‘Trump’s victory is extremely disappointing, but not entirely surprising’
Emma Onua is US-based Nigerian Research Scientist with an academic and professional background in Pharmacology and Toxicology. He was the founding president of Anambra State Association of Chicago as well as the founding president of Igbo Associations of Chicago, made up of 21 Igbo associations in Chicago and environs. In this online interview with SAMSON EZEA, he bares his mind on Donald Trump Presidency
What is your view on Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election?
The election of Trump to preside over the affairs of the United States, and essentially the rest of the free world was extremely disappointing, but not entirely surprising. The seeds for his victory were planted a very long time ago. If you stop to think about it, how long ago were women allowed to vote in the United States? How long ago were Blacks and coloured folks allowed to vote?
Most people are very disappointed, because a documented and demonstrated racist, bigot and misogynist has been elected into the highest and most coveted office in the world. He lied, obfuscated and wangled his way into the presidency by playing on racial fears, by building imaginary walls to keep out Mexicans, by promising to undo laws that he knows he cannot and will not undo, and generally by telling his audience whatever they wanted to hear, no matter how unreasonable those promises sounded.
What made his victory possible?
As stated earlier, Trump found the weakest link in the American society, and he exploited it to his advantage. We must be reminded that the American society is changing at a very rapid pace. In a period of two generations, immigrants have risen to the highest levels of education and entrepreneurship. Indeed it has been calculated that in less than 30 years, white Americans of pure European stock will be a minority of the population, overtaken by people of mixed race, Hispanics and people of Indian and African descent. And that is scary to white Americans.
When Trump emerged with a message of kicking out everybody from America, including Muslims, Mexicans, Nigerians etc, he found a ready audience who believed in his message, however flawed and unlikely they may sound. He was propelled by stoking the feelings of fear, anxiety, unease and general anti-immigrant sentiments among many Americans.
It was also in his favour that Mrs Clinton had so much political damage done by several self-inflicted wounds. Ever since she was the First Lady of the United States, it was fairly obvious to her associates and political watchers that she was ambitious beyond just being a First Lady. We all remember how she wanted to put her stamp on the first attempt at Health Care Reforms in America. Of course she went ahead to run and win a seat as a senator representing the state of New York, and eventually ran against Barack Obama in 2007/2008.
With her ambitions clear to everybody, a reasonable person would’ve ensured that there were no “skeletons in her closet” as she was obviously preparing for another run in 2015/2016. Obviously, Mrs Clinton had not just skeletons, but an entire graveyard of bodies in her closet. She just made it easier for the hate-filled Trump to win.
Of course, this is overly simplistic. The fact is that she did win the popular vote, but failed to win the decisive votes in the decisive states. Most analysts agree that her “baggage” were sufficient to limit her ability to appeal to the youth, blacks, Hispanics and suburban women.
Considering Trump’s pre-election statements about Nigeria, Nigerian immigrants and others, are you scared of his post-election era?
I am not really sure that Trump ever said what he was rumoured to have said about Nigerians. I never heard the sound-bite played on TV or a video. All we saw was a posting on Facebook, so I would not take that on face value. In any case, it is very difficult for a US president to act unilaterally on matters of deportation. There are laws and rules in place, and he may play around the edges of the law, but he cannot make up his own rules unless Congress plays deaf, dumb and blind.
Another consideration to bear in mind is that law-abiding citizens and permanent residents cannot be arbitrarily removed from the US. So Trump faces enormous challenges if he ever attempted to remove law-abiding Nigerians. Illegals and law-breakers are of course a different constituency altogether.
Are you considering returning to Nigeria soon because of this development?
Not yet. I’ve invested the most productive years of my life building a career in the USA. I have been a lecturer in Nigeria and the US. I have been a Research Scientist at the highest levels in the US. I will return to Nigeria when I am ready and good, and not because America elected a bigot.
With the US system, don’t you think it would be easy for Trump to have his way?
While I have some faith in law enforcement agencies in the USA, it is already obvious that the election of Trump has given impetus to white supremacists to harass and intimidate people of other races. We just hope and pray that the Judiciary would ensure that laws are obeyed by adjudicating fairly and expeditiously. There’s no telling what the Republican Congress will do to Trump to carry out his diabolical plans against minorities.
How do you think his policies, if implemented to the letter, will affect Nigerians and other blacks living in the US?
That is a major source of concern for all minorities and fair-minded individuals. Trump is so unpredictable that nobody really knows what he plans to do. He says one thing one day, and says the complete opposite the very next day. I guess we shall all have to wait and see what he actually does when he is sworn into office.
Who would you have preferred to win the election and why?
Bernie Sanders would’ve been the perfect candidate. Over the last 50 years, he has lived out his own personal convictions. In the 1960s when it was not fashionable, he protested the exclusion of Blacks in the University of Chicago, and black segregation generally.
He wants to see a more egalitarian society where justice and fairness rules. He believes that a fairer taxation system would help society better than the mega-rich and the dirt-poor demarcation that currently obtains in American society.
On the other hand, he lost to Mrs Clinton, who turned out to be a very bad candidate by all measures. At this point, our preferences mean very little since the tide of events cannot be reversed.
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