Under the guidance of Dr James Bilsland, a lecturer at Newcastle and expert on American Politics, students at Newcastle University unpicked the rise of President-elect Donald Trump.
Sam Railton, Education Secretary of the Politics Society and the event’s organiser, said, “This night is a talk on America and Donald Trump. We are lucky to have secured the presence of Dr Bilsland for the evening.”
The calm nature of the evening provided a stark contrast to the somewhat chaotic experience of this year’s election. Dr Bilsland came to the grave conclusion that it will be extremely difficult for Donald Trump to deliver on his electoral promises. Bilsland explained that though superficially surprising, Mr Trump’s election victory should not be seen as shocking. Dr Bilsland explained that the decrease in the Latino vote maximised the white vote.
Then it was on to the future of Mr Trump and the limitations he could expect to encounter. A particularly interesting debate arose when Dr Bilsland highlighted the ‘Expectation Gap’. This political theory argues that many presidents fall from power due to an inability to follow-up on their promises. Mr Trump now faces such a dilemma: despite arguing that he will be unlike any other political figure in American history, he may not be able to achieve all he wishes with a split Republican Party.
The ‘Expectation Gap’ is at the centre of Trump’s future.
Bilsland discussed whether he can sustain himself as a lone political operator, unify his nation and live up to his image as a man of the people. The representative for the Green Party, Matt Busby, known as Bulldog Busby to his political associates, highlighted the significance of social values in America. The nation is deeply divided on many domestic policies and a nation without a firm bedrock of home-support, cannot develop a successful foreign policy. Could we see the retreat of America from the international stage?
Dr Bilsland highlighted Trump’s desire to withdraw from international trade agreements, his yearning to abandon military understandings, and the possibility of China swooping down and establishing dominance. This may mean that America will not be, as Mr Trump claimed, ‘Great Again’. However, Trump may develop his own form of political strength, which resides in domestic security, not in overt displays of military power.
This discussion made clear that America is now, more than ever, a political island.