Trump’s rise is a symptom of something far more sinister than himself…
The pollsters got it wrong, again. Trump has won. The President Elect, Donald Trump will soon be installed in the White House. This has many terrifying connotations however the fact he was voted in at all is scarier than the policy implications his presidency brings. His election shows that the popular demand is there. That the demand is there amongst the people for a closed America, an anti-globalist, quasi-racist, and strictly anti-establishment candidate.
It is understandable why people have turned their backs on globalization, it has depressed wages and taken jobs amongst the middle/lower classes and the benefits have been confined to the “1%” or at least that is the narrative taking hold. This has stocked a perception amongst people that the system is rigged against them and thus an anti-establishment anti-globalist candid has been voted in. This anti-establishment, anti-globalist attitude is not just confined to America, it is the symptom of a wider malaise effecting Western Democracies. Triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, people across Europe and the USA have increasingly become exasperated with the politician’s inability to create prosperity. This has led to a rise in anti-establishment parties across the left right political spectrum whether it be Le Pen in France or Corbyn’s Labour in the UK. Indeed parallels could be drawn between Farage and Corbyn in the UK vs Trump and Sanders in the USA as examples of anti-establishment figures across the spectrum.
Any good Trump article these days compares him Brexit. Whilst this may seem contrived it is important to note that they where both fought along the same fault lines of immigration and free trade. They also both pitted the mainstream political establishment against an ‘outsider’ with both elections yielding a win for the outsider. Both events exemplify the huge discontent with the status quo as well as rising skepticism surrounding globalization. These people are often a silent majority which partially explains why pollsters got it wrong on both counts whether it be Bashful Brexiters or Timid Trumpieteers.
Trump’s election is the latest in a string of events that make the traditional left vs right political spectrum reductive and antiquated. Perhaps now we are moving towards a new political dichotomy of cosmopolitan vs localism whereby future elections will be decided by policies on immigration, free trade, and border control. It will be interesting to see how this new political divide plays out.
Looking ahead, Trump’s victory speech signaled that he had calmed down slightly with talks of national reconciliation and global cooperation (where it suited American interests.) However based on his comments in the run up to the election it is likely that free trade deals will be scuppered, that a tougher stance on immigration will be made (although whether or not Mexico will pay for the wall is still an open question,) and the uncertainty surrounding his economic policies will likely be detrimental for the economy.
However he is a businessman, and so may show pragmatism when making decisions (hopefully!) and perhaps having an outsider to shake up the Washington establishment is no bad thing. For those who have fled to Facebook, twitter etc with such dramatic warnings that “it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here” or other such hyperbole (some of them have been fantastically entertaining), please have a tea and calm down. President Trump is bad but its not that bad, famously Americans are not electing a King, their political infrastructure is designed to limit the executive power through a series of checks and balances so Trumpian policies will either be blocked or watered down.
Trump’s control of Presidential powers is a cause for concern but his posse of advisors should limit him here too. Finally, for those condemning the election of Trump, or for those outraged by Brexit, I would urge you not to be angry at the events and instead look at the factors that made people vote in that way and question how we can resolve those; perhaps than we can return to a more harmonious political reality.