America votes: what a Trump victory means
Will Trump make the world a better place? A second term gives a president the chance to consolidate policies which, however bitterly opposed, will shape the country for years to come.
Core values: Trump is an unashamed right-wing populist whose policies are geared towards keeping his supporters happy rather than trying to compromise with opponents. He does not mind how deeply the US is divided as long as the legislation he wants gets passed into law. He believes that making money is the most important thing in life and that American society should revolve around that.
Climate change: Trump does not accept that there is a threat to the planet, and denies that the recent Californian wildfires were the result of climate change. He wants to encourage coal mining, increase drilling for oil and gas and reverse legislation designed to reduce carbon emissions. He has given notice that the US will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord at the end of the year.
Covid crisis: Ending restrictions is Trump’s priority. He plans to spend $10bn on making treatments and vaccines available as soon as possible, but says he does not believe there is a need for increased testing or the compulsory wearing of masks. He also wants to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, designed to make healthcare available to millions of people who otherwise would not have it.
War and peace: Part of Trump’s “America first” policy is to reduce the number of US troops involved in foreign conflicts, such as the one in Afghanistan. He also aims to reduce the country’s involvement on the world stage, particularly in organisations such as NATO and the World Health Organisation. He promises to keep up pressure on China by maintaining tariffs on imported goods.
Race and policing: Trump denies that racism is a widespread problem in American police forces, though he has offered grants to improve police behaviour and spoken out on chokeholds. He promises strong measures to deal with protests such as those targeting statues of Confederate leaders. He has rescinded measures introduced under Obama to promote racial diversity in schools.
Poverty and inequality: Trump has promised to create 10 million new jobs in 10 months, and create one million small businesses. As a staunch capitalist, he believes in giving tax breaks to help successful people become richer rather than helping those who are struggling in poverty. He plans to reduce income tax and give companies incentives to keep jobs in America.
Brexit Britain: Having once described himself as “Mr Brexit”, Trump has said that he wants to see a trade deal with Britain agreed on quickly – something vital for Boris Johnson’s government, since the US is the country’s largest trading partner outside the EU. This would involve lower import taxes on goods going between the two countries.
Will Trump make the world a better place?
Champ or chump?
Some say, yes. In particular, he has made a stand against China, and no one doubts that he will continue to do so. Without him, Beijing’s pursuit of world dominance through its aggressive foreign policy, unfair trade practices and cyber attacks would go unchecked. His successful brokering of a peace deal between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan shows that he is a skilled negotiator who could solve many of the Middle East’s problems.
Others argue that a second Trump term spells disaster not just for America but for the entire planet. His persistent undermining of the battle against climate change means that it may well become irreversible. His refusal to deal with racism has created ever-deepening divisions in the US. His shameless populism and disregard for truth and honesty will continue to embolden unscrupulous, autocratic rulers across the world.
- Which is more important – a candidate’s personality, or his or her policies?
- What single policy would persuade you to vote for a politician, even if you disagreed with everything else they stood for?
- If politics were a game of cards, Trump could be seen as a king or a joker. Paint a picture of him as either or both.
- Trump is famous for disregarding the truth. Write an inaugural speech for him containing five false pieces of information. Deliver it to your classmates and see if they can work out which they are.
Some People Say...
“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- It is generally agreed that the only world leaders keen to see Trump serve a second term are those in the same populist mould – such as Boris Johnson in Britain, Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel – and those confident of outwitting him, such as Vladimir Putin. Alarm among America’s traditional allies that he will weaken ties with them has been increased by a recent decision to withdraw or downgrade defence attachés posted to them.
- What do we not know?
- One main area of debate is around whether Trump’s policies might become more moderate in his second term. Since he cannot be elected a third time, he could start worrying less about pleasing his core supporters and more about what history will make of him. From that point of view it would make sense to behave in a more statesmanlike manner, and not push for contentious legislation that a Democrat president would probably repeal at the first opportunity.
- Californian wildfires
- Trump blamed these on the Californian authorities, claiming that they had not looked after their forests properly.
- Paris Climate Accord
- An international agreement to keep the increase in global temperatures at less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
- Trump announced last month that US troops would be withdrawn from the country by the end of the year, but military sources have since disputed that.
- World Health Organisation
- Trump has accused the organisation of being too much under the sway of China, and announced in April that the US would stop contributing money to it.
- Taxes on imported or exported goods. The word is Arabic in origin.
- Cyber attacks
- The Chinese government is believed to use hacking as a tool for industrial espionage as well as a weapon against military opponents.
- Peace deal
- The three other countries agreed last month that they would give the state of Israel official recognition.