San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Op-Ed

The triumph of Donald Trump

One of the characteristics of our era is that populism belongs to no one country, region or continent – nor any one ideology, since it occurs in political parties from the right and left alike. Populism has become a universal phenomenon. It exists in Europe, in Asia, in Latin America and, starting on Nov. 8, in the United States as well.

In my opinion, the victor in that country’s presidential election represents the total negation of a serious and responsible politician who tells people what they need to know and not just want they want to hear, or who believes that the ultimate goal of politics is to educate. I think that the U.S. electorate chose the most ignorant and untruthful presidential candidate of our time. The U.S. political arena has never seen a serious White House contender this impulsive, temperamental, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and capable of using political power for harm.

The dangerous combination of Donald Trump’s personality and the strong mandate he received from the people of the United States are a threat to democracy. Donald Trump is an arrogant man who based his campaign on appeals to his people’s fear and rage. Beginning in January, he will take the reins of executive power, he will have a majority in his Congress, and his party will soon have control of the Supreme Court. This scenario is not far removed from the power that Vladimir Putin, Nicolás Maduro and Daniel Ortega hold today. All we can do now is hope that the institutions the United States has built over the past 240 years will be strong enough to prevail against any attempted abuse of power.

Fortunately for humanity, many of Trump’s proposals can never become reality. The president-elect cannot halt globalization by building physical or metaphorical walls, nor can he unilaterally shirk international commitments, as he did when he questioned the United States’ current role in NATO.

There are many reasons for Trump’s triumph, and political analysts will take charge of analyzing them. I just want to mention two today: the outrageous sexism of the U.S. population, which prevented it from voting for an extremely prepared candidate with ample experience in public life; and the racism reflected in the country’s incapacity to recognize the work of the first African-American president, a brilliant man who is admired around the world and by many in his country. If Donald Trump had been a candidate in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden or Costa Rica, I believe he would have been lucky to obtain 10% of the vote. The men and women of the country of Lincoln deserve much better.

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Ken Morris

I appreciate the willingness of Óscar Arias to use his stature as a former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner to comment on the presidential election in the US, and I largely agree with the sentiments expressed in his comments.

However, there are two areas with which I disagree.

First, I find the distinction Arias uses between populism and democracy to be dangerously open to biased applications. Those who use this distinction invariably employ it to discredit democratically elected politicians they don’t like by calling them populists, while they reserve the label democratic for politicians they do like. I don’t see the clear distinction between these two that Arias does, and in among other cases, I’m tired of Daniel Ortega being dismissed as a populist. There are problems with Ortega, including problems with his manipulation of the democratic process, but it furthers no understanding to call him a populist. Moreover, even if Mr. Arias is correct to apply this distinction to various world leaders, he is wrong in his own terms to apply it to Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. Huga Chávez may have been a populist, if we must apply that label, but Maduro certainly isn’t. For crying out loud, Maduro lacks popular support, whether populist or democratic.

Second, I find the accusations of rascism with respect to Obama and sexism with respect to Clinton sophomoric.

At the time Trump won the election with a plurality under 50 percent, Obama’s approval ratings remained above 50 percent. Indeed, Obama’s ending approval rating is among the highest of all US presidents since Eisenhower. The US has more than its share of racists, some of whom supported Trump, but Obama remains more popular than Trump. Since racism hasn’t and isn’t hurting the country’s first African-American president with the majority, it’s a stretch to credit Trump’s victory to racism.

With respect to sexism accounting for Clinton’s defeat, I doubt it. In fact, I bet an analysis of the vote returns will show that her gender actually helped her. Women, especially women in her age cohort, voted for her in record numbers, while her support among men wasn’t especially suppressed compared to other recent Democratic candidates.

The sad truth is that Clinton lost because she gave the men who carry lunch boxes to work no reason to believe that electing her would improve either their lives or the country’s fortunes. In foreign policy, she promises more of the same, yet these guys didn’t want more of the same. In domestic policy. she promised growing the economy from the middle class out. That sounded nice, but was too vague. How exactly would her policies create more jobs? She didn’t say. Would her policies cut the taxes on these guys? Not really.

Meanwhile, Clinton was huge on the symbolic victory for women of breaking the glass ceiling, and even had another faux glass ceiling she was planning to shatter during her hoped for victory celebration. But she overlooked the fact that voters aren’t so populist-ignorant that they are willing to accept symbolic victories over substantive changes. Even if Americans wanted a woman elected president, and many did, they were not keen on electing Clinton.

Bottom line is that Clinton’s loss is her own fault. Polls show that Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump handily, and Obama’s approval ratings suggest that he could have beaten Trump too. Finding a scapegoat in sexism is just a denial of the fact that Clinton was bereft of a governing vision besides gender.

I loathe Trump too, and am both embarrassed by and fearful of his election. But post-election commentary should ideally be more thoughtful and informed than dismissing him as a populist amid a hurl of generic insults.

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Rick Drigo

Many in Europe used to think as Mr Arias suggested, but things have changed – they now want a wall against Muslim terrorists and other liberal scum whom demand the right to retire from work and take what they want when they want it i nations they disrespect and defile.
The main loosers with Donald are the Globalists of which Arias is proud, these are the elite in every nation whom are true racists and narcissists whom plan to redistribute the pie (planet), after they eliminate 70% of the population. Their One World Government will have to wait, the masses are not yet ignorant enough.

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Graeme Krone

Wow, what a very uninformed article. First off, I consider myself a voluntaryist, so I do not believe in any government, no one should have a right to rule over anyone else, that being said, the election in the US was a big joke (46% of eligible voters did not vote). When you have a choice of a clown or a criminal, that is not much of a choice at all. Is that the best America has to offer? US citizens are very tired of their government being the biggest terrorist gang on the planet, bombing 7 countries as we speak for no other reason than to control other countries resources. What has Obama really accomplished that has benefited the people of America? He broke every promise he made campaigning, except the world’s worst health care law. America was founded as a Republic not a Democracy ( two wolfs and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner ). Wikileaks proved Hillary as a criminal, that is why the clown Trump won, the American people were discussed with the status quo, so they voted for an outsider out of desperation. One of these days humanity will wake up to the realization that they don’t need rulers, kings, or presidents, I hope in my lifetime.

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Fernando Gerdano

Oscar Arias is a racist, more so than Trump. He also is an idiot and has almost single handedly run CR into the ground. Let’s not even talk about how corrupt Arias is. What a a waste of print space…

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Brian Richard

Oh boo hoo oscar. I find it absolutely laughable that a former goon president of Costa Rica is railing against ” the outrageous sexism of the U.S. population, which prevented it from voting for an extremely prepared candidate with ample experience in public life; and the racism reflected in the country’s incapacity to recognize the work of the first African-American president”

Oscar, mi boy, Oscar, heres the deal. 90% of the women in your country are treated as maids, cheated on for the entirety of their lives, and commonly used as sex objects well before the age of 18 by men 2, 3 , and 4 times their age. All of which is seen as perfectly normal, after all ” carne es carne”, right oscar, isnt that what you ticos say? Further more, you proceed to completely negate your argument of racism in a single sentence. Re read what you wrote, and apply some critical thinking. They “elected” the first black president ( insinuating a lack of racism).
And this coming from a tico.
Oscar mi boy, you and your fellow white central valley ticos are some of the most racist people I have ever met. How have you treated the people of Limon? How do you treat “Nicas”, like dogs.

Further more and finally, didnt elect Donald Trump because they admire his character, accomplishments, or even like him. They elected him because they are sick of the Globalist one world government scum thinking they can dictate our elections too us via their condescending media manipulation.
Hillary Clinton is a baby butchering, gay flag waving, political class psychopath. Your so far removed from whats going on here, your perspective is comical at best.

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Jame Krab

We live within 10 miles of the border of Mexico, and the systematic de-funding of the Border Patrol has led rise to paramilitary groups on both sides of the border. The here violence is random and can erupt at any time. On the Mexican side, the border towns are war zones. A change of leadership was necessary to start the process of stabilizing this region.

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Rick Drigo

It is totally out of character with the cry-baby demoncrats to not demand a RECOUNT, especially since they believed they had won the popular vote. The only reason they did not do so is because they would risk exposue of the massive voter fraud. So all they can do now is fan the riots while they publicly pretend to want reconciliation. Very telling how neither the president nor Hillary speak out against the anarchists, just like the NY Mayor …… they also support and fund the riots.

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Craig Reed

I respect the right of the ex-president to present his views. But I find his views to be incorrect and bias.

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Susan Clark

First let me say I was born and raised here in the Untied States. Second let me say, to Tico Times
You are totally wrong, you don’t have a clue about what our country needs. You print propaganda and lies and feed it to your citizens in Costa Rica. I am a Christian and our people come together and prayed and fasted and God answered our prayers. DonLd Trump is far from being racist. More Latinos, Spanish and other races that live here voted for him. He has the grit and boldness it takes to bring our country out of the mess that Obama got us into. I love your country and I have family that lives there, they are Spanish born and raised there. They are good Christian people. Also President Elect Trump is not perfect and will make mistakes but we here in our states believe that Hod will use him to help our country. We have suffered under the administration of the Clintons and Obamas but thank God they are on their way out of the White House. Maybe you all like the socialism type of goverentbbut we don’t . The news media here is rotten just like you Tico Times, but lies and bad news makes you a living. Too sad, for you will see in the day of judgement you will reap what you sow, all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. We the people here in the United States voted and Donsld Trump is who we wanted. By the way all the riots and protest that are going on here are being paid for by George Soros another demon that is nothing but a rich trouble maker, he too will be dealt with by God Almighty. Have a nice day and God bless the country of Costa Rica

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