With 2016 careering to a screeching halt, I thought I would take time to reflect on a game changing year for American politics and offer some predictions for Drumpf's impending presidency. His radical agenda and persona are certainly ripe for armchair pundits like me to theorise about what may happen over the next few years.
Thanks to Dr. Catherine Charrett, Lecturer for the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London for input on certain areas.
"I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me"
There will be no wall, at least not in the form of a 2000-mile-long Great Wall of Trump along the Mexico- US border as so many hopeful voters imagined. No, the best you're gonna get is an extension to the 670 miles of fencing already there, probably in the form of yet more fencing, which he'll still call a wall, regardless.
Trump is weak and easily manipulated. Trump is Putin's lap dog and will bark and jump at whatever ego-boosting treats are thrown his way. Let's just say I expect a year of 'closer' USA-Russia relations before Putin embarks on another round of Eastern European expansionism. With a weakened NATO and impotent USA, Putin will be hard to resist.
Presidential Trump hasn't exactly appointed the most rational advisors to his cabinet, General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis has criticised the carefully brokered US-Iran nuclear deal, saying Iran is "the single most enduring threat to stability and peace".
"I am not sure if General Mattis is worse or better than the other potentials. What worries me most is the 'strong-man' image that Trump is attracted to. Trump's aggressive rhetoric and his attraction or fascination with 'toughness' seems to encourage violence and roughness. I believe this is true not just in the domestic sphere but abroad. There were reports that Putin and Trump chatted about combating international terrorism before the most recent bombardments in Aleppo. While apparently their future approach was supposed to be political; Trump is someone that encourages violence at all levels. I fear this will be the same with Trump's relationship with Netanyahu, and implicit and material consent (even excitement) for 'strong-man' politics, and the Palestinians will be the ones who suffer from this the most."
Yes, China is precious and prone to sabre rattling. But the One China policy is something the territory is especially sensitive about. Trump stumbling through this china shop (pun intended) is dangerous because the situation could escalate quickly; the art will not be in the deal but learning diplomacy fast. Expect a huge increase in China-US tensions.
Depends what you think drives terrorism; if you think it's some general 'Islam-y' thing and being a Muslim then I guess Trump's desire to closely monitor minorities will be a good idea, right? But if you're of the school of thought that thinks terrorists thrive off social inequality, prejudice and poverty then America will become a veritable extremist's garden. I think you can guess which camp I'm setting up shop.
Under Rick Perry, who famously proposed to scrap the very department of which he is now head - The Energy Department - and Scott Pruitt, a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, we can expect the environment to get fairly well shafted. Expect more Dakota pipelines, fracking, flooding, hurricanes and F5 tornados. Don't expect windfarms though.
"Trump shows a disregard for international norms, and attempts to make progress in its protection. His appointments show that he is more interested or provoked by businessmen, than those that may be dedicated to the area of which they are in charge. Again, this shows self-interest over any regard for the collective. Now perhaps Trump feels these good negotiators are 'going to bring the best deal to America', but I suspect these won't be good deals for the environment."
With the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump's chief strategist, executive chairman of Breitbart news - a publication closely allied to the Alt Right - left leaning publications wanting to poke fun of Trump's tiny hands and poor grasp of reality will suffer closer scrutiny, intimidation and personal attack. Bloomberg has this analysis of Trump's swipes at the media in the run-up to the election.
In 2009 the US budget deficit stood at $1,413 billion and is now at $552 (est) billion for 2016. Sources here and here. Under President Trump and Treasury Secretary -formal Goldman Sachs executive, Steven Mnuchin- one can expect this figure to grow substantially; driven by tax cuts for the wealthy, the possible repeal of Obamacare (add $353 billion to 2025 if repealed. Source) and the award of huge infrastructure contracts to the private sector.
Catherine says: "It will be interesting to see who are most affected by Trump's interference in some areas of the economy, and abandonment of others. I remember during the campaign Trump supporters explaining that they could not afford Obamacare, and so they were going to vote for Trump. I am not sure how these voters will end up. But as we see Trump is surrounding himself with individuals whose main selling point is that "they are good at making deals" who these 'deals' will benefit is not clear. However, Trump has yet to show, and I wouldn't hold my breath, that he is prepared to take actions that would benefit others over himself. I hope those that voted for him come to be disappointed with him, and they do not continue to direct their anger towards black and ethnic minorities within their communities, but rather towards the hierarchisation of the economic system in America held up by people like Trump."
And that winds up some fairly gloomy predictions for 2017 and beyond; I hope a lot of this is proved wrong and Trump confounds expectations. But I'm not banking on it. Are you?