They say a country always gets the government it deserves and Trump’s victory is no exception though what it actually means in practical terms only time will tell though I am sure that “The Markets” will go in a tail spin over it all as people ponder the link, if any between Trump’s rhetoric and practical reality .
What is certainly true is that this has been by far the most depressing American election I can ever remember between two truly awful candidates, the most interesting thing will be to see how following such a divisive contest there can be a binding up of the deep wounds that have opened up during the course of it right across the USA.
What the Result Means
This result is of course very much in line with the “anti establishment” vote that delivered Brexit in the UK and may yet appear again in next year’s French and German elections because it is a sign of the times, however and whilst parallel in mood, in practical terms it is all rather different. Whilst Trump’s victory was based less on him and more on anger and frustration aimed at the Washington elite, Brexit was a single issue and this is where a key difference lies.
In the UK we have seen the “establishment” that assumed we would be remaining within the EU, recover from their initial shock and engage in any tactics they can using the Courts even, to overturn the result. For all the mealy mouthed phrases about “we are all leavers now…” the truth is that their objective is to so totally neuter the exit negotiations that in effect, we are still bound to the “Awful Empire” that is the EU and in contravention to the result of the referendum.
For Donald Trump things are rather different, he may be the poster boy for change today but in reality, can he deliver anything meaningful in the next two years before the next round of Congressional elections fall due ? Answering this question will shape his time in Office because failure to show meaningful progress could lead to him losing control of the Hill in two years time and from there an inability to get anything done which is what happened to Obama during his first term as President.
Trump and his advisers will be well aware of this so and despite probably little actually happening, Trump will be “big” on appearing to deliver on his promises which gives him another big problem, it will not leave enough space to be a ‘President for all Americans’ which makes him very vulnerable in two years time. The way US elections work is that it is all about the numbers or turnout so, if Trump won by getting people who don’t normally vote to do so, they may not be there in two years time but the Democrats most certainly will be and in considerable numbers.
For all the verbal stuff he has pumped out during the campaign, none of his “sound bite policies” can happen overnight either at home or abroad and even though the Republicans control the Hill, this does not promise him an easy ride and he will get frustrated on some of his more silly ideas. His big problem was the pledge to “Bring jobs home” which would have had a lot of appeal in the rust belt states but that just isn’t going to happen and even totally revising the US defence stance so that thousands of troops are bought back to the US to then get made unemployed is a policy that is nowhere as simple as it seems.
The truth is that what lies at the root of this is simple economics, Bill Clinton’s: “It’s the economy, stupid” still plays out and cannot be solved simply. The key problem lies with US consumers and US corporations both of whom have got used to cheap imported goods be it smartphones, clothing or pots and pans, those jobs cannot be bought back to the USA unless people are prepared to accept far higher prices and as consumers, will want fewer things. It is also the case that those jobs that were “exported overseas” are no longer the same jobs as those that were ‘lost’, they have likely been largely automated so that they use even fewer people and ignoring any other difficulties, if bought back ‘home’ wouldn’t provide many US based jobs.
The problem for Trump is that his nostrums such as “Build a Wall” and all the other nonsense just cannot be delivered fast enough or even at all for him not to be seen as ‘no better than the others’ by the very people who elected him. The idea that a businessman with no experience of public office can do a better job of running the Country than an experienced politician whilst appealing is not a practical solution. A businessman only has to worry about his company and his own bottom line, a President has to worry about the bottom line of everybody including the people who didn’t vote for him and aren’t his ‘customers’, can Trump do this ?
We do indeed live in ‘interesting times’ but the real solution for both the USA as for the UK and all others is that we need to build a new economy and this will require both political and commercial leadership because it means breaking up past habits, ways of doing things and ways of thinking. If the people who voted for Trump expect a return to ‘Happy Days and the Fonz’ they will be sadly let down, going back is just not the way no more than it was for those in Britain in the past that mourned for the “Loss of Empire” or Putin for the loss of the Soviet Union.
In the end, Trump may well surprise us all and get positive change going both at home and abroad, let’s hope so even though there must be a suspicion that he is likely to be just another windbag. Either way he is now on the big stage, it is now time for him to perform and time for Americans generally to contemplate what reforms are required to their electoral system because this whole Presidential race was awful and produced the two worse candidates ever presented to the electorate, you really don’t want to repeat this surely ?