The people have spoken – Republican candidate Donald Trump is the new president of the United States despite all the grim forebodings and gloom that was being predicted if the New York business tycoon made it to the White House, writes Billy Kennedy.
The Republican Party (GOP – Grand Old Party) is now in full control of all three layers of power – presidency, Congress and Senate – and that, for our UK Government heading in a definite Brexit direction, is no bad thing.
Indeed, from a unionist perspective in Northern Ireland, a Republican regime in Washington for the next four years will be generally welcomed as the GOP is much more sympathetically disposed to the pro-Union position here than Irish American-influenced Democratic Party.
The irony in this is that the Democratic Party was founded by the first Ulster-Scots American President Andrew Jackson, born 18 months after his parents moved from Carrickfergus to the Carolinas in 1765.
Jackson, pursued the egalitarian Jacksonian political philosophy – “Government for the people, by the people”. And, even though ‘Old Hickory’, as he was known, was like Donald Trump, ”a rough diamond”, he stabilised an embryonic nation, expanding it from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Many people in the UK fail to understand the American psyche – an incessant work ethic, clamour for liberty and democracy and insistence this is still a proud nation “united under God”.
The US is a much more faith-orientated country than the UK and the aspirations, hopes and even prejudices apparent there do not register to the same degree in mainland Britain.
In the US, these traditional values are also not always appreciated or reported by a liberal East Coast media or taken on board by an elitist establishment, only interested in their own particular viewpoint.
One has only to look at the political map of the 50 States of the Union today and see the mass of red indicating Republican triumphs to realise that it is in “middle, backcountry America” that the Trump phenomenon has taken root and created the greatest earthquake in American politics since the nation was founded in 1776.
Last month, I visited Tennessee and North Carolina –two southern states that came out decisively for Trump and, speaking to many folk concerned about the frailties and negative complexities of the Donald Trump campaign, most were persuaded that they would still cross the line and vote for a man who has been labelled “a braggart, bully and a cypher”.
Party considerations, not the Trump personality, of course, will have been a major factor in millions of people voting to prevent another four years of what they saw as “Democratic misrule”. But the Trump personality, like it or love it, certainly had an impact.
The stark Republican/Democratic divide runs deep in US politics and, with the white Anglo-Saxon (Wasp) population in middle America, their politicians lie right of centre with the conservative Republican Party.
East Coast politics mean little to a large proportion of people in small town-inner America, territories where the Scots-Irish (derived from hardy Ulster-Scots emigrants) have a firm foothold and espouse traditional values which the Republican Party unashamedly stands for.
Billy Kennedy, a frequent visitor to the United States, is an author on 18th century Ulster-Scots migration to America