1. IntroductionIngeneral, the presentation by Prof. Fumiaki Kubo from The University of Tokyo highlightsseven main topics:1) Current situation of U.S economy under Trump’sadministration, emphasizing on of unemployment rate, stock market condition,and growth rate;2) US citizen opinionsregarding Trump’s administration;3) Thecharacteristics of US 2016’s elections;4)Reasons why Trumps won2016’s elections which comprise issues such as why wasTrump so popular? And the plight of working class people factor (explainsthrough case study in Scioto county, Ohio);5) US 2016’selections voters composition and distribution; 6) Trump’sachievements so far (accomplished vs failed);7)Trump’s foreign policy direction particularly in context of China, Japan andNorth Korea.
Thispaper attempts to discuss some important points regarding US Politics after the2016 presidential election based on Prof. Kubo presentation and other relevantsources, by also adding author personal opinions. 2.
DiscussionBasedon seven main topics above, I will emphasized my discussion on some importantpoints as follows :a. US economy situation under Trump’s administration.1) UnemploymentrateIncontext of unemployment rate, Prof. Kubo in his presentation cites a graph fromUnited States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statisticsabout U.S employmentrate condition from January 2009 to October 2017.
The graph shows a declining trend ofunemployment rate in US since October 2009 (under Obama’s administration), from10.0% (post financial crisis peak) to 4.1% per October 2017 (one year afterTrump’s inauguration).
Thatpercentage claimed by Mr. Trump as his great achievement as he stated in histwitter as the lowest unemployment rate since 17 years. But, if we looked at it further, actuallythat claim not all truly right. Parlapiano et al (2017) informed thatthe drop of unemployment rate actually has occurred during Obama’sadministration. When Obama ended his termof office in January 2016, the unemployment rate was already at 4.
8percent. If Trump want to show his own realachievement, he should able to break President Clinton accomplishment when he wasable to achieve the unemployment rate at 3.9 percent in the end of his tenurein December 2000.2) Stock market conditionFromstock market condition side, Prof. Kuboshares data from Trading Economics.comthat show a significant increasing trend on Dow Jones Industrial Average from18,332.
74 point on November 8, 2016-when Trump was inaugurated-to 24,272.35 pointon November 30, 2017 (one year after the inauguration). In this context, President Trump claimed it as the highest stock marketrecord ever.I think in this point he was right.
But Parlapiano et al (2017) argue, this record exist more because themarket, particularly investors is waiting and hoping for the realimplementation of Mr. Trump’s promises during his presidential campaign whichinvolve infrastructure expenditure, deregulation, and action on tax policy.3) Growth rateIncontext growth rate, Prof. Kubo shares data of US quarterly growth rate from2000 to 2017 from Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) that show a relatively fluctuatedgrowth rate since Trump’s administration from around 1% to 3%. If we compared it with Obama’ administrationin the second quarter of his last presidential period, there is still nosignificant increment since then.
But,President Trump think it differently. Asreported by Parlapiano et al(2017), based on report by Commerce Department on July 28, 2017, which informedthat the annual economy rate in second quarter was increase to 2.6percent, President Trump claims it as”an unbelieve number”. Even though, basedon previous experiences, this number is actually not really special. Accordingto Parlapiano et al (2017), since Roland Reagen became a president, the economyhas expand 2.6 percent or more in 81 of the 145 quarters.
This number include 14 times when Obama was apresident. b. US citizen opinions regarding Trump’s administration.Inhis presentation, Prof. Kubo also shares data based on Real Clear Politics(RCP) Poll Average, released on December 1, 2017 regardingthe direction ofcountry about “Does US heading in wrong direction?”The data show the majorityof respondents said that US is heading in wrong direction (around 60%).
Based on polling conducted on three differenttimes (November 8, 2016; March 17, 2017; and October 26, 2017), the percentageof respondents that stated US is in the wrong track was 61.9%, 52,7%, and 58,7%respectively. Meanwhile, the percentage ofthe opposite respondents (said US in the right direction) was 31.2%, 38.
8%, and32.7 respectively. Furthermore, another polling by The Associated Press-NORC Center forPublic Affairs Research asI cited from www.cnbc.com (October 7,2017), produces a result that only 24 % of Americans agree US is heading in the righttrack. This percentage was dropping10-point since June 2017 due to President Trump response on some sensitiveissues such as full of grievances regarding hurricane aid, Trump’s seek anexcuse about white supremacists, and threat of war with North Korea. Other interestingfacts that reported by www.
cnbc.com (October 7,2017) were the percentage of Republicans that optimistic about the countrydirection (heading to the right direction), which are 60 % in June 2017 declined significantlymerely 44 % in October 2017. Moreover,there was more than 60 % Americans that disapprove about how Trump managing theforeign policy, immigration, and race relations, among other issues.d. Reasons why Trump won the US 2016’s electionInhis presentation Prof. Kubo mentioned several reasons why Donald Trump becameso popular in context of US 2016’s election such as the economic issue, hispersonal charm and future policy (anti-illegal immigrants, anti-free trade, andanti-internationalism), and strong desires for change within the Americans. Furthermore, Prof.
Kubo explains, in context of strong desires for change, thissituation triggers by three main factors which are the dissatisfactory aboutstatus quo, tired of democratic party rule for eight years, and the difficultcondition of white working class people. Similarwith Prof. Kubo explanations, McKernan (2016) also reported that based on exitpoll data, from total of 70 % white voters, 58% of them voted for Republicanparty or Trump. Meanwhile, Zurcher(2016) informed that there was a deserted wave of Democrat’s white voters whovoted for Trump.
Those voters categorized as working-class white people-men andwomen- without college education. Healso stated there was a high numbers of rural voters turned out that affectTrump’s victory. But, from all thereasons explained above, for me, hunger of change is the main reason why theAmericans voted for Trump.
As reportedby Postrel (2016) based on AmyWalter of Cook Political Report observation, When voters asked about what isthe most important quality in a candidate, 39 percent of the said candidatethat can bring change, which Mr. Trump embraced 83 percent of those voters.e. US 2016’s elections voters composition anddistributionBased on data presented by Prof. Kuboand data that I cited from www.bbc.
com (December 1,2016), in general, Mr. Trump won 47% of the vote compared to Ms. Clinton with48% vote. In other words, thispercentage can be translated that the Republicans won 306 electoral collegevotes 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 29electoral votes), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), Michigan (16),North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), andNevada (6). Furthermore, based on source from EdisonResearch 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 total70% white voters (only 37% voted for Ms.
Clinton). Meanwhile, Hillary Clintonmostly voted by Hispanic people (65%; Trump only 29%), Black people (88%; Trump8%), and Asian people (65%, Trump 29%). Another interesting fact, Mr Trump was popularamong non-college-educated white men (seven out of 10 votes) andnon-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 forTrump. From 250 counties with most old men, 241 voted for Trump.
Meanwhile, From 250 counties with most blackpeople, 144 voted for Clinton. Based fromall the facts above, many people think the US 2016’s election is about battlebetween race, education level, and age within US citizens. But the fact saidthe opposite way, particularly for race issue, because many Trump’s votersactually had also voted for Obama in the previous election (Postrel,2016). Moreover, Postrel (2016) alsoreported that the reasons why the Americans voted for Trump was because he is from outside the system and they wanta change, similar with when they voted for Obama in 2008. So, once again desires of change was the mainreason why the American voted from Trump.f. Trump’s administration achievements so farInhis presentation, Prof.
Kubo also mentioned about President Trump achievementsso far, which ones that already accomplished and which ones that failed. For example, in accomplished achievement categoryhe mentioned about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as the Associate Justice inthe 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 inimplementing the immigration ban and in repealing the Obama Care program.Incontext 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 overregulation. These factors are importantfor Mr.
Trump to help and smooth his agenda of strengthening conservativemajority in court for long period and to reduce government regulationsparticularly in businesses (Abramson, 2017; Jackson, 2017). Moreover,in context of US withdrawing from TPP and Paris Agreement of Climate Change, inmy opinion is basically only about saving the existence of American economy - tradeand businesses -, if refers to Trump’s slogans during his campaign which are’America First’ and ‘Make America Great Again’. Trump believes US should control their own economy to achieve prosperityfor its citizens by freely choose the countries that they want to negotiate andcooperate with, without any intervention. These actions really confirm what many people said that Mr. Trump is aisolationist. Lastly,talk about the failure of Trump policy on banning the immigrants by building awall across the Mexican border, for me is a very ridiculous decision andquestionable regarding its effectiveness.
Building a wall that will causedenormous amount of money- estimate around $ 25 Billion (Sampathkumar, 2017) -andforced Mexican Government to support it is really does not make any sense forme.g. Trump’s foreign policy direction particularly incontext of China, Japan and North Korea.Asreported by Rauhala and Roth (2017), in context of China, Trump already noted thiscountry since his presidential campaign and during his administration today asUS main competitor along with Rusia.
Mr.Trump use words such as “rival power” for both countries and considered them “seek to challenge American influence, values andwealth.”.
Trump also explicitly accusingChina as the country that “raping” the US. So, it is interesting to watchwhether this rivalry condition still continues or become a partnership in thefuture.Moreover, in context of Japan, n hispresentation Prof. Kubo explains several issues related to US-Japan relationsuch the fate of TPP, the operation of Freedom of Navigation, Article 5 aboutUS-Japan Security Treaty and Senkaku Islands, and also about the covering costof US troops in Japan (75% or 100%). Prof.Kubo also questioning whether President Trump know about Article 6 regardingJapan’s New Security Legislation on the right to collective self-defense andalso the fact about 900,000 jobs creation that contributed by Japanese firm’ inUS. Moreover, Prof. Kubo also describes the US-Japan relation as a AsymmetricalAlliance regarding both countries rights and obligations ( i.
e. US obligates todefend Japan but not with Japan, and US has a privilege to use Okinawa as theirmilitary bases not only for defend Japan but also for other objectives). So, we just watchhow 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 aboutNorth Korea through sanctions, military pressure, and put North Korea again inthe list of countries that supporting 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 reallyoccurs or not.
3. Concluding RemarksInmy opinion, Mr. Trump is a very unique man, so unpredictable, full of controversy,and actually do not have an experience in politics before. As Prof. Kubo mentioned in his presentation,Trump is the first president candidate from major party, which is theRepublican party, that do not have political or military experience since1945. But interestingly, the Americansvoted for him because they believe he can bring the change that they need,particularly in economic sector. For me,Trump is the best president candidate among the worst that US citizens canget.
Furthermore, in my opinion, as asuccessful businessman, the way he governs US today is like how he manages hiscompany, which is not surprising due to his background. Moreover, this kind of businessman behavior, whichis mainly more focusing in getting and maintaining the profit for thesustainability of its company, by using any kind of opportunities and strategieseven though they are controversial, really reflects on Trump’s administrationtoday.Trump’smain slogan during his presidential campaign which are “Make America GreatAgain” and “America First” really confirm America direction under Trump’sadministration for at least four years ahead. Mr. Trump want to confirm that he want to reestablished the dignity ofAmerica as one of the great nations in the world again by protecting Americafrom all kind of threats, especially from abroad such as illegal immigrants,terrorism, other countries domination, particularly in economic sector and soon. So, no wonder many people said MrTrump as an isolationist.
But,interestingly, as presented by Prof. Kubo, Trump deny himself as anisolationist. He prefers to call himselfas a flexible person. So, that why thereis a tendency of change regarding Trump’s foreign policy from “America First”to “Peace through Strength”.
Forme, the policy what Trump doing today actually has two meanings. First, in surface, he is really want to bringa security and prosperity for the Americans in all sectors of life. But, at the same time (the second meaning),he is actually want to secure his business empire along with his croniesinterest by using the “America First” principle as a disguise. These opinions purely based on my personalassessment regarding Trump long experiences as a business man, which is for mesignificantly affect his way in governing America as I mentioned earlier.Asa conclusion, it is interesting for us to wait and see whether President Trumpstill continues his controversial actions particularly in context of hisforeign policy, or this condition will be stop permanently due to impeachmenton him bythe US Parliament. As we allknow, North Korea and Middle-East countries (Israel versus Palestine regardingYerusalem) were the most hot issue today related to Trump’s foreign policy whichis significantly undermine the image of US among other countries in the world.
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