Sunday, September 11, 2016

What Would a Clinton or Trump Presidency Look Like?

With Clinton that’s easy to answer — it will very likely look a lot like the last Clinton presidency. Hillary was certainly an important advisor to Bill, and now Bill is for Hillary. Both are left of center Democrats with a love of policy detail and proven adherence to incremental progress.

While a few of Clinton’s 1990s policies had negative long term consequences, for the most part the presidency went very well. We balanced the budget, the economy did very well, there was a little progress on gay rights, and we won the only war we fought at the time, the Balkans, while suffering zero combat fatalities. Today, the Balkans are more-or-less democratic, more-or-less peaceful and are integrating into Europe, thank you very much.

Interestingly, the Clinton presidential years are the only time of my entire life when we weren’t at war. Before Clinton was the Cold War and less than a year after he left office we got Bush’s disastrous War on Terror — which might be expected from trying to go to war with a noun. It might have been better to declare war on al Qaeda.

A Trump presidency is harder to predict. Actually, impossible to predict. Figuring out what his policies really are is a little like trying to nail jello to the wall. Nothing stays put. Also, since he constantly changes his mind who knows what his policies will be come next January.

The worst case would be if he does what he usually says he’ll do: deport 11 million people, build an enormous wall thousands of miles long, buy a lot of military hardware of dubious utility fighting Daesh (the proper name for ISIS), and give enormous tax breaks to himself and his rich buddies (and smaller ones for the rest of us). This will, of course, send the deficit, which we’ve been bringing down for many years, through the roof. It will probably bankrupt us and Daesh will win.

There is one certainty: Trump is the perfect president from the Daesh perspective. The Daesh strategic goal is to ignite a war between the West and Islam. Trump’s endless anti-Muslim bombast is perfect recruitment material, driving Muslims into Daesh’s waiting arms. This will drive up US war fighting costs and contribute to what may be the last, and by far the biggest, Trump bankruptcy.