Hoping for America’s healing

THE whole world was watching the US election this year, and now the whole world knows who the next president will be.

Just like half of America is celebrating and the other half is commiserating; around the world, countries and peoples who were either rooting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are also responding to this watershed election.

It was an election of competing worldviews, perhaps made starker than ever because of the rancour between the candidates, each with their own baggage, and playing out in a divided society.

Anyone who pays any attention to American news will have seen the issue of alleged racist police shootings and the response of massive social unrest, later formalised under the Black Lives Matter banner. It has mirrored the violence in protests by Fees Must Fall students in South Africa, which also has a racial edge.

This was the undercurrent of society in which the US primary election campaigns were fought and continued through the race for president.

Other big issues were the starkly different Republican and Democrat responses to illegal immigration and what it would mean for the US, and their views of Islam, in light of the war against Islamic State in Syria and refugee crisis in Europe.

There were also economic factors like healthcare and jobs, and we should not forget that the president is able to appoint judges to the US Supreme Court, which wields immense power over life and death issues like abortion.

Half of America hoped for a continuation of the Obama legacy under Clinton, while the other half wanted change. I imagine there was fear on both sides of what their country would become under either choice.

It drove people to vote in larger numbers than have been seen in American elections in decades.

Though Trump won the US electoral college votes by a clear margin, it was still a very close election, and Clinton may have surpassed him with the popular vote.

Whatever your views of the victor, that the tide can turn in eight years with a swing to another party controlling the White House, is a mark of healthy democracy.

We are perhaps still many years away from being in a position in our country where a once monolithic party like the ANC loses its supermajority and has a chance of actually losing a general election.

We hope America heals from its rage and schism, and can again be a leading light in world affairs, generous with its resources and a force for peace and stability rather than conflict and chaos.

– Jon Houzet

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