Inside Story

Current affairs & culture from Australia and beyond

576 words

Midnight in America

9 November 2016

With the election of Donald Trump, the world has entered uncharted waters


Passers-by in Tokyo watch coverage of Donald Trump’s victory. Kyodo

Passers-by in Tokyo watch coverage of Donald Trump’s victory. Kyodo

America and the world are reeling – the midnight in America scenario that Donald Trump used to gather his support has truly come to pass. The people who voted for Trump see him as the person who can bring the changes they want – more jobs and opportunities, the end of government as usual, and the hope and change that they did not see under President Obama. It’s a moot point as to whether Trump can deliver what he has promised his supporters. It is very easy to see why angry voters turned away from the political status quo represented by Hillary Clinton, but it is not easy to see why they would see Trump as their saviour.

America is revealed as a nation divided along multiple fracture lines. Americans of colour and especially those of the Muslim religion are entitled to feel very afraid. Trump’s victory will embolden racism and discrimination. Sadly, there is no basis for believing that Trump can heal the divisions he exploited to win the election. He is not a unifier. He has very successfully branded his supporters with their red “Make America Great Again” hats, and banished and ridiculed those who are not among them.

We can have no clear way of knowing what Trump’s election means for the United States and for the rest of the world because we don’t know what Trump will do. He has had few core policies and his word has never counted for anything. Moreover, it is very unclear whom he will appoint as his advisers and who will be in his cabinet, how or even whether he will work with the Republican-dominated Congress, and how cognisant he will be of the Constitution, laws and ethics that normally govern presidential behaviour.

There are those who claim that a new Trump will emerge and/or will be constrained by the “sensible” Republicans, but the reality is that this leopard will not, cannot change his spots. He will do whatever he wants, on the basis that he achieved his unexpected victory doing things his way. The situation is confounded further because Trump owes no allegiance to the Republican Party and its leaders. His promise to “drain the swamp” means that many people in key positions in Washington, and all the Obama administration’s senior appointees, will be dismissed (if they haven’t already resigned). This new administration will be seriously short of needed experience and expertise.

Of some things we can be certain. A series of vendettas and law suits will be launched against those who have angered Trump, with Hillary Clinton at the head of the list. There are things Trump has said he will do from day one that he can’t walk away from – these include building the wall on the Mexican border, repealing Obamacare, and suspending the Syrian refugee program.

Then there are other commitments that may or may not be implemented, in immigration, taxation policy, military commitments and trade. Even if Trump doesn’t act immediately on his foreign policy and trade commitments, markets and currencies are already suffering worldwide and there could easily be another global financial crisis.

This is the Brexit Plus Plus Plus that Trump promised. It is truly midnight in America and the world has become a darker place. We are all entitled to be very nervous. •

Read next

965 words

What to watch for when you’re watching the presidential count

7 November 2016

Behind the cut and thrust of the campaign, the past ten elections provide clues to the vital signs


Crowds greet president Barack Obama campaigning for Hillary Clinton in the battleground state of Ohio. Erik Drost/Flickr

Crowds greet president Barack Obama campaigning for Hillary Clinton in the battleground state of Ohio. Erik Drost/Flickr