What Now For The United States?
As the dust begins to settle over what in the words of U.S House speaker (Paul Ryan) was the ‘most incredible political feat of my lifetime,’ Americans and the rest of the world are left asking ‘What now from January 20th when this box office movie eventually goes live?’
While Trump might be saying the politically correct things at the moment, it is important not to be politically naïve as to what his values are. It was Trump who wrote in his 2007 book, Think Big And Kick Ass, “When someone intentionally harms you or your reputation, how do you react? I strike back, doing the same thing to them only ten times worse.” In the world of business and even in his popular ‘Apprentice’ show, he was known as a vindictive and vengeful man. Whether he will revisit the subject of deploying a private persecutor on bitter rival, Hilary Clinton, remains to be seen. Yet, one thing is clear – Trump hardly forgets. It is the fear of many that Trump might be his own greatest enemy. Past presidents have simply been restrained by restraint. By a belief that there are certain things one simply cannot try or do. Yet Trump has repeatedly triumphed in circumstances that most predicted were impossible. He operates entirely without shame. Perhaps, the biggest hope to taming a Trump presidency will be the Senate of the Unites States. These are peculiar times and all senators – Republicans and Democrats – must realize that a time bomb waiting to explode currently occupies the White House.
Yet, Trump is not entirely a bag of negatives. It was Barack Obama who noted at his White House Briefing on Monday 14th November that “I don't think he is ideological. I think ultimately he is pragmatic in that way. And that can serve him well as long as he has got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction.” While the election results might have reflected deep rooted seeds of racism, sexism and religious bigotry, it is also a truism that Trump has made some success in his own personal life that inspired many electorates to vote for him. Translating that success to the murky waters of politics will be a different task but he must be given a chance.
It has been said and not without reason that the biggest loser in the wake of the elections is Barack Obama. His legacies and all he stood for stands in the balance. It is true that realities at the oval office might humble Donald Trump, but it is difficult to see how he will not overhaul the Obama legacies. Top of the list are the Iran deal and the now infamous ‘ObamaCare’. At the core of Trump’s campaign was a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to scrap Obama’s executive actions on immigration and climate change. Trump also has promised to undo the president’s deal to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the biggest foreign policy achievement of Obama’s second term. Trump might moderate his actions on deporting 12 million undocumented immigrants and the likes but he certainly has the power to rip into shreds anything left of the Obama legacy. The early verdict is that the Obama presidency did enough, steadied the ship and delivered an ‘Ok’ nation. The fear however, is that within months of a Trump presidency, all we might remember of Barack Obama is that ‘He was the first black president of the United States,’ with nothing remembered about what he did. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is often remembered for the ingenious framework that was ‘The New Deal’, Obama risk being remembered solely for his skin colour.
And now some political epitaph for the Clintons. The Huffington Post reported after the elections ‘It was arrogance, arrogance that they were going to win. That this was all wrapped up.’ Several theories have been proffered to explain just what went wrong for the Clinton campaign in an election that virtually everyone expected the Democratic nominee to win. But lost in the discussion is a simple explanation - The Clinton campaign was harmed by its own neglect. But this was not all. A school of thought believes that Hilary Clinton just was not popular. She didn’t inspire confidence dating back to the Democratic convention, and even when she brought the Beyonces, Obamas and Lady Gagas to the campaign rallies, it ended up being less about her and more about them. They, rather than herself, were the main event at those rallies. Elections are about popularity and she wasn’t liked (forget what the popular votes tell you). In an era of political change, a vast majority of Americans just concluded that the Clintons have too much baggage of their own.