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President must work to banish toxic forces

Published 14/11/2016

Hillary Clinton cut a tragic figure as she sought to absorb the deeply personal nature of her defeat, wondering what went so badly wrong for her.

Donald Trump tended to do all the wrong things for the wrong reasons and seemed to be no match for the more measured and astute political skills of Mrs Clinton, who had to negotiate her way through the political maze while carrying considerable baggage.

Sadly, her cause was weakened by the impression that her followers were more in line than in love with her.

Mr Trump systematically played on the primitive fears of the electorate; principal among these the fear of the threatening stranger - in his case, Mexicans and Muslims - whom he persistently, negatively stereotyped. It seemed he had radically overplayed his hand.

To the surprise of all, Mr Trump's lethal combination of ego and arrogance appeared to generate the formula for electoral success.

His random use of hyperbole, resulting in painting Mrs Clinton as some kind of unhinged criminal, orchestrated the raucous cry from his followers: "Lock her up."

Mr Trump's toxic formula unsettled the political establishment in a way that will take some time to heal. One hopes that some of his more eccentric promises were also 'just locker room talk'. Memories of his 'roving hand' came close to triggering Mr Trump's undoing.

The thought of a Trump presidency became increasingly hard to swallow. But, despite all this, his apocalyptic vision of the state of American life matched the experience of many marginalised citizens.

America and the world has woken up to a new dispensation. We can only pray that the toxic forces unleashed by Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton will be used to forge a more compassionate world and not become amplified by recrimination and bitterness.

PHILIP O'NEILL

By email

Belfast Telegraph

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