THE DONALD TRUMP FACTOR IN AMERICAN POLITICS: A COMMENT
"Disappointed, disillusioned men, uprooted and unbalanced, driven by half-conscious fears and gusts of passions, frantically seek a new rallying point and new attachments. Their dreams and cravings projected into the void gather round some figure. It is the monolatry of the political desert. The more pathological the situation the less important is the intrinsic worth of the idol. His feet may be of clay and his face may be a blank: it is the frenzy of the worshippers which imparts to him meaning and power."Sir Lewis Namier, "The First Montebank Dictator". In Vanished Supremacies: Essays on European History, 1812-1918. (1958), p. 54.
"Mrs Clinton is many things — intelligent, accomplished, hard-working, quisquis — but she is not herself interesting, except as a historical phenomenon — an American Evita, minus the charisma and the balcony. This is likely to make four years of her feel interminable. One year into her presidency, Stephen Hawking may have to revise his theory of time and posit that it is now slowing down. Or has stopped altogether. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I postulate that Mrs Clinton is not an exciting persona. If she were, it would be her, not a 74-year-old rumpled lefty with Paleo-Marxist cuckoo ideas, attracting massive crowds of young people. Comrade Sanders’s message may be flawed (rich people bad; government control of the economy good), but it is at least a message. Mrs Clinton has no message other than ‘I am so owed.’"Christopher Buckley, "The Age of Hillary: what to expect if - when - a second Clinton finally backs her way to the top". The Spectator. 21 May 2016, p. 12. Improbable as it may seem, there is every possibility that the prospective Republican nominee in the race to be elected the President of the United State of American, Mr. Donald Trump, may perhaps win against his opponent, ex-Secretary of State, ex-Senator, ex-First Lady Hillary Clinton. Admittedly like most of the American and indeed European intelligentsia, bien-pensant or not, the idea of Mr. Trump in the White House sends shivers down my spine. I of course have no love or admiration for Mme. Clinton: the epitome of a Balzacian character: the provincial, petit-bourgeois, arriviste as opportunist. As Mr. Buckley cruelly but accurately points out, Mme. Clinton as a candidate, as a politician, has proven singularly unable to convey any rationale why anyone would vote for her except that she is 'entitled' to be elected President, as a 'reward' for the many (self-induced) travails that she and her husband, ex-President Clinton have undergone in the past twenty-four years. Unfortunately, this is not the type of argument which will cause the great mass of the American public to enthusiastically vote for her. Thankfully, it must be said that in the past week to ten days, Mr. Trump has indulged himself in comments which are so outlandish and political maladroit that it is almost inconceivable that he would be elected President 1. However, the very same things were said one year ago when he first commenced running for the Republican nomination. And while the electorate in the general election is demographically much more varied than the electorate in the Republican party, the fact is that the same variable which caused Trump to rise to the top of the Republican greasy pole, are present in the wider electorate. What are these? Simply put the socio-economic effects of globalization, with its concomitant increases in income inequality and the shrinking of the size of the American middle class, has become more and more obvious. With massive increases in the suicide rates of White, middle-ages Americans. As well as a fall in the life expectancy of the same group 2. And unfortunately, these conditions are not confined to simply Republican party voters, but can also be found in the wider electorate. As was seen in the (relative) success of Senator Sanders' campaign in the Democratic Party race for President. In both cases, a seemingly widespread, 'village explainer' mentality, with its almost psychotic mistrust of elites: political and economic, has aided candidates who sincerely (Senator Sanders) or not (Mr. Trump) gives rhetorical vent to these feelings. Whatever one's opinion (in my case not very high) of Mme. Clinton, the fact of the matter is that she is indeed the 'conservative' choice as compared to a dangerous and ignorant demagogue, indeed a potential 'montebank dictator' like Mr. Trump. Unfortunately, even if he is defeated later on this year, the illnesses in the wider American and indeed wider Western polity will not by any means be cured by this result. Only a change in the wider socio-economic trends will do the trick 3. 1. Freddy Gray, "Trump’s train wreck: how the Donald is derailing his own campaign". The Spectator. 17 June 2016, in www.spectator.co.uk. 2. Martin Wolf, "How to defeat rightwing populism". The Financial Times. 24 May 2016, in www.ft.com; Sabrina Taverniseapril, "Health U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High". The New York Times. 22 April 2016, in www.nytimes.com. 3. For an analysis which covers the wider Western world, and not merely the United States, see: Branko Milanovic. Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization. (2016).