In the past week since Trump secured his seat in the Oval Office for the next four years, pundits have speculated ad nauseum over what allowed the Republican candidate to pull off one of the most surprising political upsets in modern American history. Some blame white women, as they voted for Trump over Hillary by a ten point margin. Some blame rural, blue-collar workers for not understanding the net benefits of globalization and believing that manufacturing jobs will actually come back under a Trump administration. Others attribute the upset to the media for perpetuating the narrative that Trump could not win by any stretch of the imagination, which may have contributed to a lack of voter turnout on the Democratic side. With fingers pointing all across the political spectrum to find some object of blame for Trump’s victory, President Obama has voiced his opinion on what he believes allowed Trump to be elected to succeed him as the Leader of the Free World.
Speaking alongside Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras this morning, Obama addressed Trump’s electoral success by first acknowledging a palpable and persistent "anger and fear in the American population" over the potential effects of globalization and automation on the nation’s economy. He then explained how Trump was able to tap into that fear in order to effectively scare Americans into voting him into the White House. "You've seen some of the rhetoric among Republican elected officials and activists and media. Some of it pretty troubling and not necessarily connected to facts, but being used effectively to mobilize people," said the president. "And obviously President-elect Trump tapped into that particular strain within the Republican Party and then was able to broaden that enough and get enough votes to win the election."
He spoke about the rise of populist movements, such as that which propelled Trump into the White House, across the globe. "People are less certain of their national identities or their place in the world. It starts looking different and disorienting. And there is no doubt that has produced populist movements, both from the left and the right." Surely, Obama was referring to the Brexit decision from earlier this year as well as the rapid assent of right-wing nationalist parties across Europe.
Obama then went on to quell concerns over Trump’s view toward the nation’s European allies and NATO at large, saying that Trump’s campaign rhetoric regarding a U.S. departure from NATO was far from genuine. "In my conversation with the President-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships. And so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the transatlantic alliance. I think that's one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage.”
Do you agree with Obama that Trump was able to tap into a “troubling strain” of American fears to win the election?