In the wake of Donald Trump’s unimaginable victory, the traditional rituals were observed. Hillary Clinton gave a graceful concession speech; President Obama and Trump called for Americans to come together. The only true response was provided in the streets, as young activists from the civilizing movements of our time mobilized by the tens of thousands against fear and hate in cities across the country. They put Trump on notice: He has won the White House, but not the country. Trump and the Republican Congress will set the agenda, but there will be no free pass.
On his road to victory, Trump upended the establishments of both parties, dispatching the Bush and Clinton dynasties. His right-wing populism mobilized voters against the elites, whom he accused of coddling “those people”—Muslims, immigrants, people of color, women—but what Trump will actually do in office remains the great unknown. In the effort to govern, will he be captured by the Republican establishment that he so actively scorned?
In October, Trump released an ambitious 100-day agenda that lays out a map of the battles to come. First, he promises to undo all things Obama. He’ll reverse Obama’s “unconstitutional” executive orders. He’ll “repeal and replace” Obamacare, roll back bank regulation, and cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He has pledged to undo Obama’s environmental plan, lifting restrictions on oil and gas production on public lands and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. He’ll tear up the Iran nuclear deal. He’ll ramp up deportations, suspend immigration from “terror-prone” areas, cancel funding for sanctuary cities, and find money for his wall. He’ll nominate a Supreme Court justice in the Scalia tradition.
Trump has also embraced the Reagan trickle-down agenda: tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, deregulation, freezing federal employment, and further dismantling the government. The first test is likely to be a massive tax break for companies with trillions of dollars in profits stashed abroad: Instead of the 35 percent corporate tax rate, Trump proposes a “repatriation” rate of 10 percent. The revenues will be tied to an infrastructure plan intended to appeal to workers and attract the support of Democrats. Trump promises to “drain the swamp” in Washington, with new restrictions on legislators and White House staffers becoming lobbyists. He promises a muscular trade policy that includes renegotiating NAFTA, cracking down on China as a currency manipulator, and imposing tariffs on companies that ship jobs out of the United States.
Trump’s foreign policy is truly a black box. He’ll probably seek better relations with Russia, aimed at coordinating the fight against ISIS in Syria. He’s pledged to get our allies to pay their fair share of the defense burden. He’s likely to be more unilateralist and, hopefully, less interventionist than Obama. Even so, a first test here will be his pledge to increase the military budget dramatically.