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Twelve steps to help cure post-election ills

Publication date: 10.11.2016

As the dust begins to settle on election night in the US and what many saw as a shock victory for Donald Trump, Denis Horgan, Executive Director of the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, asks the questions: ’is America broken and can it be cured?’

The Republican nominee secured victory, crucially taking formerly Democratic states such as Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Iowa, despite his rival Hillary Clinton marginally winning the popular vote.

It seems that Trump won 47.5% of the vote against Clinton’s 47.7%. But under the US system this became 279 electoral college votes versus 228. The victory threshold is 270.

The demographics show that Trump had a wide majority with the over-45s, while Clinton took the majority of younger voters.

Given the closeness of the popular vote, the perception of Trump as somewhat of loose cannon, and the sometimes downright nastiness between the two prime candidates, it is perhaps not overly surprising that thousands of demonstrators, on the losing side, have protested against Trump in several American cities.

With Trump set to meet current White House incumbent Barack Obama to talk through how to ensure a smooth transition, people on US city streets shouting “Not my president!” and burning orange-haired effigies suggests that the coming days will be far from ‘smooth’.

Not only that, but despite the fact that Trump will also have the House of Representatives and the Senate, plus the right to choose who will fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court, many Republicans have already said they won’t back him. 

The Democrats surely won’t on many occasions, so it’s not just one party suffering post-election turmoil.

It all has shades of the post-Brexit hangover suffered in the UK after it voted to leave the European Union. And that is a hangover that still lingers.

But do we know what the difference will be in America? Can the two sides come together and move forward as one under a (currently) divisive man set to become the 45th president of the most powerful nation on earth?

On election day, Obama said that whatever the result “the sun will rise in the morning”. It did, of course. But, as mentioned, to much dismay across half of the population.

Theresa May, the UK prime minister, has famously said: “Brexit means Brexit.” That pretty much means “get used to it.”

America, split though it is, will certainly have to get used to Trump over the next four years. But the divisions need to be healed. The US is clearly unhealthy right now, in danger of staggering down the road towards an addiction to bitterness and inner strife.

Perhaps it needs a 12-step programme to help cure its ills and bring it back to good health - a kind of personalised medicine remedy for each member of a 320-million strong nation.

Here we go, then…

Step 1: And breathe…

Step 2: Realise that we are all different and that there are no one-size-fits-all cures. However, and whatever our genetic make-up and political beliefs, cooperation and communication plays a key role. Think doctor and patient interaction. Both need to play their part by taking into account the sufferer’s needs, situation, personal challenges and preferred lifestyle, for example.

Step 3: Whatever the policies on the global stage, a healthy America will need investment in infrastructure, research and diagnostics to stop any further ‘rot’. In a medical context this means continuing with Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), equipping hospitals and ensuring access for patients to the best treatments possible. Whether this will include some version of ‘Obamacare’ is a moot point at this stage.

Step 4: Take another deep breath…and remember that, while one of Trump’s slogans was ‘Make America Great Again,’ it already was and is. Let’s diagnose potential issues at this early stage and nip them in the bud (see Step 3).

Step 5: Remember that the sun will rise in the morning. Think of all that Vitamin D!

Step 6: Recognise differences then talk and share. The explosion in Big Data (which PMI seeks to exploit for its gene pool, of course) will show that we are, indeed, all different but that cooperation in this field (in a medical sense through sharing vital research) will lead to new and better treatments for many ills.

Step 7: Remember, if you are reading this while living as one of the EU’s 500 million citizens, the majority of these steps apply too (and that includes the citizens of Britain).

Step 8: Reaching out is important. Finding common ground is vital to moving forward. In global terms this can mean getting trade deals which benefit everyone and work to agreed standards. Much-better for everyone’s health than stress-inducing stand-offs.

Step 9: There are angry people on both sides of the Trump/Clinton line at the moment (the same applies post-Brexit and in many countries across the EU). This is unhealthy down-the-line. What nobody needs is another war, either internally or externally. Again, we are all different, but there is more that unites us than divides us, wherever we may be. Think positive, it’s healthier.

Step 10: Despite these oft-mentioned differences and divisions, we all need to remember that we are generally healthy as democratic nations, partly because whoever wins is still subject to rule by law, through regulations and institutions that were developed over centuries to provide a power balance. These systems need to show their worth in ‘unhealthy times’ and we all have a part to play.

Step 11: Although it appears that a lot of US voters wanted to swing away from what they perceive as ‘the establishment’, the fact is that, as mentioned in Step 10 above, that very establishment is what keeps a nation stable. Whatever occasional ill-effects occur can usually be cured. Again, it’s never a one-size-fits-all because, as in a personalised sense, we all need our own ‘medicine’ and treatment’. It’s a case of all citizens and stakeholders working together to make the best of the situation.

Step 12: Breathe yet again…and move on. We are all part of our own ‘cure’. And nothing can Trump that!

Author: Denis Horgan
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