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Don’t be fooled – Donald Trump really is as bad as you think

The early signs of what a Trump presidency will look like aren't good. 

By Stephen Bush

Optimism is a vital trait to human survival – but it can also blind us to danger. Optimism is one of the reasons, I suspect, that I put so many of the danger signs around a victory for Donald Trump out of my mind.

But now Trump has won, and much of Westminster risks going the same way. Boris Johnson has warned the nations of the EU to snap out of their “whingerama” over Donald Trump’s victory, while in the Times, one unnamed senior source says that the EU’s demands that Trump respect the rule of law, pluralism and diversity represent Europe at its “elitist worst”. 

It feels like anyone with a passing knowledge of history – or indeed, current affairs – would suggest that Europe at its “worst” is not when Europe expresses concerns about the treatment of minorities and journalists – quite the opposite in fact.

Jean-Claude Juncker, whatever you may think of him the rest of the time, is absolutely right to insist that Trump confirms what he thinks about the United States’ participation in Nato and the battle to limit global emissions pronto. 

But you can understand why people are saying these things. The implication of a Trump victory if he meant what he said throughout the campaign are terrifying, both for American citizens and everyone across the world, particularly if you live below sea level or in the Baltics. The desire to hope that he was merely riding the tiger of racial resentment and national pride, as so many successful politicians have done in American history, only to don more moderate colours in office, is certainly tempting. (Bradford Delong sets out the three possible futures of a Trump presidency well – is he a Schwarzenegger, a Berlusconi, or a Mussolini? – this blog here.)

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But look at what Trump is actually doing as President-Elect. Forget the fact that Theresa May was only the 11th world leader to be called after his victory.  (“Not-So Special Relationship” is the i‘s splash, while “Trump: Theresa is my Maggie” is the Mail‘s after the President-Elect’s warm words about the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the belated call) Focus on the fact that just one European leader, Ireland’s Enda Kenny, made it into the top 10, and that was to talk about the long-planned St Patrick’s Day event at the White House.

Pay attention when Donald Trump refuses to allow journalists on his plane, in breach of years of protocol, and takes to Twitter to blame the media for whipping up protests against him.

Anyone ignoring that and focusing on a few photographs with President Obama and that he has eased off on Wall Street is gearing themselves up for another nasty shock. 

I’m afraid, as tempting as it is, there is very little reason to believe that President Trump will be different to Candidate Trump.

This originally appeared in today’s Morning Call, my daily guide to everything you need to know in politics, in Westminster and beyond. You can subscribe for free here.

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