David Neyskens is part of the classic-liberal think tank Libera! He regularly publishes articles on the U.S. on the news and opinion website doorbraak.be. Neyskens just finished an election road trip through the United States, where he travelled together with Laurence Libert, Alderwoman for the Flemish liberals of Open VLD in Hasselt.
Please note that this article is not part of our classic editorial context and that it expresses a personal opinion.
The biggest evil has descended upon us if we are to believe the media and the rest of the cultural elite: Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th U.S. President this week. But this is a false conclusion for various reasons. Trump's victory is not the end of the world.
No longer the world's policeman
When Trump delivered his big foreign policy speech in May, I thought the anti-war movement - mostly to be found in progressive circles in Flanders - would be happy. Because up until now, American presidents - including Obama, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - were heavily criticized by our "peace movement".
The "neocons" ruled in Washington, especially in the Bush era: Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, ... Democrats mainly continued the same policies.
But what does history teach us? Anti-war campaigners take to the streets in droves against the "disastrous" foreign policies applied by George W. Bush, but when Clinton and Obama adopt similar policies - invading Libya or supplying guns to a whole bunch of rebel movements in Syria - the progressives keep silent. On the contrary: Obama receives the Nobel Peace prize.
When Trump announces in his speech he no longer wants to be the world's policeman, you would expect the "progressives" to give him a round of applause? But no, Trump is a Republican and must be demonised.
Ousted from the Trump camp
The Republican primaries saw the Republican basis voting against the George W. Bush clan. Trump did not enjoy the support of these neo-conservatives.
On the contrary: Bill Kristol tried to sabotage him by sending Evan McMullin into the race, a former CIA agent who had to keep Trump from victory in Utah. Trump crushed him in Utah.
And what to say about the Republican Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the war in Iraq, who let Trump down and publicly supported Hillary Clinton? Is it not a good thing - for our progressives - that these belligerent advisers have been ousted from the Trump camp?
Why does the left hate Trump?
All architects of the war in Iraq have been side-lined now Trump's presidency is imminent. There are no more foreign military adventures to spread "democracy".
The biggest winners are of course people who are not being hit by bombs and not losing any friends or family members. Many people on the left side of the political spectrum have always demanded to take away the causes of terrorism; the interventionist foreign policies of the past two decades are certainly one of the causes; Trump will now do away with this, but still they hate him, which is weird...
IS and Syria
Trump is making an exception for IS, since they declared war on the United States. But here also Trump will cooperate with Russia. Multilateralism and diplomacy, everybody wanted it for years, Trump will now give it a first start.
Assad can rest assured in Syria. Assad is not an angel, and has committed crimes. But he is who he is: a secular dictator who makes sure that there is a certain form of individual liberty in Syria. He stands for a moderate form of Islam, but other religions are free to keep their faith services.
That makes quite a difference with countries like Saudi-Arabia, where religious freedom is non-existent and from where Wahabism is exported to all corners of the world. Is it not this source of inspiration that is radicalising youngsters in many of our urban districts?
The Saudi people liked to donate to the Clintons, but are not fond of Trump.
Trump can break the deadlock with Russia
"Wouldn't it be nice if we were friends with Russia?" Trump spoke several times about the need to improve relations with the Russians, and received applause for it in his many rallies.
Putin may not be the sweetest person in the world, but in the world you need stability, and the globe will be a more stable place when the U.S. and Russia are getting along fine.
I think it will be more difficult with this little bunch of Western leaders than with a fresh, new face like Trump. The present Western leaders have broken their promise to Putin a couple of times. Putin is not free of sins, but the breaking of promises has triggered a lot of distrust.
"Russian fears for a Western invasion will go up in smoke"
Trump and Putin could get along better, which would make Russian fears for a Western invasion go up in smoke. The paradox is that this fear also exists in Europe, which made NATO send more troops to the Russian border. All this creates a never-ending spiral.
Trump can solve this (and has to). The first encounter may not be as historic as the one between Reagan and Gorbatchov in Reykjavik, but it will be an important one.
Trump will not withdraw the U.S. from NATO
Many Americans have had it with wars. Many people have war veterans in their circle of friends and family. They know someone who died in the war or who bears the scars forever, whether it be physically or mentally. The U.S has been at war for 15 years now. 20-year-olds have hardly known a different situation. This has to change, also because the government cannot bear the cost any longer.
This is why NATO should stick to its commitments with the U.S. Trump will not withdraw the U.S. from NATO; there is no majority for this anywhere in the U.S. But the idea about alliances making a fairer contribution, is something that enjoys a broader basis.
2 percent is the deal, and Trump will insist on this. If the U.S. is compelled to defend a certain NATO country, but when this country is not honouring its part of the deal (2 percent of GDP), then it is a bad accord for the U.S. Trump only wants good deals.
Lesbians and gays
In the past, the LGTBQ community did not really enjoy a warm welcome in the Republican party. Trump changed this, after the Orlando shooting.
Trump was determined to show that he is a friend of this community. He talked about it extensively in his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, harvesting a big round of applause, to his own surprise.
He has the social-conservatives behind him, but they should also make a gradual shift towards accepting people with different sexual orientations.
As to gay marriage, I expect little change, even after judges will have been named with a more conservative background, supporting a strict application of the Constitution.
Restoring "checks and balances"?
Many Europeans don't know that the Obama administration was one of the most political administrations on record. This administration hardly cooperated with the Republican Party, despite the GOP having the majority in Congress.
Both parties are to blame for this. The president enjoys "discretionary powers" through so-called executive orders and Obama made use of this. But this also means that Trump can undo many of these decisions.
The end of the gridlock and tackling public debt
The Republicans conquered the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives in the elections. This marks the end of the gridlock in Washington, and Congress members will again vote on issues involving budgets and legislation.
This will be more than necessary to get public debt under control - it doubled from 10 to 20 trillion under the Obama administration, after an earlier doubling under Bush. Trump will have to move forward together with Congress. This includes an important role for Vice-President Mike Pence, who knows Washington DC through and through.
Trump has room for manoeuvre now, but Congress will tighten the screws on him if Trump would wander outside the lines. If Congress then discovers how much power it really has (the money), this could be an example for Belgium, where Parliament has since long devolved nearly all powers to the government.
"I propose the Belgian government reads along"
Tax cuts always make me cheer as a liberal. Trump will reduce taxes to 3 rates: 12 percent under 75,000 US dollars, 25 percent for earnings between 75,000 and 225,000 and 33 percent for those above 225,000. Singles enjoy tax exemptions until 15,000 dollars; for married couples this is 30,000.
I propose that the Belgian government reads this. Many back doors are being closed. Corporate tax is lowered to 15 percent coming from 35 and companies that continue to make a profit outside the U.S. will enjoy a kind of fiscal amnesty of 10 percent.
Arthur Laffer, the man behind the famous Laffer Curve, can't hide his enthusiasm and says this will spark strong economic growth like under Ronald Reagan in the 80ies, also triggering more revenues.
"We will see a disciplined Trump"
Many people are concerned about Donald Trump's qualities and his style. I think we will mostly see the person we saw on election night. A man who can control himself, who is disciplined, a little bit charming, but always bearing the American interests in mind. It is Kellyanne Conway, his campaign leader, who taught him all that.
Conway is the first female campaign leader to win the presidential elections. Without her, Trump would never take the oath next January.
Trump's election was not so bad after all. As Obama said when the election result became clear: "The sun has come up today as well."