For many on the right, whether of the libertarian or more traditional conservative persuasion, last week’s US election was a satisfying experience. Seeing the liberal media and Hollywood celebrities squirm in discomfort as they realise that people who they regard as their inferiors won the day over them, watching college students emerge from their safe spaces to tearfully decry democracy (as by the way they also did after Brexit), observing how the left starts to wake up to the fact that calling your political opponents racists and bigot does not win an argument – in many ways the 2016 US presidential election was a joyful defeat for political correctness and a victory for free speech and common sense.
But while this is certainly worth celebrating, for many of us it was more the defeat of Hillary Clinton and her politically correct backers which we applauded, rather than the fact that the keys to the White House are about to be handed to Donald Trump. On this blog we have previously expressed alarm over Trump’s protectionist economic policies, and while it is of course too early to judge whether he will actually put his money where his mouth is, it looks like the mere rhetoric has been enough to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the proposed trade deal between the US and 11 countries in Asia, South America and the south Pacific. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the equivalent deal with Europe, is likely to suffer the same fate.
Other parts of Trump’s economic program are equally misguided, notably his fiscal stimulus plans which are so big that he called Clinton’s $500 billion programme “a fraction of what we’re talking about.” With huge fiscal stimulus and tax cuts on the horizon, it is a safe bet that the President Elect’s talk of forcing a change of thinking at the Federal Reserve will be abandoned – he will need low interest rates to be able to handle the billions of Dollars he will add to the already crippling US federal debt. Another policy it looks like Trump may walk away from is the complete roll-back of Obamacare – while the campaign rhetoric was encouraging he is already backtracking and talking about keeping key parts of it intact.
On the plus side, early signs are that Trump will soften the US’s tough stance on Russian relations, and work with Vladimir Putin on a strategy to end the madness in Syria. But talk of arch neocons John Bolton or Newt Gingrich for Secretary of State should give anyone pause before beginning the celebration of a new direction for US foreign policy. And the list of big-state conservatives in line for powerful jobs doesn’t end with Secretary of State: Rudy Guiliani is guaranteed a central position, possibly in Homeland Security or as Attorney General. Yesterday, Trump extended another olive branch to the GOP establishment and gave Reince Priebus, the current chairman of the Republican National Committee, the nod as his Chief of Staff. And Goldman Sachs is set to continue its run of providing Treasury Secretaries, with Steven Mnuchin tipped to ensure close ties between Washington and Wall Street are restored after the millions the banks wasted on bribing backing Hillary.
So, what does it all mean? Well, for all their tears and whining, the left didn’t really lose the election last week. Tinkering, some of it important, will certainly be made to US policy, both domestic and foreign. But the welfare/warfare state is set to continue; the direction may have been set a little to the right of where it might have been by a Clinton administration, but if you agreed with Hillary you are unlikely to be too disappointed in Trump – although you may not realise it. The system can’t be beaten so easily. For all the joy of seeing the left in disarray over the outcome, the fact is that the ones who lost the election are the ones who have lost every election in every western democracy for decades: those who believe in freedom and the right of the individual over those of the state. Neither candidate offered us a chance. The difference between us and the whining left is that we note the result with poise, because frankly, we are used to losing elections.