Against all forecasts, Donald Trump has won the US presidential race beating former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton. At one stage of campaign trail, the Republican candidate became a laughing stock for many weird comments he made. Even most revered Republicans distanced themselves from him seeing that he stood no chance of winning in the election. But Trump went ahead, sometimes alone and sometimes supported by hardliner Republicans who stood by him no matter who said what of him. Then November 08, the deciding day, came, as polls closed in one after another polling booth across the US. We and other people around the world astonishingly saw that he was leading the polls even in some strongholds of the Democratic Party. The people, who loved to see Hillary winning, became saddened. Some US voters became hysterical, wept and scratched their hair with anguish and despair. Late at night of November 08, it was declared that Trump had won. Hillary called her rival and congratulated him for the victory.
But many people of the USA could not accept the Trump's victory easily. They took to the streets and chanted slogans against what he had said during election campaign. Their unusual protest might not last long but many US citizens were worried that this type of political protest might come back again and again on the streets of the USA.
During the election campaign, Trump said many things of divisive nature which no other Republican candidate said before him. He held non-conformist views on immigration, healthcare, rights of the minority groups, including the blacks, Hispanics and the gay people. Earlier, Republican presidential candidates were never so blunt as Trump was on the above issues. Problems with Hillary were that she was with the establishment for long and her e-mail processing through a private server put her in a questionable position losing trust of many voters. Her strong points at the end turned out to be weak leading to her defeat at the hands of a person who never was in politics and who was, for many reasons, discarded by many influential quarters. However, what was to happen, happened. Now the world is to live with Donald Trump being in the White House. Another striking thing is that both houses the Congress -the Senate and the House of Representatives, have also been swept by the Republicans. It was a great victory for the Republicans indeed! Trump should have an easy sailing in getting through all the legislations he wants unlike his predecessor Barack Obama who had to fight against a hostile Congress dominated by the Republicans.
But the question is: would Trump try to implement what he said during election campaign or would he walk in the middle of the road taking note of aspirations of other people who did not vote for him? We hope, he would choose the middle of the road and he would be the president of all the Americans. The world had undergone a sea-change since the end of the cold war when America started thinking of a world which would be unipolar under its leadership.
Since the last few years, the Russian Federation, popularly called Russia, started to assert its own might again as the world saw it in Crimea and Syria. The rise of Russia and its will to use military power are to be seen as a new challenge to the West. It seems without Russia's cooperation, no world problem can be solved. The rise of China, especially on global economic front, is another challenge for the West and the USA has to face the new reality in the coming decades. China did not rise itself only. Rather it is helping many Asian and African countries to rise also. More countries now trust China more than the USA. The signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the USA and 11 other Pacific Rim countries was seen as a landmark trade treaty but now Trump wants the deal scrapped, or at least, be renegotiated. He also wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among Mexico, Canada and the USA. But will it be possible? If the USA wants to withdraw from the global trade agreements, then that country would have to go protectionist. The country, which promoted free trade stubbornly for decades, now wants to erect walls around it!
If the USA goes back on its promise of freeing the world from trade barriers, then it is also to withdraw from other areas of cooperation and influences, including the military ones. An America with less of free trade with other countries of the world and with less of military engagement against its rivals will be seen as a power slowly pulling its strings toward itself. The USA will no longer be seen as the only leader in the world both in terms of economic and military prowess. The most dreadful comment made by the US President-elect was that he would not allow Muslims to enter the USA. Can anybody with a sane mind make such a comment? An elected US President cannot do that. He cannot prevent the world's 1.6 billion people from entering the USA. We hope he will change his mind in this regard also. If he now ventures to implement what he promised during the election campaign, the world will face a deep crisis of globalisation. Bangladesh, being one of the beneficiaries of the process, will see its hope of moving ahead in global trade nipped in the bud. For a country like Bangladesh, an economically freer world will be to its great advantage.
The writer is Professor of Economics University of Dhaka.