Welcome to the age of Trump

Rorschach, Going Postal

We likely are witnessing the end of an era, something last seen with the elections of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald  Reagan in the 1980s that heralded a seismic shift in political and economic thinking. What could be termed the neo  liberal consensus broadly held sway in the Western world until November 2016 and Donald J. Trump becoming President  under a banner of reactionary right wing populism that rejected globalisation and conventional political and  cultural attitudes which were the prevailing views for the last few decades. Over night, the Republicans were no  longer the party of balanced budgets and low deficits but of stimulas and bringing back jobs from overseas. It was  no longer the party of the American century seeking domination over the rest of the world but of self interest when  it suited. It was no longer the party of free trade but of protectionism and isolationism. It is now the party of  the strongman leader.

What had been predicted since the banking crash of 2008 had finally come to pass. Neo Liberalism had been on life  support since then, hobbling on with the aid of bailouts for banks and big business and a massive redistribution of  wealth away from everyone else. Western liberal democracy had successfully propped up the system up to now, but it  seems at a cost to itself. The harsh economic policies imposed on ordinary people and rising unemployment and  stagnant wages was always feared to lead rise of populist demagogues. It had been speculated the left might be able  to take advantage of the economic and political failures of the system but instead it is the populist and far  right.

As President Obama said in a recent press conference, Trump isn’t an ideologue but a pragmatist. Over the years he  has backed Republicans and Democrats, including ironically the Clintons. He has flip flopped over major policy  issues from health care, gun control, taxes to reproductive rights. In the primaries likely to stick out from the  crowd and get media attention, he made increasingly extreme and provocative comments which resulted in him being  abandoned by the Republican establishment and then (seemingly accidentally) becoming the leader of an ultimately  successful populist movement. All of which brings us today; as a product of unintended consequences Trump is  assembling a government of the most extreme elements of the Republican Party who remained loyal to him, and the  likes of Frank Gaffney, a right wing anti Muslim conspiracy theorist who together are likely to upend the political  and economic consensus that has governed the West for the past generation.

In the media coverage the significance of this moment seems to be overlooked, in favour of the narrative that  “America Elects a Bigot” and increasingly shrill and hysterical headlines such as “This is a terrifying moment for  America. Hold your loved ones close” by The Guardian’s Steven W. Thrasher who breathlessly claims: “We who are  queer or LGBT are going to face a rolling back of our rights. We’re going to be stuck with abstinence-only  education, which vice-president-elect Pence favors in Indiana.”. To be sure, I am not dismissing this – Trump after  all purposely for opportunistic win-at-any-cost reasons allied himself with the so called “Alt Right” movement,  which seeks to end the stigma over racism and sexism and make white nationalism acceptable in polite society again,  who have now all be it inadvertantly been brought into government along with him. It is however but one component  of the revolution that West is to under go in the coming years.

The argument being settled on is that this was a “whitelash” against the gains made by minorities in America and a  black President, as though Trump ran purely under a platform of racism and bigotry rather than it just being a  crude tactic of his. The fact is America was inspired to vote for Trump’s radical political and economic agenda and  rejected the status quo in the form of Hillary Clinton. So desperate were they it now seems for change that they  couldn’t bring themselves to just hold their nose and vote for Clinton and weren’t sufficiently repelled by Trump’s  eccentricity, political inexperience and frequent obnoxious behaviour and crass remarks. That should be telling in  itself.

Should Trump live up to his campaign rhetoric, America’s relations with the rest of the world also face radical  change. The continued relevance of NATO and America’s defence commitments to it are under doubt and wars of choice,  regime changes and “humanitarian interventions” may all be all be a thing of the past under a Trump Presidency,  although the presence of controversial hawkish ideologues such as John Bolton are a cause of concern as far as this  goes.

I think it highly likely Trump will win a second term, barring impeachment. His policy for drilling for more oil  and fracking to create energy independence is likely to create enough of an economic boom in the next few years,  even if it is likely to largely go a huge on a tax cut for the rich. What America and the rest of the West will  look like after the Trump revolution has finished with it we can only imagine, although considering my own  political leanings you might forgive me if I don’t see much to be positive about.

Welcome to a new political age. Welcome to the age of Trump. God help us all.

Rorschach AKA Mr Cloud ©