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London School of Economics and Political Science Students' Union

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This website was launched in 2015 by Zoe Liu (Publications Officer 2015-16)

(Dis)United States of America?

November 9, 2016

 

First Brexit, then this. Sweeping across the Atlantic, the wave of xenophobia and bigotry catches the United States off guard, electing Donald Trump as the 45th President of United States. I am shocked and disgusted to say that man is going to join the ranks of 44 great men and become the most powerful person in the free world. Past Presidents have not been perfect, indeed many are flawed, but none have been so lacking in attributes of a decent human being, let alone the attributes of a President. 

 

He embodies the ugliest parts of American politics, the politics of hate and fear. His campaign has been nothing short of a farce, with very little substance, focusing instead on his opponents and minorities, whipping up racist sentiments with hateful rhetoric. America’s prospects do look quite grim. Fortunately, there is still a way ahead.

 

Short of any major electoral fraud, Donald Trump is going to be the President. This is a political fact. Disbelief and outrage would not change that. What we have to do now is to accept it and start breaking down the walls that he had already built. We can do that by talking policy and make sure that Trump acts in the best interests of all Americans. 

 

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people”. Let us move from discussing Trump the person, to what Trump should and would do as President. Despicable as his past acts may be, what matters most is his actions from now on, especially those concerning foreign policy and the economy.

 

If Trump goes through with any of his ludicrous foreign policy plans, it would be nothing short of a disaster. Fortunately, this does not seem like it would be the case. In his victory speech (very tame by Trump standards), he assured the country that he would be President for all people, not only the ones that elected him. Compared to the divisive rhetoric used on the campaign trail, this is a good sign. However, Trump has yet to detail reasonable foreign policy plans, and in a world where the balance of power hangs on a very thin thread, this is a pressing problem. Best case scenario is the hands-off presidency that Trump has described, with much of the foreign policy decisions delegated to people with far more foreign policy experience than Trump. Most importantly, the administration has to assure other foreign powers that there is no major change in foreign policy dealings in the US. While the Trump administration may have a different foreign policy compared to Obama’s administration, they would do well if they enact such changes in a predictable manner, with a focus on preserving stability. The emphasis now is on how he crafts a credible foreign policy: one that is reasonable and doable. 

 

Another matter of concern is the economy. Stock markets have tumbled since the news of Trump’s victory, indicating the market’s uncertainty about his presidency. Throughout the campaign he has used anti-establishment rhetoric, campaigning against the ‘elite’, pandering to the downtrodden and the disenfranchised. While his views on the American economy is rudimentary at best, it does bring up an important point on the “forgotten men and women” of United States, people that feel left behind in the era of globalisation. Inequality is indeed a big problem in the United States, and if there’s one silver lining in this election, it’s that we now know the extent of discontent in the nation. Hopefully, with their candidate of choice in office, they would feel that they have more say in policies and begin to heal the great divide. Whatever Trump’s policies may be, I think it is important for him to consider Obama’s advice: “[T]he economy is not an abstraction. It cannot simply be redesigned wholesale and put back together without consequences for real people.” 

 

With the Presidency, Senate and House under Republican control, there is potential for positive change to be enacted. Regardless of one’s personal view on Trump, differences must be put aside in the name of pragmatism and progress. Citizens of United States must 'come together as one united people’ and forge a path forwards, a path built on trust and mutual understanding. 

 

Make America United Again.

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