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Trump Victory & Brexit Signal Major Shift

As the United States wakes up to a world in which Donald Trump has become the president-elect of the United States, many people are wondering — Why?

November 9

0:00
2016

London , United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland - 9 Nov 2016 - Vox

Trump’s victory came as a shocker to the commentariat because he defied the polls, which understated his support in most states and especially underestimated his strength in the key Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

However, this is an utterly devastating result for the Democratic Party nonetheless, handing over unified control of the federal government to Republicans, who already dominated in the states. And Trump pulled this off due to his strength among white voters. With Democrats defeated and Republicans scared to step out of line, Donald Trump’s control over the three branches of the US government means this horror show hasn’t yet begun.

Donald Trump’s victory marks a thunderous repudiation of the status quo. The most powerful nation on Earth has elected a real estate mogul with no experience in government, a self-styled strongman, contemptuous of allies, civil discourse and democratic convention. Barring a protean change of personality, Mr Trump’s victory represents, at face value, a threat to the western democratic model.

They will blame James Comey and the FBI. They will blame voter suppression and racism. They will blame Bernie or bust and misogyny. They will blame third parties and independent candidates. They will blame the corporate media for giving him the platform, social media for being a bullhorn, and WikiLeaks for airing the laundry. But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we now find ourselves wide awake: neoliberalism. That worldview – fully embodied by Hillary Clinton and her machine – is no match for Trump-style extremism. The decision to run one against the other is what sealed our fate. If we learn nothing else, can we please learn from that mistake? Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present.

Mr Trump has succeeded where Huey Long and George Wallace, American populists of the 20th century, fell well short. In storming to the White House, he has rewritten the presidential campaign playbook. He ran against the Republican party establishment and saw off all rivals, many with proven track records in office. Finally, after a campaign long on invective and short on policy, he delivered an resounding victory against Hillary Clinton, the ultimate establishment candidate. Americans chose a political neophyte with a simple slogan, “Make America Great Again”, to a former First Lady, senator for New York and secretary of state. Democrats will be tempted to blame their defeat on Mrs Clinton’s soulless campaign, with a mortal blow delivered by the FBI’s late intervention in the saga of her use of a private email server.

What they fear is that Trump will make good on all the promises – and threats – he made during these last 18 months. What if he goes ahead and deports 11.3 million undocumented migrants? What if he really does ban all Muslims entering the country? What if he tries to use the powers of the state to go after media organisations that have criticised him – making life difficult for the businesses that own inquisitive newspapers such as the Washington Post, for example – as he has said he will? What if he overturns abortion rights, even imposing “some form of punishment” on a woman who terminates a pregnancy, as he once suggested? And what if he really does build that wall?


There are plenty who believe that if Trump went ahead and actually implemented his programme, he would create a different country: closed, xenophobic and at odds with some of the founding principles – religious equality or freedom of speech – that have defined the United States since its founding. The country would still exist – but it would no longer be America.

Naturally, there is a ready chorus of self-styled realists and grownups, quick to say that such talk is excessive. Those voices offer assorted forms of reassurance. First, they make the perennial claim that every successful politician – whatever the bluster and rhetoric of the campaign – always moderates once in office. This view holds it to be all but a law of nature that the radicalism of the candidate is always tempered by the reality of governing. Trump may have talked up a storm on his way to the White House, they say, but once behind the desk of the Oval Office, pragmatic, practical considerations will surely constrain him.

What’s more, runs the argument, there are formal mechanisms in place to do just that. The United States, after all, is ruled by a constitution that insists on the separation of powers, so that the executive – the president – can never go too far, always held in check by both the independent judiciary, in the form of the supreme court, and the legislature, Congress.

These venerated institutions will surely prevent Trump from doing anything too crazy. Less august, perhaps, but also to be taken into account is the federal bureaucracy: a vast civil service of non-partisan technocrats, who will ensure that any Trump proposal is softened and smoothed into shape, sanding off its harsher, more wild edges. And there is always the military: they surely won’t let Trump get out of hand.

The trouble is, none of those reassurances stacks up. Start with the notion that once he has sworn the oath of office, Trump is bound to tone it down, dropping his most incendiary plans. The trouble with that idea is that party bigwigs were saying the same thing throughout the campaign, earnestly hoping that Trump would change once he became the frontrunner, that he would change once he won the party nomination, that he would change once he started the campaign proper in September. Normal candidates do indeed do that. But with Trump, it never happened.

Trump now has control over the vast US security apparatus, with all its power to kill, surveil and influence. Trump, whose command of policy specifics is minimal, has made no secret of his inclination to unleash it. Now he faces early tests of how far he will go.

Trump spent the campaign threatening to upend what has been called the liberal international order, the network of treaties and multilateral institutions that govern global relations. He has said he would tear up and renegotiate trade treaties, and has even called into question US commitment to the Nato alliance, the linchpin of western cohesion. With a completely new kind of leader preparing to enter the Oval Office, it is already looking like a world turned upside down.

The long-negotiated multilateral trade deals the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe (TTIP) will be the first to be halted. Opposition to those accords was a cornerstone of the Trump campaign. Trump has also said he would take apart the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) that binds the US economically it to its neighbors, Canada and Mexico.

In place of such treaties, he has said he would negotiate bilateral deals that would be more favorable for US manufacturing. But he would face hostile trading partners, irritated at the dumping of major agreements. Trump’s America could easily face a trade backlash and a downward economic spiral.

The other consistent theme of the Trump campaign was a foreign policy that revolved around his personality. He would bring his self-vaunted skills as a businessman to cut bilateral deals with other world leaders, particularly the autocrats.

Trump said he would even talk to Kim Jong-un if the North Korean dictator would travel to the US for the conversation. That is unlikely, but the prospect of an unconditional dialogue between leaders would throw a wild card into a deadlocked and extremely dangerous situation in which Pyongyang is well on the way to developing a nuclear warhead small enough to put on a missile, and a missile able to reach the west coast of the United States.

The relationship that will define the Trump presidency, however, will be with Vladimir Putin. Each of them has showered the other with praise. At every turn in the campaign, Trump refused to criticize Russian expansionist foreign policy in Ukraine and Syria. His aides specifically removed language from the Republican party platform about sending lethal aid to Ukraine, and Trump himself has echoed Putin’s denials of Russian military presence in the country’s east. In Syria, he has characterised the Russian and Assad regime bombardment of the opposition as a war on Islamic extremism, again emulating Moscow’s line.

Trump’s twin policies on the Islamic State (Isis) were to “take their oil” and “bomb the shit out of them”. The first is impractical without a vast military occupation and the second is illegal if it was suggesting indiscriminate bombing. A dual offensive against Isis is under way aimed at its twin strongholds of Raqqa and Mosul led by US allies, and a President Trump would face serious resistance from the Pentagon if he wanted to put US boots on the ground or carry out joint operations with the Russians.

Early on in a Trump presidency, expect a summit with Putin in which US-Russian relations will be reworked along lines the Russian leader has been pushing for, ceding Moscow areas of influence in the Middle East and on Russian borderlands.

Such a discussion will shock major US allies in Nato, an alliance Trump has described as “obsolete”. He has questioned whether it would be worthwhile for the US to provide a security umbrella to allies who are not deemed to have contributed enough, in financial terms, to collective security. Turmoil within Nato could meanwhile tempt Putin to make encroachments on its eastern flank. Few are more worried about the global consequences of a Trump win than the residents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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