Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election tells us something. It’s hard to be certain what that something is — apart from the fact that opinion polls, even now exit polls, have an inherent left wing bias. Perhaps because conservative voters now seem to delight in lying to them
The American people have rejected the political establishment. Those of us who oppose that establishment therefore have grounds to celebrate. We should take a happy moment to revel in the discomfiture of our enemies and certainly shed no tears for the corrupt Clinton clan, but our celebrations should be muted and perhaps tinged with fear.
During the BBC News live coverage one of the pundits said that, in a sense, this was a contest between two New York Democrats. Mr Trump was a contributor to the Clintons in the past. Like the Democrats, he is a man who speaks of government in terms of power. He is certainly no Ronald Reagan.
His answers to his nation’s problems involve more government, not less. The free market would not “build that wall”. The free market is pulling in the people he wants it to keep out! He has promised the people of Detroit that he will rebuild the automotive industry there just at the point when free markets are reshaping it in a disruptive and possibly lethal way.
As a businessman, he may be expected to be sympathetic to the concerns of American business. That is not necessarily a good thing. Although our socialist opponents often mistakenly condemn us as capitalist lackeys, classical liberals favour markets, not businesses. From Adam Smith onwards we have understood that greed is not good unless guided by the invisible hand of the market.
Trump’s track record in business does not fill me with optimism. This is a man more inclined to suck up to and donate to politicians to win support for his projects than to focus on what his customers want. He has shown what he thinks politicians are for in a crony capitalist system. God help America if that is a predictor of how he will perform as a politician.
Mr Trump plans to restrict competition to benefit favoured American businesses. That is why he has won the support of unionised blue-collar workers in rustbelt states. In the boardrooms of American big businesses this morning they will be calculating how to use him to channel taxpayers money to them.
There are some positives. He studied economics at Wharton, which — combined with the fact that he has never lived directly as a parasite on the public purse — makes him more qualified in that respect than most leaders. At least it should make him unlikely to say stupid things like Mutti Merkel when she claimed that politics should have primacy over markets.
His election may signal the death of political correctness, freeing Americans to talk honestly about such problems as race relations. That is the essential first step to solving them and would never have happened under a forked-tongue Clinton presidency. On the contrary Clinton would have stoked the imaginary grievances of the Black Lives Matter agitators. Trump thinks climate change is a fraud and while I disagree I am happy his view will stop America committing economic suicide by the kind of crazed overreaction to it Greens and anticapitalists favour.
In foreign policy terms, he will end the freeloading of nations like France and Germany which have failed to contribute enough to the defence of the West. We can only hope he will prove the correct response to Putin’s devious geopolitics is plain speaking. Putin may fabricate invitations from Russian speaking populations for “assistance”, but Mr Trump will call them what they are – invasions. How he will respond to them is another matter however. He has already made the first major mistake of his presidency by saying during the campaign that he would be selective in deciding which NATO members to defend.
US voters have punched professional machine politicians in the teeth and they were right to do so. This is a therefore a good morning for Western democracy. It remains to be seen whether it’s as good for the leadership of the West.