Thursday 17 November 2016

Looking On The Bright Side Of President Trump

Out Of Darkness ... Light? That Donald Trump possesses an enormous ego is indisputable. The question is: will that ego be better served by becoming one of America’s truly great presidents – or one of its very worst?
LET’S BE OPTIMISTIC about President-Elect Donald Trump. Optimistic? Seriously? Yes, seriously.
Oh, I know that America’s late-night liberal chat-show hosts are all hyperventilating at the prospect of President Trump. And, yes, I’m aware that the global Left is competing furiously in the self-flagellation stakes. Because, of course, Trump’s victory was all about them and their failure to retain the loyalty of white working-class males. (Although, quite how the Left hoped to do that after nearly 40 years of heaping unrelenting economic, social and cultural humiliation on Caucasian proletarian masculinity defeats me utterly!) But, if you’ll just bear with me, I’ll try to outline why a Trump presidency could end up okay.
Let’s begin with the comments of ex-pat Kiwi businessman turned big-time American corporate CFO and Washington insider, Chris Liddell. On TVNZ’s Q+A current affairs show, Liddell commented that Trump’s victory marks the definitive end of the era of untrammelled free-market capitalism.
According to this former CFO of Microsoft and General Motors, rising inequality and the hollowing-out of the Western middle-classes are trends that the global political class (and the corporate interests they represent) can no longer ignore. Trump’s victory, said Liddell, equals “Brexit x 10”.
Or, as Bob Dylan used to say: “The times they are a-changing.”
“Oh, come on!”, I hear you say. “Optimism is one thing, but peddling pure fantasy is another.”
Fair enough. Let me, therefore, draw your attention to the response of Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives, to Trump’s election-night promise to launch a massive programme of infrastructure renewal.
The Republican and Democratic parties, she said, will be forced to “come together and find common ground”. She also reminded the news media that a massive programme dedicated to rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure was one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest election promises. If Trump sends an massive infrastructure bill to the House, then there can be little doubt that the Democrats will vote for it.
Which is all very well, but what about the Republicans? Is it really credible to suggest that the party which implacably resisted every economic and social reform advanced by the Obama Administration is suddenly going to embrace his much-maligned “Stimulus Package” as their own?
A better question, perhaps, is what will become of them if they don’t?
What must never be forgotten is that Trump comes to the White House carrying less political baggage than any presidential candidate since Dwight Eisenhower. His billionaire status enables him to operate without recourse to the squalid back-room horse-trading that has turned-off so many American voters.
It’s a situation ideally suited to a successful populist leader. Having run against “The Establishment” and won, Trump now needs to demonstrate what his victory means in legislative terms. The very best way to do that is take up a position bestriding both the Democratic and Republican parties. By demanding bi-partisan support for his plans to restore American greatness he will be offering himself a win-win proposition. If the Democrats refuse to play ball, they will merely reinforce their estrangement from “Heartland America”. If the Republican Party balks at Trump’s Keynesian solutions (which, ideologically-speaking, they are bound to do) then Trump has them over a barrel – a pork barrel.
A Republican congress foolish enough to resist Trump’s programme will prove to the American people that it wasn’t Barack Obama who was the problem, or even the godless Democratic Party. An obstructionist Republican majority will demonstrate conclusively that Washington’s problems are ultimately traceable to the Republican Party itself.
If this eventuates, then Trump’s options are twofold. Either, he reaches out to Nancy Pelosi and the new Senate Minority Leader, and makes America great with the votes of Trump Republican loyalists and the Democratic Party. Or, he turns to his “base” and asks it to deliver him a pliable congress at the earliest opportunity – the Mid-Term Elections of 2018.
This latter course would allow Trump to do what nobody else – Democrat or Republican – has been able to do since 2008: purge the Republican Party of its extremist, Tea Party, element. The consequent drawing together of the two major parties would restore to the Legislative Branch the bi-partisanship it so conspicuously lacks: that willing co-operation among legislators which the framers of the US Constitution deemed essential to the success of representative government.
Such a course of action would, naturally, earn Trump the bitter enmity of his fellow One Percenters – who would almost certainly attempt an end-run around both the Executive and Legislative Branches by appealing to the Judiciary. What better reason could Trump have for appointing a string of intelligent and independent Supreme Court Justices?
That Donald Trump possesses an enormous ego is indisputable. The question is: will that ego be better served by becoming one of America’s truly great presidents – or one of its very worst?
This essay was originally published in The Press Of Wednesday, 16 November 2016.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jesus Chris, you're talking as if Trump is a normal human being. He's just an ego on legs. He might not be a Christian, but he does think the universe has purpose – to make him rich. So he isn't going to have the brains, the stamina, or the political nous to do any of this. Having said that I seem to have lost a lot of money betting against Trump in the last six months or so, so please take me with a pinch of salt.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Indeed, white "middle class" – as Americans tend to call the working class – males have certainly been ignored. And they have lost ground. But they are basically resentful of minorities who seem to be jumping ahead of them in the queue for goodies. Particularly those who they considered to be "lazy" – which is dog whistle for black. When you lived a life of privilege for so long, equality begins to look like discrimination.

Grogger123 said...

All this presupposes that Trump has any sort of workable program to implement- it hardly matters how he dominates the House and Senate if he has nothing positive to deliver on.

On the bright side, at least the TPPA is almost certainly dead.

Polly said...

By golly Chris you would have sent the Green and Labour's political cabals into absolute tizzy by this post.
Metiria will probably walk out of parliament, call you treasonous and blame John Key and James will say that he is sorry to be a man because Chris Trotter is one.

A very acute post, I would not choose to disparage any of the points you have made.
It is simply to early to judge.
Of course your post may turn to custard, but so may all of the antagonists predictions.

Finally on this blog I have stated that Trump will have a more realistic approach to the ending of the debacle in Syria than Clinton, simply because he does not have her political baggage in the USA war machine, neither is he involved in the millions of dollars the Clinton foundation has been donated and accepted from Saudi/ Sunni territory interests.

Don't expect any more gift wrapped carrots from Metiria at Christmas, all the best.

Nick J said...

Now that the Don is a fait accompli I hope the whining self indulgent drivel stops and some real evidence based counter conversations begin. I see you revived the US version of Waitakere man Chris, according to the Archdruidreport this week W mans woman also voted his way.

Greer makes comment that the noise about email servers etc meant nothing. It was down to policy. Jobs, immigration, trade, peace, healthcare. Stuff like racism sexism and gay rights were of absolutely no interest positively or negatively to Trump voters. Can he deliver?
Q: Can Trump get me a job so I can put food on the table?
Q: Can Trump get rid of expensive compulsory Obamacare bills?
Q: Can Trump prevent my child coming home from the army in a body bag?
I suspect Trump will try to do these things, whether he succeeds is not the issue. So long as he tries the votes and support will follow.
All so simple really. Do what the Democrats and Left used to do in times past. The stuff that makes for a happy dinner table under a secure roof.

K K Els said...

Chris, have you considered the remarkable similarities between the American Republic 2016 and Germany's Wiemar Republic 1930-32? Much as I dislike Trump and what he (says) he stands for, his (apparent?) policy of rapprochement with Putin may be the only policy preventing descent into a major war. If he follows through on it policy I just might forgive his more unsavory ravings and allow democracy has taken its course sensibly.

greywarbler said...

Flights of fancy or fantasy? Chris you have come up with interesting ideas and possibilities. I will be checking back to see which of them comes to fruition as the months roll on. Perhaps some chaos theory eventuality will cause disruption to the current discourse. Let the Games begin.

llloyd said...

Next thing Hollywood will be producing a movie about the white men who actually built America and showing how they did it. I mean built institutions and worked hard.

Nobody seems to notice this is a nativist uprising. It has clear parallels with native uprisings. A great deal less bloody though. It was finding out they were a minority facing extinction in the 1860s that suddenly apparently out of nowhere put the Maori on the war path against the settlers. The white educated women must be felling uneasy even if they support Trump. Glass ceiling again. Still better than being pushed out to a homeless shelter which was becoming the common fate of millions of dispossessed white American men.

Kat said...

or Cameron Slater would be a great PM for NZ.

ok.................... :(

Kiwiwit said...

I knew there was a reason I read your blog - it is that sometimes you have insights that no other political commentator has. Trump certainly has his faults but one thing he is not is stupid. You might just be right on the mark with how you see his presidency unfolding.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Q: Can Trump get me a job so I can put food on the table?

Almost certainly not – not without a trade war – and a probably won't anyway because it was just rhetoric. And some of the people around him are now admitting it was just rhetoric.

Q: Can Trump get rid of expensive compulsory Obamacare bills?

Obama care has only increased in price for some. Trump will probably get rid of Obama care expenses by getting rid of Obamacare. So a qualified yes. Interesting though, even people who hate and loathe Obama – probably because he is black – like Obamacare. Because while some people have seen their insurance premiums go up due to the greed of the insurance companies, quite a number of people have been saved from bankruptcy and maybe death by it. But as one guy put it after listening to one of their stories "He can save their kids, but they still hate him."

Q: Can Trump prevent my child coming home from the army in a body bag?
Who knows Trump will do here. Depending on his whim he could increase or decrease the number of body bags.

If he fails, I think enough people will give up on him to put a Democrat in at the next presidential election. But many of his fans are true believers, and probably won't be swayed by evidence.

Polly said...

llloyd, re 'white men who built America' etc
In 1980 (about that time) I visit a major construction site about 30 miles from Galveston, in the American South.
The were building a massive Chemical plant, the major constructors were Bechtel Corp.
There were about 2000 workers doing 10 hour days ,6 days a week. Most of the workers were white though there were a few black men, not many and though racism was illegal I don't think it was entrenched.
I met many of the workers and was struck with their names and the easy contact with them. I asked an administration manager what was the surnames of most of the workforce, about half hour later he turned up with rolls of computer paper which had all the employees names.
I went quickly and easily through the surnames and was astounded to see in the main that they were English, Welsh Scottish and Irish surnames.
It was these workers ancestors who had migrated, carved out and built much of these southern states.
In my opinion it was these men who voted for Donald Trump.

Victor said...


Although analysis of the election result remains a work in progress, it does seem that most of the large minority of Americans who booted Trump into power were regular Republican voters.

Presumably, the Hill's GOP deficit hawks will be paying as much attention to this quartile as to the swing voters in swing states who pushed their man over the line. So show me the money!

For the historically-minded, though, it's an intriguing and disconcertingly familiar scenario that you conjure up.

As the latest iteration of uncaring, austere liberal globalism collapses, it's successor turns out not to be social democracy but that awful, unfair, emotive 'F' word.

So will it be guns, butter or neither?

jh said...

When you lived a life of privilege for so long, equality begins to look like discrimination.
For Brietbarts 20 million readers it was always about immigration = loss of identity = loss of a peoples having a homeland. Migration is from places like China where 92% of 1.2 m people are Han. The goal of HRC is an ethnicless society.

jh said...

Watch Kenneth Cumberland's Landmarks to see who built NZ

Guerilla Surgeon said...

An interesting read.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

JH Breitbart's 20 million readers.. Sigh. They are, to put it bluntly fools who are taken in by an organisation which, to put it bluntly again MAKES SHIT UP. And to the extent that you believe anything they say so are you.

Bushbaptist said...

Interesting reading:

pat said...

@ Bushbaptist

indeed it was....and many of the same themes in this also interesting piece.

I would suggest much is transferable to here in NZ.

greywarbler said...

Bushbaptist gave a link to Harvard Business Review. I saw on the page one looking at Abraham Lincoln operating in his political environment that was hostile to stopping slavery. The item related to criticism from Trump about Clinton who referred to Lincoln giving different messages to different groups, suggesting that she approved of lying.

An historian comments on studies he had done on famous people explaining their concerns to the public. He makes the point that it is often necessary for a politician to make different explanations to advise on each group's different concerns.

The importance of fighting the war in the face of unprecedented casualties meant distinct things to each of these groups, and Lincoln had to appreciate these perspectives and speak to each of them in the relevant contexts, without obsessive public regard to his own deep-seated thoughts and feelings.

I have been critical of Winston Peters when he seemed to say different things on the same day about a policy. Perhaps real attention has to be paid to whether the points made actually would result in different policies, or just different facets of the same, showing how it is equal to the task of meeting the interests of each group while not having negative effects on any.

greywarbler said...

I have just come to the late realisation that Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have many similarities. Large men with eclectic interests, outgoing and probably unable to be shamed, and great hair. It seems a combination that will take a man far. Take note Andrew Little.