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 examined it further, actually the
claim not entirely true. 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. Kubo shares 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. But Parlapiano 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.
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) was the 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.
(2016) argued that the other factor that makes Mr. Trump won the election was
the effect of a deserted wave of Democrat’s white voters. 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%).
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.
f. 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 wealth. Trump 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, and full of controversy, As Prof. Kubo mentioned in his
presentation, Trump is the first presidential candidate from the major party, in
this case, 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 a reflection of how he manages his
company. 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.
Trump’s main slogans which are to ‘Make America Great Again’ and ‘America
First’ really implemented in his policies.
For example, the withdrawal of US from Trans-Pacific Partnerships (TPP)
and Paris Agreement of Climate Change as mentioned by Prof. Kubo in his
presentation, reflects President Trump effort to protect the American economy
(trade and businesses) From other countries intervention. So, no wonder many people said President Trump as an isolationist. But, interestingly, as explained by Prof.
Kubo, President 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
my opinion, the policies that taken by President Trump today actually has two
meanings. First, he seems really
determined to bring a security and prosperity for the Americans in all sectors
of life. But, at the same time, probably
there are hidden economy motives such as securing 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 President Trump long experiences as a
businessman, which is for me significantly affect his way in governing America
as I mentioned earlier.
it is interesting for us to wait and see whether President Trump still
continues his controversial actions particularly in the 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 significantly
undermine the image of US among other countries in the world.
Kubo, F. (2017, December 4).
U.S politics after the 2016 presidential election. Material presented at GRIPS Forum in National
Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) Tokyo, Japan.
Parlapiano, A., Schwartz, N.D., & Yourish, K. (2017,
August 4). The markets are up, unemployment is down. How much credit should
Trump get?. The New York Times. Retrieved
December 20, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/04/business/economy/the-economy-under-president-trump.html.
Postrel, V., (2016, November 10). Trump won election because
Americans wanted change. Miami Herald. Retrieved
December 27, 2017, from http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article114030208.html.
Rauhala, E., & Roth, A. (2017, December 19). China left
wondering what ‘American First’ foreign policy actually means. The
Washington Post. Retrieved December 27,
2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/rival-china-left-wondering-what-america-first-foreign-policy-actually-means/2017/12/19/ad76bc8a-e43a-11e7-927a-e72eac1e73b6_story.html?utm_term=.160f3804d61d.
US election 2016: Trump victory in maps (2016, December 1)?.
BBC. Retrieved December 27, 2017,
Zurcher, A., (2016, November 9). US election 2016 results:
five reasons Donald Trump won. BBC. Retrieved
December 27, 2017, from http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37918303l.