Saturday, June 25, 2016

Trump on Brexit

I hope to write a few posts in coming days on the Brexit win. I thought, though, that I would begin with Donald Trump. His reaction to the winning vote is further evidence, I believe, that he is not just another right-liberal Republican. Read it and see if you agree:
The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples.

They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy.

A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense.

The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.

Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first.

They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people.

I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.

He also posted the following messages on Twitter:

On the national issue, at least, Trump is pulling political debate back in the right direction. It seems to me that there are two fields of politics. There is the field you operate in at a more purist level, where you try to articulate your politics in a logical and principled way and clearly distinguish your politics from the competition. Then there is the field where you don't necessarily expect your own purist vision to be fully implemented, but instead you join in a struggle to pull things in society your own way.

The two fields don't run counter to each other. The more that you try to build up a stronger, purer principled movement, the more weight you have in drawing things your own way. And the more you succeed in bringing the centre toward your own politics, the more success you are likely to have in building your more purist movement.

So we shouldn't look at Trump just through purist eyes, but at what his effect on the larger political climate is likely to be. I might be wrong, but I think he will shake it up, open it up, in a good way. I think he will unsettle the right-liberal hold over the Republican Party, open up debate on the national issue, and even perhaps (as suggested above) reconfigure international alliances in an interesting way.

In the meantime, our task remains the same - to develop a principled political movement that can be one part of those forces pulling the larger political culture in our direction.


  1. Here's another possibility: Trump is diverting the American public's energy for opposition to the bipartisan progressive/transnational establishment status quo into a silly, ego-driven vanity campaign by a man who is not really interested in becoming president and does not care about policy issues or the direction of debate about them. This campaign - which Trump started out of sheer narcissism and, possibly, a belief that he is somehow advancing his tawdry business interests - is driving "the centre" away from opposition to the establishment rather than drawing it toward such opposition.

    You are certainly correct that Trump is not another right-liberal Republican. That does not necessarily mean that he has any coherent set of views on any public issues. That he occasionally says things consistent with an outlook you and I agree with does not mean that those are his real views. The man does not exactly have a reputation for honesty or keeping promises.

    Like you, I acknowledge that I might be wrong, but my opinion, FWIW, is that the Trump campaign is going to set back the opposition to the transnational/progressive establishment in the West. Trump is not the American equivalent of Marine Le Pen, Victor Orban or even Nigel Farage. He's just a con artist for whom a significant portion of the American public - but far too few to win a presidential election - has fallen out of understandable desperation.

    1. Ian, I take what you say seriously. We had a similar moment here in Australia, when the public was breaking with both major parties and the political energy was led by a woman called Pauline Hanson. She too was charismatic and brave, but had little interest in policy and poor political organisational skills. It had the effect you described, of dissipating all the energy, and letting the two major parties eventually settle back into a cosy bipartisanship. It did set things back, disastrously.

      I am at some distance from America and so am hesitant in my observations, but I think it's possible that Trump might be of a higher calibre, at least, than Hanson, e.g. in his organisational skills.

      The pity is that there is not an organised group in America able to take advantage of the political moment, to catch the current wave.

    2. Mark, I appreciate your thoughtful response. I have found little receptivity to normal skepticism about Trump from most Americans on the traditionalist right whom I've encountered on the web. As someone who lives in New York, I'll just say that Trump projects to the general public an image of much greater business acumen and wealth than most sophisticated observers believe he has. For example, for the last 25 years or so, he's mostly been in the business of licensing his name, and it is reported that people in a position to know estimate that, while a very rich man, he is far from being a billionaire in net wealth. I assume you know that Trump inherited from his father a real estate empire already worth around $200 million. So I would not be so sure about his organizational skills. He is, however, very skilled in manipulating banks and in operating under the US bankruptcy code. Whether these "skills" are transferable to politics or the presidency is a good question.

      It is being reported that Trump has just announced that he now intends, as president, NOT to engage in a program of "mass deportations" of the many millions of illegal aliens in the US. I don't think it would be feasible in any event to deport all of our illegals, but this is a 180 degree turn around from the position Trump has been projecting to his less sophisticated supporters up till now. Previously, he was saying that he would deport all the illegals and then bring back "all the good ones," apparently meaning those who have not committed felonies - utterly ridiculous. Apart from the Muslim issue, and putting aside the canned position paper on his website (sent to him by a senator from Alabama, not developed by Trump's staff), Trump personally never talks about the appropriate level of LEGAL immigration going forward, which I think is a tell that he is as unserious about immigration as about everything else.

      If you want to get an idea of Trump's "calibre," look up the videos of some of his interviews and unscripted speeches, which should be readily available on You-tube. Draw your own conclusions.

  2. Trump was already a successful businessman and he has spent a lot of his own money running for office against a dozen other repub opponents (who he destroyed spectacularly). He has suffered enormous amounts of abuse and slander in the media. People treat him and his supporters like literal Nazi/facists now. I simply don't understand this feeling that it's all ego and he's conning us. It doesn't gel. He's risking everything.

    Trump also cannot simply tackle every issue at once, especially culture war issues - immigration included. Kicking out illegals is a very good start (look at San Diego; utterly disgraceful behaviour by mexicans and their enablers) and he has attacked the visa schemes that unscrupulous employers are using to replace their local workforce en mass with cheaper foreigners (also disgraceful & amoral business practice). The issue of obummer forcing disturbed young boys into girls toilets and changing rooms can be dealt with later. The left are hanging themselves with these perverse intrusions into normie territory that makes even stalwart liberals wonder what the hell is going on on the left.