acceptance of donations for his foundation didn’t help Hillary’s cause either. Not until the very end of her campaign, her team didn’t take Trump seriously. If they had mobilised more Latino and women voters, the White House race could have ended differently.

The entry in the Oval Office of a rank outsider billionaire businessman mired in endless controversies who has never held any elected post has proved pollsters and political pundits totally wrong like their counterparts in India who had predicted electoral defeat of Arvind Kejriwal.

Trumps had asked white collar workers to give him a Brexit-like verdict and they evidently delivered. 51 per cent voters had decided much before the last month whom to vote for.

So, disclosures by several women of Trump’s sexual misbehaviour, revelations about his non-payment of taxes for years, his threat to ban Muslims from entering the US and building a wall across the border with Mexico, derogatory remarks about immigrants, his reported loss in the Presidential debates didn’t seem to matter to his die-hard supporters.

Immigration

Expression of their disapproval by senior Republican leaders including the war veteran John McCain of many of Trump’ utterances and reluctance of the Speaker Paul Ryan to endorse him didn’t impede Trump's bulldozer.

Many thought Trump was imploding the Republican Party. But come the election result, he not only won the Presidential race but helped the Republican Party regain control of both the Houses.

Apparently, he isn’t just a successful business tycoon; he is an adventurous political gambler.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the Oval office and the Presidential chair will transform him; he will try to unite the bitterly divided nation. America, the nation of immigrants can’t be anti-immigrant. Just because most of the terrorists happened to be Muslims, he can’t antagonise 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.

While some NAFTA provision might warrant a relook, building walls can’t be a good neighbourly policy.

He will soon learn that ruffling feathers in the European capitals and precipitating tensions in relations with China and dumping TPP in the dustbin won’t serve American national interests. Above all, he will realise that running a company is easier than running a nation; profit making isn’t the driving force.

There is bipartisan support for closer relations with India in the US Congress and the Senate. Trump is likely to continue the positive momentum in relations with India generated by his predecessors in spite of differences about BIT, totalisation, IPR, Visa fee, H1B Visa, solar panel etc.

So long as Modi ensures healthy growth of India’s economy and improves the ease of doing business and pursues business/investment friendly policies, Trump will have no problem in doing business with him.

As a matter of fact, the plain-speaking US President may succeed in thawing relations with Putin and also put in some sense in the Pakistani Generals’ minds regarding their policy towards India and Afghanistan.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

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Writer

Surendra Kumar Surendra Kumar @ambksurendra

The writer is a retired diplomat and expert on strategic affairs.

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