Donald Trump has pulled off an extraordinary political heist. He has defeated the Democratic and the Republican establishment, the media, the academia, the comedians and the force of international public opinion. It seems that everybody was aligned against him, even history, and yet he won. So now that Trump has significantly altered American politics, what will change in terms of politics?
In order to understand that we have to first understand what is the political ideology of Donald Trump. He clearly is not a Republican like Ted Cruz or Paul Ryan. So what is this third way that Trump brings to the Oval office?
Trump is against immigration, against free trade and against a prominent role for America in international security maintenance. He is also against America underwriting global collective security arrangements. He does believe in government and feels that governments can make a difference. Business advantage rather than social justice will be his primary goal.
It is tough to provide a nuanced summary of his ideology; primarily because Trump himself has been so thin in providing philosophical reflections on the world and the role of government in principle. But from his various speeches I can best describe his ideology as a combination of nativism as opposed to multiculturalism, isolationism as opposed to globalism and mercantilism as opposed to globalization.
On the domestic level, we will clearly see conservatism more deeply entrenched if Trump fulfills his promise to nominate very conservative judges. During the Obama administration the focus was on social justice issues; gay and transgender rights, breaking the glass ceilings for women and trying to assimilate Muslims and ameliorating the state of racial minorities; but now the focus will be more on strengthening the military and business sectors and business interests above all else.
One may even see some direct benefits to the U.S. both in terms of cost of security and international trade. There are many free riders in the global system that have benefitted economically under America’s security umbrella, who even oppose America’s international agenda. They may find Washington less accommodating. But in the long run this may weaken the international security and economic order and hurt U.S. interests.
While Republican’s may be tempted to see this as their victory. In reality Trump’s victory is a repudiation of Democratic as well as Republican policies both at home and abroad. Trump’s victory is a comprehensive rejection of both their visions. It is to some extent also a marginalization of the existing public values that had become the way of American politics. When Trump decried the culture of political correctness he was in fact rejecting political values of multiculturalism, feminism and pluralism. And apparently a majority of American’s agreed with him by overlooking all the bigotry, sexism and xenophobia he espoused during the campaign and in his past life.
With both House and the Senate in the hands of the GOP, Trump can potentially leave a bigger mark on this country and the world than President Obama and that is a sobering thought.
As someone who was and is frightened for the future of minorities in this country as a result of the nativist passions that Trump’s campaign has unleashed, I can only hope that Trump will be a President for all Americans as he promised in his victory speech.
American democracy has been resilient and progressive for over two hundred years. But American society, at least a majority of it, is suffering from myopia and economic and cultural insecurity. While that segment of the society frightens me, the system and its historical durability remains a source of comfort and confidence that no matter how much damage Trump may do, we will survive because we are already a great nation.
Trump has torn this country apart to chart a new and wide path to the White House, can he sow it back again? He needs to ask himself; can I rule a divided America and make it great again? Can I achieve everything I want for this country without the support and confidence of not just a significant minority but a minority that constitutes most of the elite of this nation? Can I govern the way I campaigned? I hope his answer to all those questions is NO.
In the Quran God says He gives sovereignty to whom he wills (3:26). Who am I to argue with that.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is professor at the University of Delaware and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Policy. His website is www.ijtihad.org.