Dealing with Trump’s America

There isn’t any part of the world that will not feel the impact of Trump’s occupancy of the White House

Shahid Javed Burki November 13, 2016
The writer is a former caretaker finance minister and served as vice-president at the World Bank

At about one on the morning of November 9, Hillary Clinton conceded the election to her Republican Party rival, Donald Trump. This was an utterly unexpected turn in events. Before the results started to come in on the evening of the day before, no serious political analyst had predicted a Trump victory. The real-estate’s supporters had either not been covered by the experts or had kept their views to themselves until they entered the voting booth. They turned out massively to vote for their hero. A vast majority of them were the country’s white citizens. Now that the voters in the US have cast their votes and elected a new president to succeed Obama, the question remains as to how will the elections affect the evolution of the US political system?

One of the more important consequences of the way the election was fought was to remove the veneer of respectability from public discourse. Trump scoffed at this tendency to be polite as “political correctness.” Certain things were not to be said openly; they may have been acceptable in the “locker room” but not in the public space. But that was not the right approach. People should express themselves openly. Only then they will get some response from the policymakers. This attitude gave latitude that was quickly exploited by the “angry white men” who are Trump’s largest support group.

But this loss of inhibition was not confined to the political right. It also affected the left, it crept even into the commentary in newspapers and magazines of repute. To take just one example from the many that are available. It is hard to find so many pejoratives in one sentence written by a highly respectable columnist. This is what Roger Cohen had to say about Trump: “The campaign, thanks to Trump, has involved a kind of magical mystery tour of all that is vile, vulgar, repugnant, primal, violent, bullying, petulant, hateful, dishonest, superficial and lazy in human nature.” Trump’s behaviour “has offered a primer in how democratic societies can veer off the rails into forms of horror that, in hindsight, seem unimaginable. Small compromise by small compromise, craven step by craven step, is a Republic undone…There’s nothing new about mass popular delusions or the madness of crowds. [Trump] has reminded us, at a time of shifting global power, that the world is a dangerous place.”

There isn’t any part of the world that will not feel the impact of Trump’s occupancy of the White House. That will come about on January 20, 2017 when he will deliver the inaugural address. The crowd will be large and loud since Trump has been able to respond to their anger. These are the millions of people who feel that the policies adopted by the establishment has resulted in mass unemployment in their communities, stagnation in their incomes and physical threats to their security. These are blamed on the Mexicans who have sent in millions of their citizens who have taken up the low-paying jobs on which these communities lived. China is blamed for providing home to thousands of industries that have left the industrial heartland of America. And Muslims are blamed for bringing as well as encouraging jihad in their country.

Pakistan is one of the counties that will be most impacted by the arrival of Trump to the White House. It is a country that is often identified with Muslim terrorism in the minds of not well-informed American citizens. They form the base of Trump’s support. But that is not the only reason why Pakistan will do poorly in Trump’s America. Not interested in prolonging America’s many engagements in the world, Trump is very likely to pull out of Afghanistan, leaving the struggling country to its own devices. This will produce enormous chaos on Pakistan’s northwestern border. Pakistan can expect to once again receive millions of refugees from Afghanistan as that country is torn apart by internal strife. Pakistan’s policy makers, therefore, need to urgently shape their approach to Trump’s America.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2016.

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