In the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory, many American political analysts are arguing that his presidency has virtually no precedent, and so it is impossible to know how he might govern. Unlike all presidents since Dwight Eisenhower, Trump was never an elected politician, and even Eisenhower had extensive experience with government and public policy. Trump has few clear views on most policy issues, and has repeatedly disdained the norms of American politics. Even within the Republican Party leadership, which now wields more power in Washington than any one party in decades, there is deep confusion over how the president will lead. Will he actually push through some of the populist ideas he has suggested, such as infrastructure creation and trade wars, or will he mostly follow GOP orthodoxies, such as slashing taxes, deregulation, and shifting social services to states? Will he pursue an America First isolationist foreign policy, or defer to hawkish GOP foreign policy elites his administration is now courting? For his senior foreign policy appointments, he appears to be courting a mix of George W. Bush-era hardliners and more isolationist types.
But Trump is not without precedent in modern democracy---if you look for examples outside of America. For more on how Trump might resemble other elected autocrats today, see my new Bloomberg Businessweek piece.