The key word in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is uncertainty. Due to his lack of experience in politics and the fact that he was not supported by any clear faction within the Republican party, we have no idea of his orientations. We cannot even guess who will have his trust, in a system where the administration is extensively changed with each president elected.
The orientation of domestic policies can to a certain extent be forecast. With the entirety of the legislative power in the hands of the Republican party, social issues will be dealt in a far more conservative way, especially if the President has to appoint Supreme Court judges. Abortion, same sex marriage are endangered: there are easy spoils to the conservatives when tensions rise in the congress or the senate. Race relations, and the social fabric of the U.S., already damaged by increased inequalities, will be put to test. The fate of healthcare is murkier. Even if many of Trump’s vocal supporters vociferated against the “Obamacare”, many benefit from it.
The greatest uncertainty regards international policies. The anti-immigration obsession of the candidate, reiterated after the election, is likely to provoke tensions with Mexico if the intention of deporting millions of undocumented workers is confirmed.
On a larger scale, multi-lateral resolutions will suffer from the repeated intention to walk away from large treaties, starting with climate agreements. This is not good news for the planet, especially since energy policies still influence many decisions of the U.S. in its international behavior.
Commercial agreements have also been threatened by the candidate. There is no intention of “deglobalizing” the economy in this, but rather the delusion that the U.S. could isolate itself when it is convenient for its interests. Such a position could amount to a major destabilization of the world economy, even more so if the intention to reduce exchanges with China forces the biggest country in the world to find other ways than economy for its development.
The attitude towards Russia is unclear, but the President-elect seems to emphasize a soft approach directly opposite to the European attitude, which has now concerns over its borders with Russia. The temptation to support dictatorships will probably not be limited to the Syrian case.
With the election of Donald Trump as its President, the United States has dropped the ball of the leadership in the democratic world, both in the style of the leader and in the (absence of) substance of his leadership. Far from being good news, it means that we are back to the situation of the Bush years, when the U.S. were part of the problem and offered little solution.
To deal with this problem, the solution cannot be, for the next few years, American. For this reason, there is the need for a stronger Europe. It is all the more important to recover fast from the “Brexit” and move on to offer some stability to a world that the election of Donald Trump has contributed to make more dangerous.
By Thierry Leterre, Professor of Political Science at Miami University in Luxembourg