1. lowest unemployment rate since 17 years. But,

1.     Introduction

In
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 won2016’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);

7)
Trump’s foreign policy direction particularly in context of China, Japan and
North Korea.

This
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.

 

2.     Discussion

Based
on seven main topics above, I will emphasized my discussion on some important
points as follows :

a.    US economy situation under Trump’s administration.

1)       
Unemployment
rate

In
context of unemployment rate, Prof. Kubo in his presentation cites a graph from
United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statisticsabout U.S employment
rate condition from January 2009 to October 2017.  The graph shows a declining trend of
unemployment rate in 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). 

That
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 looked at it further, actually
that claim not all truly right.  Parlapiano et al (2017) informed that
the drop of 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 want 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

From
stock market condition side, Prof. Kuboshares data from Trading Economics.com
that show a significant increasing trend on Dow Jones Industrial Average from
18,332.74 point on November 8, 2016-when Trump was inaugurated-to 24,272.35 point
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 in this point he was right. 
But Parlapiano et al (2017) argue, this record exist more because the
market, particularly investors is waiting and hoping for the real
implementation of Mr. Trump’s promises during his presidential campaign which
involve infrastructure expenditure, deregulation, and action on tax policy.

3)   Growth rate

In
context growth rate, Prof. Kubo shares data of US quarterly growth rate from
2000 to 2017 from Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) that show a relatively fluctuated
growth rate since Trump’s administration from around 1% to 3%.  If we compared it with Obama’ administration
in the second quarter of his last presidential period, there is still no
significant increment since then.  But,
President Trump think it differently. 

As
reported by Parlapiano et al
(2017), based on report by Commerce Department on July 28, 2017, which informed
that the annual economy rate in second quarter was increase to 2.6
percent,  President Trump claims it as
“an unbelieve number”.  Even though, based
on previous experiences, this number is actually not really special. According
to Parlapiano et al (2017), since Roland Reagen became a president, the economy
has expand 2.6 percent or more in 81 of the 145 quarters.  This number include 14 times when Obama was a
president.

b. US citizen opinions regarding Trump’s administration.

In
his presentation, Prof. Kubo also shares data based on Real Clear Politics
(RCP) Poll Average, released on December 1, 2017 regardingthe direction of
country about “Does US heading in wrong direction?”The data show the majority
of respondents said that 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 US is in the wrong track was 61.9%, 52,7%, and 58,7%
respectively.  Meanwhile, the percentage of
the opposite respondents (said US in the right direction) was 31.2%, 38.8%, and
32.7 respectively.

 Furthermore, another polling by The Associated Press-NORC Center for
Public Affairs Research as
I cited from www.cnbc.com (October 7,
2017), produces a result that only 24 % of Americans agree US is heading in the right
track.  This percentage was dropping
10-point since June 2017 due to President Trump response on some sensitive
issues such as full of grievances regarding hurricane aid, Trump’s seek an
excuse about white supremacists, and threat of war with North Korea. 

Other interesting
facts that reported by www.cnbc.com (October 7,
2017) were 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 was more than 60 % Americans that disapprove about how Trump managing the
foreign policy, immigration, and race relations, among other issues.

d.   Reasons why Trump won the US 2016’s election

In
his presentation Prof. Kubo mentioned several reasons why Donald Trump became
so popular in 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 the dissatisfactory about
status quo, tired of democratic party rule for eight years, and the difficult
condition of white working class people. 

Similar
with Prof. Kubo explanations, McKernan (2016) also reported that based on exit
poll data, from total of 70 % white voters, 58% of them voted for Republican
party or Trump.  Meanwhile, Zurcher
(2016) informed that there was a deserted wave of Democrat’s white voters who
voted for Trump. Those voters categorized as working-class white people-men and
women- without college education.  He
also stated there was a high numbers of rural voters turned out that affect
Trump’s victory.  But, from all the
reasons explained above, for me, hunger of 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
distribution

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
Nevada (6). 

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%). 
Another interesting fact,   Mr Trump was popular
among non-college-educated white men (seven out of 10 votes) and
non-college-educated white women (six out of 10 votes).

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 from
all the facts above, many people think the US 2016’s election is about battle
between race, education level, and age within US citizens. But the fact said
the opposite way, particularly for 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 was because he is from outside the system and they want
a change, similar with when they voted for Obama in 2008.  So, once again desires of change was the main
reason why the American voted from Trump.

f.     Trump’s administration achievements so far

In
his presentation, Prof. Kubo also mentioned about President Trump achievements
so far, which ones that already accomplished and which ones that failed.  For example, in accomplished achievement category
he mentioned about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as the Associate Justice in
the US Supreme Court, the withdrawal of US from the Trans Pacific Partnership
(TPP) and the withdrawal of US from the Paris Agreement of Climate Change.  Meanwhile, in failed achievement category,
Prof. Kubo mentioned about the failure of Trump’s administration in
implementing the immigration ban and in repealing the Obama Care program.

In
context of Gorsuch -a 49-year-old federal judge in Colorado- nomination, Mr.
Trump select him due to his age and his conservative view about government over
regulation.  These factors are important
for Mr. Trump to help and smooth his agenda of strengthening conservative
majority in court for long period and to reduce government regulations
particularly in businesses (Abramson, 2017; Jackson, 2017).           

Moreover,
in context of US withdrawing from TPP and Paris Agreement of Climate Change, in
my opinion is basically only about saving the existence of American economy ­- trade
and businesses -, if refers to Trump’s slogans during his campaign which are
‘America First’ and ‘Make America Great Again’. 
Trump believes US should control their own economy to achieve prosperity
for its citizens by freely choose the countries that they want to negotiate and
cooperate with, without any intervention. 
These actions really confirm what many people said that Mr. Trump is a
isolationist.

Lastly,
talk about the failure of Trump policy on banning the immigrants by building a
wall across the Mexican border, for me is a very ridiculous decision and
questionable regarding its effectiveness. Building a wall that will caused
enormous amount of money- estimate around $ 25 Billion (Sampathkumar, 2017) -and
forced Mexican Government to support it is really does not make any sense for
me.

g.    Trump’s foreign policy direction particularly in
context of China, Japan and North Korea.

As
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 Rusia.  Mr.
Trump use words such as “rival power” for both countries and considered them “seek to challenge American influence, values and
wealth.”.  Trump also explicitly accusing
China as the country that “raping” the US. So, it is interesting to watch
whether this rivalry condition still continues or become a partnership in the
future.

Moreover, in context of Japan, n 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 know 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
US. Moreover, Prof. Kubo also describes the US-Japan relation as a Asymmetrical
Alliance regarding both countries rights and obligations ( i.e. US obligates to
defend Japan but not with Japan, and US has a privilege to use Okinawa as their
military bases not only for defend 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 supporting 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

In
my opinion, Mr. Trump is a very unique man, so unpredictable, full of controversy,
and actually do not have an experience in politics before.  As Prof. Kubo mentioned in his presentation,
Trump is the first president candidate from major party, which is 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 economic sector.  For me,
Trump is the best president candidate among the worst that US citizens can
get.  Furthermore, in my opinion, as a
successful businessman, the way he governs US today is like how he manages his
company, which is not surprising due to his background.  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 slogan during his presidential campaign which are “Make America Great
Again” and “America First” really confirm America direction under Trump’s
administration for at least four years ahead. 
Mr. Trump want to confirm that he want to reestablished the dignity of
America as one of the great nations in the world again by protecting America
from all kind of threats, especially from abroad such as illegal immigrants,
terrorism, other countries domination, particularly in economic sector and so
on.  So, no wonder many people said Mr
Trump as an isolationist.  But,
interestingly, as presented by Prof. Kubo, 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 through Strength”.

For
me, the policy what Trump doing today actually has two meanings.  First, in surface, he is really want to bring
a security and prosperity for the Americans in all sectors of life.  But, at the same time (the second meaning),
he is actually want to secure 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 Trump long experiences as a business man, which is for me
significantly affect his way in governing America as I mentioned earlier.

As
a conclusion, it is interesting for us to wait and see whether President Trump
still continues his controversial actions particularly in context of his
foreign policy, or this condition will be stop permanently due to impeachment
on him bythe US Parliament.  As we all
know, North Korea and Middle-East countries (Israel versus Palestine regarding
Yerusalem) were the most hot issue today related to Trump’s foreign policy which
is significantly undermine the image of US among other countries in the world.

 

References

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biggest achievements in his first 100 days. Time.
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Jackson, D., (2017, February 1). Why Trump chose Neil
Gorsuch as his supreme court nominee. USA
Today. Retrieved December 27, 2017, from 
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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. 

Mckernan, B., (2016, November 9). The real reason people
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Only 24 of Americans think their country is heading in the
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Parlapiano, A., Schwartz, N.D., & Yourish, K. (2017,
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Trump get?. The New York Times. Retrieved
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Postrel, V., (2016, November 10). Trump won election because
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Rauhala, E., & Roth, A. (2017, December 19). China left
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