Trump Wins Big: What Now

Trump Wins Big: What Now

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With just a few hours passed since the US election results were officially announced, it is certainly premature to pontificate on likely policy changes in Washington. Nonetheless, Trump’s victory and that of the GOP in Congress were so massive and unexpected that at least some speculation on their meaning is warranted.

 

The first thing to note is that this election will almost certainly prove to be a transformative one, that is an election that ends one era in American politics and ushers in another. To that extent, it is similar to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, though Trump hardly resembles Reagan as a politician. It is also a dramatic repudiation of the policies of the Left that dominated not only Hillary’s agenda, but those of Barak Obama for the last eight years. Indeed, the one policy that is certain to be abolished as soon as the new administration gets going is Obama’s failed effort to nationalize America’s healthcare system. A key result of this election is a democratic party that had lurched hard to the Left under Obama, now finding itself dispirited, rudderless and in serious disarray. The question it still has to answer is how it was possible for it to nominate a candidate that was demonstrably flawed and openly despised by at least half of the American population.

 

There are also more than a few lessons to be learned from the election. First and foremost the role of the media and the utter failure of the professional prognosticators to even imagine let alone predict a Trump win. What is  known in America as the mainstream media were nearly unanimously, often hysterically so, on Clinton side and against Trump. In newspaper endorsements, Hillary led 80 to 1 and 95% of reported political donations by journalists went to Clinton.

 

Similarly, the vast majority of election polls and voter surveys predicted a comfortable Clinton victory until the very end. Indeed, the margin of the putative Clinton victory increased in the realclearpolitics.com average of all polls from 1.5% to over 3% on the day before the elections. It will take some time and some honest reappraisal to find out what caused this monumental misjudgment, but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that what journalists and pundits were reporting on was not the political reality, but wishful thinking.

 

Though final electoral breakdowns are yet to be published, some basic facts about the electoral behavior of different groups are already clear and they are significant. First, it has been an article of faith among the bien pensants that there are not enough conservative, white working-class people, a group often referred to by the liberal establishment as “white trash,” to swing an election. The massive support of white voters without college for Trump may have put the lie on that theory. Another conventional wisdom had it that Trump’s crude remarks about women would disqualify him in the eyes of evangelicals for whom character matters. In fact, Trump carried the evangelical vote (26% of the total) by more than 80%, a higher percentage than that of the last three GOP presidential candidates. In the key battleground state of Florida, for instance, the evangelicals may have provided Trump’s margin of victory.

 

What could we expect from Trump in terms of policies? This is, of course, the key question because of the numerous and frequently contradictory statements he made during the campaign. We would know more about specific policies when we know who the key players of the future administration are, but several basic starting positions are already clear. In general, areas where Trump’s announced policies are in sync with the GOP in Congress, we could expect quick progress. Conversely, several of his expressed policy preferences that clash with the GOP consensus in the House and the Senate are unlikely to see much action soon. These include, for example, his promise to deport illegal aliens, annul free trade agreements or improve relations with Putin, who is universally despised in Congress.

 

Of the former, quick action could be expected on lowering corporate taxes from 35% to 15% and repealing the estate tax, both long-term republican objectives shared with Trump.  The same is likely to happen with the abolishment of Obamacare as one of the first legislative initiatives of the new Congress. There is further no doubt that Trump and Congress will act quickly to appoint a conservative Supreme Court judge to take the seat of Justice Scalia. Trump will likely have the opportunity to appoint at least two more SCOTUS judges in his first term and remake it ideologically for years to come.

 

In foreign policy, Trump has already said that he will tear up the flawed nuclear agreement with Iran immediately on becoming president and there is no reason to doubt that he will do it. He has also said that he will increase defense spending, make European allies pay their fair share and take the war to the terrorists in the Middle East. It is not clear exactly what that means and how he’ll go about it, but fears that he’ll make a deal with Putin, let alone a ‘second Yalta’ agreement to the detriment of Eastern Europe are clearly without foundation.

 

By Alex Alexiev

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