The US election

President Trump - now what? Reactions from some of our political and media pundits to President-elect Donald Trump’s shock win.

Donald Trump

Presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Newtown, Bucks County, PA.

Photo credit Michael Candelori and used under Creative Commons.

Associate Professor Jennifer Lees-Marshment (Politics and International Relations)


Jennifer Lees-Marshment
Associate Professor Jennifer Lees-Marshment

Well, like many people, I was wrong. Hillary Clinton did not win strongly or even at all. So what can explain it? Was it misogyny so voters – including women voters – own unconscious bias against Hillary? Or Trump’s clearer communication? In which case sexism and simplicity won the US presidency.

Or is it something more worrying for New Zealand. As an under-graduate I studied the rise of the maverick candidate Ross Perot in 1992. I explored what factors were present when he, and other independents or mavericks, succeeded in beating the US’s strong two party establishment. I found that they rose when the two major parties both ignored major dissatisfaction amongst voters. When they failed to connect. So is this the problem with Clinton and the more mainstream Republican primary candidates who lost to Trump?

If so, New Zealand has to watch out. Right now the Labour opposition is failing to convince voters it is responsive enough and can offer a credible alternative government. And the National government, whilst seen as capable of governing, is increasingly out of touch on important issues like buying and renting a place to live and travelling to work. Key doesn’t accept there is an issue, saying traffic in Auckland has got a bit slower. So the seeds of discontent have been sown. And Winston Peters is ready to harvest them. So this is a warning to John Key: get your act together and start acknowledging the problems or not only will you risk losing, but New Zealand society as a whole.

Associate Professor Steve Hoadley (Politics and International Relations)


Steve Hoadley
Associate Professor Steve Hoadley

Trump's victory speech offered some hope of reconciliation and healing of divisions domestically and internationally. 

We should respect the decision of the US electorate and give the president-elect our qualified support, and judge him on his performance in office, not his campaign rhetoric.

Dr Nicholas Ross Smith (Politics and International Relations)


Nicholas Ross Smith
Dr Nicholas Ross Smith

Donald Trump is President! Rather than looking backwards we have to look forward and think of ways to learn from this.

Clearly there is much dissatisfaction amongst the masses, not only in the US but more broadly in the West (see the Brexit outcome), with regards to the political elite in our democracies.

For me, the remedy lies in bringing the "demos" back into democracy; that is finding more deliberative and direct ways people can participate in decision-making. This would help alleviate the "rational ignorance" with regards to politics that has enveloped Western societies and reduce the prevailing cynicism we currently see.

Associate Professor Neal Curtis (Media and Communication)


Neal Curtis
Associate Professor Neal Curtis

In the wake of a Trump presidency, the timeline looks something like this:1979, liberal democracy is hijacked by neoliberal oligarchy;2016, neoliberal oligarchy is hijacked by fascist autocracy; 2040, hate breeds hate as the planet chokes. The world dies as people realise that eco-socialism was probably a good idea.

Dr Hirini Kaa (History)


Hirini Kaa
Dr Hirini Kaa

First response: solidarity with and fear for our indigenous brothers and sisters. #Nodapl will be an entree of what is to come. But on other hand, this isn’t exactly their first bad-President experience, and they survive.

Second response: Whanau Ora. Now more than ever we need to make work indigenous alternatives to the oppressive nation state.

Senior lecturer Dr Gavin Ellis (Media and Communication)


Gavin Ellis
Senior lecturer Dr Gavin Ellis

In newsrooms across America – and elsewhere – a series of searching questions will be asked today.

What will be our future relationship with a president we have, with justification, vilified and lampooned?

What is fundamentally wrong with polling systems that were so wide of the mark?

And the wiser heads will ask whether the failure to foresee Mr Trump’s comprehensive win means mainstream media fails to understand large segments of the population. 

Dr Edward Elder (Politics and International Relations)


Edward Elder
Dr Edward Elder

From an analytical perspective, the most notable reason Trump won the US presidential election was turnout.

Trump received approximately one million less votes than Mitt Romney in 2012. Clinton, on the other hand, received approximately six million less votes than Barack Obama four years earlier.

While a good ground game helps from a functional standpoint, we clearly forgot about the importance of the emotional connection people need to have with a candidate.

Dr Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy (Economics)


Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy
Dr Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy

There’s a theory that necessary changes must come from the least expected actors. “Only Nixon could go to China,” as they old refrain goes. The idea is that policymakers are not credible, so citizens will only believe that seemingly radical reforms are necessary if advanced by the people least likely to make them. And so it is with Trump and America (at least if his fiscal policy is not bluster – which it just might be).

Since the GFC, Keynesian economists have been calling for fiscal stimulus (British economist John Maynard Keynes famously advocated for the government to step in and spend when the private sector would not or could not deliver growth). But even if Obama had wanted to spend more on a government-led recovery, he was stymied by a deeply conservative Republican congress.

Now we have a Republican President who promises to lower tax rates and spend up on infrastructure big time.  Will the “small government” Republicans in Congress stand in his way? Unlikely. Trump just delivered three states that have not gone red in a generation. Trump is the Republican Party now.

And that’s a scary thought. A message of hope and unity from eight years ago has now morphed into a call of despair and division. The 45th President of the US is one ugly human being. Keynesians of the world must not know whether to laugh or cry. But we may just find out whether they were right all along.

Read America just elected Donald Maynard Keynes. Brace yourselves on The Spinoff.

Dr Nicholas Ross Smith's commentary


Nicholas Ross Smith
Dr Nicholas Ross Smith

The current Clinton vs Trump contest for the White House stands as a clear indictment of democracy in practice, as two of the most historically unpopular candidates vie to become the 45th United States’ president.

Read Clinton and Trump - indictment of democracy.

Dr Fiona Kennedy's commentary


The “authenticity” of Donald Trump has been a large part of his popularity in this year’s highly unusual US presidential election. According to commentators, authenticity is the new political "It” factor. But what is it to be “authentic”?  

Dr Fiona Kennedy was interviewed recently by Jessie Mulligan on Radio New Zealand about politicians and authenticity.

She also discusses authentic business leadership in a Short Takes clip.