Last summer when Donald Trump announced his intention to run for the Republican presidential nomination, he was not taken seriously by the mainstream media. They reacted hysterically to his remarks about Mexican immigrants, reporting that he described Mexicans living in the United States as ‘rapists’. They heaped ridicule on Trump’s support for the construction of a wall on the American-Mexican border because apparently people can simply climb over walls using ladders. Criticism of Trump is now becoming increasingly absurd and pathetic as the election approaches. According to one commentator his rhetoric is having a detrimental impact on children, resulting in some having terrifying nightmares about a Trump presidency where their classmates are deported.
Nevertheless, Trump has confounded his desperate opponents both inside and outside the ‘Grand Old Party’ and was successfully selected as its candidate for the 2016 presidential election. This is a miraculous event and is probably unprecedented as Trump has not previously held any elected office. Trump is without doubt a political outsider and therein lies the key to his popularity, which has allowed him to sweep America by storm.
Trump is popular amongst large swathes of the American electorate because he is a refreshing antidote to the hysterical moralism sweeping the West. The public admire the fact that Trump has the courage to speak with such candour in this age of covert censorship. Trump for example, to the chagrin of the mainstream media, declared he does everything he can to pay as little tax as possible. This statement did not appear to dent his popularity with the American public at all.
Admittedly Trump was already a recognisable media personality, a household name in America and well known around the world, which undoubtedly helped his bid for the presidency. However, Trump is his own man and is not controlled by donors. This is recognised by American voters who are sick to the back teeth of politicians pandering to special interest groups rather than working for the common weal. Being a very successful businessman, Trump’s campaign has been, thus far, largely self funded so he can be as outspoken as he likes.
Trump realises it is imperative that immigration laws are enforced and borders properly demarcated. He is probably the first politician since Eisenhower to take a strong stance on illegal immigration from Mexico. Unlike the rest of the Republican establishment, who are frightened of being denounced as racist for disputing that mass immigration is entirely beneficial, Trump declares that it is unacceptable and must be stopped. Reducing levels of immigration has been desired by a majority of the American public since the 1970s (even a majority of America’s foreign-born population think immigration is too high!) but nothing has been done to address their concerns. The issue has rarely been discussed except to accuse those of bigotry who favour deporting illegal immigrants and restricting further immigration.
Enter Trump who declared when announcing his bid for presidency what the American public have known for all too long; that third world immigrants commit more crime and are more dependent on the state relative to the rest of the population while pushing down wages for the working class. Trump has promised to do all he can to rectify this problem if elected. It should have come as no surprise that this would make Trump more popular than the other drones who ran for the Republican nomination.
Trump’s popularity is not owed only to his outspoken demeanour and his stance on immigration. Trump is acutely aware that for many the American Dream is over and it has been for decades now. Most Americans are worse off today, in real terms, than they were 20 years ago. The economic growth of the 1990s and early 2000s did not benefit the majority of the population. Furthermore the great recession of 2008 hit Middle America hard and recovery has almost been nonexistent. Trump laid the blame for the collapse in living standards firmly at the doors of crony corporate capitalism.
Trump therefore recognises that much of the American economy’s supposed strengths are entirely superficial. He has stated on occasion that the stock market is over-valued because of loose monetary policy. Trump even favours auditing the Federal Reserve and is known to support the principle of a gold standard. Could a policy of sound money be on the cards? That might be too much to hope for at this stage but at least recognition that artificial monetary expansion cannot create wealth and such a policy actually causes many of our current economic problems is at least a start.
Trump also opposes the international trade agreements such as NAFTA and TTIP which promote harmonising labour and employment laws, environmental regulations and health and safety standards rather than free trade. It is not surprising that Trump also supports British withdrawal from the European Union.
Above all else, Trump is the peace candidate. He advocates a non-interventionist foreign policy and is sincere in that stance. He opposed the disastrous invasion of Iraq and wants to stop nation-building and waging war. He favours friendship with Cuba and amicable relations with Russia. All of this is consistent with his stated policy of ‘American First’. Once again, it should come as no surprise that the majority of Americans support a foreign policy that puts their fellow citizens before foreigners. What is a surprise is how the Republican establishment appear to have learnt nothing from the past 15 years and want to bomb more countries; Iran, Russia, Syria…
It is very significant, and helps to explain his meteoric rise, that Trump questions the purpose of NATO now that the Soviet Union has ceased to exist for the past 25 years and why America continues to spend more on defence than any other member state. The contradictions in American foreign policy have been glaringly obvious to outsiders for years. The fact is that American foreign policy has been a complete disaster since the collapse of communism yet no politician has pointed this out until Trump.
The Donald Trump phenomenon, while an American affair, is highly relevant for advocates of right wing populism here on the other side of the Atlantic. The main lesson to be drawn is that there are no taboo subjects today. Controversial issues must be discussed and addressed. If the political establishment and the mainstream media go ballistic that is more often than not a signal that the path being followed is the correct one. The anti-establishment movement must never backtrack, never apologise for causing offence and never stay silent. The more the left wails the more the case must be restated. Opposition to a political project always reaches a hysterical frenzy when its victory is close, if it were not so then the opposition would not be so fierce.
The defining issues of our era are opposition to mass immigration, national independence over global governance and prosperity for the majority. The radical right in Britain can be successful if it campaigns on these issues like Trump has. The establishment here as well as in America have absolutely no idea where they went wrong and why they are unpopular. Their whole world view is flawed so they cannot navigate their way around the political realities of the day. The outsiders have the advantage of not being divorced from reality and are unconstrained as the establishment is by delusion, hubris and conceit. Trump shows that it can be done. The establishment parties and the mainstream media are not omnipotent. They can be taken on and defeated.