We should not be under any illusion about how radical Mr Trump’s policy programme is, if his pre-election statements can be taken seriously. The wall between the US and Mexico is only the most symbolic.
On trade, Mr Trump’s prescription could have been written by University of Auckland law professor and far-left anti-globalisation activist Jane Kelsey. It includes not just abandoning the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) but also pulling the US out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, scrapping any talk of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) with the countries of Central and South America – which puts his policy in line with that of the lunatic former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez – and even walking away from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which has done more to assure world peace than any intergovernmental body in the history of the world.
Trump is a businessman. He will believe the US can renegotiate some of those treaties…he will look for a deal rather than the all or nothing approach currently being bandied about.
History teaches us that such isolationism on international trade and economic policy are usually enough on their own to cause war. But Mr Trump’s indication he may also pull the US out of the UN would also be disastrous. While utterly corrupt and ineffectual as New Zealand’s two years on the Security Council have proven yet again, the UN remains an essential organisation for countries to let off steam.
The UN should be abandoned as a failed project.
On security, Mr Trump wants to weaken the international alliance system, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) which has – and this is literally true – kept Europe peaceful for the longest period since homo sapiens arrived on that continent 40,000 years ago. He has also questioned the US’ security guarantee to Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia and suggested they get their own nuclear weapons.
But, he has pledged to restore the military as well.
On fiscal policy, Mr Trump has called for an enormous increase in military spending but has also promised the biggest tax cuts since Mr Reagan abolished 60%+ rates in the 1980s. This in a country already reaching Greek-levels of public debt, now above 100% of GDP and approaching $US20 trillion. Mr Trump has also promised a vast expulsion of more than 11 million illegal immigrants – nearly the number of people forced from their homes during the disaster of Indian partition in 1947 – and yet somehow double the US’ growth rate and create 25 million new jobs.
On social policy, Mr Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who will make abortion illegal except in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger. While this is a reversal of what he called his “very pro-choice” position in the 1990s, he will, with a Republican Senate and the court currently balanced 4-4 on abortion, be able to tilt the court to reverse Roe v Wade. Other landmark civil rights cases on race and gay rights are equally at risk. The full impact on the social fabric of the US of reversing now-established human rights is unimaginable but violence is certain.
Make no mistake, though: It is the political left that is responsible for Mr Trump’s win, and those lazy right-leaning politicians who have failed to make the ideological case for liberalism instead prattling on about “what works.”
What works in terms of promoting economic growth, social stability and global peace is the ideology of liberalism. Mr Trump, like Andrew Little in New Zealand, has promised to reject it. If he turns out to be a lunatic and follows through on his promises, the US and the world risk near-certain global recession and possible catastrophic war. But if he turns out only to have been a liar, then how will his supporters react in four years if they feel betrayed yet again? Dark times lie ahead for the next 30 years.
Trump won’t risk plunging the US into a depression, he will cut deals. Matthew Hooton is just flying improbable kites.