Globalization takes it on the chin
The angriest and most pessimistic people in America aren’t the hipster protesters who flitted in and out of Occupy Wall Street. They aren’t the resonance of Black Lives Matter. They aren’t the remnants of the American labor movement or the savvy young dreamers who confront politicians with their American accents and unAmerican legal status.
The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call middle Americans. Middle class and middle-aged, not rich and not poor people, who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description.
You can measure their pessimism in polls that ask about their expectations for their lives and for those of their children. On both counts, whites without a college degree express the bleakest view. You can see the effects of their despair in the new statistics describing horrifying rates of suicide and substance abuse fatality among this same group, in middle age.
White middle Americans express heavy mistrust of every institution in American society not only government, but corporations, unions, even the political party they typically vote for, the Republican Party of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell, which they despise as a sad crew of weaklings and sellouts.
They are pissed off. And when Donald Trump came along, they were the people who told the pollsters, “That’s my guy.” Well we all asked for something different and now we have it.
Let’s make America great again.
— Presidentelect Donald Trump’s election is a major blow to globalization, and will probably lead to a period of U.S. nationalist populism.
Judging from what he has said publicly in recent months, Trump wants to take a step back from some of America’s major trade, climate, and political commitments with the rest of the world. He probably won’t be able to do it all, even if he controls both houses of Congress, but he will owe it to his base to move in that direction.
“Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” Trump said in his July 21 acceptance speech as party nominee at the Republican National Convention. He said then that “the most important difference” between his plan and that of his opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, was that “our plan will put America first.”
On immigration, Trump is unlikely to make a serious effort to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. It’s too costly and would raise too many legal issues.
Rather, Trump is likely to increase deportations, which already reached record numbers under President Barack Obama, and publicize them more than his predecessor. Trump may also terminate or scale down Obama’s executive action to give temporary visas to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the country as infants.
On his proposal to build a wall along the entire U.S.Mexican border, Trump will probably expand the existing wall, and talk a lot about that. But he won’t get Congress to give him anywhere near the $12 billion to $25 billion that would be needed to complete it.
He will probably ask for the funds, and then blame Congress for the next four years for not authorizing them. Besides, Trump will need to avoid a nationalist backlash in Mexico, which could result in Mexico electing leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the 2018 elections.
On trade, Trump has threatened to withdraw from or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. But it will be hard for him to renegotiate NAFTA, because Mexico and Canada will oppose it, and his own Republican Party lawmakers are not likely to approve a unilateral U.S. withdrawal.
His proposed 35 percent tariff on Mexican imports would mean that the price of a Mexico-assembled Ford Fusion car bought in the United States would go up from $24,000 to $32,000 dollars. I doubt Trump will want that to see that happen to U.S. consumers. More likely, he will impose some import fees to appease his anti-trade supporters.
On the other hand, Trump’s victory will most likely kill President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership free trade deal between the United States and 11 Asian and Latin American countries, as well as Obama’s proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union.
On climate change, Trump has said he does not believe in human-caused climate change, and has promised to cancel the 2015 Paris Agreement signed by Obama with nearly 200 countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions. While Trump cannot withdraw from that deal in the short term, he will probably drag his feet in implementing it, possibly driving China and India to do the same.
Where I see the biggest impact of Trump’s nationalist populism will be in the areas of nation-building, human rights and democracy.
Trump has suggested that he will try to improve U.S. ties with autocrats such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, despite Putin’s horrible human rights record. “I don’t think we have a right to lecture” other countries, Trump told The New York Times on June 20.
My opinion: Trump’s nationalist populism, alongside Britain’s recent decision to leave the European Union, seems to be leading us to a less globalized, more fragmented world. We are likely to see a lesser U.S. effort to strike diplomatic alliances with like-minded democratic countries, and a U.S. retrenchment from its role as a global champion of democracy and human rights.
Yes, we should give Trump a chance to succeed before criticizing him. But some of us will remain nervous about the possibility that his “America first” credo will lead to isolationism and to a dangerous era of short-sighted unilateralism.
— In the end, the evening’s unfolding Ican’t-believe-what-I’m-seeing surprise magnified Donald Trump’s election victory. But it shouldn’t have. The anger in America’s troubled heartland at the political establishment has been brewing for years, beginning with the tea party in 2009. It boiled over in the 2010 midterms, when voters took the House of Representatives from President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party.
It boiled over again in 2014, when voters enlarged that Republican majority and gave the Senate to the GOP to stall Obama’s far-reaching initiatives.
And in 2016 it emerged again in both parties. Bernie Sanders’ primary crowds, votes and victories reflected intense dissatisfaction with Democrats’ anointed nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump will be the nation’s 19th Republican president. But he is only the sixth man elected to the U.S. presidency as his first public office, all of them Republicans or Whigs. Trump defeated 16 other experienced, respected Republican men and a woman.
Trump boasted he was not a politician, though in hindsight the political rookie was better than all the veteran pols. Indeed, being seen as the anti-politician was arguably Trump’s strong suit in this hate-Washington era.
Not hard to discern the outsider between the billionaire and the former state first lady, national first lady, senator, secretary of state and two-time presidential wannabe.
Trump became the default change agent, vowing to drain the Washington swamp, which is actually what part of the nation’s capital was in 1790 when Maryland donated the sodden land to the new country.
Clinton was the status quo, only more so, with her close ties to Wall Street and political and financial cronies, as uncloaked in daily WikiLeaks emails.
American voters have refused to give Democrats three consecutive White House terms since World War II.
In 1976 ex-Democrat, then-Republican Ronald Reagan vowed to create a new political coalition by convincing millions of blue-collar Democrats they really were conservatives. It worked for two Reagan terms plus one for his vice president, George H.W. Bush.
Trump’s victory is similar. His public communication skills were honed through the mass medium of TV, like Reagan, then funneled through social media and mass rallies. At age 70, Trump will supersede Reagan as the oldest incoming president.
Despite derision among political cognoscenti, the New Yorker followed his gut instincts to go after the forsaken Rust Belt with his Washington-is-broken, the system-isrigged, restore-American-greatness message.
“The forgotten men and women of this country,” Trump repeated, “will be forgotten no longer.” He won Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, which the GOP had lost since 1988. Trump likely won Michigan which — don’t forget — Sanders shoplifted from Clinton last spring.
And Trump won Wisconsin, which Republicans haven’t captured since — wait for it — the 1984 Reagan landslide. Clinton’s inexplicable decision not to campaign there at all will form part of Democrats’ painful political autopsy these next few years.
“People,” said Brian Ballard, a Trump state finance chair, “entirely underestimated the hunger for change and a true outsider.” Further proof of a main Trump point — that both parties and the media in the nation’s capital have become woefully out of touch with Americans in flyover country.
Trump driving the staid GOP into populism may or may not outlast his larger-than-life personality. However, House Speaker Paul Ryan offered praise for the new party leader. “Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard,” he said.
The win certainly creates a compelling 2017 political dynamic to see whether the imperative for conservative Supreme Court justices, Obamacare repeal or replacement, and other agenda items makes cooperative bedfellows of starkly differing Republican factions and the new commander in chief.
In the end, it turns out, this election was indeed rigged, rigged for change not by Eastern elites but by nearly 59 million scattered, unhappy voters. That’s fewer than Clinton got, fewer even than Mitt Romney got in 2012.
As has happened 44 previous times in the past 240 years, voters’ collective wisdom produced another imperfect but viable solution to run the nation through the next leap year.
Voters craved White House change more than they wanted the status quo of a third Obama term with Clinton. They wanted change so much they were willing to disregard outrageous Trump remarks and behaviors.
In Congress, however, more than sweeping change, voters clearly wanted a status quo, though a narrow one, warning leaders there to produce change, for a change.
Well played, Founding Fathers, well played.