The three Trump futures


President Donald Trump. Repeat this slowly, as if Christopher Walken were an MC at a post-election party: President. Donald. Trump. The same way as: Drain. The. Swamp. There, there, you see? You can do it. Now stop sobbing and stop lashing out. Contrary to many people’s hope, this has not turned out to be some sort of a huge (or rather yuuuge) practical joke or a Punk’d-style reality TV show. The Sweet Meteor O’Death likewise disappointed, not showing up and wiping out the humanity in time to spare it the Orange Revolution. It’s now cold hard light of day (at least in the US; it’s morning in America, in fact) and it’s time to face reality.

What will President Trump be like in practice, as opposed to wet dreams of his supporters or sweat-drenched nightmares of his opponents? I see essentially three possibilities:

He means what he says – all of Trump’s iconic policies – the wall, end to Muslim immigration, manufacturing tariffs, isolationism – are on the table. Whether he ever believed these were good ideas, they clearly proved very popular with his electorate, hence out of passion or expediency (or a bit of both) he will fight to implement them. If he does succeed, America and the world will be radically transformed (to borrow from Obama) and largely for the worse. Protectionism might be popular in the Rust Belt, but is not a recipe for economic success. And the world where America withdraws into itself and leaves the PRICKs (Petrocracies, Russia, Iran, China, Korea and other international deplorables) to run amok is a dangerous and terrifying one. Conclusion: we’re in for some rough times ahead.

Just jkn, LOL – Trump has no core beliefs, except in himself, and no shame. Experience over the course of his public career as well as more recently the presidential campaign has shown he will flip-flop in a blink of an eye for whatever reason seems convenient, or sometimes no reason at all. Even in the recent past, Trump has been on record as being against virtually every plank of his current immigration policy. Other examples abound. Now that he has beaten all the odds and achieved the seemingly impossible, President Trump will do whatever the hell he feels like, or in other words whatever a life-long liberal Democrat billionaire from New York might do. This means pretty much business as usual: there will not be a wall, the economic policy will remain in the hands of Goldman Sachs, and the American boots will continue to tread on the ground all over the world. Conclusion: the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the MAGA crowd will be something to behold, and will equal in intensity – and the entertainment value – the left’s shock and tears at Hillary’s downfall.

Back to reality – Trump is no longer a showman and an entertainer; he is now a politician operating within the constraints of the political system, which will hopefully prove to be robust enough to preserve the Republic. While both the House and the Senate will be controlled by the Republicans, a great many of them are not Trump Republicans. His agenda may get bogged down in the Congress, never mind the judiciary, or the states, or the federal and state bureaucracies, and so on. Trump might discover the hard way how difficult it is to achieve anything substantive in our political system, and how impotent the position of the President can actually be. America won’t be Made Great Again, but Just a Tad Better, and The Swamp will not get Drained, merely slightly Dried Up At the Edges. That is life. No one will be happy: for the left, even half-assed Trump will remain a devil incarnate; for his supporters, whose revolutionary expectations are higher than Florida after the legalisation of medical marijuana, any back-down and compromise will be seen as a betrayal of the holy cause. But then again, not making anyone happy is the hallmark of practical politics. Conclusion: perhaps the most likely scenario.