So what would a Trump presidency look like? In the first phase, he would probably consolidate. At some level he would view this as taking over a tanking empire. He would look at it through the prism of a corporate empire, one that he would deem as having been too generous to workers, staff and consumers.
Like a board chairman, Trump would see the system that he badmouthed as the company he has now taken over and can reinvent. He would want to take care of his 'stakeholders'.
At one level, there is the Republican Party, particularly those in its ranks who would expect his presidency to carry them to victory two years and four years down the line. As a ruthless chairman of the board, Trump would take advantage of the fact that Paul Ryan and other established Republican leaders did not stand by him when the recording of what he called 'locker room talk’ emerged.
He had already spoken then of having been 'unshackled’. Long before that, he had taken the party nomination from under the noses of the party establishment — remember the time Jeb Bush was considered a shoo-in? And then he ran his campaign on the argument that he was going to salvage the US from the insidious, incestuously 'you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours insiders'. That line worked.
So Trump comes in with a mandate to clean out the stables. Before the next biennial elections, he will do what he can to push men and women who please him. He will support them for candidature in the Senate, Congress and in state legislatures.
It will be relatively easy for President Trump to put his personal stamp as 'Chairman' of the board of the government for the US government is geared to be run by the man at the top. He does not have to engage constantly with his equally elected colleagues. He is not, as in the UK and India, first among equals in the cabinet and in Parliament.
As the Oval Office functions more like the chairman’s office, the big question is whether professional impartiality will hold true in sensitive departments such as defence and justice.
The US will probably not in fact turn away from a global role. Instead, its interventions will be rigged to benefit certain corporate - much like America's 'shock and awe’ invasion of Iraq in 1983 was geared to benefit Halliburton and the manufacturers of the alleged 'shock and awe’ hardware.
Consolidation before intolerance
Policies will change, but probably only after an early phase of consolidation. A Trump administration will be far less tolerant of dissent, deviation from conservatism, and sociological 'others'. As CEO, Trump will do what it takes to ensure that all three independent institutions of US democracy work together on this.
His effort to push people who think like him in the Republican Party will help him bring the legislatures in sync with his administration. Trump has already stated upfront that he'll ensure that liberal judges are not appointed to upcoming vacancies to the US Supreme Court. That will translate into his appointment of men (mainly) who see the world in his racist, misogynistic, xenophobic frames.
Once all this is in place, one can expect space for democratic dissent to shrink. Who can demonstrate, how and where, will be limited. The media might find the heat turned on it. Already during the campaign, Trump has not shied away from calling the 'Washington DC system’ and the 'liberal media' biased, rigged, liars and worse.
Many voters apparently decided to try Trump out once - to see whether his different way of doing and running things might turn out to be worthwhile. The old establishment could come back, if this does not work out.
The big question is whether 'Chairman' Trump will be able to dismantle and reinvent that system sufficiently within his four-year term to make that tough.
First Published On : Nov 9, 2016 13:51 IST