The Economist: Donald Trump’s victory is a disaster for Republicans and for America

September 30, 2016

American politics

Donald Trump’s victory is a disaster for Republicans and for America

DURING its 160-year history, the Republican Party has abolished slavery, provided the votes in Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act and helped bring the cold war to a close. The next six months will not be so glorious. After Indiana’s primary, it is now clear that Republicans will be led into the presidential election by a candidate who said he would kill the families of terrorists, has encouraged violence by his supporters, has a weakness for wild conspiracy theories and subscribes to a set of protectionist and economically illiterate policies that are by turns fantastical and self-harming.

The result could be disastrous for the Republican Party and, more important, for America. Even if this is as far as he goes, Mr Trump has already done real damage and will do more in the coming months. Worse, in a two-horse race his chances of winning the presidency are well above zero.

It is possible that, with the nomination secured, Mr Trump will now change his tone. The crassness of his insults may well be muted as he tries to win over at least some of the voters, particularly women, who now abhor him. His demeanour may become more presidential (though there was little sign of that in this week’s bizarre and baseless pronouncements that the father of Ted Cruz, his erstwhile rival, had been around Lee Harvey Oswald before he shot John F. Kennedy). What he will almost certainly not do is change political course. For it is increasingly clear that Mr Trump has elements of a world view from which he does not waver (see article). These beliefs lack coherence or much attachment to reality. They are woven together by a peculiarly 21st-century mastery of political communication, with a delight in conflict and disregard for facts, which his career in reality television has honed. But they are firm beliefs and long-held.

Beyond the braggadocio

That world view was born, in part, on his father’s construction sites in New York in the 1960s. Mr Trump likes to explain that he once spent his summers working in such places alongside carpenters, plumbers and men carrying heavy scaffolding poles. That experience, he claims, gave him an understanding of the concerns of the hard-working blue-collar men whom American politics has left behind. It explains his deep-rooted economic nationalism.

Mr Trump has railed against trade deals for decades. He was arguing against NAFTA in the early 1990s. He now calls it the worst trade deal in the history of the world. Similarly, he has always viewed America’s trade deficit as evidence of foul play or poor negotiating skills. For a man with such convictions, it is plain that more such trade deals would be a disaster and that American companies should move production back home or face tariffs. Mr Trump might be willing to bargain over the penalties they should pay, but the underlying instincts are deeply held. He is a conviction protectionist, not an opportunistic one. And, judging by the results of the Republican primaries, at least 10m voters agree with him.

On foreign policy Mr Trump mixes a frustration at the costs of America’s global role, something that has become common after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a desire to make the country feared and respected. Those outside America who dwell on his geographical and diplomatic ignorance (of which there is plenty) risk missing the simple principle that animates him. Mr Trump wants to make those outside America pay the full cost of the hegemonic protection it gives them. Allies should have to stump up more for American bases on their soil, and for the costs of equipping and paying the soldiers in them. It is not correct to call this isolationism, since Mr Trump has also proposed some foreign adventures, including the occupation of Iraq and seizure of its oilfields. Rather it is a Roman vision of foreign policy, in which the rest of the world’s role is to send tribute to the capital and be grateful for the garrisons.

Counting the damage

For those, such as this newspaper, who believe in the gains from globalisation and the American-led liberal order, this is a truly terrifying world-view. Fortunately, Mr Trump will probably lose the general election. A candidate whom two-thirds of Americans view unfavourably will find it hard to win 65m votes, which is about what the winning candidate will need. The share of women who disapprove of him is even higher.

But that should be scant comfort, for even without a victory in November Mr Trump’s coronation as candidate will cause damage. There may be violence at the Republican convention in Cleveland, where Trump supporters and protesters are likely to clash. Voters will spend the next six months hearing over and over again that Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, is a crook and a liar. Much of that will stick even if she wins, leaving those who believe it enraged and Mrs Clinton weakened. America’s allies will watch the polls fearfully: whether at the UN Security Council or at bilateral talks in Beijing, Mr Trump’s spectre will loom over every meeting between America and a foreign power between now and November 8.

The Republican Party, always fractious, may actually fracture. Even if he loses, Mr Trump will have shown that there is a path to the nomination that runs via nativism and economic populism. Mountaineers know that the surest route to the summit is the one that has worked before. Some Republicans will say that Mr Trump’s message, shorn of its roughest edges, could deliver victory next time. Others will argue that he lost because he was not a true conservative. Without agreement on what went wrong, it will be hard to forge something new.

And then, of course, there is the possibility that he might just win. Mrs Clinton is not loathed by as many Americans as Mr Trump is, but the share who view her unfavourably is far higher than is usual for presidential nominees. Just as the killings in Paris in December energised Mr Trump’s campaign, a terrorist attack or other event that terrified Americans could tip the vote his way. The balance of probability is against, but none of this is impossible. That is why Mr Trump’s triumph has the makings of a tragedy for Republicans, for America and for the rest of the world.




11 thoughts on “The Economist: Donald Trump’s victory is a disaster for Republicans and for America

  1. USA Voters must think in advance of the consequences of their choice as they will have to live with their choice for at least four years. Sadly their choice will also impact of billions in other countries.

    Both the Presidential candidates say that they are fighting to be President and are using all means to win the ‘war’ for the Presidency. Both are alleging that the other is not trust worthy and will use all means to lie to the voters. But lying is common culture among almost all politicians and the most recent example is the former President Bush Jr. who lied not only to the US citizens but also its allies and the whole world about the NO-EXISTENT WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION and this lie was later confirmed by USA own documents. The consequence was the invasion of Iraq and subsequent ‘creation’ of ISIS which resulted in the civil wars in many Mid-Eastern Countries which contributed to the migration of men-women-children many of whom may be innocent and thus forcing them to leave their homelands and thus ‘creation’ of millions of refugees who headed for EU-Canada-Australia and other countries.

    Countries which accepted these ‘refugees’ are now living with the decision of the Bush decision as the ‘refugees’ are being perceived to be contributing to the economic-social-religious-crime problems for locals and leading to possible racism again as these ‘refugees’ are in many cases demanding to be allowed to follow the very requirements from which they may have escaped. The sad part is that the ‘refugees’ want others to be tolerant to their way of life but also want the others to follow them little realizing that the guest should follow the customs of the host and not direct the host to change.


    The rest of the world is watching and similar cases may be on the rise in other countries who are either multi-racial or multi-cultural or having ‘refugees’ of religions. Though all religions preach peace but some religious/society leaders do actions which may be anything but peaceful.


  2. After seeing the apparent “success” of Pres. Duterte’s kill-them-all-and-let-God-sort-it-out, many Americans, many of whom may not even have been out of the US of A, may find Trump a breath of fresh air after the stifling frustration of negotiating, pandering, pussyfooting to an ungrateful, unappreciative World.

    Trump have stop short of declaring that with Hillary Clinton, damn it, the West may not even have been won. Just like in business negotiations which Trump excels at, (he had often declared himself a latter-day guru of), a powerful America must take full advantage of that power, if not why be powerful and act powerless?

    That, to millions of American voters seeing Russia and China thumping their noses at Obama, (a soft-spoken black man having his own burden to carry), is a powerful message.

    Who knows. Just like who would have predicted that Ronald Reagan, a 1950s radio announcer and later a nondescript actor of low-budget cowboy movies, would triumphed over Mikhail Gorbachev, an elitist communist Cold War warrior and convinced the latter to end the Cold War, brought the Berlin Wall down, and became friends? This too convinced communist China to surreptitiously go down the capitalist road and transformed a die hard collectivist economy into, very soon, the biggest economy in the World, a title held by the supreme capitalist US of A for only a short 50 years.

    History has a bad habit of rewriting itself, and manners may maketh man, but Trump may yet untangle the gridlocked geopolitical mannerism of international relations, even if he had to destroy it first, unless he is actually the Anti-Christ Christians have been waiting for for 2000 years.

  3. If Hillary wins the presidency, the United States will show a bad example to the world about what the United States stand for. The chaos of the world unleashed by Obama administration aided by Hillary’s world view will continue and exacerbate under Clinton’s presidency. The third world nations will cheer Al-Gore-like Americans coming to Malaysia-hosted meeting to preach democracy and insult the prime minister of Malaysia.

    What is expressed by Trump may not look palatable, he is more likely than Clinton to represent or at least protect the fundamentals of the United States. What he will do will eventually be more helpful to other nations more than what Clinton’s records have already demonstrated.

    Trump’s presidency will influence the world (beside to USA) in this direction:

    1) Nations, taking the cue of Trump’s nationalism, will be acting for the good of their respective nations. Globalism will be considered good only for selected areas of world affair. Supra-national organizations such as UN and OIC will take a back seat. This will stabilize the world.

    2) Cultures that are antithetical to modern world norms (which is of image of western civilization) will be confronted, not cuddled. Beheading video will be stopped very soon. Caliphate will become a dirty word.

    3) Fundamental American values such as freedom of expression will be promoted again. We will no longer be seeing Clinton attending OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) supporting UN resolution 16/18 which undermines freedom of expression under the guise of Islamic blasphemy law.

    4) As Europe goes down and US goes up, the world will again re-affirm their belief in self-government, and will again reject good-looking socialism, a time-proven failed system of government.

    The above are good enough for the world while they start to learn straight-talking of Trump.

    Clinton’s presidency will be opposite to all the above 4 points.

  4. Most of us depend on CNN for the spin on the U.S. Presidential Elections. The other TV stations limit their comments to, “oh how interesting”. We all know where CNN stands when it comes to the Presidential Elections. As Trump himself has said on the Birther Issue, the Democrats started it and Republicans finished it. I do not know who is pushing whom. If you bring up an issue that happened in 1996 then you must be prepared to go where your opponent takes you even if it is beyond that year.The old saying, “people living in glass houses should not throw stones ” into play here. If you go into the past of your opponent then be also prepared for your past to fair game.

    In the US system the three branches of government are well heeled and nothing of importance moves until the three speak in one voice. We can be rest assured that, in this regard, any action that is inimical to the interest of the state will be subject to prolonged debate before it leaves the Farm House.

    opponent b

  5. The problem with Republican party is they fail their own ideals in the face practical politics. Trump does not represent the Republican ideal – small govt, rule of law, protection of private properties and liberties. He is all about opportunism, that is not Republican, it’s just capital liberalism without accountability, it’s not real liberty, liberty cuts both way, it comes with being answerable and he lies and answer nothing. He is as fake a liberal as a unrealistic socialist

  6. This is an old article recycled fresh again. The motive and agenda behind it is apparent and understandable.

    A Trump presidency is unmistakably bad for Asia and the Muslim world. But why should it be bad for the Americans themselves? He wants to bring American capital from abroad to home to create more industries, jobs for the jobless and job seekers and he wants allies to co-pay for the American military bases and troops stationed in their countries for their protection with an overall objective to cut down defense expenditure and make America great again.

    Americans are voting not outsiders and it is for the former to decide who they want Trump or Hillary. Trump is inexperienced and never held political office before – hence his faux paw and thoughtless hit backs. If at all he wins, he certainly will not be a disaster. Far from it, he will find his feet. The mantle of office and advice from a phalanx of experts and establishment top guns should shape his mind and thinking to see ground reality and act presidential.

    Sometimes we want to see ourselves for what we are – either as erudite or as a joker. Two friends attended a funeral and one asked the other ” Did you see the face of the deceased, he has a smile on his face”. “Yes I too saw that” said his friend and to which the former explained: “you see the deceased has borrowed money from all the people here. He is smiling whereas those who lend him the money are crying”.

    Let us not rejoice or recoil irrespective of who wins or loses – Hillary or Trump.
    Hawking eye,

    I am no comments to make except to say it is up to the American people. I happen to think that Hillary will make a better POTUS. But I am not an American voter and so what I think is of no consequence.–Din Merican

  7. Martin Vengaddason is a prolific writer , and he has given a beautiful summation, why he thinks Donald Trump WILL BE A DISASTER , if elected into office. True, he is a reckless character, saying that he is going to be Nastier when he assumes the Presidency….. ( Star News today = 2nd Oct )

  8. What is the latest ? Its hot in the News…… His own ‘subjects ‘ have now become the Detractors , and most want him to throw in the towel , because the Ring has become too hot for him – Good show Republicans , he should withdraw right away in a move that will be seen as conciliatory to a gentleman’s gesture for ‘ face-saving ‘ ?

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