Five things liberals should learn from Donald Trump
He’s a sexist redneck bigot I could never vote for, but America’s President has got a few things right
Notes from a deep green conservative
I was on a long drive with an old acquaintance recently when the conversation turned to politics.
It’s a topic I usually avoid with this person because of his voluble support for wacky conspiracy theories favored by the extreme right.
When he announced a fulsome endorsement of Donald Trump I was not surprised.
What did surprise me were the reasons for his support, and the fact that I agreed with some of them.
It was a long road-trip, and what I distilled from our rambling conversation were five disruptive, but essentially positive initiatives liberals should heed from Donald Trump’s presidency.
- Exporting manufacturing jobs offshore inevitably leads to a loss of jobs onshore. In hindsight, Bill Clinton, who largely facilitated the mass migration of working class jobs from the US to China and the developing world in return for cheap goods for the middle class, got it dead wrong. It is this dissatisfied base of disenfranchised American blue-collar voters who now form the backbone of Trump’s support.
- No matter how shonky Donald Trump’s personal business affairs, he represents idiosyncratic family business values rather than faceless corporate, lobbyist and union values. For a nation built on the dynamism of self-employment, and a small business class deeply scared by corporate adventurism, Trump as a business person has a deep resonance with many Americans.
- The era of globalism in all things is dead. Although many would argue that non-binding global organisations like the UN are vital to monitoring and coordinating essential international affairs, Trump and his supporters have sensibly decided that a corporate global monoculture is not a good thing for the planet.
- Donald Trump is not a war-monger who views America as the world’s policeman. He believes Europe and the North Asia democracies should pay for their own defense. He’s also determined to end America’s longest war in Afghanistan. Let’s hope he doesn’t accidentally start one with China.
- Fake news, a hallmark of Trump’s presidency, has always offered him a convenient scapegoat for inconvenient truths. But it is equally true that most of the western world’s mainstream media is now controlled by large transnational corporate entities that subscribe to the status quo. Few politicians have had the courage to hold media proprietors to account.
As I said, it was a long drive. Where my colleague and I disagreed was over who we hoped would win the forthcoming presidential election.
I hope Donald Trump loses. I don’t think the world can take much more of his disruption without coming apart at the seams. Big changes can be dangerous if rushed.
Besides, Trump has shown a tin ear about the greatest moral challenges of our time - climate disruption and the environment.
At a time when the planet is running out of basic resources and struggling to find solutions to these mindbogglingly complex issues, a hyper aspirational former reality television star is not the person who should be at the helm of its leading power.
His leadership during the pandemic has also been appalling, dividing rather than uniting the country in a time of dire need.
Finally, Donald Trump has run out of big ideas. His presidency is descending into a swamp of petty partisanism, racist innuendo and populism of the lowest caliber.
There are other reasons I don’t like him, but they are issues of style rather than substance.
I don't know how much substance Joe Biden and Kamala Harris could bring to the White House, but I suspect it will be more than Donald Trump.