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opinion

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Hershey, Pa., on Dec. 10, 2019.Matt Rourke/The Associated Press

With the revised-revised North American free-trade agreement sailing toward ratification, Donald Trump is ending 2019 well positioned to win a second term. Even impeachment is working in his favour.

Canadians who hoped that the President’s 2016 victory was an aberration should get used to the very real possibility of Four. More. Years.

Mr. Trump made renegotiating NAFTA, which he called “the worst trade deal in history,” a major priority for his administration. More than a year after the original renegotiations were completed, all sides have signed off on a version that the Democrats in the House of Representatives are ready to approve, which represents a huge win for this President.

There’s more. The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in November (Canada, in contrast, lost 71,000 jobs), taking unemployment to 3.5 per cent, a level not seen since 1969. The stock market has set fresh records, and wages are up 3 per cent from a year ago.

“After years of rebuilding other nations, we are finally rebuilding our nation,” the President crowed to a packed arena in Hershey, Pa., on Tuesday. “America is winning again like never before.”

America is winning despite launching trade actions against friend and foe alike that conventional wisdom insisted would damage the U.S. economy. But even the trade war with China hasn’t brought on a recession.

Canadian trade lawyer Lawrence Herman believes the damage Mr. Trump has inflicted – withdrawing the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership, undermining the World Trade Organization, weaponizing tariffs – will eventually undermine growth.

But in the short term, “he has the political ability to take credit for those tariffs and to suggest that he has reversed decades of ill-conceived trade policy,” Mr. Herman said in an interview. It could get him re-elected.

The President routinely trashes the international institutions that have preserved peace and prosperity since the end of the Second World War. And it works! Specifically, he warned that the U.S. might disengage from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization unless other countries increased defence spending.

In late November, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that defence spending by European members and Canada had increased by 4.6 per cent in 2019, and by US$130-billion since 2016. “This is unprecedented progress," Mr. Stoltenberg said. It also vindicates Mr. Trump’s practice of diplomacy by ultimatum.

The House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, is proceeding with articles of impeachment against the President. The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, is certain to acquit. In any case, impeachment may be harming the Democrats more than Mr. Trump.

The President is charged with trying to extort the Ukrainian government into announcing a corruption investigation into the role of Hunter Biden in the energy company Burisma Holdings, when his father Joe was vice-president.

Although there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, it isn’t unreasonable to ask: What, exactly, was Hunter Biden doing on the board of that company? That question alone could damage Joe Biden’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Mr. Biden’s other big problem is that, at 77, he is four years older than Mr. Trump. The other leading candidate on the moderate side of the party, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., is gay, which may make him unelectable.

The leading progressive candidates Bernie Sanders (who is 78) and Elizabeth Warren (70), both favour a Canadian-style public health-care system, which could alarm Americans who are satisfied with their private plans.

While Mr. Trump’s job approval rating has been grim from inauguration day till today, Republican presidential candidates almost never win the popular vote. (Since 1988, they have only done it once, in 2004.) But if Mr. Trump can repeat his 2016 feat of winning over suburban voters in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, he could prevail yet again in the electoral college.

This President’s anti-immigrant rants often descend into overt racism. He has used the presidency to enrich his businesses. He is an environmental vandal. He lies all the time. He consorts with America’s traditional enemies and insults its allies. He corrodes trust in institutions and the rule of law. He disgraces his office on Twitter almost every day.

And if things go as well for him next year as they went this year, he could be around till 2025.