Danielle McLaughlin: Trump's America an Unclear Picture

Many groups fear for the US's future under President Donald Trump.
REUTERS

Many groups fear for the US's future under President Donald Trump.

OPINION: A week on from Donald Trump's electoral triumph, many Americans are asking what comes next?

I wouldn't say the dust has settled since the US presidential election. We're in the midst of the dust cloud still. Many welcome Trump's win and are excited by a Republican president and Republican Congress. Many others are uneasy about what actually happens next, because Trump flip flopped on the issues more than a fish out of water during his campaign. And he's already backing away from the bold campaign promises he shouted from lecterns across the country

Will he build the wall, or will it be part fence? Will he deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, or focus on the criminals and work with the families? Will he drain the swamp in Washington DC, or put loyalists, lobbyists and family members on his transition team (and into government)? Will he scrap the president's signature healthcare law, Obamacare, or will he keep some of the very popular provisions in place? Will he tear up Nafta, or will he make some limited, new demands on Canada and Mexico?

This week, acquaintances and colleagues I have never discussed politics with have volunteered their concerns in the elevator, the office kitchen, and at daycare pickup.

I walked through Manhattan one evening. On 46th between 5th and 6th, a sign outside a liquor store read: "In victory you deserve champagne, in defeat you need it."  A bit further north on the corner of 52nd and 6th, a loud argument was in full swing – "two families ran this country for 30 years!" a Trump supporter yelled. 

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Social media is alive with groups organising to protect the rights of immigrants and the LGBT community, which have been long targeted by Republicans.  I have joined some of them.

Chief executives, including my own, are writing letters to employees – acknowledging bewilderment in the electorate, urging calm and optimism.

I spoke to a college class on Thursday. To Millennials who grew up into a globalised world. They could not square Trump's vision of America with their own. 

And there are protests across the country. Young people are marching against Trump's divisive rhetoric. School children are marching to stand up for their classmates who were brought to the US illegally as children, who were given protections by President Obama, and whose status now might be threatened. Trump has commendably told people committing hate crimes in his name to stop it.  But despite a promise of unity, one of his first official acts was to appoint controversial right wing media giant Steve Bannon as his right hand.  Bannon's website gives a voice to white nationalism, anti-Muslim, and anti-feminism sentiment.  Bannon is hardly a symbol of harmony.  Did he blow this first big chance to prove his detractors wrong?

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As for Republican unity, we'll have to wait and see.  There are a number of Trump campaign promises that Democrats have fought for years, that are anathema to Republican values.  Trump wants to create jobs by spending billions on infrastructure.  Republicans abhor most large-scale federal spending and will resist this.  Trump wants to create term limits on current politicians and lobbying restrictions on former politicians. Republicans have shown no interest in either. Already, some high-ranking party members have said it will never happen.

Plans he does have with the full backing of Congress are to encourage fossil fuel industry and jobs, to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord and to cancel billions in payments to UN climate change programs.  This, along with his promise to unsign the TPP, may have the most far-reaching effects on people around the world, including in New Zealand.

So where are we a little over week in? What I see is that many are elated.  Others are uncertain and afraid.  A growing number are galvanised.

President Obama said this week American democracy is bigger than one person.  And he's right.  It's bigger than him and it's bigger than Trump.

 - Sunday Star Times

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