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Leader comment >

Now for the reality

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WE ARE taught that perfect love casts out fear. It is also true that fear can cast out love.

During the run-up to the United States presidential election, it became clear that many American citizens are deeply fearful for their economic and national security. It is on these fears that Donald Trump, a wealthy businessman with no previous experience in public office, rode to victory.

His campaign was unscrupulous about playing on prejudice, even against immigration, the dynamo of American history. After the first African-American President, talk of “taking back our country” conveyed ugly undertones, particularly in the light of Mr Trump’s other innuendoes.

Mr Trump made it clear, however, that he saw almost anyone or anything as fair game, since it was crucial to his appearance of defending American freedom to demonstrate an untrammelled freedom of speech.

But if his success implies an unattractive side to American society, it has to be remembered that this was a protest vote. One reason for Hillary Clinton’s poor performance in the polls is that she is closely associated with the political ascendancy of the past 30 years.

It seems that many people who felt that the American dream was slipping away from them wanted to end the Clinton-Bush see-saw. Although the Democratic party is not what we would recognise as left-wing in the UK, it is ironic that this protest vote by many poorer voters has delivered overwhelming political control to the more right-wing Republican party .

As the UK is seeing, however, it is easier to stir up a “movement” than it is to govern. In due course, Mr Trump will have to look as if he has indeed begun to make America great again. Economically, this is a big ask. Internationally, it has its risks. Mr Trump, whose approach, so far as we know, is going to be isolationist and protectionist, will need prayer if he is to be converted into a statesman.

The Churches in the US are obliged to abstain from comment that can be perceived as political during a presidential election. Now that there is a President-elect, they will have a renewed part to play as the voice of America’s conscience.

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