With Mr. Trump successfully winning the elections, it is time for us to see what events unfold next as this cunning and crazy mind of Mr. Trump looks forward to conquering the world and making the USA what it deserves to be, as per him.
It can be quoted that the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, was the day when history was said to have ended. The ongoing hard fight between communism and capitalism finally was considered to be over. After a titanic ideological struggle encompassing the decades after the second world war, open markets and Western liberal democracy reigned supreme. In the early morning of November 9th 2016, when Donald Trump crossed the big threshold of 270 electoral-college votes to become America’s president-elect, that illusion was shattered. History is back—with a vengeance.
The fact that Mr Trump’s victory and the way it came about are one hell of a hammer blows both to the norms that underpin politics in the United States and also to America’s role as the world’s pre-eminent power. If, as he has threatened, President Trump goes on to test the institutions that regulate political life, nobody can be sure how they will bear up. Abroad, he has taken aim at the very staunch belief, embraced by each and every post-war president, that America gains from the often thankless task of being the main and powerful global hegemon. If Trump now disengages from the world, who knows what will unfold next and what storm will make the breach?
So far, we only have what Trump held out to rally his voters in his run for the presidency and the inaugural speech on Friday. There is a common refrain about the promise of disruption and disdain for the establishment.
The sense that old certainties are crumbling has rocked America’s allies. The fear that globalisation has fallen flat has whipsawed markets. Although post-Brexit Britons know what that feels like, the referendum in Britain will be eclipsed by consequences of this election. Mr Trump’s victory has demolished a consensus. The question now is what takes its place.
And of course there was the associated polarizing noise that a person like Trump induces that include the protests seem to be getting as much traction as the inaugural. Indeed between the unpredictability of Trump and the distraction of the shrill response to his presidency it is very difficult to make sense of what is likely to transpire.
Start with the observation that America has voted not for a change of party so much as a change of regime. Mr Trump was carried to office on a tide of popular rage. This is powered partly by the fact that ordinary Americans have not shared in their country’s prosperity. In real terms median male earnings are still lower than they were in the 1970s. . Social mobility is too low to hold out the promise of something better. The resulting loss of self-respect is not neutralised by a few quarters of rising wages.
Anger has sown hatred in America. Feeling themselves victims of an unfair economic system, ordinary Americans blame the elites in Washington for being too spineless and too stupid to stand up to foreigners and big business. Some of them think racial minorities are bought off by the Democratic machine. Rural Americans detest the socially liberal values that urban compatriots foist upon them by supposedly manipulating the machinery in Washington. Republicans have behaved as if working with Democrats is treachery.
Mr Trump harnessed this popular anger brilliantly. Those who could not bring themselves to vote for him may wonder how half of their compatriots were willing to overlook his treatment of women, his pandering to xenophobes and his rank disregard for the facts. For some of them, his flaws are insignificant next to the One Big Truth: that America needs fixing. For others the willingness to break taboos was proof that he is an outsider. The hapless Hillary Clinton might have won the popular vote, but she stood for everything angry voters despise.
The hope is that this election will prove cathartic. When he decides against building a wall against Mexico after all or concludes that a trade war with China is not a wise idea, his voters may not mind too much—because they only expected him to make them feel proud and to put conservative justices in the Supreme Court. Indeed, you can just about imagine a future in which extra infrastructure spending, combined with deregulation, tax cuts, a stronger dollar and the repatriation of corporate profits, boosts the American economy for long enough to pacify the anger.
Nothing would make us happier than to see Mr Trump succeed in this way. But whereas Reagan was an optimist, Mr Trump rails against the loss of an imagined past. We are deeply sceptical that he will make a good president—because of his policies, his temperament and the demands of political office.
Take his policies first. After the sugar rush, populist policies eventually collapse under their own contradictions. His tax cuts would primarily benefit the already rich and they would be financed by deficits that would exponentially increase debt-to-GDP by 25 percentage points by 2026. Even if he does not actually deport illegal immigrants, he will come up with something ecstatic of race. Trump has demanded trade concessions from China, Mexico and Canada on threat of tariffs and the scrapping of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Abroad Mr Trump says he hates the deal freezing Iran’s nuclear programme. He wants to reverse the Paris agreement on climate change and apart from harming the planet, that would undermine America as a negotiating partner. Above all, he would disrupt America’s alliances—the USP of the Americas being a super-power . Mr Trump has demanded that other countries pay more towards their security or he will walk away. His bargaining would weaken NATO, leaving front-line eastern European states vulnerable to Russia. It would encourage Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. Japan and South Korea may be required to re-arm themselves with the nuclear armory.
The second reason to be wary is the old man’s increased temperament issues. During the campaign Mr Trump was a staunch narcissistic alongside being a thin-skinned and a very ill-disciplined person, as we know him now. Yet the job of the most powerful man in the world constantly entails daily humiliations at home and abroad. When congressmen mock him, insult him and twist his words, his work effectiveness will depend on his willingness to turn the other cheek and work for a worthy deal. When journalists outclassed him in the campaign he threatened to open up libel laws. In office he must ignore them or try to talk them round. When sovereign governments snub him he must calculate his response according to America’s interests, not his own injured pride.
The third reason to be wary is the demands of office. No problem comes to the president if it is very complicated. Yet Mr Trump has shown no evidence that he has the mastery of detail or sustained concentration that the Oval Office demands. He could delegate (as Reagan famously did), but his campaign team depended on his family and on political misfits. He has lived and moved over on the idea that his experience in business will make him a master negotiator in the field of politics. Nowhere will judgment, skills and experience be more exposed than over the control of America’s nuclear armageddon—which, in a crisis, falls just to him
The genius of America’s constitution is to limit the harm one president can do. We hope Mr Trump proves our doubts groundless or that, if he fails, a better president will be along in four years. The danger with popular anger, though, is that disillusion with Mr Trump will only add to the discontent that put him there in the first place. If so, his failure would pave the way for someone even more bent on breaking the system.
If there is any cue so far it is that Trump has been silent on India, unlike his voluble comments, say in the case of China. Not being on the Trump radar in the initial period may not be a bad thing; India will have the luxury of watching other nations deal with Trump’s promise of disruption.
The open markets and classically liberal democracy that we defend, and which had seemed to be affirmed in 1989, have been rejected by the electorate first in Britain and now in America. France, Italy and other European countries may well follow. It is clear that popular support for the Western order depended more on fast growth and the galvanising effect of the Soviet threat . Politicians and pundits took the acquiescence of the disillusioned for granted. As Mr Trump prepares to enter the White House, the long, hard job of winning the argument for liberal internationalism begins anew.