All day we’re publishing responses from interesting and informed New Zealanders to two questions: What just happened? And what now? In this installment, the second today from a former prime minister, Jim Bolger gives his predictions.
I was not surprised by Donald Trump’s victory as this was a somewhat typical pocket book and identity election. Forget some of the fiery campaign statements and look deeper.
Modern neoliberal economic policies have, according to the IMF’s June report, produced only slow economic growth and the benefits have gone almost exclusively to the wealthiest five percent. That has fuelled an angry reaction from those who have waited in vain year after year to see some improvements to their standard of living.
That didn’t happen so they voted for the outsider who promised a better tomorrow. Bernie Sanders had tapped into the same anger earlier in the campaign. If Sanders had been the Democrats’ candidate he most likely would be President-Elect today.
That in simple terms explains Trump’s election victory. What is much harder to predict is what policies a Trump administration will implement. The only prediction that is certain is that the policies will be much more nuanced than the campaign one-liners.
He says he will prevent any new trade agreements but I doubt that existing trade agreements are under threat. Republicans traditionally support reducing trade barriers.
If he can build a better understanding with Russia that will be positive and could reduce the current unhealthy and risky tensions.
Tomorrow is always uncertain but given America’s history on race-related issues the most challenging policy area for a Trump presidency will be to build better race relations. As the world becomes more integrated and the dominance of white people is challenged, this has created a fear among many about the loss of cultural identity.
Looking at the world’s demography this trend will continue and the election of Donald Trump won’t change that. Education is the only way to reduce that fear and we in New Zealand need to put more effort into making all New Zealanders comfortable with a multicultural nation.
More responses to the U.S. election:
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.