The U.S. Under Trump

Share this item

Donald Trump’s victory in the US election has left the world working out what it means for them. Trump's political flip-flops have added up to the uncertainty of what his presidency will look like.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: Donald Trump’s victory in the US election has left the world working out what it means for them. As a candidate, the President-elect made statements which would spell a dramatic shift in American policies at home and abroad. Trump initially focused his attention on immigration reform, calling for a wall to be built between Mexico and the United States, and demanding the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants.

SOUNDBITE [English] Doanld Trump, US President- Elect: Yes, we're gonna have to wall it, yes, Mexico is going to pay for the wall, one hundred percent. I am going to create a new, special deportation task force focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants in America.”

Narration: The Republican candidate later rolled out other policies: banning Muslims from entering the country, attacking the North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership, repealing Obama care, ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, cutting taxes, and so on ad infinitum; All in an attempt – as he claimed - to revive his moribund country

In a matter of weeks, Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States to make America great again, as he promised throughout his presidential campaign. But many fear that his presidency will plunge the country into an era of unknowns with little parallel in the nation’s history.

Donald Trump has been vague about his position on many issues, however, he has been explicit about several that would cause an about-face in America’s direction.

The President-elect has promised to focus on economic growth. There's no question that he has been highly successful in making himself rich; but the question is, “Can he make the rest of America rich, too?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Doanld Trump, US President- Elect: We have a great economic plan. We will double our growth and have the strongest economy anywhere in the world.”

Narration: Time and again, Trump has vowed to punish companies that move jobs abroad, a task that would begin with the abolishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

SOUNDBITE [English] Doanld Trump, US President- Elect: Their jobs have been taken away; their jobs are going to foreign lands and we're not gonna let that happen anymore folks ... we're not gonna let that happen anymore.”

Narration: Once praised as a step unifying the Western Hemisphere, the trade agreement is “a disaster” to the President-elect.

SOUNDBITE [English] Doanld Trump, US President- Elect: But every time you see a closed factory, a wiped out community here in Ohio, the Clintons were really involved, because Nafta has been such a disaster, and he signed it.”

Narration: The U.S. is an active member of NAFTA. Between January and September, China was the country’s largest trading partner, accounting for about 20 percent (20.8 %) of US imports, and over15 percent (15.4%) of the country’s total international trade. Canada and Mexico – other members of NAFTA – ranked second and third. If Trump sticks to his promises, he will raise tariffs on imports from Mexico and China in order to make US industry more competitive.

SOUNDBITE [English] Doanld Trump, US President- Elect: Under my contract, if a company wants to fire their workers, move to Mexico or other countries, and ship their products back in to the United States, as I said, we will put a 35% tax or tariff on those products and they will not leave.”

Narration: But research hasn’t given him much support. This move is likely to result in an inflationary spike and could drastically slow America’s trade with the rest of the world. Forty-seven percent of US imports in the first nine months of the year came from China, Mexico and Canada. No one knows how much of this agenda is for real. Trump is famously volatile, capable of changing his mind in an instant if he sees new avenues for profit.

SOUNDBITE [English] Hillary Clinton, US Democratic Presidential Candidate: “There's actually one of us on this stage who's actually shipped jobs to Mexico, because that's Donald. He's shipped jobs to 12 countries, including Mexico. Donald has bought Chinese steel and aluminum. In fact, the Trump Hotel right here in Las Vegas was made with Chinese steel. So he goes around with crocodile tears about how terrible it is, but he has given jobs to Chinese steel workers, not American steel workers.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

Narration: Perhaps the most unpredictable matter is how Donald Trump will deal with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, whom he has repeatedly praised.

Would Trump lift the sanctions over Russia? Would he back off from the Obama administration’s decision to boost the American military presence off Russia’s borders? There has been a growing bipartisan consensus in the foreign policy and intelligence leadership that Russia must be both constrained and contained. But Trump never once argued for Russian containment, repeatedly arguing that he alone could negotiate with Russian authorities.

As the president-elect, Trump will soon be briefed on how to use America’s nuclear codes and within the first year in the oval office, it should become clear whether he meant it when he said he was comfortable with the thought that Japan and South Korea, both signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, might abandon its longtime commitment and build weapons of their own. Though it, seems that Trump’s statement in this regard has been an off-the-cuff remark.

SOUNDBITE [English] Hillary Clinton, US Democratic Presidential Candidate: This is a person who has been very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons. He's advocated more countries getting them - Japan, Korea, even Saudi Arabia. He's said 'Well if we have them why don't we use them?', which I think is terrifying.”

Narration: Despite Trump’s notorious volatility, he has been consistent in some areas. Since the late 1980s, he has maintained a position that America’s allies –Saudi Arabia included – are ripping America off.

SOUNDBITE [English] Doanld Trump, US President- Elect: We are being ripped off by everybody in the world, we're defending other countries. We are spending a fortune doing it. They have the bargain of the century. All I said is we have to renegotiate these agreements cause our country cannot afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, South Korea and many other places.”

Narration: The mystery is how much of that kind of talk arises from deeply held beliefs, and how much was to garner votes.

Donald Trump made a string of promises during his long presidential campaign. Many of them made headlines. But as he and his team prepare to take power, he has shifted his stance on a number of key issues. The FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server was a key part of Trump’s campaign against her. He emphasized it in every debate, and vowed to pursue further investigations if he won the election.

SOUNDBITE [English] Doanld Trump, US President- Elect: But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it.”

Narration: But just two weeks after his victory, Trump said, “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons. I really don’t. She went through a lot. And suffered greatly.”

That’s not the whole story. Trump is backtracking on a number of his promises. Throughout his campaign, he vowed to dismantle the Paris Agreement, a multinational action plan to limit global warming. He’s put out dozens of tweets rejecting scientific evidence of climate change, implying that the U.S. shouldn’t waste “financial resources” on it. But when asked by New York Times reporter Thomas Friedman if he would take America out of the agreement, he said he has “an open mind” to it.

Repealing Obama care was Donald Trump’s another key election promise ...

SOUNDBITE [English] Doanld Trump, US President- Elect: “We will cancel every illegal Obama executive order ...”

Narration: But he softened his stance in the aftermath of the election. Now he says that some parts have to stay: coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions; and children staying on their parents’ plan until 26.

On 21 November, President-elect Donald Trump outlined his priorities for the first 100 days in office in a video released on YouTube. In it, there was no mention of two major promises he had made: to renegotiate NAFTA, and to label China a currency manipulator. Whether these will be priorities later in his term - or quietly dropped altogether - remains to be seen. The world is about to discover whether the most outlandish promises Mr. Trump made in his campaign about rethinking the international order and the national establishment are about to become reality. So far, Trump’s political flip-flops have all added up to the uncertainty of what a Trump presidency will look like.

SOUNDBITE [English] Unknown man in Trump Campaign: “Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States. It's been an honor. Thank you. God bless! Thank God!”

Narration: What the next US president is going to do with his promises is anybody’s guess. The world will just have to wait and see.


Coming Up Online