Some first thoughts on Trump.
What Will He Do?
I suspect that the Donald is really only interested in using the levers of power to maximise his personal wealth.
Lots of commentators have pointed to inevitable tax cuts, but that’s not thinking like the king of the jungle. If it were the UK, I would predict that he would quickly enable The Trump Organisation to run all public services, and indulge in a grab of all publicly owned land, resources and intellectual property. I’m not sure if this is as a rich a vein of wealth in America, but the idea still holds.
He is also likely to use his new job as a bargaining tool to make personally beneficial deals with global power players. We can only guess what enslavement of the US population he will promise.
In terms of any other area of government policy, the man’s too uninterested in politics to actually do anything that will cause him aggravation. He’ll leave all that to the motley crew of right wing crazies that he’s assembled on his coat tails to fight it out with the rest of the Republican Party – a more dishonestly (or at least self-deludedly) Trump-enabling bunch of anti-intellectuals (who will no doubt spend the next four years martyrising themselves.)
My chief concern is the way he will deal with dissent – domestically and from abroad. I fear what the greediest man in the world will achieve now that he is in charge of the most armed police force in the world and the biggest military artillery in the world.
How Did He Do It?
In terms of what to learn from the election result, there are so many strands that the reasons are likely to become tangled in retrospective analysis.
Having said that, the three most interesting stats I have seen are:
- Clinton won more votes.
- Trump support was more about immigration than inequality*.
- Trump lost significantly with voters earning less than £50,000 and won in income brackets above this. More here.
I would only add two thoughts:
The Trump victory adds grist to the mill about the idea that politics is becoming more about cultural identities than it is about how to run a country. To win, US Democrats (and all left-leaning politicians) must stop focussing on left-pleasing issues and really engage with the issues relevant to opposition supporters. This takes real diplomacy and good judgment without being judgmental. But as long as politicians on the left fail to do this, they will remain in a holding pattern hoping for the young generation to become a critical mass of leftist voters.
My other thought regards Trump’s complete lack of concern about offending anyone and how it plays out (bizarrely) as a strength. Trump’s endless abusiveness (especially to “fellow” Republicans) was the behaviour of an alpha human so self-assured that he could freely abuse politicians and civilians on all sides without concern for his own safety or poll ratings. To publicly and unashamedly abuse a Gold Star family showed such conceit and disregard for morality or diplomacy, that many would have instinctively seen it (deep down in their primal pack psychology) as strength and leadership.
And finally… I can’t leave the subject without comparing Trump and Corbyn. There are many similarities (as there are with Bernie Sanders). Trump and Corbyn have committed to a “mass movement” campaign, eschewing the political establishment and standing tall as their own man in a defunct political system. Howevever, my suspicion is that Corbyn has no more chickens left to hatch. Indeed, Trump, Brexit and the 2015 UK general election all showed that hidden, unpolled votes support socially unacceptable right wing views.