In his first ever election, Donald Trump has won the most powerful office in the world. No one can deny that it’s an astonishing achievement. Pundits and pollsters are perplexed as to how he did it. Might part of the answer be that he borrowed from his opponents’ playbook?
The election result may have been a surprise, but the reaction from left-wing commentators is predictably melodramatic. This morning, Simon Schama took to the airwaves to brand Trump a 1930s-style fascist. Anne Applebaum added that his election marks the end of the West.
But, while Trump’s language may be extreme, much of his policy platform is a lot more “centrist” than that of his Republican rivals. Indeed, in many ways, he sounds more like a Democrat than a Republican.
In his acceptance speech, the President-elect talked about new infrastructure spending, creating new jobs. That idea is reminiscent of the 1930s – in America, that is. It harks back to FDR’s New Deal.
Indeed, throughout the campaign, Trump has drawn policies from both left and right. He has taken protectionism from the Democrats, and a tougher stance on immigration from the Republicans. He has attacked political correctness, but, at the same time, ignored much of the socially conservative culture war. He has pledged to cut taxes, but not to cut welfare.
That might explain how Trump has managed to do what no other Republican presidential candidate has done since the 1980s: run the table across the so-called Rust Belt states.
The danger is that, having promised change, Trump’s presidency just brings more of the same. Borrowing to fund infrastructure and entitlements will come at a huge long-term cost. Statist stimulus doesn’t usually produce the kind of sustainable economic boom Trump has promised. At least, it didn’t for FDR. Or, for that matter, Obama.
But the irony is that, after years of gridlock between the President and Congress, it could be the man Democrats despise more than any other who enables bipartisanship. With Trump in the White House, Republicans in Congress may end up backing a big-government agenda similar to the one they have trenchantly opposed for much of the last eight years.
That may not solve America’s problems. But it could mean Democrats end up getting what they want. So, not for the first time, maybe the leftist mass hysteria is overkill.