“Politicians don’t talk. They make sounds. It’s just noise.”
Character played by Robert Redford
“The Candidate” (1972)
Donald Trump’s unexpected rise to the US presidency sent waves of shock worldwide and Macau’s response was no exception. On November 9, the day the result was known, the Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM) issued a statement that apparently reacted to Trump’s win without mentioning it.
“In response to possible large uncertainties in the markets,” the authority said that surveillance and response mechanisms were initiated, namely AMCM’s Crisis Management Group, expected to closely monitor changes in the international financial markets. On Trump’s victory day, AMCM stressed that it “will implement timely standby measures if needed in order to maintain the stability of Macau’s economy and financial system.”
This statement shows AMCM’s deep mistrust towards the next US administration. I wonder if a similar statement would have been issued had Hillary Clinton won.
Mistrust and unpredictability- factors that are loathed by the markets- were also common features in the media coverage following the election. As media outlets repeated, we are now in “unchartered waters.” Are we?
The liberal New York Times (NYT), which waged an uncompromising war on Trump’s candidacy (one can wonder if a reference newspaper should play that role, but their scoops on the candidate’s past misdemeanors were not disproved), was horrified with the election result. On November 9, the paper issued an editorial stating that there were many things we do not know about Trump. There were also things we do know, according to the NYT:
“We know Mr Trump is the most unprepared president-elect in modern history. We know that by words and actions, he has shown himself to be temperamentally unfit to lead a diverse nation of 320 million people. We know he has threatened to prosecute and jail his political opponents, and he has said he would curtail the freedom of the press. We know he lies without compunction. He has said he intends to cut taxes for the wealthy and to withdraw the health care protection of the Affordable Care Act from tens of millions of Americans. He has insulted women and threatened Muslims and immigrants, and he has recruited as his allies a dark combination of racists, white supremacists and anti-Semites.”
Part of this analysis falls short of being accurate because it does not take into consideration the reality TV/post fact era we live in. Many shocking things said by Trump during the campaign were slogans and sentences used for effect. It started with vicious attacks on his presidential primary opponents and continued into the general election. The aim of these attacks – to win the election – was achieved.
After he won, “crooked Hillary” went from “the most corrupted person ever to seek office of presidency” to something completely different in his victory speech: “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. [applause] I mean that very sincerely.”
Trump will not do many of the things he said during the campaign. He does not even have the power for that, because the US political system has many safeguards in place. What he can do is cause another financial crisis (which would have dire consequences in Macau, let us be reminded that the pataca is pegged to the dollar) by deregulating the markets and making us go back to 2008 (not 1932, as some say, comparing him to a fascist).
Economic guru Paul Krugman said: “Tuesday’s fallout will last for decades, maybe generations.” There are reasons to be concerned, but no legitimacy to “reject the president elect,” as crowds of protesters now claim.
Whatever people may think about Trump, he won the election, and, as pointed out by his adversaries, deserves a chance to govern. Democracy works like that. Those who lose must accept the result and operate as opposition, checking if legality is upheld.
The US is a mature democracy and has had divisive presidents in the past. The voters will judge Trump’s policies in the next election. Meanwhile, if he does something to warrant it he may face impeachment, as Nixon did.