Sunday May 31, 2020

Stephen Kinsella: Trump's victory strengthens forces of populism

Trump's election emboldens those who favour de-globalisation which is not good news for Ireland, writes Stephen Kinsella

9th November, 2016
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French far-right politicians Marine and Jean-Marie Le Pen Pic: Getty
HENIN-BEAUMONT, FRANCE - DECEMBER 06: French Far-Right National Front President Marine Le Pen during her speech after the announcement of the results of the first round of the regional election on December 6, 2015 in Henin-Beaumont, France. Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images) (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

What does Donald Trump's election as the next president of the United States mean?

The question is loaded because it presumes it understands what Trump is. Trump is the reaction of tens of millions of Americans to the status quo -- the status quo that saw Wall Street banks and the rich and powerful bailed out after 2008, that saw no consequences for the malfeasance of an entire class of people, the status quo that saw real wages for the bottom 40 per cent in the USA stagnate since 1970.

The status quo that no longer has a claim to the mainstream.

If the status quo is represented by people who make it to the top of political parties, it makes sense to look at how those parties are structured. Yet Donald Trump was just elected without the Republican Party, without its party machine, without the endorsement of most of the people down the ticket and without the support of the newspapers that endorse Republicanism.

He was elected essentially with a twitter feed.

He lost to Hillary Clinton in three presidential debates, where she destroyed him. He was elected without policies, amid total uncertainty about his policy platform. In contrast, there was total certainty about Clinton's policies, she was effectively Barack Obama in a pantsuit.

Yet he he won by a margin and he won in an old-fashioned way, by appealing to nationalism and by appealing to populism.

This will embolden other populists like Marine Le Pen in France, the AfD in Germany, Viktor Orbán in Hungary and anyone who says there are people who are not like us and those people are to blame. Those populists are going to look toward the nation state as the engine of all progress and that implies de-globalisation.

Countries like Ireland that have profited massively from globalisation are in big trouble. This is a problem for us, a real problem.

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