Sunday 13 November 2016

Donald Trump: A great leap into the unknown

For the second time this year, I went to bed quietly expecting a national vote to go one way only to wake up the next morning and discover it went the opposite way to what I hoped for.

Although I'm shocked and disappointed by Donald Trump's election victory it doesn't compare to how upset I felt after the Brexit result.

I understand and recognise that many of the same forces that led to Brexit are behind Donald Trump's election win. My main feelings over the last couple of days have been one of general uncertainty.

What does the future hold for America and the world with Donald Trump as President? It's this uncertainty that I find uncomfortable to deal with.

I've written about this before in earlier blogs and what's clear is that there is a growing movement and revolt against establishment politicians and global elites. Donald Trump becoming President is the biggest reaction against this.

We constantly hear about those people who feel left behind by the effects of globalisation, the disappearance of well paying manufacturing jobs in places like the American Mid-West and the North of England. People who feel the elites and establishments in London, and the East and West Coasts of the US don't understand or are interested in their lives.

Many people quite rightly feel that the system is no longer working for them anymore. I get this I just don't believe that Trump will have the answers to many of the problems and frustrations many people feel.

I know I'm not the only person who assumed his leadership bid would simply run out of steam, that it was a bad joke that wound eventually stop being funny but it's no longer a joke, Donald Trump will be the next President.

In terms of him implementing many of his policies, I'm convinced that when faced with the day to day realities of government some of his policy statements will either be abandoned or severely limited. The Wall along the Mexican border - surely that cannot happen?

I might be overly optimistic in saying I don't think Trump's Presidency will be quite the nightmare that many of us think it will be but at the same time it's not going to be great.

His election victory says a number of things about how America sees itself, both at home and abroad but also how we in the West choose to deal with many of the social and political challenges that lie ahead.

The outcome of Brexit and the US Presidential election tell me that the forces of reactionary right wing populism are on the rise. That in dealing with our challenges means that we become a nations more insular, fearful or hostile to others. That we're happy not to try and change the system to make things better but instead we'll smash the system up completely regardless of the consequences.

I feel deeply uncomfortable with the way things are going? What worries me is that Brexit and President elect Trump is simply the start of a domino process. We have elections coming up in the next 18 months in France, Germany and Italy.

Are we going to see a similar anti establishment backlash in those countries? Certainly in France the political climate appears ripe for Marie Le Pen's National Front to make major gains.

I feel that in historical terms we're coming to the end of an era in history. Since the end of the Second World War. We've seen countries come to together both economically, politically and militarily to ensure future peace and prosperity. The problem is that this consensus of free trade, the movement of goods people and capital around the world. Political and economic unions like NATO and the EU are in danger of breaking up as a result of these anti establishment forces.

After reading and listening to all the analyse on Donald Trump, part of me feels it can't be as bad as we think it's going to be but what I am concerned about is the future of international relations and the prevailing thoughts and values that are emerging.

Eight years ago Barack Obama was elected the first African American President. Rarely have I felt so much optimism, even though expectations on Obama were ridiculously high. After this week's Trump victory never have I felt so much pessimism.

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