Tag: Trump

Democrats take the House from Trump

By Alana Abramson for Time; Rozina Sabur for The Telegraph  

Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives but lost ground in the Senate following a contentious campaign that President Donald Trump worked to make all about him.

Democrats picked up at least 23 House seats in tallies early Wednesday, putting them within reach of the 218 seats needed to take control from Republicans, the Associated Press projected.

However, Democrats’ hopes of an overwhelming “Blue Wave” in both chambers of Congress and in governors races was dimmed as losses in at least three key Senate races — including Beto O’Rourke in Texas — meant Republicans would have control of the Senate with an even bigger majority.

Republicans also won the Florida governor’s mansion, with Ron DeSantis overtaking Andrew Gillum. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams trailed Brian Kemp early Wednesday, but the race was still too close to call. In total, however, Democrats flipped 5 governorships – including in deep red Kansas where Laura Kelly defeated right-wing darling Kris Kobach.

What does this mean for Trump?
The Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, delivering a bitter blow for Donald Trump after a campaign that became a referendum on his leadership.

The Republican Party went into Tuesday’s elections in control of the chamber with a 43-seat majority. However, Democrats rode a wave of dissatisfaction with the US President to gain the 23 seats needed to win control of the House.

The lower chamber of the US Congress, the House is made up of 435 seats. The number of seats each US state receives depends on its population size. California, the most populous state, has 53 representatives while seven states – Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming – have just one representative.

“Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi told cheering Democrats at a Washington victory party, saying House Democrats would be a check on Mr Trump.

“We will have a responsibility to find our common ground where we can, stand our ground where we can’t,” Ms Pelosi said.

Now the Democrats have won the House, they get to decide which bills come to the floor – meaning President Donald Trump’s domestic agenda will struggle to make its way into law.

The party with a majority in the chamber also controls its committee chairmanships and has the power to issue subpoenas – so a Democrat-controlled House could enforce aggressive oversight of investigations of the president’s administration, including alleged Russian collusion, Mr Trump’s business dealings and sexual assault allegations against him.

Pundits predict Democrats will launch controversial investigations into things like Mr Trump’s tax returns and his previous business dealings. They may also seek public hearings with members of the Trump family, including his son Donald Jr who appears to be a key figure in the Russia investigation.

They also could force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico, pass a second major tax-cut package or carry out his hardline policies on trade.

A simple House majority would be enough to impeach Trump if evidence surfaces that he obstructed justice or that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia. But Congress could not remove him from office without a conviction by a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate.

House Democrats could be banking on launching an investigation using the results of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s already 18-month-old probe of allegations of Russian interference on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 presidential election. Moscow denies meddling and Trump denies any collusion.

Democrats on the House oversight committee, the chamber’s main investigative panel, had already suggested they were prepared to issue subpoenas if they gain control.

Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, said: “If Democrats win the majority in November, we would finally do what Republicans have refused to do, and that is conduct independent, fact-based, and credible investigations of the Trump administration”.

Mr Cummings said their investigations would “address issues like the security clearance process, conflicts of interest, the numerous attempts by Republicans to strip away healthcare from millions of Americans, postal service reforms, prescription drug pricing, and voting rights”.

Republicans have, however, held on to the Senate, meaning they will continue to approve Mr Trump’s cabinet nominees and appoint conservative judges to US courtrooms.

Trump accuses Google of biased searches

By Darlene Superville and Barbara Ortutay for WWayTV3 

President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Google and other U.S. tech companies of rigging search results about him “so that almost all stories & news is BAD.” He offered no evidence of bias, but a top adviser said the White House is “taking a look” at whether Google should face federal regulation.

Google pushed back sharply, saying Trump’s claim simply wasn’t so: “We never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

The president’s tweets echoed his familiar attacks on the news media — and a conservative talking point that California-based tech companies run by CEOs with liberal leanings don’t give equal weight to opposing political viewpoints. They also revealed anew his deep-seated frustration he doesn’t get the credit he believes he deserves.

The president, who has said he runs on little sleep, jumped onto Twitter before dawn Tuesday to rehash his recent complaints about alleged suppression of conservative voices and positive news about him.

Related Article: Las Vegas shooting leaves GOP-backed gun bills in limbo
He followed that up with vague threats in Oval Office comments.

“I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people, and I think that’s a very serious thing. That’s a very serious charge,” Trump said, adding that Google, Twitter, Facebook and others “better be careful, because you can’t do that to people.”

Trump claimed that “we have literally thousands and thousands of complaints coming in. … So I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.”

Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, told reporters later that the White House is “taking a look” at whether Google searches should be subject to some government regulation. That would be a noteworthy development since Trump often points proudly to his cutting of government regulations as a spur for economic gains.

In his tweets, Trump said — without offering evidence — that “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?” He added, again with no evidence, that “96% of results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous.”

A search query Tuesday morning, several hours after the president tweeted, showed stories from CNN, ABC News, Fox News and the MarketWatch business site, among others. A similar search later in the day for “Trump” had Fox News, the president’s favored cable network, among the top results.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, said its aim is to make sure its search engine users quickly get the most relevant answers.

“Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology,” the company said in a statement. “Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

Experts suggested that Trump’s comments showed a misunderstanding of how search engines work.

Google searches aim to surface the most relevant pages in response to a user’s query, even before he or she finishes typing. The answers that appear first are the ones Google’s formulas, with some help from human content reviewers, deem to be the most authoritative, informative and relevant. Many factors help decide the initial results, including how much time people spend on a page, how many other pages link to it, how well it’s designed and more.

Trump and some supporters have long accused Silicon Valley companies of being biased against them. While some company executives may lean liberal, they have long asserted that their products are without political bias.

Media analyst Ken Doctor said it doesn’t make sense for mass-market businesses like Google to lean either way politically. He characterized the complaints as a “sign of our times,” adding that, years ago, if the head of General Electric was supporting a Republican candidate, people who disagreed wouldn’t then go out and boycott GE products.

“The temperature has risen on this,” Doctor said.

Steven Andres, who teaches about management information systems at San Diego State University, said people often assume that if you give a computer the same inputs no matter where you are that you “get the same outputs.”

But it doesn’t work that way, he said. “You’re seeing different things every moment of the day and the algorithms are always trying to change the results.”

Trump didn’t say what he based his tweets on. But conservative activist Paula Boylard had said in a weekend blog post that she found “blatant prioritization of left-leaning and anti-Trump media outlets” in search results.

Boylard based her judgments on the political leanings of media outlets on a list by Sharyl Attkisson, host of Sinclair Television’s “Full Measure” and author of “The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, Think, and How You Vote.” Sinclair is a significant outlet for conservative views.

Trump began complaining about the issue earlier this month as social media companies moved to ban right-wing “Infowars” conspiracy theorist Alex Jonesfrom their platforms. The president also argues regularly — and falsely — that the news media avoid writing positive stories about him and his administration.

Jones is being sued for saying the 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was staged. Jones has since said he believes the shooting did occur and has argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because he was acting as a journalist.

Trump has praised Jones’ “amazing” reputation.

The issue is also of concern on Capitol Hill, where the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., recently announced that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is scheduled to testify before the panel on Sept. 5 about the platform’s algorithms and content monitoring.

By Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear for The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from mostly-Muslim nations, delivering a robust endorsement of Trump’s power to control the flow of immigration into America at a time of political upheaval about the treatment of migrants at the Mexican border.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the court’s conservatives said the president’s statutory power over immigration was not undermined by his history of incendiary statements about the dangers he said Muslims pose to Americans.

Trump, who has battled court challenges to the travel ban since the first days of his administration, hailed the decision to uphold his third version of an executive order as a “tremendous victory” and promised to continue using his office to defend the country against terrorism and extremism.

“This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country,” the president said in a statement issued by the White House soon after the ruling.

The vindication came even as Trump is reeling from weeks of controversy over his decision to impose “zero tolerance” at America’s southern border, leading to politically searing images of children being separated from their parents as families cross into the United States without proper documentation.

Trump and his advisers have long argued that presidents are given vast authority to reshape the way America controls its borders. The president’s attempts to do that began with the travel ban and continues today with his demand for an end to “catch and release” of illegal immigrants.

“We want strong borders and we want no crime,” Trump said Monday. “Strong borders. We want no crime.”

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that Trump had ample statutory authority to make national security judgments in the realm of immigration. And he rejected a constitutional challenge to Trump’s latest executive order on the matter, his third, this one issued as a proclamation in September.

But the court’s liberals decried the decision. In a passionate and searing dissent from the bench, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the decision was no better than Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 decision that endorsed the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

By upholding the travel ban, she said, the court “merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another.”

The countries affected include:

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • Libya
  • Yemen
  • Somalia
  • Sudan

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24 

The rand came under “massive pressure” on Tuesday morning, having weakened from R13.63 to R13.90, following news that US President Donald Trump is threatening new tariffs on Chinese imports.

TreasuryONE’s lead dealer Wichard Cilliers said in a snap note that all eyes would now be on the trade spat.

By 09:14 the local currency was trading 1.92% weaker at R13.90 against the US dollar after breaching this level for the first time since November 27 last year when the rand traded at R14.00/$.

“The trade wars are heating up with US president Trump to identify $200bn in Chinese imports for additional tariffs of 10% and on another $200bn after that if Beijing retaliates,” said Cilliers.

Trump reportedly said that the United States will no longer be taken advantage of on trade by China and other countries in the world. “We will continue using all available tools to create a better and fairer trading system for all Americans,” Trump said.

The IMF noted that this could place global growth at risk.

Bloomberg reports the tariffs could be the latest round of punitive measures in an escalating dispute over the large trade imbalance between the two countries. Trump recently ordered tariffs on $50bn (R692.77bn) in Chinese goods in retaliation for intellectual properly theft. The tariffs were quickly matched by China on US exports.

Apart from the trade wars, locally load shedding is also adding to currency weakness, commented NKC Africa Economics.

NKC expects the rand to trade within a range of R13.65/$ to R13.95/$.

RMB economist Mpho Tsebe noted that the rand was among Monday’s worst-performing emerging market currencies, along with the Colombian peso and the Thai baht.

“Given the fragile growth outlook and inflation contained within the 3%-6% target band, the SARB (South African Reserve Bank) is unlikely to increase interest rates to support the currency,” she said.

Peregrine Treasury Solutions’ Bianca Botes said investors are dumping emerging markets for safe haven assets, including US treasury bonds. “South Africa, due to the liquidity that our local market offers, often leads the losing streak, she said.

“Should these tensions elevate and strong data from the US keeps making its way to market, emerging market currencies will remain under pressure and one could very well see the rand target R14/$,” Botes warned.

However, Andre Botha, senior currency dealer at TreasuryONE was optimistic that the rand could recover.

“We still believe that the rand is overdone at these levels and should the tide turn and risk-taking behaviour start taking precedent again the rand could stage a comeback.” He echoed views that the rand’s performance largely depends on global events rather than local factors.

According to a recent article by Business Day, the United States has rejected South Africa’s application for exemption from President Donald Trump’s import duties on steel and aluminium.

This puts approximately 7 500 jobs under threat.

Earlier this week, Trump “signed proclamations granting permanent exemptions to a select number of countries and extended by one month the steel and aluminium tariff duty exemptions for some”, according to Business Day. Unfortunatley, South Africa was not among them.

Exempted countries will be less competitive, forcing South African steel and aluminium products out of the US market.

However, these duties are being implemented in a way that contravenes some fundamental World Trade Organisation principles.
The Department of Trade and Industry has urged domestic exporters to ask their US buyers to consider applying for product exemption under a process conducted by the US commerce department and said that it would continue to consult the industry.

Sidwell Medupe, a DTI spokesperson, says that the “measures were unfair because SA’s exports of aluminium and steel products to the US were not that significant”.

Collateral damage
“South Africa is not a cause of any national security concerns in the US nor a threat to US industry interests and is not the cause of the global steel glut. Instead, South Africa finds itself as collateral damage in the trade war of key global economies,” Medupe said.

On March 8, Trump signed a proclamation imposing a 10% ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium articles and a 25% ad valorem tariff on imports of steel articles. The proclamation followed reports from the US secretary of commerce that imports of these products threatened to impair US national security.

Countries excluded from the duties include Canada, Mexico, the EU, South Korea, Australia, Argentina and Brazil.

SA unsuccessfully argued its case for an exemption, saying that the duties would affect both jobs and productive capacity in a sector already suffering from global steel overcapacity.

It offered to restrict exports to a quota based on the level of exports in 2017.

SA assured the US that it had stringent customs-control measures so there was no risk of circumvention or transhipment of steel from third countries to the US. It also emphasised that its exports of aluminium products represented about 1.6% of total annual US aluminium imports.

According to the US Census Bureau data, in 2017 the US imported a total of 33.4-million tonnes of steel, of which imports from SA were about 330,000 tonnes, or 0.98% of total US imports and 0.3% of total US steel demand of 107-million tonnes. The 330,000 tonnes exported from SA represents 5% of South African production, equating to about 7,500 jobs in the steel supply chain.

Medupe said that some of the exempted countries were the biggest exporters of steel and aluminium to the US. For steel imports, the exempted countries collectively accounted for 58% of total steel imports into the US in 2017 and 49% of total aluminium imports.

Trade expert Peter Draper, the MD of Tutwa Consulting, has previously indicated to Business Day that he believes the US would use the hikes as leverage to pry open the local market for US firms.
It could do this by triggering a review of SA’s trade preferences under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

One year after Donald Trump was elected president, stocks are at record highs.

While Trump frequently claims that the former caused the latter, the technology industry might beg to differ.

Tech giants Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon are the five top contributors to the S&P 500’s advance in 2017, accounting for 28% of the index’s gain, according to Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

That’s over $1 trillion of increased market value from five companies.

Facebook is the top performer in the group, up 57 percent this year as of Monday, followed by Apple at 52 percent. The lowest of the five is Alphabet, up 32 percent, still well ahead of the S&P 500’s 16 percent gain.

A war of words
Trump has never had a particularly friendly relationship with tech.

During the campaign, as Hillary Clinton was staffing her digital team with people from Google, Facebook and Twitter, Trump was attacking Apple for manufacturing abroad and accusing Amazon of somehow using The Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, to keep the e-commerce giant’s taxes low.

Now imagine if Trump had followed through on his promise to go after Amazon for, as he claimed, not paying its fair share of taxes. Or if he’d somehow forced Apple to start manufacturing in the United States.

More broadly, remember when Trump promised to levy a 45 percent tariff on products made in China? Apple and Microsoft manufacture devices there, and Amazon counts on Chinese sellers for a disproportionate number of products sold on its marketplace.

Tech has also taken public stances against many Trump proposals.

Since Trump took office, tech companies have adamantly opposed his immigration restrictions, whether the travel ban or his move to end protections for people who were brought to the country illegally as kids.

In July, Google and Amazon were among companies to participate in an online protest against the Trump administration’s effort to unwind net neutrality rules that force large internet providers like CNBC owner Comcast and AT&T to treat all content equally.

Tech leaders have spoken out against Trump’s order to ban transgender people from serving in the military, and they criticized the president in August for suggesting that “many sides” were to blame after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent.

But apart from the rhetoric, little has actually changed in Washington since Trump took office. And for tech companies, that’s just fine.

Tech has ‘optimized the rules of globalization’
Kate Mitchell, a partner at venture capital firm Scale Venture Partners, said that if Trump did follow through with protectionist trade policies that made it harder for big American companies to grow, the Trump stock rally would disappear in a hurry.

She predicts that U.S. leaders would lose ground to Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent, the world’s sixth and seventh most-valuable tech companies.

“If we have a trade war so that Amazon, Apple and everybody else is being discriminated against globally because we’re being so protectionist, Alibaba and Tencent will say, ‘Move on over,'” Mitchell said. “They are very interested in taking share away.”

After attacking Apple several times during the campaign, Trump told The Wall Street Journal in July that CEO Tim Cook plans to build three plants in the U.S. But there’s no evidence that Cook made such a promise, and it would cost Apple a fortune to move iPhone production from China, home to the world’s best manufacturing technology for
consumer electronics.

“You cannot manufacture smartphones at scale in the United States,” said Denny Fish, who invests in tech stocks at Janus Henderson, where he helps manage $4.7 billion. “There’s rhetoric from the president, but it’s not based in reality in terms of what you could actually do.”

Fish, who owns shares of each of the five biggest tech companies, said he hasn’t changed his view on the industry since Trump became president, “because the reality is that not much is happening.”

In fact, while Trump has touted an “America first” message of economic nationalism, the companies most benefiting during the Trump era are the identical brands that flourished the most under his predecessor. They’re winning from the same trade policies that have existed for decades.

“You look at companies like Microsoft, they’ve pretty much optimized the rules of globalization for 30 years,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of BMO Wealth Management, which oversees $70 billion in assets. Despite Trump’s campaign pledges, “there are a ton of entrenched interests saying we want things to stay the same,” he said.

Taxes represent one area where Trump and tech have been on the same page. Heading into the election, Trump’s tax repatriation proposal called for allowing companies to bring back the huge sums of cash they hold overseas and pay a one-time tax of just 10 percent, as opposed to the corporate tax rate of as high as 35 percent.

The tax plan that the Trump administration has proposed includes an unspecified repatriation benefit and a corporate tax rate of 20 percent. But those changes haven’t happened yet, and it’s not clear if he’s got the votes in Congress to pass the bill.

A political crackdown?
Otherwise, tech investors like Fish are happy with the status quo. As a stakeholder in Alphabet and Facebook, Fish said he is watching to see if any new regulations emerge that could thwart the growth of the dominant digital advertising companies.

New data protection rules go into effect next year in Europe that can limit how those companies use personal data in targeting ads. The U.S. has yet to take similar steps, but Fish said there could be some political pressure on these platforms as it becomes more evident how online ads and fake news were created and manipulated by foreign actors ahead of the presidential election.

“If anything were to change their ability to monetize in the same way, that’s where we would be more concerned,” Fish said.

He was quick to point out that for now, “We don’t see that.”

Ari Levi and Josh Lipton for CNBC

In case you needed another reminder that girls really do run the world, it turns out the Women’s March caused a huge spike in office supply sales in the United States during the week before the protest took place.

With an estimated 4,2-million attendees nationwide, the march for gender equality is widely regarded as the largest demonstration in American history, and judging from poster board and marker sales, it also involved an astronomical amount of clever signage.

Fortune reported that the NDP Group, a market research company, looked at the January sales figures for office supplies like posters, scissors, and tape — the stuff you would need to make, say, a homemade “Love Trumps Hate” sign. According to the report, more than 6.5 million poster boards were sold over the course of the month, with nearly one-third sold during the week before the Women’s March. Poster board sales were up 33 percent overall compared to the same time last year, and foam boards were up a whopping 42%.

Writing and crafting tools were up as well. Glue and tape sales spiked 27% and 12%, respectively, and marker sales went up by up to 35%.

The result? Millions of feminist signs demonstrating for gender equality on 21 January 2017.

Clearly, the Women’s March didn’t just provide an outlet for the frustration and anxiety felt by many Americans after the results of the presidential election. It gathered together millions of women and men, and as the sales figures demonstrate, the members of the Women’s March wield substantial financial power.

In fact, although women’s economic power is often downplayed or outright ignored, past research has suggested that they will become “financial powerhouses” by 2020, and they drive around three-quarters of consumer purchasing.

Activists have harnessed economic power for political good in campaigns like #GrabYourWallet, which boycotted retailers carrying Trump products, and the Bodega strike led by Yemeni business owners in protest of the first immigration ban. More recently, the Day Without a Woman — organized by the leaders of the Women’s March — called for women to take the day off from work, unpaid labor, and shopping, demonstrating women’s vital contributions to the economy and society as a whole.

In conclusion? Women are an economic force to be reckoned with, and it’s long past time businesses took note. In the meantime, be sure to spend your own money wisely and ethically.

By Claire Warner for www.bustle.com

We don’t know what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for South Africa. But what South Africans should know is that America has just elected its most dangerous president ever because it has not dealt with two problems the country has also ducked: inequality and race.

Our future, too, may be perilous if we ignore this warning.

Whatever Trump does in office, the stark reality is that America has elected a bigot and demagogue with a deep contempt for women. When he takes over, the world will enter a time of great danger because we will have no idea whether a president who ignored the constraints of decency when he was a candidate will respect them in office.

And since the future is so uncertain, South Africa’s best response to Trump’s election is to learn the lessons of its causes.

Inequality

The first reason why America’s voters (or almost half of them since Trump did not win a majority of votes) chose the unthinkable is inequality. Trump was not elected by those who have most suffered from American inequality – the racial minorities who mostly voted for his opponent. But he was helped over the line by a swing away from the Democratic Party by white working class voters – this was probably why he won the “rust belt” states of the mid-West.

While white workers are better off than their black and Hispanic counterparts, they have taken a massive economic hit over the past decades – wages have stagnated or declined and jobs are no longer secure. Their world, in which they could rely on a steady job with rising pay, has collapsed. The effect has been famously measured by Nobel laureate Angus Deatonand his wife Anne Case, who found that the new realities were playing havoc with the health and wellbeing of working class whites.

These workers are not nearly at the bottom of the pile – if they were, they may have blamed the economic system. But they have lost their relative privilege and so they blame those below them in the pecking order – racial minorities and immigrants. The MIT political scientist Roger Peterson has shown that right-wing authoritarian movements grow when groups who enjoy power and privilege believe that it is threatened by other groups. They react by resenting the upstarts who may knock them off their perch – American white workers fit his theory.

The lesson for South Africans is that this was caused by an economic approach which has widened inequality by dumping protections for workers and the poor. Angry white workers blame globalisation. In fact the real culprit is policies which have torn up the deal which spread the benefits of growth more fairly. The South African parallel is the continued unwillingness or inability of key economic actors to negotiate a growth path which will include many in the economy.

The racial divide

The second reason for Trump’s triumph was that America’s racial divide remains probably the key driver of its politics.

Workers were not the only white voters who were important to Trump: he won among almost every group of white voters, including college educated men who were said to hold him in contempt. The only white group to reject him was college educated women and then by a small margin. So many white voters for whom Trump showed contempt were willing to vote for him – and the reason is surely that they wanted a president who would protect whiteness.

When Barack Obama was elected, commentators waxed lyrical about a post-racial America which had ditched its prejudices. It did not take very long to show how off the mark this was.

For eight years, the Republican Party and its white support base waged an unceasing war against Obama, even when he introduced measures such as health insurance which massively benefited poor whites. As research by the pollster Stanley Greenberg showed, the key motive was Obama’s race.

Again, Peterson explains this. Many American whites believe the America they and their parents knew is disappearing as racial minorities become more numerous and more mainstream – whites are projected to become a minority in the next few decades. Obviously many whites do not feel this way but the resentment is growing: many who did not vote against Obama chose Trump.

Again there is a parallel with South Africa. In both countries, elites duck the racial issue which is its most serious divide. The fact that Obama was harried because he was black was ignored in the mainstream – every explanation was advanced expect the obvious one.

South Africans are constantly urged to “move beyond race” when it continues to divide the country. In the few years before 1994’s first democratic election, elites in the country took race seriously – once it had a democratic constitution and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the problem was declared solved and they lost interest. But it wasn’t – racial division and anger remain the country’s most serious challenge, threatening its universities and obstructing its attempts to grow as an economy and a society.

The threat posed by inequality and racism

Could South Africa’s failure to address inequality and race threaten the country’s politics too? It already does.

The patronage politics which plagues the African National Congress has threatened the National Treasury and has produced the politics of “state capture” which is a symptom of the country’s inequalities. South Africans who are included economically don’t need political bosses to hand them goodies – the many who are still excluded do. This fuels those politicians who want to use public money to build political support.

Racial divides also give the patronage politicians a ready excuse: they can claim that taking money from the powerful Gupta family, who are close to South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma, is a rebellion against white capital. A growing chorus from this faction insists that they are being prevented from taking over the National Treasury not by a concern to protect public money but at the bidding of white tycoons who do not want black people to become rich.

And they have, particularly on the country’s campuses but elsewhere too, produced a brand of politics which justifies violence and bullying directed mainly at black people and – you guessed it – women on the grounds that privileged whites are determined to silence black people seeking to express themselves.

Here, ignoring inequality and race may not ensure the election of a dangerous president – although it could do that at the next ANC conference. But, as in the US, South Africans pay a price for it. It poses a constant threat to the economy and society which the country can only tackle if South Africans negotiate a more equal economy and show the same willingness to address race and racism as some did 25 years ago.

By Steven Friedman, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg for The Conversation. Published on www.businesstech.co.za

Big hotel chains suffer data hacks

Travellers who visited one of Donald Trump’s Las Vegas hotels between 19 May and 2 June earlier this year may have had their payment information stolen by hackers, the company that runs the properties said in a statement to customers. It appears to be the first confirmation from Trump Hotel Collection that information taken in a breach at the international hotel chain – suspected to have taken place in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Las Vegas and Miami – is being used against customers.

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