Monthly Archives: November 2016

Trump – a Pyrrhic victory?

Though Trump won a convincing victory in the Electoral College, nevertheless he did lose the popular vote. This will not in any way prevent him becoming President. However it may well make life for him as President a lot less smooth than many are assuming.

The votes show that there was no popular swing towards Trump. He barely won the same number of votes as Romney, four years ago. He won the electoral college because Clinton failed to mobilise the core Democrat voters in a few key states – Wisconsin, North Carolina etc. These voters did not swing to Trump, by and large they just didn’t vote.

With no popular mandate for his programme, Trump has potentially a lot to worry about, even with the support of a Republican majority in both houses. If Trump wants to win re-election in 2020, he knows that he faces a tough job. The Democrats are unlikely to pick such a divisive candidate again. Their next campaign will not ignore their core voters again. The Democrats have won the popular vote in six of the last Presidential elections. Barring some unexpected 9/11 event, Trump faces an uphill struggle to win again.

With the Republicans in control of just about everything, Trump will have no one to blame but either himself or the Republican Party if he fails to deliver on his key promises. Since he is not a stupid person, he will have realised this already. Which may in part explain why he has already begun to soften his language and start to talk about compromises. Even Obamacare may survive. However the key will as ever be the economy. To have any chance of re-election Trump needs to deliver on his promises of massive infrastructure spending and raise the incomes of working Americans. The worrying question for Trump is, can he get his own party to support this?

Most Republicans seem to live in a zombie land of voodoo economics, where you can cut taxes for the rich and bring down the deficit. The Republican base is also very hung up on some key issues – immigration, gay marriage, abortion for example. It is not clear that Trump can deliver on all or even any of these. Remember the Republicans are well short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

All this leaves the Democrats with a strong hand. The majority of the country supports them. America has not suddenly become a racist, misogynist country. At least it is no more racist or misogynist than last week.

In just two years time there will be another election for the House and for a third of the Senate. This offers the Democrats a crucial opportunity to wrest the initiative back from the Republicans. The post election statements of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren indicate the way forward. Can they and their supporters seize control of the party from the current Democrat establishment? Interesting times!

1 Comment

Filed under Politics

President Trump – initial thoughts

Well, not many people saw this one coming. Pollsters and pundits have a lot to answer for. Still the American people have spoken and congratulations to Mr Trump. It may be that for Trump winning the election turns out to be the easiest part. His Presidency may be a lot more challenging than many, including the man himself, imagine.

Trump’s success of course has as its counterpart the failure of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Though Clinton it seems has, very narrowly, won the popular vote, this is of no consolation or importance. In the USA the Presidency is decided by the Electoral College. Everyone knows this, including Clinton and the Democrat leadership. They failed, end of.

Not only did the Democrats fail to win the Presidency, they even failed to win back control of the Senate. It takes some degree of political incompetence to achieve this. Remember Clinton was running as the successor to one of the most respected and popular Presidents of all time. Obama still has very high ratings among Americans. Her opponent was one of the most unfit candidates of all time. Unpopular and even derided by many in his own party. This election should have been a shoo-in for the Democrats. One can only conclude that Clinton herself was the main reason she and Democrats generally did so badly.

Right from the beginning of the primary campaigns it was clear that Hilary Clinton was the wrong choice for Democrats. She just carries too much baggage. Some of it good, but much of it bad. She has always been a very divisive person in America. She is also very obviously a key paid up member of the Washington insider establishment. At a time when this establishment everywhere is under unprecedented challenge from outsiders, it simply made no sense to choose Clinton as the candidate.

Trump of course played on all this and presented himself not just as the outsider, but one who would bring change, particularly for those who have lost out economically over the past decade or so.  As President, Trump now has to deliver on all his promises. A pretty incoherent mishmash of promises it must be said. Massive tax cuts, massive investment in infrastructure –  to be paid for how?  How will President Trump keep his promises on immigration and what will/can he do about the millions of illegal immigrants already living in the country? A big issue for Trump was free trade deals – it would seem that he does not like them, regarding them as the reason for the decline of American manufacturing. Will he really impose swingeing tariffs on goods from China and Mexico?  Can he do this and keep America in the WTO? If he tries how will China respond?

Moving away from the economy, Trump is no friend of measures to combat climate change and has threatened to abrogate the recent Paris agreements on combatting this threat to the planet. Let us not even begin to try and make sense of Trump’s pronouncements on foreign affairs. Perhaps his friend Vladimir Putin will help him out here.

As was said in another context, lots and lots of unanswered questions. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Trump’s choices will affect not just America, but the world as a whole. Unfortunately for President Trump he will have no one to blame if he gets any of these decisions wrong. The Republicans are now in control of both houses of Congress and able to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court. So from now on the buck well and truly stops with them.

As the Chinese saying has it, be careful what you wish for. If Trump as President is the great deliverer he claims to be, then he and the Republicans can look forward to eight or more years of untrammelled power. However, it is not clear that everyone on the Republican side is fully on board all of Trump’s grandiose plans. If things turn out to be more complicated and messy than Trump’s rosy vision of the future, then politics could become very interesting indeed. Republicans in Congress blaming Trump and Trump trying to blame everybody. This election could be the high point for Republicans. Assuming the Democrats have the wit and determination to quickly put together a credible alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Politics