Donald Trump elected


in Politics

I watched the U.S. election unfold at Massey College, where the mood grew progressively more grim with each new batch of results.

It’s still shocking that the U.S. has made such a self-destructive choice.

U.S. presidential elections: 2008, 2012, 2016

This outcome seems to have had a strong emotional effect on almost everyone I know, and with good reason. It’s a capstone on America’s decline as a world power, and of the growing dysfunction of the American political system. With both houses of congress and the presidency held by a party driven by harmful (often hateful) emotions and determined to disregard evidence, it’s scary to think what will happen in America during the next four years and what it will mean for humanity as a whole and nature.

The most optimistic plausible interpretation seems to be that this is the last gasp of an America that is deeply sexist and racist, threatened by every aspect of modernity and — able on this occasion to win by exploiting popular anger, but doomed in the longer term by demographics and their ineptitude.

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

. November 12, 2016 at 12:44 am

Mr Trump was carried to office on a tide of popular rage (see article). This is powered partly by the fact that ordinary Americans have not shared in their country’s prosperity. In real terms median male earnings are still lower than they were in the 1970s. In the past 50 years, barring the expansion of the 1990s, middle-ranking households have taken longer to claw back lost income with each recession. Social mobility is too low to hold out the promise of something better. The resulting loss of self-respect is not neutralised by a few quarters of rising wages.

. November 12, 2016 at 12:50 am

“The genius of America’s constitution is to limit the harm one president can do. We hope Mr Trump proves our doubts groundless or that, if he fails, a better president will be along in four years. The danger with popular anger, though, is that disillusion with Mr Trump will only add to the discontent that put him there in the first place. If so, his failure would pave the way for someone even more bent on breaking the system.”

. November 16, 2016 at 11:48 am

Clinton owed it to her supporters to warn them of this impending collapse of the norms fundamental to a liberal democracy. Instead, she acted as though the election of Trump was business as usual. It wasn’t, and it’s perilous to pretend otherwise. Yes, Trump is “our president,” in the sense that he won the election. But recognizing that fact does not require us to buy into the fantasy that his inevitable lawlessness will be legitimate. We should steel ourselves for a ghastly new era of violence and repression, ushered in by the consolidation of power around an autocratic maniac and his pathetic enablers. As Gessen admits, this may sound hysterical. Maybe it is. I’d like to think I’m wrong. I do not think I am.

. November 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm
. November 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm

At the national level, the Democratic Party has been wiped out. Trump won five states that voted for Obama twice — Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida — pushing Democrats even further toward the coastal peripheries. As a result, Republicans now control the House, the Senate, the White House, and (after President Trump picks a new justice to replace Antonin Scalia) there will be a restored conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

But that is nothing compared with the utter devastation Democrats have suffered in the states. On President Obama’s watch, Democrats have lost a net grand total of 939 state legislative seats, 30 state legislative chambers and a dozen governorships. When Obama first took office, Republicans held just 3,223 state legislative seats. After Tuesday’s vote, the number stands at 4,162. There are now more Republican state legislators than at any time since 1920. And if Gov. Pat McCrory holds on in North Carolina, Republicans will match their all-time high of 34 GOP governors last seen in the 1920s.

Or consider this: Today, Democrats control both the governor’s office and the legislature in just five states — Oregon, California, Hawaii, Connecticut and Rhode Island. By contrast, Republicans have total control of state government in 25 states — half the country.

Milan November 23, 2016 at 3:19 pm

From this week’s Economist:


Really, it should be depicting all the human suffering that a pro-fossil fuel Trump presidency would cause.

. November 25, 2016 at 3:40 pm
. November 30, 2016 at 11:36 pm

These numbers indicate that the story of the election was not primarily about turnout, as many exit poll–based hot takes claimed in the days after. Overall turnout is up 4.4 percent (so far) over 2012.

But shifts within that turnout were significant.

If Clinton’s 65 million votes had been properly distributed according to the ageless geographical wisdom of America’s Electoral College, she would have won.

But they were not (more on that later). Clinton lost the Electoral College, mainly due to whisker-thin losses in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. As John McCormack points out, the cumulative difference in those states was 107,330 votes.

. December 1, 2016 at 12:37 am

“Many people assumed that certain norms and standards still transcend the partisan divide. Surely being accused of, and admitting on tape to, serial sexual assault. Surely swindling poor people with a fake university. Surely crude racial stereotypes. Surely running a charitable foundation as a slush fund. Surely encouraging violence at rallies or threatening to reject unwelcome election results. Surely celebrating torture or vowing war crimes.

Clinton bet most of her chips on there being some floor, some violation of norms too low even for today’s radicalized Republican Party. She thought responsible Republican officeholders would rally. She thought at least well-off, well-educated Republican women would recoil in horror.

She was wrong. There is no floor. Partisanship has been revealed as the strongest force in US public life — stronger than any norms, independent of any facts.”

. December 22, 2016 at 8:03 pm

If Mr Trump fails to master his resentments, his presidency will soon become bogged down in a morass of petty conflicts.

The genius of America’s constitution is to limit the harm one president can do. We hope Mr Trump proves our doubts groundless or that, if he fails, a better president will be along in four years. The danger with popular anger, though, is that disillusion with Mr Trump will only add to the discontent that put him there in the first place. If so, his failure would pave the way for someone even more bent on breaking the system.

. January 2, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Whoever becomes his new secretary of the interior and his energy secretary, the incoming officials are expected to be strong advocates of further opening federal lands to oil, gas and coal production. Mr Trump has also suggested that TransCanada, an Alberta-based firm, renew an application to build the fourth phase of the Keystone XL pipeline project bringing Canadian crude across the border, which was blocked by Mr Obama last year.

Though Mr Trump can unwind many domestic environmental regulations, analysts say he may find his hands tied by market forces, by the limits to federal power and by the fact that energy investments can take decades to pay, making it unwise for owners of power plants, oil-and-gas fields, and pipelines in America to dismiss the clean-energy revolution. First, his desire to open up what he says may be $50 trillion-worth of oil and gas reserves under federal lands will depend on oil prices. Even with lower regulatory costs, oil prices still need to rise well above $50 a barrel to make most drilling in America economic. Now, there is too much oil, not too little.

Low oil prices may also make the Keystone pipeline a non-starter for commercial reasons, because crude from Canada’s tar sands is fiendishly expensive to extract. Moreover, were Mr Trump to succeed in stimulating shale-gas production, his task of rescuing the coal industry would become harder. Utilities may find it cheaper to burn gas rather than coal.

. January 9, 2017 at 12:48 am

Registered Democrats (mostly young and/or racialised) who didn’t vote cost Hillary the election

Fivethirtyeight’s analysis of a Surveymonkey data-set shows that Hillary Clinton would have won the 2016 election if registered Democrats had turned out and voted in larger numbers — in other words, Hillary’s failure to convince registered Democrats to vote, rather than abstain, lost her the election.

This echoes the message from the Democratic Party’s left wing, represented by Sanders supporters, who argued that Hillary Clinton represented a finance-friendly, militarized, neoliberal continuation of the Obama administration, which failed to jail a single banker responsible for the 2008 crisis (preferring to lavish billions on the sector and largely allow it to continue its reckless and greedy speculation); deported more people than any other administration in history; engaged in a secret, unilateral assassination program in countries where the US was not at war; massively increased domestic surveillance; and charged more whistleblowers with espionage than all other administrations in US history combined.

. January 9, 2017 at 12:53 am

“Simply put, Trump got more of his voters to turn out than Clinton did. That’s quite a turnaround from the pre-election conventional wisdom that the Clinton campaign had the better turnout machine. Of course, Clinton’s turnout operation may well have nudged many reluctant voters to the polls, but either way, it wasn’t enough. The polling numbers from SurveyMonkey indicate that Clinton was hurt dearly by the voters who decided not to vote.”

. January 26, 2017 at 6:33 pm

The leaks coming out of the Trump White House cast the president as a clueless child

All White Houses leak. Sometimes the leaks are big, sometimes small. But there are always people willing to talk to reporters about the “real” story or about why the chief executive made a mistake in regards to some decision he made.

That said, I’ve never seen so much leaking so quickly — and with such disdain for the president — as I have in the first six days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

. January 26, 2017 at 6:37 pm

Perhaps if Trump had a national security adviser with White House experience and negotiating skills, or if his nominee for secretary of state had an hour’s worth of diplomatic experience, they could have warned him about using Twitter to insult our neighbor.

Then again, perhaps they tried and Trump — thin-skinned, arrogant and ignorant — cannot be reasoned with. He insists on personalizing every encounter and bullying those who resist his demands. That might work in the real-estate business but not in the White House. Former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman observes that this is “proof, if it was really needed, that doing business deals and doing diplomacy are not the same thing.” And by the way, how is Trump going to get Mexico to pay for the wall now?

. January 31, 2017 at 9:56 am

Weak and Incompetent Leaders act like Strong Leaders

An essay by Yonatan Zunger entitled “Trial Balloon for a Coup?” is making the rounds. Such essays are frightening to many. And yet they must be read critically. I am equally taken by the argument that everything that Zunger identifies is evidence not of a deliberate planning by an aspiring authoritarian, but of the exact opposite: the weakness and incoherence of administration by a narcissist.

One of the many things that studying authoritarian politics has taught me is that from the perspective of the outsider, weak leaders often act like strong leaders, and strong leaders often act like they are indifferent. Weak leaders have every incentive to portray themselves as stronger than they are in order to get their way. They gamble on splashy policies. They escalate crises. This is just as true for democrats as for dictators. (Note the parallels with Jessica Weeks on constraints on authoritarian rulers and their foreign policy behavior.)

. February 3, 2017 at 6:40 pm
. April 13, 2017 at 3:17 pm

US climate and energy policies repealed

A swathe of energy policies and regulations introduced by the Obama administration was deleted yesterday with the signing of an Energy Independence Policy Executive Order by US President Donald Trump. Among other things, the order repeals the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2015 Clean Power Plan.

. April 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Trump aides abruptly postpone meeting on whether to stay in Paris climate deal

Unlikely coalition of fossil fuel firms, environmental groups and Republicans are calling on president to stay despite his pledge to ‘cancel’ agreement

. April 24, 2017 at 3:51 pm

The idea running through Mr Trump’s diplomacy is that relations between states follow the art of the deal. Mr Trump acts as if he can get what he wants from sovereign states by picking fights that he is then willing to settle—at a price, naturally. His mistake is to think that countries are like businesses. In fact, America cannot walk away from China in search of another superpower to deal with over the South China Sea. Doubts that have been sown cannot be uprooted, as if the game had all along been a harmless exercise in price discovery. Alliances that take decades to build can be weakened in months.

Dealings between sovereign states tend towards anarchy—because, ultimately, there is no global government to impose order and no means of coercion but war. For as long as Mr Trump is unravelling the order that America created, and from which it gains so much, he is getting his country a terrible deal.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: