Voters Generally Get What They Vote for. Here’s What that Means Now.

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tags: election 2016

Gerhard L. Weinberg is emeritus professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (Cambridge University Press, 1994).

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency certainly surprised many in and outside this country. The procedures for his inauguration and assumption of power will no doubt proceed in the usual manner. Since he will have a Senate and a House of Representatives controlled by Republicans, he will be able to move on subjects he is insistent on. The Affordable Care Act is sure to be repealed, and millions who lose insurance will turn to the Emergency Care wards as former President George W. Bush advised. The tax system is likely to be further shifted in favor of the highest income groups. New tariffs and the renegotiation or denunciation of trade agreements will bring higher prices for consumers. Lots of illegal immigrants were deported in the Obama administration, but the pace is likely to increase substantially. The refusal to accept the reality of climate change is not likely to halt the reality, and this is likely to become increasingly obvious as the glaciers in Glacier National Park disappear and the sea level rises without approval from Washington. As Social Security and Medicare are privatized, the resulting increases in costs will affect these programs substantially. President Bush managed to bring on a Great Recession; perhaps President Trump will manage to bring on a second Great Depression.

After the 1920 election, this country stopped the earth and got off (though it continued to turn without the agreement of Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover). On trade and alliance aspects, the Trump administration appears likely to repeat the policies of the 1920’s, though with two exceptions. In the first place, there may well be a substantial increase in the military, though how that will be financed remains an open question. The other line of policy that may change is toward Israel. For fear that the Arabs will stop selling oil not just for a short time but for a long time – and use it to irrigate deserts and drink it – the USA and most European countries have long kowtowed to the Arabs. This country and others may begin to reassess this matter in the face of the abundance of oil. I have often wondered what the people of the USA would say to almost all embassies being located in Philadelphia as the city where we proclaimed our independence instead of Washington, D.C. which did not exist at that time. This country may well implement its official support of the 1967 armistice line by moving its embassy into Western Jerusalem.

The people of this country generally get what they vote for. They obtained a slow but real economic recovery in the Obama administration, and they may well now see the “Help Wanted” and “Now Hiring” signs cluttering up municipal streets disappear. As the election result was a surprise to many, there are likely to be more surprises to come. They will not include new national monuments and national parks, but the shift in the society from manufacturing to services and technology is likely to continue. The financial problems facing education at all levels are also likely to continue. It will be an interesting time.

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