This is not a dream. Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. A billionaire businessman with no political experience, virtually no serious policy proposals, and a surreal campaign built upon the ugliest elements of human nature has won the nation’s highest office.
So what happens now?
One immediate effect is a drastic shock to the world’s financial system. Even earlier in the night, when Trump appeared to have momentum but was nowhere near to securing the presidency, American futures markets and international stock markets were crashing, as was the value of the U.S. dollar.
This is entirely in line with experts’ predictions: For months the prospect of a Trump presidency has represented volatility, and his stated economic views are widely seen as disastrous for not only the American but the global economy. A Trump presidency would “likely cause the stock market to crash and plunge the world into recession,” Simon Johnson, an MIT economist, predicted, The New York Times reported.
Many have compared a Trump victory to Brexit—the surprise decision of the United Kingdom to separate from the European Union—which also had global economic consequences. Only Trump’s victory was much more unexpected, and likely much more consequential, considering the size of the American economy.
What about the first days of a Trump presidency? What will it look like?
In his first 100 days in office, Trump has pledged to build his famous border wall, renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA, appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton, repeal Obamacare, and initiate mass deportations of undocumented citizens, among other things.
But can he actually do any of this?
To some extent, yes. Even without the support of the congress, Trump can lean heavily on executive orders, particularly to repeal executive orders issued by President Obama. And analysts have predicted he will.
“He’s going to try to start with a bang by taking as much of Obama off the books with a stroke of his pen as he possibly can,” William Galston, with the Brookings Institute, told CNBC.
In particular, Trump has repeatedly vowed to get rid of Obamacare on “Day One,” promising to have Congress convene a special session. But even with a Republican House and Senate, any repeal of the law would be complicated and likely take months, experts say.
Swift presidential actions are often much harder in reality than in theory. “I’d be careful what you target first,” Susan Dudley, who served in the George W. Bush administration, told CNN. “I think there could be large reforms, especially working with Congress, but recognize that that will take years, not 100 days.”
And many of Trump’s promises, of course, are utterly implausible. Mexico will not be paying for a wall, for example.
What about foreign affairs?
It’s ugly. The only question is how ugly.
Ian Bremmer, a global research professor at NYU, predicted in an analysis for Politico Magazine that one immediate effect of a Trump win would be an immediate turn on the global stage away from the U.S. and towards other powers, particularly China. “Allies in Asia will hedge their bets on American staying power with a stronger China,” he said.
There could be even more dramatic and dangerous events ahead. Because of Trump’s extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric, his "presidency would make the United States, its citizens, and its assets the single most attractive target for Al Qaeda, ISIL, and other Islamic militant groups,” Bremmer said.
Meanwhile, throughout Trump’s candidacy, white nationalist and other extremist movements flourished, emboldened by the businessman’s tacit and explicit encouragement. Back in August, Buzzfeed reported that the chair of the American Nazi Party, Rocky Suhayda, called a Trump victory “a real opportunity for people like white nationalists.” Now that he’s the president-elect, these forces will likely continue to grow, no matter what he does in office.
“Trump has unleashed forces—forces much bigger than he is" Richard Spencer, head of the National Policy Institute, told the Huffington Post, "that simply can’t be put back into the bottle.”