I went to bed confident of victory. I came to in shock. That was on 24 June. Last night it happened all over again. Trump was right about something. The establishment keep getting it wrong. With the election of a defiant anarchic outsider, it surely marks the end of dynastic politics in America. And yet there’s life in the establishment yet.
So it was Brexit plus, plus, plus after all. While the world is not going through a repeat of the world slump of 1931, the impact of the crash of 2008 is creating far bigger ripples for longer than was generally expected. This is the not- Hitler result. But you can begin to understand better how the Germans fell for him.
We can only hope that Trump spoke in metaphor and grisly jokes. People on his team and the public voted for what they thought he stood for and ignored or excused much of what he actually uttered. He was the opposite of a dog whistler, a megaphone amplifier of real grievances, neuroses and rebellion against what some call political correctness and others call basic civility.
But will he scrap Obamacare rather than improve it, build a border Wall and try to repatriate millions of Latinos rather than give them resident rights, make the US energy self sufficient and abolish environmental protection? On foreign policy which contradictory pledge will he keep? Will he go for wiping out jihadis or pull back further from abroad?
Scrambling around for consolations, Trump was so wacky during the campaign that he starts with a virtual clean sheet. The real world starts here. Was it any more than yet another Trump mood swing that his victory speech was a complete U-turn from the campaign?
“I just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us, it’s about us, on our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard fought campaign. She fought it very well. Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude to our country
Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division… I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important for me.
For those who have chosen not to support me… I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together to unify our great country.”
His pledge of a Trump New Deal is very unRepublican and is Rooseveltian in its ambition. It plays to his instincts as a property developer. It’ll be diverting to see how conventional Republicans in Congress will react to the prospect of voting a trillion dollars on the much needed renewal of America’s infrastructure.
The Brexit theme has just become bigger. Trump’s specific pledge to renegotiate of unpopular trade deals and pivot towards greater US protection will shrink volumes and make it harder for the UK to strike new deals to replace a fall in trading with the EU. Might it have a perverse effect of forcing the EU to become more outward looking?
On social reforms Americans were perhaps fortunate that they were able to achieve a good deal in most states during the Obama presidency. A stay on further abortion reform will give confidence to conservative opinion in both parts of Ireland. In the US the big target for conservatives is reversing the Roe v Wade judgment that permits elective abortion.
Ironically this is also a victory for part of the establishment. Some consolation can be taken from the Republican clean sweep in Congress and the forthcoming conservative consolidation of the Supreme Court. Freed from Democrat competition the Republican majorities have the responsibility to check a president who is only nominally one of them. Establishment members will fill hundreds of posts in the administration and try to turn sound bites into workable policies. Rudi Guilliani was a brazen Trump supporter and the inspiring mayor of New York on 9/11. He may become one of Trump’s guardians in the White House.
All this is hope and speculation. Once more it will be said that the polls were not actually wrong but they produced the wrong predictions in the political establishments and mainstream media. No doubt the churn was enormous but if Trump’s was a blue collar victory it surely wasn’t produced by working class trending. But social media may have undermined the stereotypes that were wrongly thought to be sown up for Clinton.
Whatever powered them, the huge waves created by austerity aren’t exhausted yet.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London