So, Americans have voted and Donald Trump is now President-Elect. Certainly an historic result. Now the world waits – anxiously – to see whether this is good historic or bad historic.
The great irony, perhaps, is not so much that Trump won, but the continuing failure of the political system (and pundits) to recognize just how angry voters are: how fed up people are with a system of vested interests that persists in ignoring their plight while taking them for granted. And this despite the warning signs of Brexit. Trump himself said that his election would be “Brexit times 10” and the consternation the results have brought suggest, for once, his hyperbole might not have been misplaced. Persisting with the analogy, however, just as Britain is faced with a “soft Brexit” or a “hard Brexit”, so the world is faced with a “soft Trump” or a “hard Trump”. That ultimately will determine whether this is a good historic or a bad historic.
Any thinking person recognizes that the issues facing the developed countries today revolve around the following inter-connected issues:
- An aging demographic, with an unprecedented demand for healthcare and social support;
- Unprecedented debt levels eroding investment and lowering living standards;
- Climate change and the increasingly urgent need to safeguard the earth in order to ensure any kind of future, also placing unprecedented demands on financial resources;
- Tax systems which are not fit for purpose, but which penalize the poor and compound government’s inability to raise the revenues to provide reasonable social support and necessary infrastructure investment;
- Rampant technological and artificial intelligence (AI) development eroding jobs and compounding both the lower living standards and the revenue collecting abilities.
This is a pretty dangerous combination. They create a sense of foreboding and desperate times that lead to despair. And when there is no sign that these issues are being dealt with people become defiant. Unfortunately, the US election campaign failed to identify or address any of these issues. Consequently we are left with a result that is ultimately a massive act of collective defiance.
While you can undoubtedly take some positives from Trump’s measured victory speech, it contained nothing to suggest that he has any plan to address these issues. It is all very well to talk about looking out for the people, “doubling growth” and “making America great again”, but none of that will be possible without addressing these enormous problems. The extent to which he does get to grips with them will determine whether it is “hard Trump” or “soft Trump.” When we know that we will know whether the result is a meaningful one, or simply a last great act of defiance.
I urge you, please, to get hold of my book, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped, and promote discussion and debate around the solutions it offers so that action is taken to address these problems, restore meaningful democracy and safeguard a better environment for future generations.