general, the presentation by Prof. Fumiaki Kubo from The University of Tokyo
highlights seven main topics:1) Current
situation of U.S economy under Trump’s administration, emphasizing on of
unemployment rate, stock market condition, and growth rate;2) US citizen
opinions regarding Trump’s administration;3) The characteristics of US 2016’s
elections;4) Reasons why Trumps won 2016’s elections which comprise issues such
as why was Trump so popular? And the plight of working-class people factor
(explains through case study in Scioto County, Ohio);5) US 2016’s elections voters
composition and distribution; 6) Trump’s achievements so far (accomplished vs
failed); and 7) Trump’s foreign policy direction particularly
in the context of China, Japan, and North Korea.
paper attempts to discuss some important points regarding US Politics after the
2016 presidential election based on Prof. Kubo presentation and other relevant
sources, by also adding author personal opinions.
on seven main topics above, I will emphasize my discussion on some important
points as follows:
a. US economic situation under Trump’s
the context of the unemployment rate, Prof. Kubo in his presentation cites a
graph from United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics about
U.S employment rate condition from January 2009 to October 2017. The graph shows a declining trend of the
unemployment rate in the US since October 2009 (under Obama’s administration),
from 10.0% (post-financial crisis peak) to 4.1% per October 2017 (one year
after Trump’s inauguration).
percentage claimed by Mr. Trump as his great achievement as he stated in his
twitter as the lowest unemployment rate since 17 years. But, if we looked at it further, actually
that claim not all truly right. Parlapiano et al (2017) informed that
the drop in unemployment rate actually has occurred during Obama’s
administration. When Obama ended his term
of office in January 2016, the unemployment rate was already at 4.8
percent. If Trump wants to show his own
real achievement, he should able to break President Clinton accomplishment when
he was able to achieve the unemployment rate at 3.9 percent in the end of his
tenure in December 2000.
2) Stock market condition
stock market condition side, Prof. Kuboshares data from Trading Economics.com
that show a significant increasing trend on Dow Jones Industrial Average from
18,332.74 points on November 8, 2016-when Trump was inaugurated-to 24,272.35
points on November 30, 2017 (one year after the inauguration). In this context, President Trump claimed it as the highest stock market
record ever.I think at this point he was right.
ButParlapiano et al (2017) argue this record exist more because the
market, particularly investors are waiting and hoping for the real
implementation of Mr. Trump’s promises during his presidential campaign which
involves infrastructure expenditure, deregulation, and action on tax policy.
3) Growth rate
context growth rate, Prof. Kubo shares data of US quarterly growth rate from
2000 to 2017 from Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) that show a relatively
fluctuated growth rate since Trump’s administration from around 1% to 3%. If we compared it with Obama’ administration
in the second quarter of his last presidential period, there is still no
significant increment since then. But,
President Trump thinks it differently.
reported by Parlapiano et al
(2017), based on the report by Commerce Department on July 28, 2017, which
informed that the annual economy rate in the second quarter increased to 2.6
percent, President Trump claims it as “an unbelievable number”. Even
though, based on previous experiences, this number is actually not really
special. According to Parlapiano et al (2017), since Ronald Reagen became a
president, the economy has expanded 2.6 percent or more in 81 of the 145
quarters. This number included 14 times
when Obama was a president.
b. US citizen opinions regarding Trump’s
his presentation, Prof. Kubo also shares data based on Real Clear Politics
(RCP) Poll Average, released on December 1, 2017, regarding the direction of
the country about “Does US heading in the wrong direction?”. The data show
the majority of respondents said that the US is heading in wrong direction
(around 60%). Based on polling conducted on three different times (November 8,
2016; March 17, 2017; and October 26, 2017), the percentage of respondents that
stated the US is in the wrong track was 61.9%, 52.7%, and 58.7% respectively. Meanwhile,
the percentage of the opposite respondents (said the US in the right direction)
was 31.2%, 38.8%, and 32.7 respectively.
fact that reported by www.cnbc.com (October 7,
2017) wasthe percentage of Republicans that optimistic about the country
direction (heading to the right direction), which are 60 % in June 2017 declined
significantly merely 44 % in October 2017.
Moreover, there were more than 60 % Americans that disapprove about how
Trump managing the foreign policy, immigration, and race relations, among other
d. Reasons why Trump won the US 2016’s election
his presentation, Prof. Kubo mentioned several reasons why Donald Trump became
so popular in the context of US 2016’s election such as the economic issue, his
personal charm and future policy (anti-illegal immigrants, anti-free trade, and
anti-internationalism), and strong desires for change within the Americans. Furthermore,
Prof. Kubo explains, in context of strong desires for change, this situation
triggers by three main factors which are dissatisfactory about status quo,
tired of democratic party rule for eight years, and the difficult condition of
white working class people.
to Prof. Kubo explanations, McKernan (2016) also reported that based on exit
poll data, from the total of 70 % white voters, 58% of them voted for
Republican Party or Trump. Meanwhile,
Zurcher (2016) informed that there was a deserted wave of Democrat’s white
voters who voted for Trump. Those voters categorized as working-class white
people-men and women- without colleges education. He also stated there were high numbers of
rural voters turned out that affect Trump’s victory. But, for all the reasons explained above, for
me, the hunger for change is the main reason why the Americans voted for
Trump. As reported by Postrel (2016)
based on Amy Walter of Cook
Political Report observation, When voters asked about what is the most
important quality in a candidate, 39 percent of the said candidate that can
bring change, which Mr. Trump embraced 83 percent of those voters.
e. US 2016’s elections voters composition and
Based on data presented by Prof. Kubo
and data that I cited from www.bbc.com (December 1,
2016), in general, Mr. Trump won 47% of the vote compared to Ms. Clinton with
48% vote. In other words, this
percentage can be translated that the Republicans won 306 electoral college
votes and the Democrats only won 232 electoral college votes. As reported by www.bbc.com (December 1,
2016), Trump won seven key battleground states which are Florida (with 29
electoral votes), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), Michigan (16),
North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), and
Furthermore, based on source from
Edison Research for ABC News, AP, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News, www.bbc.com (December 1,
2016) also reported that Mr. Trump was voted by 58% of white people from total
70% white voters (only 37% voted for Ms. Clinton). Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton
mostly voted by Hispanic people (65%; Trump only 29%), Black people (88%; Trump
8%), and Asian people (65%, Trump 29%).
Another interesting fact, Mr. Trump was popular
among non-college-educated white men (seven out of 10 votes) and
non-college-educated white women (six out of 10 votes).
Moreover, based on US Census, www.bbc.com (December 1,
2016) reported that from 250 counties with most white people, 249 voted for
Trump. From 250 counties with most old men, 241 voted for Trump. Meanwhile, From 250 counties with most black
people, 144 voted for Clinton. Based on
all the facts above, many people think the US 2016’s election is about the
battle between race, education level, and age within US citizens. But the fact
said the opposite way, particularly for the race issue, because many Trump’s
voters actually had also voted for Obama in the previous election (Postrel,
2016). Moreover, Postrel (2016) also
reported that the reasons why the Americans voted for Trump were because he is from outside the system and they
want a change, similar with when they voted for Obama in 2008. So, once again the desire for change was the
main reason why the American voted for Trump.
f. Trump’s administration achievements so far
his presentation, Prof. Kubo also mentioned about President Trump achievements
so far, which ones that already accomplished and which ones that failed. For example, in accomplished achievement
category, he mentioned about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as the Associate
Justice in the US Supreme Court, the withdrawal of US from the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) and the withdrawal of US from the Paris Agreement of Climate
Change. Meanwhile, in failed achievement
category, Prof. Kubo mentioned about the failure of Trump’s administration in
implementing the immigration ban and in repealing the Obama Care program.
the context of Gorsuch -a 49-year-old federal judge in Colorado- nomination,
Mr. Trump select him due to his age and his conservative view about government
over-regulation. These factors are
important for Mr. Trump to help and smooth his agenda of strengthening
conservative majority in court for long period and to reduce government
regulations particularly in businesses (Abramson, 2017; Jackson, 2017).
in context of US withdrawing from TPP and Paris Agreement of Climate Change, in
my opinion, is basically only about saving the existence of American economy -
trade and businesses -, if refers to Trump’s slogans during his campaign which
is ‘America First’ and ‘Make America Great Again’. Trump believes the US should control their
own economy to achieve prosperity for its citizens by freely choose the
countries that they want to negotiate and cooperate with, without any intervention. These actions really confirm what many people
said that Mr. Trump is an isolationist.
g. Trump’s foreign policy direction particularly in
the context of China, Japan, and North Korea.
reported by Rauhala and Roth (2017), in context of China, Trump already noted
this country since his presidential campaign and during his administration
today as US main competitor along with Russia.
Mr. Trump uses words such as ‘rival power’ for both countries and
considered them “seek to challenge American
influence, values and wealthTrump also explicitly accusing China of the country
that ‘raping, the US. So, it is interesting to watch whether this rivalry
condition still continues or become a partner in the future.
Moreover, in context of Japan, in his
presentation Prof. Kubo explains several issues related to US-Japan relation
such the fate of TPP, the operation of Freedom of Navigation, Article 5 about
US-Japan Security Treaty and Senkaku Islands, and also about the covering cost
of US troops in Japan (75% or 100%).
Prof. Kubo also questioning whether President Trump knows about Article
6 regarding Japan’s New Security Legislation on the right to collective
self-defense and also the fact about 900,000 jobs creation that contributed by
Japanese firm’ in the US. Moreover, Prof. Kubo also describes the US-Japan
relation as an Asymmetrical Alliance regarding both countries rights and
obligations (i.e. the US obligates to defend Japan but not with Japan, and the
US has a privilege to use Okinawa as their military bases not only for
defending Japan but also for other objectives).
So, we just watch how this alliance will be
developed in the future under Trump administration, particularly regarding
North Korea issue.
Lastly, in context of North Korea,Prof. Kubo explains that President
Trump had already shown his clear position about North Korea through sanctions,
military pressure, and put North Korea again in the list of countries that
supported terrorism. Mr. Trump even
called Kim Jong Un as a “Rocket Boy” and stated that only waste of time
negotiating with him. So, we just wait and see
whether the World War III really occurs or not.
3. Concluding Remarks
Trump is a unique man, so unpredictable, full of controversy, and actually do
not have anyexperience in politics before.
As Prof. Kubo mentioned in his presentation, Trump
is the first presidential candidate from the major party, which is the
Republican Party, that do not have political or military experience since
1945. But interestingly, the Americans
voted for him because they believe he can bring the change that they need,
particularly in the economic sector.
Furthermore, in my opinion, as a successful businessman, the way he
governs US today is how he manages his company, which is not surprising due to
his background. Moreover, this kind of
businessman behavior, which is mainly more focusing in getting and maintaining
the profit for the sustainability of its company, by using any kind of
opportunities and strategies even though they are controversial, really
reflects on Trump’s administration today.
main slogan during his presidential campaign which is ‘Make America Great
Again’ and ‘America First’ really confirm America direction under Trump’s
administration for at least four years ahead.
Mr. Trump wants to confirm that he wants to reestablish the dignity of
America as one of the great nations in the world again by protecting America
from all kind of threats, especially from abroad such as illegal immigrants,
terrorism, other countries domination, particularly in the economic sector and
so on. So, no wonder many people said
Mr. Trump as an isolationist. But,
interestingly, as presented by Prof. Kubo, Trump deny himself as an
isolationist. He prefers to call himself
as a flexible person. So, that why there
is a tendency of change regarding Trump’s foreign policy from ‘America First’
to ‘Peace through Strength’.
me, the policies what Trump doing today actually has two meanings. First, on the surface, he seems real to want
to bring a security and prosperity for the Americans in all sectors of
life. But, at the same time (the second
meaning), he is likely want to secure his business empire along with his
cronies interest by using the “America First” principle as a disguise. These opinions purely based on my personal
assessment regarding Trump long experiences as a businessman, which is for me
significantly affect his way in governing America as I mentioned earlier.
a conclusion, it is interesting for us to wait and see whether President Trump
still continues his controversial actions particularly the in context of his
foreign policy, or this condition will be stopped permanently due to impeachment
on him. As we all know, North Korea and
Middle-East countries (Israel versus Palestine regarding Jerusalem) were the
hottest issues today related to Trump’s foreign policy which is significantly
undermine the image of US among other countries in the world.
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