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9 November 2016

The 8 changes President Donald Trump could make that are most terrifying to progressives

Women's rights and immigration policy are new battlegrounds.

By Julia Rampen

On both sides of the Atlantic, progressives have watched stunned as Donald Trump, the outspoken celebrity businessman, surged to victory as the 45th President of the United States. In his speech, he struck an unusually gracious note, with praise for his rival, Hillary Clinton, whom he had previously dubbed “nasty” and “crooked”.

But a conciliatory victory speech will not erase the dog whistle rhetoric Trump has employed over the past 12 months, nor the promises that has galvanised his support base in the first place. Here are some of the changes that could occur under President Trump:

1. Women’s rights under threat

The election of Trump, who has frequently made sexist comments about women and once declared women should be “punished” for abortion, is seen by some as the start of a gender war. According to the FiveThirtyEight analysis, Clinton won women by 12 points, Trump won men by 12 points. In the hours after polling opened, women have been flocking to the grave of the suffragette, Susan B Anthony. As President, Trump will be able to nominate judges to the Supreme Court, which has made landmark decisions on abortion and other rights issues.

2. Racial tension increases

Trump has frequently tapped into the rhetoric of the alt-right, from promoting “birtherism”, which questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship, to calling Mexicans “rapists” and “bad hombres”. Where Trump has stopped, others have picked up. He was endorsed by David Duke, the white nationalist and former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. 

3. A turn to protectionism

Social conservatives may agree with a tough line on abortion, but nevertheless be concerned by Trump’s continued pledge to turn his back on free trade, even at the risk of starting a trade war with major economic powers like China, and move towards more domestic interventions. The Republican party has traditionally embraced economic liberalism and a smaller state. 

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4. A shift in global politics

While Clinton was hawkish on Russia, Trump has notably been more sympathetic to its belligerent President, Vladimir Putin. He has also disavowed America’s traditional role as “the world’s policeman”. 

5. Political party shake-ups

Although Clinton was dubbed “the most qualified ever” candidate to be President by the incumbent, Obama, her defeat will lead to soul-searching in a devastated Democratic party, as well as the question of whether a female candidate can ever overcome ingrained sexism to win. Meanwhile, Republicans like Paul Ryan, speaker of the US House of Representatives, have distanced themselves from Trump and must now come to terms with their new President. The party also faces a wider identity challenge, with Trump’s victory driven by a distinctly different platform to the traditional tenets of free trade and less state intervention. 

6. Democracy on the defensive

Trump has previously shown disdain for established pillars of democracy, such as the courts and the press, and suggested before his victory, when Clinton looked set to win, that he might not accept the election result. 

7. Obamacare dismantled

One of the biggest domestic achievements of Obama’s Presidency was the Affordable Healthcare for America Act, which reformed the US system of healthcare and aimed to extend coverage to poorer citizens. In his opposition to what has been dubbed Obamacare, Trump will find support in the Republican-held Congress. 

8. Environmental agreements under threat

In 2012, Trump tweeted that global warming was a concept “created by the Chinese” to make US manufacturing uncompetitive. He has said he would “cancel” the Paris Agreement, the groundbreaking international deal to tackle climate change.