President Trump: Let the show begin while liberal democracy recalibrates its message

Rather like waiting for a dental appointment, you want the pain to be over as quickly as possible and so it is with Donald Trump's inauguration.

As the Trump era dawns, liberal democracy must re-calibrate its message to a wider audience, writes Julian Samways
As the Trump era dawns, liberal democracy must re-calibrate its message to a wider audience, writes Julian Samways

It is upon us, and The Donald (unless those tapes appear….) is the 45th President of the United States.

No bluster, no conspiracy theories, no insults. It’s your show now Donald, and everything that happens from here on in is on your watch.

And what should we expect?

Is this a march backwards from 40 years of liberal democratic progress or a mere blip on a continuing path we have complacently taken for granted? Well, three points, one bad (really bad) and two good (one potentially very good).

First, the bad. In this new Administration, Trump is the least of your worries.

Vice President Mike Pence is far more socially conservative and may signal an erosion of liberties we take for granted on this side of the Atlantic far more actively if he became President.

Then there is the cabinet. Who could independently tear up the Iran agreement, embrace Putin (although splits are appearing), walk away from environmental safeguards and destroy global trade treaties.

That is before the appointment of an Israeli Ambassador who decries a two-state solution. This has major implications for us in the UK and beyond.

And now on to the good points.

First, this is likely to be an Administration that understands business and markets and may, in embracing Putin, be cannier in sorting out Syria and ultimately curtailing Putin’s expansionist ambitions. In the case of Syria, a resolution will aid the pressures of immigration facing Europe’s borders.

The second good point, however, may be most important of all and certainly most significant for the UK, as the reasons for a Trump victory are correlated with Brexit.

It is about those who have politically lost, principally the moderates from the centre-left and right, understanding and learning from their mistakes.

You can’t win elections not listening to those who have been sidelined by globalisation.

You can’t win elections without understanding that pride in one’s country and shared values is not something to be sneered at.

You can’t win elections without being a muscular moderate. Being as focused and ruthless in winning the argument, just as the further right has been, is something liberals must learn.

No more hand-wringing please.

So what does all this mean for us? If liberal democracy re-calibrates its message to a wider audience and toughens its approach, 2016’s events will be seen as a corrective blip.

We don’t need a hard Brexit and we don’t need to fear an isolationist America if our relationship with Europe remains close.

And, for all communications professionals, now is the time to start preparing to confront fake news in social media more aggressively.

Lastly, you never know, when a Trump presidency is not depressing and worrying, it may even be comical.

Hold on for the ride...

Julian Samways is the founder of JPES Partners and a Hillary Clinton campaigner

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