Wow. Just Wow. "Donald Trump just won the presidency," I find myself repeatedly telling people, all of which are well aware of the outcome of the election. I can't believe it. Can I?
For those of you who follow this column, I've written thousands of words on how only a Bernie Sanders type "non-politician politician" would have answered the calls of millions of disgruntled and disenfranchised Americans. You've heard me say that income inequality is the greatest threat to democracy in the U.S. and worldwide. I've also said that if Trump does 10 percent of what he's promised, the U.S. will experience a monumental shift in every aspect of public policy.
For those that fear a Trump presidency, let me quickly put your mind at ease. Hillary Clinton has said that politicians need a "public position and a private position." I'm not sure more dangerous words have been uttered by a U.S. presidential nominee. Trump is often caustic, often sexist, racist, Islamophobic and xenophobic, but these are probably both his public and private positions. Richard Nixon's contribution to the United States economy cannot be overstated but he too was many of the things we fear Trump will be. We don't need a "good person" to be president, we need a president who will do good for the people. Perhaps Trump will be just that.
If his post-election interview given on Friday to "60 Minutes" was any indication of Trump and how he will conduct his presidency, his opponents should rejoice. Trump walked back many negative comments about Obamacare, about President Barack Obama himself, as well as many negative comments he made about Clinton. He all but dismissed appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton as well as banning abortions nationwide and reversing "marriage equality." In other words, Trump has become the most liberal Republican president in the history of the presidency.
So what has Trump indicated he will do differently? He signaled that the 90-minute conversation he had with President Obama following the election focused on turmoil in the Middle East among other things. Obama's policies caused death and destruction in the region and coupled with the Bush years, the United States has spent nearly $6 trillion fighting wars there. Trump has said that, "we could have rebuilt our country" instead of squandering those funds fighting wars. This is perhaps the most important statement Trump has made and should he be sincere in these statements, will mean the most for the world in terms of a shift in U.S. foreign policy. Where Obama was weak, perhaps Trump will be strong.
The world is in need of a United States that will follow through on its promises to end injustice and human suffering. Or alternatively, the world might be able to manage if the U.S. is clear about its intentions to walk away from its current leadership role. Unfortunately, Obama did neither. What will Trump do? "I'm not telling you," he answered Leslie Stahl during his interview, implying secret plans were already in the works to dismantle Daesh.
What has Trump said about the economy post-election? Not much. His appointment of Reince Preibus, current head of the Republican National Committee, as chief of Staff, signals establishment Republicans will be very much in charge despite Trump's promise to "drain the swamp." While he has previously been very vocal about the Federal Reserve (Fed) and its mismanagement of monetary policy, how he will react to the Fed's decisions going forward is anyone's guess. As a businessman, I believe Trump favors lower interest rates and the Fed will delay any rate hikes as they realize that more stimulus is on the way in terms of fiscal policy. Trump has said he would "rebuild" American airports in many speeches including the first presidential debate and this could be part of a larger public works program. Trump may champion many progressive policies while sounding very regressive as it is only these policies that will prevent the future collapse of American capitalism as we know it.
The dollar has strengthened globally as the Republicans have swept both Houses of Congress and the White House, meaning a "business-friendly" administration will have free reign at least for the next two years. I think this is only temporary and that the dollar will weaken significantly during Trump's presidency.
What Trump will actually do is very much unclear and so for the time being, all we can do is "hope" for "change."
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