The best of CapX from the past week
From 'Mr Brexit' to Mr President
by Robert Colvile
Ambrose Bierce, in The Devil’s Dictionary, defined the vote as “the instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country”. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory on Tuesday night, there will be many Americans who entirely agree.
The obvious parallel for the anti-establishment insurgency that swept Trump to power was the Brexit vote in the UK – indeed, it was a comparison Trump made himself. And it’s been fascinating to see how the reaction has followed the same script.
There was the shocked exultation of the winning side, which overcame not just the bookies’ predictions but a system that seemed unapologetically biased against them.
There was the equally shocked reaction from the metropolitan elites, who had little idea – as Chris Deerin wrote in an excellent piece for CapX – of the depth of feeling lurking in flyover country.
And there was the same procession through the stages of grief – the same blend of sorrowful introspection, rampant recrimination, and naked denial.
Even the grace notes were the same. There were the bathetic speeches from the incumbent leader, promising to make the best of an outcome they fought against tooth and nail. And the posturing from metropolitan mayors – Sadiq Khan in London, Bill de Blasio in New York – who vowed to make their cities fortresses of civilisation amid the barbarian hordes.
There was also the same contrast between the narrowness of the votes and their long-term consequences. Brexit won 52-48; while if just 1 in 100 Americans had switched from Trump to Clinton, we would now be reading solemn op-eds about how his electoral strategy could never have possibly worked.
Yet the beauty of politics is that it doesn’t actually matter. Both were close-run things: but now, both are settled facts. The losers from globalisation and liberalisation have made themselves known – and politicians have to translate their instructions into fact.
On that score, Trump may have some very bad ideas (especially on trade and foreign policy), but he is actually in a better position to push them through than Theresa May.
She still has to worry about a Remain-leaning House of Commons and Remain-dominated House of Lords. Trump has a Republican House and a Republican Senate.
As a result, in four years’ time, America will look a very different place. For starters, as Jack Graham pointed out on election night, Barack Obama’s every legislative accomplishment will be thrown into the dustbin. The Supreme Court, too, will tilt sharply to the Right.
Yet the fascination of both Brexit and Trump is that even now, no one knows quite what either one will mean, quite what form their political settlements will take.
Trump, in particular, marks a break with the past on every level. He doesn’t have the same qualifications as past presidents, the same attitudes or standards. He hasn’t been trained in the Washington way of doing things. In many ways, he’s as far from mainstream Republicans as he is from mainstream Democrats.
What we are faced with, on both sides of the Atlantic, is a situation where the nation is divided and embittered. Yet it is also a situation where the old consensus has been thrown out of the window, where political leaders have an almost unique freedom to rewrite the rules of the game.
That may be an unnerving prospect. Yet it might also be a liberating one – so long, of course, as they listen to the right ideas.
Below are five pieces from CapX, ranging from the optimistic to the apocalyptic, on what the Age of Trump will mean – though we could have chosen many more.
Have a great weekend.
It’s official: Western politics is now defunct
By Chris Deerin
The US has managed to come full circle, replacing its first black president with a reprehensible demagogue - and it's progressive liberals who were responsible. For decades, they conveniently forgot about those who weren’t benefiting from free trade and open borders. Now, faced with the horrifying outcome of that indifference, they cannot continue to ignore the not-so-silent majority.
With Trump in the White House, Europe cannot rely on America
By Edward Lucas
Donald Trump is a man who celebrates lawlessness, torture, greed and the naked exercise of power. It's a questionable way to run a business - and a terrible way to run a superpower. With him in the White House, Europe cannot rely on America: if we want our safe, comfortable, prosperous lives to continue, we need to get used to spending real money, coping with real threats, making real sacrifices and taking real risks.
Everything Barack Obama worked for is about to be swept away
By Jack Graham
Donald Trump’s election was a staggering rejection of President Obama’s legacy - and will soon result in its almost complete eradication. With the GOP retaining its majorities in Congress, and the Supreme Court set to tilt sharply to the right, Trump will have little to restrict him: Obamacare, gun controls, protection for immigrants and climate change regulation could all be set for the chop.
Will the Special Relationship survive?
By Bill Emmott
Donald Trump’s astonishing victory should be good news for Britain, post-Brexit: the UK will no longer be “at the back of the queue” for trade deals with the US, as President Obama warned, since all the other deals in that queue will now be dropped. What Britain will learn, however, is that Trump’s idea of a deal could differ substantially from the free-market ideals of the Brexiteers.
Why Trump will be good for America – and for Britain
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth
Americans voted for Trump because they were tired of sluggish economic growth, a weak image abroad, and political correctness run amok. And despite his lack of political experience, Trump has a policy platform that could help spread growth beyond America’s borders. Here are six of his best ideas to help get America growing again - and in the process spread the economic benefits to the rest of the world.