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Lessons from getting trumped

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On Thursday and Friday last week, The Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets in the United States were awash with reports that protests broke out across the United States when news spread that Donald Trump, the openly racist, misogynist and divisive candidate had won the American elections.

There were many of us who were rooting for Hillary Clinton, thinking there is no chance that United States of America President-elect Trump could win the recently ended elections in the country. November 9th was an interesting day worldwide as the world anxiously followed the American elections and anticipated the new leader of the free world.

And so most people did not expect billionaire Trump to win, some expected a tight race but what was a real shocker was his steady lead throughout the elections. The twists and turns of the US elections were the greatest reality show ever witnessed in recent years. And it came with lessons that all of us can resonate with as a people and as a country.

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Media and public opinion can be deceiving

Popular opinion had it that the ‘racist bigoted pervert’ that is Trump could not make it to the presidency. But guess what?

He is now the president of what is considered the most powerful nation on earth.

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The media played a huge role in propagating this popular opinion. Media had it that no one was interested in ‘a president such as Donald Trump’. And some Americans and the rest of the world bought this rhetoric.

The elections have given a clear picture that the media can be deceived or it can deceive, albeit inadvertently. Were the statistics valid? Was the reportage based on verified facts or speculation? Were all manner and type of sources consulted or only the selected few that carried a collective acceptable opinion?

We are greatly influenced by the media, especially in the technological era. The media is considered the fourth estate and plays a major role in development as well as agenda-setting in the world. Most of the opinions strongly formed about our leaders and the state of affairs in our countries are shaped by the media.

But considering recent events, it is clear that the media, just as the human race, is greatly and painfully fallible. This means everything should be taken with a pinch of salt and the media should be careful not to abuse its agenda setting prerogative and distort reality.

Society can be suffocating

… And even America is desperate for change

The voting in of Trump is being considered a protest against the establishment. The Clintons have been political elites in the country for decades along with establishments in the social system that has suffocated many an American. Trump has come in and given the suppressed and suffocated a voice that makes them feel liberated to break free from the chains of the establishment. Whether Trump is the right person to lead or not pales in comparison to a force of people on a quest to break free from a society they can no longer relate with. They are no longer content with the ‘comfort zone’.

Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau puts it this way in the social contract theory; man is born free but everywhere he is in chains – asserting that “modern states repress the physical freedom that is our birthright, and do nothing to secure the civil freedom for the sake of which we enter into civil society. Legitimate political authority,” he suggests, “comes only from a social contract agreed upon by all citizens for their mutual preservation.” The feeling of repression has prompted people to want to radically break free and express themselves. Trump resonated with many an ordinary American in this respect, hence the election result.

And just as many other countries including our own, the world superpower is tired of the same faces. Hillary Clinton has had a long political career. A lawyer and politician, she served as a US senator between 2001 and 2009 and as secretary of state between 2009 and 2013. Her general political life dates as far back as 1964.

Americans looked at her like a representation of business as usual. Despite the shock worldwide and in America itself, America voted. Despite the media still reporting a negative rhetoric on Trump, America voted. I cannot help but admire the bold radical protest illustrated by the Americans who shocked everybody with their choice. A blatant refusal to conform. A definition of business unusual.

This resonates well with many a Malawian who claims to be tired of the same old systems and people. But what do we do about it? Who are we going to vote for in 2019? What radical changes are we making in our country and lives? I hope we learnt our lessons.

I rest my case.

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