It is sadly commonplace to sneer at Americans in our country – a lamentable tradition of biting the hand that freed us. As the 2016 Presidential election is prompting the emergence of another bout of this regrettable tendency, I thought that I’d counsel against it here.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not claim that Donald Trump’s ascendancy is ideal, or even good. But, as some of us predicted, ultimately he was a significantly less terrible candidate than Hillary Clinton.
Each was uniquely fortunate to face the other: perhaps any other prominent Democrat would have beaten Trump, and any other Republican would have buried Clinton – as, in the end, even Trump did, too.
The ultimate machine politician, Hillary was a lacklustre, monotonal, vote-for-me-because-I-am-not-him campaigner, predictably burdened by both a poor record as secretary of state and a specific problem on security breaches which would have led to prosecution for subordinates had they behaved as she had.
She deliberately ran with President Obama’s legacy upon her shoulders – a legacy of systematically failing the very struggling class he had promised to help. No wonder they turned, because the prospect of a further four years of the same meant that throwing the dice was worth it.
Read more: Has Barack Obama been a good President?
Clinton was the apotheosis of the governing class, the classic Washington insider the voters had clearly indicated they hated. I mentioned sneering: the most sneering of all was done by Hillary herself, when she labelled so many in her country “deplorable” in the course of asking for their votes.
As we can attest from the Brexit campaign, it is often very helpful in politics to be sneered at. In light of that comparison, even someone with Trump’s issues was preferable. In the end, the Trump presidency is the Democrats' fault.
For those worried about the future: the Republic will stand. America has had bad Presidents. Trump will be far less wild in the White House than he has been on the way to it.
Those around him will temper his temper. The talent pool available to him is extremely strong, and, as always, many will feel a sense of duty when called.
Many Republicans said that they would not serve in a Trump administration, but there is a long tradition of such threats/promises, and an equally long tradition of allowing them to slip into abeyance. James Polk’s Vice President, George Dallas, vowed to deny anyone who opposed him in factional terms a position in the administration. His arch-rival was promptly appointed secretary of state; Dallas quietly let his threat slide. Reality bites.
For us in the UK, viewed in terms of our own interests, the picture is far clearer: this is unambiguously good news. A post-Brexit trade deal with our biggest investor just got much easier.
Clinton preferred bloc trade deals like TTIP; Trump has explicitly indicated a rejection of bloc arrangements and a preference for single state deals – we were plainly the most prominent example of a choice between the two, and this campaign positioning was obviously pointed at us.
Trump openly encouraged and welcomed Brexit, and prayed its example in aid as precedent in his own successful campaign. David Davis will be an early and welcome White House visitor. As FTI Consulting research shows, 64 per cent of Americans believe that the US should seek a trade deal with the UK – and that’s before we’re even available to have one.
Two more thoughts the morning after the night before. A generational decision has been taken – it may mean many things, but one thing I’m certain about is that those navelgazing at a morning's share price have a perversely narrow worldview.
Second, I know that this result is not what many people reading this wanted. Equally, neither was our own majority decision to leave the EU in our referendum, in the aftermath of which my pro-Brexit views led to my being accused by a north London metropolitan liberal of living in an “echo chamber”. This is amusing, and sad, and a self-regarding irrationality worth not just noting but reflecting on.
For those City folk now discovering (as with Brexit) that they have the occasional colleague who is actually conservative, perhaps it is a good time to remember that a tolerant, liberal, inclusive worldview should really extend all the way to those who actually disagree with you…