“When you give [money to politicians], they do whatever the hell you want them to do . . . As a businessman, I need that.”—Donald J. Trump (1946- ), in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015.
“We [the United States] spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives. . . . Obviously, it was a mistake . . . George W. Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East . . .
“They [President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney] lied . . . They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”—Donald J. Trump (1946- ), during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.
“In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.
“We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to the Middle East; we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity.
“The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away, and for what? It’s not like we had victory.
“It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized. A total and complete mess.
“I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States, on our schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart.”—Donald J. Trump (1946- ) in a GOP presidential debate, on Tues. Dec. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas, NV.
“Throughout history, any profound political and social change was preceded by a philosophical revolution, at least among a significant section of the population.”—M. N. Roy (1887–1954), in ‘The Future of Democracy,’ 1950.
There has just been a generational political earthquake in the United States and the after shocks are potentially going to be huge. Indeed, on November 8, 2016, against all odds, the Republican candidate Donald Trump (1946- ) was elected to serve as the 45th American president, repeating ad nauseam his main slogan, “Make America Great Again.” He will be the first American president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969) to occupy the White House without having personal political experience.
Trump’s rhetoric and proposals have been squarely anti-establishment and anti-status quo, both domestically and internationally. As such, Trump’s victory is a political revolution in the making because it announces a break from American policies pursued by both Republican and Democrat U.S. administrations since the 1990’s.
For this reason, Trump’s election inspires both fear and hope. Fear among the established elites, especially among the dominating Washington/media/financial establishments, because the Trump victory will undoubtedly be seen as a repudiation of their values and policies. And after last June’s Brexit, the writing may also be on the wall for the current crop of European elites, who have also actively pushed for a globalized world, with open frontiers, illegal immigration, technological changes, and the deindustrialization of the more advanced economies.
There is hope, however, among those who have been left behind economically, politically and socially, especially among those in the American middle class whose real incomes have been stagnant or declining, and who have suffered badly from the agenda and policies pursued during the last three decades. Over the last 30 years, indeed, the upper 10 % and the super-rich 1 % segments of the U.S. population have greatly benefited from a shift from a manufacturing to a service economy, while the bottom 90 % was left behind.
Many disenfranchised American workers, especially those with less than a high school diploma, saw in Republican candidate Donald Trump and in defeated Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders the hope to see things change for the better. It is symptomatic that Americans in large urban areas voted massively Democratic, while industrial and rural areas voted massively Republican. Contrary to polls, the forecasting models that included the historical context and the desire for change in their prediction had it right. This is the case of American University professor Allan J. Lichtman’s model.
Trump’s Herculean task ahead
President-elect Donald Trump and his team have a Herculean task ahead of them if they are to deliver on the promises they made.
1. Let us begin with the main foreign policy changes to be expected.
The biggest losers of the November 8 election will be the foreign policy hawks and the neocons in the previous U.S. administrations, from the Bill Clinton administration to the current Obama administrations. They are the ones who have pushed to rekindle the Cold War with Russia and who have designed the interventionist policies, which are destroying the Middle East.
It is expected that a Trump administration will reverse the U.S.-led NATO policy to provoke Russia by multiplying hostile military moves at its borders. Also, it can be expected that a Trump administration will strike a deal with the Russian government of Vladimir Putin to bring the disastrous Syrian conflict to an end. This is bad news for the murderous Middle-Ages style ISIS organization.
Of course, a Trump administration can be expected to turn U.S. trade policy on its head. Trade policy would likely be paired with an industrial policy. In practice, this could mean that the two large multilateral free trade and free investment treaties, the Transatlantic Free Trade agreement (TAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) will be stopped in their tracks.
In this sense, the Trump revolution could mean that economic and financial globalization is dead.
2. The main domestic policy shifts expected from a Trump administration.
A Trump administration will attempt to prime-pump the U.S. economy through a series of economic policies. After all, candidate Trump has promised to boost the U.S. growth rate to an average of 3.5 percent and to create 25 million jobs over the next decade. He has also promised the “overhaul of our tax, regulatory, energy and trade policies.”
How can a Trump administration stimulate growth? First, by proposing a massive $ 4.4 trillion tax cut to spur growth, not dissimilar from the 2001–2003 Bush-Cheney administration $1.3 trillion tax cut program, which met with dubious results, besides increasing the U.S. government fiscal deficit.
Second, a Trump administration will attempt to boost U.S. manufacturing jobs. For that, it would have to do better than the record achieved during the two Bush-Cheney terms, when the United States lost over six million manufacturing jobs. To reverse that trend, Trump may attempt to force the repatriation of the $2.1 trillion profits that U.S. companies are holding overseas and induce those corporations to invest more within the United States. He may also raise some import taxes to persuade American-owned corporations to create jobs in the U.S. To what extent a Republican-controlled Congress will acquiesce to such a protectionist trade policy remains to be seen.
Finally, candidate Trump has promised to launch a massive infrastructure investment program, stating that he wanted to “build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, seaports, and airports.”
3. The Trump government’s social challenges
By far, the biggest challenge that a Trump administration will face will be to make good on candidate Trump’s promise to abolish the national health program known as the Obamacare. He has proposed to replace the American health care law with a transfer of Medicaid to the states, accompanied by a state block grant program, and to provide tax exemption for employer-based health insurance plans, to be extended to individuals who purchase coverage on their own. Candidate Trump has even flirted with the idea of having the U.S. adopt a single-payer health care system. It remains to be seen how such a complex issue can be resolved.
It will take weeks and months before the Trump administration’s real agenda becomes clear. Under a Donald Trump presidency, the United States can be expected to change direction on many policies. As this revolution unfolds, the eyes of the world will be on the Trump administration and on the new policies it will attempt to implement. Let us hope that this will be done with care and intelligent thinking, and not in precipitation and chaos.
Economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles,” and of “The New American Empire”. Please visit the book site at thecodeforglobalethics.com/ and his blog at thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm. To write to the author: firstname.lastname@example.org.