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11 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Activists say they are weighing up their next moves, as hundreds of people take to the streets again following election of Donald Trump

Thousands take to the streets of American cities for a second time to demonstrate against the President-elect, Donald Trump. Protests in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Dallas, Portland, Oakland, Baltimore and Atlanta expressed their anger with the result of the 2016 presidential election. In Portland police used teargas against protesters

Tens of thousands of Americans are planning further protests and acts of dissent against the election of Donald Trump, after a second night of action in cities across the US that followed a wave of demonstrations on Wednesday in which dozens were arrested.

Hundreds took to the streets on Thursday in Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Oakland, and dozens more US cities, as well as Vancouver, Canada. The protests – smaller and more muted than Wednesday’s actions – were for the most part peaceful and orderly, though there were scattered acts of civil disobedience and damage to property.

The rowdiest scenes were in Portland, where about 4,000 people marched into the city centre late on Thursday. At least 29 people were arrested after a minority of protesters threw objects at officers, smashed shop windows and damaged a car dealership, the Portland police department said, declaring the demonstration a riot. Officers used pepper spray and rubber projectiles to disperse the crowd, the department added.

In Minneapolis, dozens of people marched on to Interstate 94, blocking traffic in both directions for at least an hour as police stood by. A smaller band of demonstrators briefly halted traffic on a busy Los Angeles highway before police cleared them off.

Baltimore police reported that about 600 people marched through the Inner Harbor area, with some blocking roadways by sitting in the street. Two people were arrested, police said. One of the largest demonstrations was in Denver, where a crowd estimated to number about 3,000 gathered on the grounds of the Colorado state capitol and marched through the city centre:

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Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin will be celebrating Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton, but it’s not such good news for Mexico, Iran, Japan and Europe

Japanese newspapers report the victory of Donald Trump. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is a big loser from the election result.

Japanese newspapers report the victory of Donald Trump. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is a big loser from the election result. Photograph: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump triumphed, but so did Bashar al-Assad. Like other leaders around the world, Syria’s isolated president most likely spent the day after assessing the impact on him of the Republican’s unexpected victory. The dreadful Assad, soaked in blood after five years of civil war, is probably one of the big winners. But there are plenty of big losers, too.

As a candidate, Trump suggested that, unlike Barack Obama, he could do business with Putin and might, for example, accept Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

Trump failed to condemn alleged Russian online hacking of the Democratic party and covert meddling in the election process.

He has rattled Nato allies in eastern Europe by stating that, as commander-in-chief, he would not necessarily rush to their military assistance if threatened by Russia.

In Syria and Iraq, Trump says his top priority is defeating Isis, not toppling the regime in Damascus – hence Assad’s big sigh of relief. He has declined to condemn Russia’s leading role in the merciless bombardment of eastern Aleppo and its actions on other Syrian battlefronts, which the UN says may constitute war crimes. It is widely believed Russia is gearing up for a final battle to take Aleppo for its ally, Assad, while the American transition is under way.

Perversely, despite his focus on Isis, little or nothing has been heard from Trump about Moscow’s targeting of Syrian opposition factions rather than the jihadis.

Like the people of Syria, the citizens of Afghanistan are losers, too. For them Trump represents a new twist in an old nightmare. He sees continued US military involvement there as contrary to American interests and could simply pull out, leaving the country to the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Xi Jinping, China’s president, is probably feeling quite good. Xi is a strong, authoritarian, quasi-dictatorial figure – the sort of leader, like Putin, that Trump appears to admire.

One can imagine the two men hitting it off on a personal level, although Xi is the more subtle of the two. He will worry about Trump’s unpredictable temperament and his talk of trade tariffs on China.

Xi will relish Trump’s criticism of Obama’s so-called pivot to Asia, which he sees as a bid to contain China. If Trump pivots away from the region, that will suit Beijing just fine, especially if it means it can accelerate its illegal expansionism in the South China Sea and ratchet up the pressure on Taiwan.

A big Asian loser, on the face of it, is Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, who has bet the farm on closer military ties with the US. Trump says Japan and South Korea must do more to defend themselves, including possibly acquiring nuclear weapons to deter North Korea. His threats to nuke North Korea if provoked could, if realised, make losers of us all.

In contrast, a big, undeserving winner is Rodrigo Duterte, the new Philippines president, who famously called Obama a “son of a whore” and declared he was cutting military cooperation. Duterte, notorious for the drug-busting death squads he has unleashed, welcomed Trump’s victory on Wednesday – a reaction that will likely be shared by human rights abusers from Belarus to Burma.

In Iran, Hassan Rouhani is in an even bigger bind, now that Trump is heading for the White House. His nuclear deal last year with Obama is under constant fire from conservatives, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In this respect, Trump has much in common with the mullahs. He called the pact “the worst ever deal in history” and vowed to scrap it.

Trump’s evident ignorance of and lack of interest in large parts of the world mean, for example, the pressure may be off leaders like Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president, who stands accused of genocide and war crimes in Darfur, and the repressive regime in Saudi Arabia, responsible for documented atrocities in Yemen.

Trump does not support the international criminal court or the UN system in general. Antonio Guterres, the incoming UN secretary-general, may struggle to keep a Trump administration engaged.

Mexico – as yet not walled off – looked like another big loser, as the peso went through the floor; President Enrique Peña Nieto is widely loathed by his electorate for failing to challenge Trump during his surprise visit to the country in September – but in private he may be congratulating himself for getting on the right side of his new neighbour.

The lukewarm reaction to Trump’s success in many European capitals reflects a deep ideological as well as a political antipathy. German ministers, normally extremely cautious in public statements, went so far as to imply it was a thoroughly bad outcome.

François Hollande, the French president, was even surlier, saying the result showed the need for Europe looking after itself.

For the EU, already battered by Brexit, Trump is bad news. His hostility to free trade means the proposed TTIP agreement is dead if not yet buried. His belief that Europe must do more to maintain its own security challenges the EU to put its money where it mouth is in developing a Euro army and other independent capabilities.

This could hardly come at a worse time for the stripped eurozone countries.

The positive reaction of rightwing populist and nationalist parties across Europe, including France’s National Front, indicates that they feel his anti-establishment insurgency may facilitate theirs, as close elections loom in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

For Britain’s government, however, Trump could provide a much-needed boost. Trump applauded the narrow British vote to leave the EU and hosted its best-known advocate, Nigel Farage, on the campaign trial. He disowned Obama’s threat to penalise Britain’s trade with the US. Trump is bad news for Nicola Sturgeon, the pro-independence, pro-EU Scottish leader.

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US politics >>

Election 2016 >>

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Nuclear weapons The hotspots that could test Trump’s trigger finger

Live Trump fears hit emerging markets

Trump factor 10 countries and regions feeling the heat

Goodbye Obama, hello Trump How will the presidential handover work?

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Opinion

As a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, I have seen the way our communities have been terrorised. It may get worse – but we refuse to be silenced

Black Lives Matter demonstrators protest the killing of Joshua Beal by an off duty Chicago police officer.

‘Under Donald Trump, black lives will become even more vulnerable to state violence.’ Black Lives Matter demonstrators protest the killing of Joshua Beal by an off duty Chicago police officer. Photograph: E. Jason Wambsgans/AP

We must believe that he did. And, for now, it appears that his form of white nationalism has won too. That is terrifying but also liberating.

Black people have been calling for an end to terror in our communities. Trump was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), one of the largest police unions in the country, with a history of defending violence and racism. It’s the FOP that has largely been unwilling to reprimand officers who’ve killed black people. Under Trump, black lives will become even more vulnerable to state violence.

Other voices joining us in calling for freedom include the Native American community, Latinos, Muslims, the LGBT community and white women who challenge misogyny.

White people who voted for Trump decided to invest in a president who underwrites white supremacy in the guise of populism.

The horrifying murders of unarmed black people, the xenophobic atmosphere immigrant communities live in, and the continuing violence Native Americans have endured all contrast harshly with white people who organised their communities in order to promote racism, xenophobia, and sexism. They voted for a more dangerous United States.

My first reaction to Trump being elected was a visceral one. I cried for black people in general, but more particularly for those of us at the margins who have been struggling and who have never received enough support. Those who have never had a social safety net. Those whose existence strikes fear into the hearts of working-class whites, who picked a narcissistic billionaire to fight their battles.

White people who voted for Trump invested in a president who underwrites white supremacy in the guise of populism

What tools do we need to shift the balance of power in our country back towards justice? How can we build networks and solidarities?

One way is to listen and feel our fear, sadness and righteous anger. A racist and misogynist should not be a president in 21st-century America. It’s time to start building real political power. Let’s call in those who may have sat this election out because corporatism and racism are huge turnoffs. I know there are good people out there. Let the sleeping giant awake.

Over the last eight years, since Barack Obama was elected, the right has developed new ways to repackage racism and authoritarianism. The Tea Party set the tone for what we are now seeing in Trump. At first this agenda seemed so ludicrous we perhaps did not see its viability for white people scared of globalisation.

We must ensure our children can live in a country that values all human life. Black Lives Matter is about the sanctity of human life when scared and fearful people forget that life is sacred.

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Opinion

The current electoral college system means that a president can be elected by a minority of voters. That’s got to change

Electoral map

‘Presidential candidates to focus 94% of their general-election campaign events in 12 closely divided “battleground” states – with the remaining states receiving little or no attention.’ Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

The state-based winner-take-all system no longer serves the citizens of the country and we must act to reform it now.

The fact that it appears the winner of the 2016 election, Donald Trump, was not supported by a majority of voters dictates that we elect our next president by popular vote. We can no longer endure presidential elections that primarily focus on the issues and outcomes in a shrinking number of battleground states, while the rest of us feel marginalized and muted in the political process.

The reason five of our nation’s 45 incoming presidents have entered office after losing the national popular vote is that most states have winner-take-all laws that award all the state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in that state.

Given that the average national popular vote has been close in the last eight presidential elections (an average margin of less than 5%), it is likely that the nation will continue to experience elections in which the preside

These same state winner-take-all laws force presidential candidates to focus 94% of their general-election campaign events in 12 closely divided “battleground” states – with the remaining states receiving little or no attention. In 2012, they concentrated all of their campaign events in 12 states. As presidential candidate and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker publicly observed a year ago: “The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president. Twelve states are.”

When presidential candidates devote virtually all of their attention to 12 states (representing just 30% of the nation’s voters), it is not just about TV advertising and rallies. It has a real impact on public policy. Battleground states receive 7% more presidentially controlled grants, twice as many disaster declarations, considerably more Superfund and No Child Left Behind exemptions, and benefit from many other major presidential policy decisions. For example, in 2016, both party’s nominees catered to Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania on the issue of trade treaties.

Former presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said, “If people don’t like it, they can move from a safe state to a swing state.”

Fortunately, the Founding Fathers provided us with a better way to improve the system than mass migration. Article II, section I of the US constitution empowers state legislatures to change their method of awarding electoral votes. National Popular Vote asks the legislatures if they want to join together as states to make every vote matter throughout the country.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This interstate compact will go into effect after it is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes – that is, enough to elect a president (270 of 538). Under this system, the compacting states award all of their electoral votes (in block) to the candidate who received the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia). This guarantees the presidency to the national popular vote winner and makes every voter, in every state, politically relevant in every presidential election.

Eleven states possessing 165 electoral votes have already enacted the National Popular Vote bill into law. In addition, the bill has made significant progress by passing one legislative chamber in 12 additional states with 96 electoral votes. The bill was recently approved by a bipartisan 40-16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona house, a 28-18 vote in the Republican-controlled Oklahoma senate, a 37-21 vote in the Democratic-controlled Oregon House, and unanimously by legislative committees in Georgia and Missouri. A total of 2,794 state legislators have endorsed it.

The National Popular Vote bill offers the additional benefit of preventing a presidential election from being thrown into the US House of Representatives.

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