For all his ugliness and buffoonery, Donald Trump got some big things right, politically and practically, that Joe Biden will undo at his own peril. Almost all of Trump’s wins, abroad and at home, have one thing in common: They focused on most Americans achieving broader prosperity and not only the best-off. In his first three years, through a powerful economic boom, Trump’s economic approach paid dividends for working-class voters, who enjoyed their fastest income growth in a generation.
Trump’s boldest departure was in taking on the rest of the world. His backing of American energy development lessened the power of Middle Eastern Arab dictators and helped shove them towards a critical détente with Israel. Any attempt by Obama holdovers to return to a pro-Iranian position will not only offend many Arab states, but also Israel, which sees Iran as a mortal danger.
More critical still may be Trump’s China policy, or at least his bluster. For decades, the country looked the other way as our business elites—from bankers to tech titans to sports leagues—fell under the sway of the Middle Kingdom. This had occurred, on a bipartisan basis, even as it became painfully clear to ordinary Americans that “free trade” with China had only benefited the already affluent here at the expense of most people. Since 1990, the U.S. deficit in trade goods with China has ballooned from under $10 billion annually to over $345 billion last year. In calling for a return to American production, Trump was on solid political as well as economic ground. Despite the much ballyhooed consumer benefits of low-cost imports, the vast majority of Americans seem willing to pay the higher prices that could come from returning production from China.