Lessons for Kenya from the US 2016 Election

Posted by on 11th November 2016

Categories:   Uncategorized

Donald Trump is America’s president-elect. We need a moment of silent to let that sink. His win has sent political pundits and pollsters back to the drawing board.

Firstly, the least Republican candidate managed to beat the most conservative candidates in the primaries to clinch the party’s presidential nomination. That a business man and reality TV star could edge out such experienced politicians or well-connected leaders with impeccable public careers simply says, the electorate are not moved by one’s professional background but what the candidate says. Anyone hoping to clinch elective position in 2017 must focus on issues Kenyans care most about?

Second, political dynasties and connections can be a candidate’s blind spot or baggage. This is good news for those leaders with no political baggage. Refuse to be intimidated and step up during party nominations. As for the electorate identify political leaders who represent your issues. Look for that leader who is unafraid to speak against corruption and whose policies are most responsive to and connect with your needs and drum up support for him or her.

Thirdly, voters back candidates offering change they can connect with.  Hillary Clinton was the sure bet if presidential demeanor, experience and diplomacy should count. But Donald Trump was the bellwether of change, and this guaranteed him a win. The candidate who will persuade Kenyans he can bring about change outside the usual characters will carry the day. A Trump win in a very paradoxical way gives hope and life to little-known, authentic leaders with less popular parties the need to step up their game.

The biggest change the Kenyan electorate is yearning for right now is a corrupt free leader who can champion for corrupt free institutions. Leaders who want a Trump-effect must not be diplomatic about corruption in Kenya. Those who protect corrupt leaders because they’re from their party or from their region will lose at the hands of the straight-talker. Kenyans on the other hand must realize that if people rally around an individual with a common cause, nothing can stop them from realizing a leader they want.

Fourthly, Kenyans should be careful about opinion polls and media propaganda. If the US electorate swallowed the narrative sold about Trump, Clinton would have been prepping to swear in. Remain vigilant as voter and stay focused on the issues the candidates speak about rather than what the polls and media say about them. However, considering how divisive we have become over the years, we must also watch out for those leaders who want to preach fear to get votes. Anyone who tells you another Kenyan should not be trusted is an enemy of progress and should be humiliated at the ballot.

Last but not least, taking into account Brexit and now the shocking US elections, the underlying message is women and the youth can sell out a country if they don’t take up their rightful place at the ballot. In UK, the young complained about the old messing their future with the votes (majority older Britons voted to leave). On the other hand, in the US majority of the electorate are women, it’s therefore surprising that they didn’t use the numbers to make history and have the first US woman president.

Everybody in Kenya now is talking about corruption tribalism, nepotism and many other social ills. But what we must know is that, whatever we discuss pre-election matters little-America taught the world that. The best thing to do pre-election is to register as a voter. What will matter is how you vote. Kenyan women and the youth register now and plan to vote wisely or the future will judge you harshly like it does the US and UK.