Most of the world (the political left in particular) was blindsided by the results of the 2016 election. To say that some are having a hard time coming to terms with the words “President Trump” and what the next 4 to 8 years will bring, would be an understatement.
Those who told you that a Trump presidency was impossible were quick to remix their pre-election narratives, framing the Donald as something of a Hitler 2.0 and attempting to position themselves as leaders of a new resistance. Self reflection is still off the table.
On the other end of the spectrum you have those who took Trump’s promises at face value, and who actually believe he will make America great again, proclaiming the dawn of a new age of conservatism, as the stock market rose to record highs (before he actually took office).
Both sides are utterly unprepared for what’s coming.
Let’s just cut to the chase.
Is Trump going to usher in a new era of prosperity and innovation, or is he going to be the one standing in the center ring when the circus tent comes down? Remember some voted for Trump as political molotov cocktail.
“Trump is a business man” you say, “he’s going to make things happen”. Cut taxes, cut regulation, invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure (including a ginourmous wall), punish companies that move factories overseas, rebuild the military, restore relations with Russia, start a trade war with China. And you know a new arms race would create jobs.
There’s a lot to unpack there, and those are debates worth having, however much of this hinges on a variable that Trump doesn’t control: the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve has held interest rates near zero for close to a decade. They also engaged in quantitative easing from 2009 to 2014, accumulating 4.5 trillion dollars worth of mortgage backed securities and treasury notes (they are still holding those assets by the way). This inflated stock and bond market bubbles of historic proportions.
When a friendly face is in the white House, crashes are typically attributed to a war, a terrorist attack or some other external variable (for example 9/11, which masked the unravelling of the tech bubble in 2001). The Trump administration, however, is an excuse in and of itself.
Word is the Fed is leaning towards increasing interest rates aggressively in 2017, and may engage in anti-inflationary measures to offset Trump’s infrastructure stimulus plans. That means that the flow of money and credit is about to be tightened. It also means the Fed is setting itself up for a showdown.
If Trump plays by the rules, he will have to wait until 2018 to replace Janet Yellen. A lot can happen within that timeframe.
If Trump goes to war with the Federal Reserve this this could get out of hand in ways that most can’t even imagine (especially when geopolitics are factored in). As a result the U.S. dollar’s position as the world reserve currency is going to be in play.
Add to that backdrop a little social unrest on the domestic front. If recent history serves as any indicator, we can count on seeing some kind of racially charged flash point involving the police during the Trump administration (probably before 2017 is over).
It’s also fairly safe to say (given recent history) that some of these protests will turn violent and destructive. The trend has been towards escalation. Having Trump in charge will take this to a new level.
Trump ran on a platform of “law and order” and support for the police, which piggy backed on the perception that Obama was undermining law enforcement during his term (in spite of the fact that Obama greatly accelerated the militarization of the police). Just the belief that Trump has their back, is going to influence the police response. They’re going to be more confident, more aggressive, and if Trump offers even so much as a word of encouragement, they will go into full crackdown mode (which would of course throw gasoline on a fire).
These tensions have the potential of spinning out of control, especially in the context of an economic downturn, and again Trump’s personality is wildcard.
Trump is also about to inherit (thanks to Obama and Bush) the most extensive and technologically advanced surveillance apparatus world has ever seen (Obama expanded the NSA’s powers even after Trump won by the way), the power to order extrajudicial assassinations anywhere in the world, and a military which has been authorized (by the NDAA) to detain anyone, anywhere (including U.S. citizens) indefinitely without trial.
To top it off, Trump is filling his administration with former generals. Some with combat and counter insurgency experience. He has everything he needs to implement a full fledged military dictatorship, and the left has no one to blame but themselves.
Trump did not, however, start off on a good foot with the alphabet soup agencies. He has an enemy contingent in the deep state which wants to take him down, and has the means to do it. Replacing upper management won’t be enough to neutralize this threat. These agencies have black budgets, and off the books programs that defy accountability, and lot’s of experience toppling upstart regimes. Failure reign them in could be fatal.
The most important trap however, will be on the geopolitical front. Years of backing Sunni jihadist in Syria failed to unseat Assad, and Trump has vowed to reverse U.S. policy. Israel was openly supporting the Sunni axis. They wanted a full frontal regime change in both Syria and Iran for many years, but the Obama administration tied their hands. Then Russia stepped in, tipped the balance, and the Shiite Crescent not only survived, but grew stronger.
Israeli/Sunni axis needs another path to war so they’re changing tack.
On January 13th, 2017, just 7 days from the inauguration, Israel bombed a Syrian government airport.
This provides a glimpse of the years to come. Israel’s strategy is simple: provoke Syria and or Iran until one of them retaliates… which would of course provide cover to take territory. Turkey is likely to make another move in Iraq and or Syria as well (Turkey has ambitions to expand its borders as well), while the Saudis continue bombing Yemen to rubble (with U.S. government support).
Israel feels confident that Trump will defend them at all costs. Indeed he has given this impression, but will he take the bait? Here Russia is a wildcard.
What happens if Russia moves quickly to provide Syria and Iran with the means of defending themselves? What happens when Putin and Netanyahu are competing for Trump’s ear? With all the other variables in play will Trump even have the means to influence the outcome in this region?
Expect alliances in the Middle East to shift rapidly during the Trump years, with unexpected consequences. In particular watch for a play on oil that undermines the petrodollar.
Making America great again was never on the menu. Trump wasn’t supposed to win. He was supposed to be the decoy. This was reality television does politics, literally.
The Democrats thought he was so bad that he would take attention off of Hillary’s baggage. So the Clinton campaign pulled strings with their friends in the media to help him in the primaries. We know this thanks to the John Podesta email leaks.
“We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates [Trump, Cruz, Carson] so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously,”
The DNC (and their corporate media lackeys) then worked to marginalize the Bernie Sanders campaign, and used a secret agreement backed by “leverage” to prevent him from attacking Clinton. This was confirmed by the DNC email leaks.
You can’t un-throw a molotov cocktail. So get your popcorn, and buckle up (or leave the United States if you were planning to). The show is about to begin.