The Trump card has been played, and quite splendidly, if one may add. The political pundits are flabbergasted, abandoned by their polling-gods. The liberal intelligentsia is in utter disbelief, their dystopian nightmares unfolding around them. And the world at large is biting its tongue, unsure, unsteady and uncertain.

All around, there is a strange, uneasy feeling – something is amiss.

Riding a bubbling, populist wave of anger and disillusionment, Donald Trump has emerged victorious, against all analytical wisdom and advice. What appeared, in the beginning, to be nothing more than a caricature of a rather inappropriate side to Uncle Tom has, in fact, turned out to be a critical component of his persona. All of a sudden, there is a sinking feeling of an unsettling realisation: this is no longer a joke.

Donald Trump, a misogynistic, xenophobic, narcissistic, trigger-happy celebrity-turned-politician has just been elected as the next leader of the self-styled ‘free world’, and arguably, the most powerful state in the world. All this using the oldest trick in the trade: the politics of fear.

Throughout his campaign, he capitalised on the disenchantment of the American people, funnelling all their distrust and resentment to exclude and vilify the more vulnerable segments of American society – the women, the Muslims, the Hispanics, the transgendered. He exploited the deepest insecurities of his electorate, conjuring up imagined monsters and boogeymen, and pitted them against a glorified and exalted legacy of a once ‘great’ America.

He played the sociopathic version of the Pied Piper, and the mice blindly marched to his tune.

The triumph of Donald Trump is a triumph for a rising sentiment of authoritarianism, isolationism and national chauvinism, not only in the United States, but also in Europe. The madness of his manifesto is already being mimicked by his doppelgängers in the Western world, with right-wing upstarts rapidly gaining traction amongst the populace: the Alternative for Germany, the Sweden Democrats, the National Front in France, UKIP in Britain and the Party of Freedom in Netherlands.

This sudden emergence of Trump and his counterparts in the European continent is symptomatic of a deeper malaise plaguing Western liberal democracies – economic inequality - perpetuated by the untiring pursuit of neoliberal policies, sustained by a democratic set-up that is increasingly perceived as plutocratic and elitist and compounded by the recent recession, whose aftershocks still hamper economic growth amidst the regions.

The disenfranchised have been pushed over the edge, and unfortunately, their ire is being directed, not at the economic system that disenfranchised them to begin with, but the illusory threat of the foreign, the uncommon, the ‘Other’.

Naturally, it all makes one wonder if this is the death knell for multiculturalism, liberalism and tolerance. Perhaps our cultural and social fault lines have become ever too apparent, too irreconcilable. Or perhaps, Huntington’s ‘clash of civilisations’ is finally turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy, as frightful an affair as that may seem. I think not, however.

There is good hope that much of this fear mongering is unwarranted, that Trump is all bark and little bite, that much of his verbal warfare is little more than empty rhetoric, a highly efficient campaign gimmick and that, having secured his victory, he is likely to become more ‘presidential’, a tamed and statesmanlike version of his former self, prone perhaps to an unstable tongue but still reined in by the weight of the office he shall soon hold.

In so far as Pakistan is concerned, the anxiety generated by the announcement of an incoming Trump presidency is understandable. The particular brand of the politics he employed has definitely unnerved us all, particularly the global Muslim community. His proclivity for the use of force in international relations, his advocacy for a militarily aggressive America, his denial of climate change and his brazen disdain for Islam and his followers make his election appear like the coming of the anti-Christ.

However, it is difficult to predict the prospects of a future relationship between the Pakistani establishment and a Trump government. For one, Trump has remained remarkably silent on Pakistan, save for an off-hand demand for an apology for allegedly harbouring Bin Laden for six years. Furthermore, it is impossible, at this point at least, to distinguish between Trump-the-Campaigner and Trump-the-President.

The former had one objective, to win the election at all costs, and to this end he shamelessly milked the bitterness of his electorate. The latter, on the other hand, shall have a country to run and an entire administrative toolbox to help him run it, complete with foreign policy experts, military advisers and think tanks. The Oval Office is unlikely to become his personal playpen and American foreign policy, rather than being dictated by his personal whims and wishes, shall remain dictated by higher, deeply entrenched strategic interests.

The Trump election is, therefore, not necessarily a cause for fear. It is nonetheless; a cause for great sadness, for it has further cemented a resurgence of the radical right in Western politics and exposed an ugly fissure within the American community.

Trump has promised his people that he will ‘make America great again’. The problem is, perhaps it was never that great to begin with.