Donald Trump has stunned America and the world, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States.
The Republican mogul defeated his Democratic rival, plunging global markets into turmoil and casting the long-standing global political order, which hinges on Washington’s leadership, into doubt.
“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division,” Trump told a crowd of jubilant supporters in the early hours of Wednesday in New York.
PRESIDENT FOR ALL
“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.”
During a bitter two-year campaign that tugged at America’s democratic fabric, the bombastic tycoon pledged to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims from the country and tear up free trade deals.
The 45th president of the United States Donald Trump surrounded by his family at a past campaign event. PHOTO | JOHN GURZINSKI | AFP
His message appears to have been embraced by much of America’s white majority, disgruntled by the breath and scope of social change and economic change in the last eight years under their first black president, Barack Obama.
Trump openly courted Russian leader Vladimir Putin, called US support for NATO allies in Europe into question and suggested that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons.
The businessman turned TV star turned-politico — who has never before held elected office — will become commander-in-chief of the world’s sole true superpower on January 20.
Supporters of US President-Elect Donald Trump reacts to early results during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 8, 2016. PHOTO | MANDEL NGAN | AFP
The results prompted a global market sell-off, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe and billions being wiped off the value of investments.
Although he has no government experience and in recent years has spent as much time running beauty pageants and starring in reality television as he had building his property empire, Trump at 70 will be the oldest man to ever become president.
Yet, during his improbable rise, Trump has constantly proved the pundits and received political wisdom wrong.
Opposed by the entire senior hierarchy of his own Republican Party, he trounced more than a dozen better-funded and more experienced rivals in the party primary.
Supporters of US President-Elect Donald Trump hold up a pro-Trump banner as they follow the development of the US election at the University of Sydney in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on November 9, 2016. PHOTO | DEAN LEWINS | EPA
During the race, he was forced to ride out allegations of sexual assault and was embarrassed but apparently not shamed to have been caught on tape boasting about groping women.
And, unique in modern US political history, he refused to release his tax returns.
But the biggest upset came on Tuesday, as he swept to victory through a series of hard-fought wins in battleground states from Florida to Ohio.
Clinton had been widely assumed to be on course to enter the history books as the first woman to become president in America’s 240-year existence.
Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton react on election night at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York on November 8, 2016. PHOTO | KENA BETANCUR | AFP
Americans have repudiated her call for unity amid the United States’ wide cultural and racial diversity, opting instead for a leader who insisted the country is broken and that “I alone can fix it.”
If early results hold out, Trump’s party will have full control of Congress and he will be able to appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice to a vacant seat on the bench, deciding the balance of the body.
So great was the shock that Clinton did not come out to her supporters’ poll-watching party to concede defeat, but instead called Trump and sent her campaign chairman to insist in vain the result was too close to call.
Bank notes of Mexican pesos and US dollars are pictured in Mexico City on November 8, 2016. The dollar tumbled against the yen and euro while the Mexican peso fell off a cliff as polling results in the knife-edge US presidential race pointed to a strong showing by Donald Trump. PHOTO | YURI CORTEZ | AFP
“I want every person in this hall to know, and I want every person across the country who supported Hillary to know that your voices and your enthusiasm mean so much to her and to him and to all of us. We are so proud of you. And we are so proud of her,” chairman John Podesta told shell-shocked supporters.
“She’s done an amazing job, and she is not done yet,” he insisted.
The election result was also a brutal humiliation for the White House incumbent, Obama, who for eight years has repeated the credo that there is no black or white America, only the United States of America.
A supporter of Hillary Clinton reacts as she watches live coverage of the US elections at an event organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong on November 9, 2016. PHOTO | ANTHONY WALLACE | AFP.
On the eve of the election, he told tens of thousands of people in Philadelphia that he was betting on the decency of the American people.
“I’m betting that tomorrow, most moms and dads across America won’t cast their vote for someone who denigrates their daughters,” Obama said.
“I’m betting that tomorrow, true conservatives won’t cast their vote for somebody with no regard for the Constitution,” he added.
Businessmen talk before an electronic quotation board flashing the Nikkei key index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on the offices of a securities company in Tokyo on November 9, 2016. Tokyo stocks nose-dived as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump clinched victory in the knife-edge race for the White House. PHOTO | TORU YAMANAKA | AFP
His bet appears to have been flat out wrong, and America’s first black president will be succeeded by a candidate who received the endorsement — albeit unsought and unacknowledged — of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.
Donald Trump supporters hold a sign near the #55 Trump-Pence Toyota, driven by Reed Sorenson, prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 6, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. PHOTO| ROBERT LABERGE/GETTY IMAGES | AFP.
Trump’s shock victory is just the latest evidence that globalization has eroded faith in liberal political leadership.
From Britain’s vote to leave the European Union to the rise of far right populists and nationalists in continental Europe, opposition to open trade and social and racial tensions are on the rise.