Trump's victory is a victory against the threat to all historical communities posed by current trends. It may well bring Americans some of the concrete benefits to be expected from a government that views their well-being rather than a vision of order based on an ultimately mindless ideology as its primary concern.
The threat of course continues. Trump did not win by much, and the leftists who dominate public thought and practice are not going to go away or give up the fight for total victory. They have a vision to unify them, and view opposition as radically evil, while the Right is little more than an aggregation of people who reject the Left's vision in one way or another.
So the Left is much better positioned for the continuing struggle. Also, social dissolution favors them by depriving resistance of a institutional base in the particularities of family, religion, and people that must be central to any alternative to the Left's technocratic universalism.
The long term outlook therefore remains bleak unless something basic changes. Trump's victory has unsettled things, and created an opening for something new to get started, but almost everything remains to be done.
What's needed most of all is an integrating vision for the Right. Otherwise public life will continue to be based on leftist assumptions and the Right will continue ultimately to lose. To make matters more difficult, the new vision has to be basically at odds with ways of public thought that have been dominant for a long time.
One way to get the discussion started would be to concentrate on the common good as an alternative to the liberal standard of equal freedom. That discussion could start with specific issues, but then bring natural law and even the Catholic vision of social order into the picture. Those ways of thinking have after all been fundamental to the civilization of the West.
We also need to reverse social dissolution. Limiting immigration and fewer inclusivist initiatives should help on that front. It would also help to promote a more widespread understanding of the normal conditions for small scale informal social order—cultural coherence, functional sex roles, a more functional idea of the family, and religious faith.
Such a strategy won't get very far barring major unpredictable developments like a religious revival. We can only do what we can. Even so, the project of liberal modernity is going to break down at some point. Our ruling classes have been losing touch with reality in ever more basic ways, with current orthodoxies on immigration and sexual issues providing examples.
So maybe the breakdown will come sooner than expected. Trump's victory is a sign of how many wild cards there are in history, and how quickly established certainties can vanish in the face of events. In that way, and by opening the possibility of discussing real issues, it offers hope.
James Kalb is the author of The Tyranny of Liberalism.