Trump's Victory and the Way Forward
Donald Trump’s stunning election marks the beginning of a new era of American politics. We are preparing to experience the consequences of electing a man who holds alarming, arbitrary, and often wildly contradictory views on issues central to American governance, like trade, immigration, military intervention, public health, and policing.
On the issues of interest in this blog – Asia and the environment – the potential for disaster is boundless.
In the Pacific, nervous observers wonder whether Trump will follow through on threats to reduce American presence in Japan and South Korea, upsetting an order that has persisted since the end of World War II. His seeming support for nuclear proliferation is the stuff of nightmares.
Meanwhile, his administration will inherit an increasingly belligerent North Korea, which carried out its most recent nuclear test just two months ago. He will meet and shake hands with Xi Jinping, a polished and assertive leader who is militarizing the South China Sea and calmly readjusting the balance of power in the Pacific with the help of the Philippines’ populist president, Rodrigo Duterte.
Among environmental and clean energy advocates, Trump’s election will cause total despair. A man who has called climate change a Chinese hoax and who vowed to scrap the Paris agreements now prepares to enter the Oval Office following the warmest year on record and with consensus from scientists and 195 countries that inaction now will bring environmental catastrophe. He has proposed a prominent climate-denier, Myron Ebell, to dismantle the EPA, and a former energy lobbyist for the Koch brothers, Mike McKenna, to lead the transition at the Department of Energy. With Republicans in control of the legislature, and with Trump poised to nominate between one and three new Supreme Court justices, American environmental governance is gravely in danger.
There is some cause for hope in the belief that American institutions can be slow to change. Internal resistance within the bureaucracy of the Department of Energy is likely to prevent a complete U-turn overnight. And the solar industry can continue to point to job-creation and energy security and march ahead, state-by-state.
Though this is small solace in a world now presented with President-Elect Donald J. Trump.
The election is over, and I imagine amid the fallout from tonight’s results, many Americans will take time for deep introspection. They will decide what issues really matter to them, and how far they will go to do what’s right. Many will choose to make a stand. They will write. They will donate. They will march.
And I hope you’ll be one of them.