Originally published in The Huffington Post
What very few predicted has developed into reality. Business tycoon Donald Trump has been elected as President of the United States. Throughout his campaign he has pledged to remain loyal to his main maxim of “Making America Great Again.” But what does this truly mean? How can we break this into down-to-earth explanations? There are various parameters and factors that must be taken into consideration.
The campaign of this former reality TV show host of The Apprentice has experienced its ups and downs. Trump has vowed to bring home so many wins for his supporters they will literally become “sick of winning.”
It has become a traditional norm after all presidential elections in America for candidates to define their forecast for their first 4 years in the Oval Office. 100 days is the normal period used by each victor to define their outlook and vision for the road ahead. And yet, Trump has vowed a very busy first day in office, pledging to rid as many signs of Barack Obama’s presidency as possible. One may even describe Trump as a man on a mission to revitalise the protectionist and nativist nature of America, going back to the hardcore conservative school book as a result.
After 8 years of highly controversial foreign intervention by the Bush administration, and 8 years of inaction under Obama that many believe rendered the rise of ISIS, we must brace ourselves for all possibilities under a Trump presidency. Trump may even weigh a policy of not guaranteeing protection to NATO allies in case of an attack, while it remains highly unlikely.
Trump would be a symbol of the “America first” perspective, even threatening to call back troops from Europe and Asia if U.S. allies in those regions of the world fail dig into their pockets for American protection.
A sensitive issue remaining to be clarified remains how America will deal with Syria, ISIS and the entire Middle East. Trump has pledged to launch an intense bombing campaign to push ISIS out of Syria and Iraq, yet history shows pre-election vows tend to change significantly once a candidate comes into office and starts realising the realities. The Obama administration and Democrats have dealt serious blows to ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries by warming relations with Iran. This remains to be a major testing ground for a Trump administration, as how such wounds will be dealt with.
Controversial immigration policy
In the early days Trump’s presidential campaign was completely defined on a major immigration overhaul. Many are bracing themselves for some of the most controversial shifts in American immigration policy history, despite this country being known as a melting pot in the past 250 years. We all do remember how Trump proposed to expel all undocumented immigrants from the US. This is considered as impractical by many experts, especially considering the impact on the American labour market.
However, illegal immigrants with criminal records are immediate targets for a Trump presidency. Such individuals total less than 170,000 in America-while Trump claims over 2 million-and the real question lies in how America will close its doors to foreigners coming into the mainland. Under current regulations, refugees from Syria, for instance, undergo a 24-month policy of screening. This brings into question how a Trump administration will seek to bring about a major overhaul, or continue the status quo for the first 12 months and evaluate their options afterwards. Trump has refused to provide any details as of yet, especially on how his Mexico wall policy will go forward.
Washington undergoing major reform
Trump has promised to bring an end to Washington politics being controlled by big money. His vows include downgrading the influence of special interests, describing them as “corrupt.” Trump has gone as far as attempting to voice words similar to the legendary Abraham Lincoln by vowing to establish a government “of, by and for the people.”
Imposing term limits on all Congress members and a five year ban on officials in the White House and Congressional turning into lobbyists after they leave office are just two of the reforms he intends to implement on day one in office. Trump is also targeting a policy to shrink the government by hiring no more federal employees, with the exception of the military, public health and safety.
Trump & trade
Free trade, a traditional flag of the Republican Party, is forecasted to be set aside, making room for a series of protectionist policies. Closing America’s economic borders will be a new slogan in the White House. We may even hear immediate calls for renegotiation with Canada and Mexico over the already controversial North American Free Trade Agreement, aka NAFTA.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership may see the U.S. under Trump exiting such a coalition, considered highly sensitive by conservative Americans. The 12-pact nation sought to strengthen economic ties by adopting trade and slashing tariffs to enhance their growth effort. Critics, however, have argued such a binding vow leads to major competition between the labour forces of these countries, especially considering the benefit of cheap wages in Southeast Asia in comparison to America.
Rebuilding American infrastructure, creating millions of jobs, taking care of veterans, embarking national growth by tapping into inner talent, vowing to get along with all nations willing to get along with America, dealing with all nations fairly and seeking common grounds with the entire globe were a few of the policies vowed by Trump in his victory speech.
The first 100 days will be key to figuring an image of a Trump White House, parallel to the Trump Administration lineup of secretaries and advisors. The road to the four years ahead will be very new and sensitive. Many polls, analysts and critics are questioning their evaluations of these elections. Eyes are now on Trump and how he will act based on the policies he pledged.
Will he remain loyal to his words, or will the reality of domestic and foreign policies sink in and demand very responsible actions from his administration and the general Republican Party?