Trump’s America and Clinton’s America

The Election Day is here. In your view what would Hillary Clinton’s victory mean for the US especially in terms of politics, but maybe also in broader societal sense? And what about Donald Trump’s victory? Read few comments.

Diana Carlin, Professor Emerita of Communication, Saint Louis University

1. A Hillary Clinton victory on November 8 has several potential implications for the US. From a societal perspective, we will join dozens of other nations in having a woman leader. In some ways this change is even more dramatic than Barack Obama’s two victories in that there is a perception that women raise different issues, bring different people to the table, and collaborate more than men. If all of those perceptions become real with a Clinton presidency, then politics in the US may be altered and Washington’s gridlock and the feeling among many that they are voiceless in the system could change. While Clinton would break the gender glass ceiling, the divisiveness of the campaign and her polarizing history may transcend the gender differences. Whether Clinton is a true change agent or not will depend to some degree on the composition of the Congress, especially the Senate. Some comments from Republicans indicate that gridlock is likely to continue regardless of what Clinton does. The country needs a period of healing after this election and what Clinton does prior to inauguration day on January 20th in terms of her cabinet appointments, transparency, reaching out to Republican leaders, and messages to the disaffected can set the stage to make it possible to work with Congress. The campaign showed that there is discontent with Washington and with “career” politicians, and unless a Clinton presidency acknowledges the divisions within US society and can make gains for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections to help advance her agenda, she is likely to be a one-term president.

2. A Donald Trump victory will be a strong message that a portion of the American electorate that has likely sat out past elections found a voice for their anger and frustrations with directions the country is going and that those voters believe the only answer to change is a different type of president. It will put other politicians on notice. If Donald Trump is elected, it will also demonstrate the importance of issues such as abortion and gun rights for a bloc of voters that are large enough in numbers to turn the tide. Many voters interviewed during the course of the campaign have put aside Trump’s flaws because those “wedge” issues are of paramount importance to them. A Trump victory would indicate a coalition of single issue voters, voters disaffected by career politicians who are perceived to not care about the average citizen, Republican voters who simply will not vote for a Democrat, and voters who do not like Hillary Clinton. Even with a Republican-controlled Congress, however, Trump may not have an easy time working with leadership after the lukewarm or on-again/off-again support of members of his party. Trump, like other Washington outsiders who have held the presidency, will learn that changing a culture is not easy and in Trump’s case, he cannot fire Congress. On the world stage, Trump lacks the experience of a Clinton and who he selects for key positions in his administration will be crucial to his success in dealing with a volatile international scene. Like Clinton, governing will not be easy and the period before the inauguration will be crucial to setting a tone and taking steps to heal a battered electorate.

Regardless of who wins, there are deep-rooted frustrations and divisions in the country that were voiced through the Trump candidacy in ways that they had not been before. Talk of
“rigged systems” and “corruption” have only added to the frustration and distrust many have of government.  This election is for many more a vote against someone than for someone, and any leader who begins a presidency under those circumstances will face challenges unlike any of his or her predecessors. These two candidates have the highest unfavorability ratings of anyone who has run for the office. The traditional  first 100 day “honeymoon” period past presidents enjoyed has grown shorter over the last several administrations and the new president is unlikely to have any type of honeymoon especially if Clinton faces Republican majorities in both houses or Trump faces a Democrat majority in the Senate.

Marty Linsky, Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard University, Co-founder, Cambridge Leadership Associates

1. If Clinton wins, her job will be to heal the nation, a huge challenge, which will require her to disappoint her core constituency, particularly the Sanders/Warren wing of the Party. Trumpism will survive a Trump defeat, and will be a force to be reckoned with, especially if the Republicans retain control of the Senate. If she is going to be at all effective, she will have to spend a lot of time with both politicians and citizens who were adamantly opposed to her candidacy.

2. If Trump wins, the future is as unpredictable as his campaign. The Republicans will have strengthened their position in the House and Senate. Most likely, the Supreme Court will eventually have a solid conservative majority that could roll back Roe v. Wade, and undoubtedly they will rescind many of Obama’s executive orders, enact a harsh immigration law, and try to withdraw the US from some international agreements. It will be a whole new world.

Steffen SchmidtUniversity Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

1. A Clinton victory would send a message to the Republican Party that it needs to change and reform it’s candidate selection process. It also sends a message that women, minority voters, immigrants, and more educated voters are very important constituencies. It also would send a signal that harsh, insulting politics and attacking women is not approved of by voters. It also means that the US government will see MANY more women in positions of importance. Clinton will also push hard for immigration reform to find a path to residency and citizenship. And, it suggests that Americans want government to invest in infrastructure, increase taxes and close tax loopholes on the very wealthy. I believe that Clinton will support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and also other trade agreements. Syrian refugees will be admitted in larger numbers to the US. Clinton will strengthen NATO and other alliances. Clinton will continue to push Vladimir Putin on human rights, his relations with neighboring former Soviet Republics, and Russian activity in Syria. There will be more emphasis on climate change and environmental regulations. Coal will be slowly phased out.

2. A Trump victory suggests that half of US voters are angry and upset. It also suggests that a majority of voters are not concerned with harsh language and inappropriate behavior towards women. It also signals that the uS is in a nationalist mood much as many European countries are ‘My nations first.” and no more large numbers of immigrants. It’s a Brexit mood if Trump wins. Trump will also try to renegotiate trade agreements such as NAFTA and oppose TPP. Trump will stop Syrian refugees. Trump may push NATO countries and Japan and South Korea to contribute more for the US defense protection. it seems that Trump will be “softer” with Russia and Putin – his team has people who have worked with Russian businesses and I expect that activity to grow significantly. Trump will also push Congress for more tax cuts for the rich on the basis of “trickle down” economics (if you cut taxes the rich will invest more and start more businesses and create jobs. There will also be deregulation of businesses especially banks and pharmaceutical companies as well as relaxed rules on environmental regulation of agriculture. No climate change legislation. deregulation of coal will extend the use of coal fired power plants.

Joshua ClintonProfessor of Political Science, Co-Director for the Center of the Study of Democratic Institutions, Vanderbilt University

I think a victory by either is a statement about the direction of the county and which voters are driving that direction. Trump’s supporters are more likely to be white, rural less educated and so dissatisfied with their present condition that they are willing to elect an individual with no experience and who has run a campaign based on a promise of “making American great again” without providing much guidance as to what that might look like. If Trump were to do what he suggests it would result in more inward focused policies that would likely result in a less active foreign policy and a disruption of the international economy. Some of his fellow Republicans in Congress might attempt to prevent such moves, but it is unclear how much influence they would wield in a Trump presidency. It really is a black-box as Trump has not provided much in the way of guidance as to what he would do if elected other than to make dramatic statements that, if true, would be tremendously disruptive to the existing social and political order.

If Clinton were to win it would essentially be a continuation of Obama’s policies for the most part. That said, one change would be that the Republicans in Congress would likely be even more antagonistic towards her than they were with Obama. President Obama’s administration has been remarkable in that there was not a single scandal or congressional investigation during his 8 years. That would not be the case if Clinton were to be elected. I suspect that their would be congressional hearings and investigations from the start, as some Republican members have already indicated their desire to do so.

In either case, it is a bit unclear how the United States puts itself back together again socially. The campaign has highlighted and exacerbated pre-existing tensions between different groups and continued partisan conflicts over institutions such as the media, the FBI, and the Supreme Court and continued distrust create circumstances that can unfortunately be hard to overcome to find common group.

Michael Cheney, Professor of Communication, University of Illinois, Springfield

1. I would think that a victory by Clinton would be most meaningful in that a woman was elected President, something other countries have long done.

Given the polarized nature of the US population and the congress, I am not expecting good times ahead.  Lot more gridlock, using the power of subpoena in the GOP controlled house to continue to call out the new President, although with the person as the President, probably a bit harder to pull off than when she was a regular citizen.

I would think the battle over Supreme Court nominees would be quite intense.  Here, how much control the prevailing party has in the Senate will be a key.

2. If Trump is elected, there are several issues that will be in play.  Trump would lead a very fractured party and his war with the establishment GOP leaders does not bode well that they would be able to realize much in the first two years.  Also, as an outsider candidate, he brings few DC  savvy folks to rally around him.  There are some parallels to Carter and his term, but Trump has created a bigger separation in outsider versus insider.

Both of the candidates have more negatives than positives and the ensuing months will give the citizens of the US a sense of what is to come and may, if it turns out to be as divisive as I suspect, make the 2018 elections even more intense than off cycle elections usually are.

Richard BenedettoAdjunct Professor of Journalism, School of Communication, American University

1. If Hillary Clinton wins, we will likely see at least one house of Congress controlled by Republicans. That means we will be ion for another four years of partisan squabbling along with more investigations by the House into Hillary’s various scandals. On the foreign policy front, I do not see much change from the Obama way of dealing.

And with the country so divided in this election, many Trump voters will continue to be angry and unsupportive of Clinton, signalling a lonf found years of strife for her and the nation.

2.  A Donald Trump victory will tend to shake Washington to its very foundations and put Congress, whomever is in control, on the defensive. He will try to force Congress to deal with issues they have been shuffling aside for years, which means there will be a lot of turbulence. But his win would signal that people want real change in the country’s direction at home and abroad, and he will have to deliver.   Foreign leaders will quickly be put on the defensive, a position they have been in for quite a while. He is their worst nightmare.

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