Early Wednesday morning I switched off the TV, reckoning as I saw the initial reports coming in from Florida, that Hillary Clinton was going to be the 45th President of the United States. I fell asleep thinking of her preening sense of entitlement but safe in the knowledge that the boat wouldn’t be rocked. My phone pinged at 7.45 a.m. I read the text with astonishment. The Donald was going to move from Trump Tower to the White House. Good God, is he really going to lock her up.
I pose this question because this is central to the anxieties about the Donald. Will he really do what he said he will do, ban Muslims, build that wall and effectively dismantle NAT0 ? Nobody really knows but much will be revealed by the composition of his cabinet. So far so good. He has made conciliatory noises but believe me it will take a lot more than that to heal the deep rifts in American society. The Donald did not create these rifts but his rhetoric amplified them, often in the most dangerous manner.
Now acres of newsprint and hours of commentary on radio and TV have been expended on the tumultuous implications of the Donald’s move from 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue to 1600. He owns a hotel at 1100, but as it is my nature to be an optimist, let me try to contemplate that this perhaps is not the end of civilisation as we know it. One of the primary driving forces behind Trump’s election is the sense which so many have that they have been left behind by the drive to globalisation. If he can start to counter this sentiment by a major investment in America’s creaking infrastructure this will prove a major boost to the economy and also send a firm message to the economically disenfranchised that he has been listening to their grievances. Equally if investment is concentrated in those inner cities where there are large Afro American populations that would do so much to alleviate the pervasive sense that he is against minorities.
Where it gets trickier is what his approach to international trade will be and here is a clear and present danger to Ireland. He has made it obvious that he wishes to make significant cuts to corporation tax and also provide a strong incentive for US companies to repatriate profits parked abroad. We should not underestimate the danger this poses to our multinational sector.
Now for the dark stuff. His attitude to climate change is a threat to us all. I only pray that when he gets the best scientific advice available to any U.S. President he will understand what a grave threat to humanity it presents. As for Putin, he must understand the dynamics of what effectively is a gangster state. I have always admired the American system of checks and balances. It is about to be put to the test.