Contrary to all expectations, contrary to all opinion polls and exit polls Donald Trump is the President of US. To the horror and chagrin of many and yet to the elation and hope of some it’s Trump administration that’s in-charge for the next 4 years. How did this happen? What propelled a character like Trump to the most powerful position of the world? No matter how disappointed and let down many feel I think there is a silver lining to this dark cloud.
Hope for Anti-Establishment:
It is interesting to note that people across the world, whether in rich or developing countries, are extremely cynical of their politics and politicians. Often people resign to a corrupt and impossible system. Except for criticizing from outside, an invisible entry barrier stops many from coming into active politics. It is in this regards that the elected government and the leadup to his election must be seen with great interest.
That an apolitical and anti-establishment guy is at the helm of US politics should be a sign of great hope rather than despair. It gives hope of wriggling countries out of the tight grip of a corrupt ‘political establishment‘. Even Democrat Bernie Sanders, though a career politician, can’t be considered as an ‘establishment’ guy. This shows that there is scope for professionals or non-establishment guys from various fields to enter politics. This could be revolutionary change as it would keep all politicians as honest as possible and also attract fresh talent. Especially those who want to genuinely improve the condition of their fellow citizens and not just interested in making a career in politics. Thus a Trump victory has to be hailed in this aspect.
Capitalism, Globalization and Equality:
Post cold-war, many countries in the world adopted to open market economy. The hope was that this would create more jobs, improve productivity and alleviate poverty. The initial days saw a very heady rate of growth and creation of many millionaires. The open market economy seemed to work on principles of merit and appeared to overcome the problems of accident of birth. Capitalism is basically a game driven by Demand and Supply. What’s in abundant supply but is lower in demand would be cheap, what is scarce in supply but is high in demand would be dearer. So on and so forth. Tagging along with capitalist economy was Globalization. The concept was to visualize a border-less world, at least economically, and utilize manpower, or skills or expertise wherever it might be available from. The revolution in Information Technology was breaking down barriers and brought countries virtually together. The introduction of this new globalization variable in the game of Demand and Supply literally broke the geographical barriers. This meant that if the manufacturing of a component by a company was expensive in one country, that company assisted by bilateral agreements between Governments could shift their factory to another country where it would be more affordable and profitable.
The world saw a possibility of redistribution of wealth from Developed economies to developing economies and a greater scope of poverty alleviation. Large corporations were excited with the sight of newer unseen and untapped markets. Again the initial days saw rapid proliferation of jobs. It also saw many jobs being offshored from high cost locations to low cost locations. Large corporations soon became Multi-Nationals. The hope behind these endeavors was that as more and more people get added to the work force and get employed, more and more people will find a way out of poverty. Once the production improves, once the consumption increases and prosperity spreads the impact would trickle down to the lowest common denominator in all societies.Did this happen? Were the targets met?
Alas, this wasn’t to happen. As market driven economy strengthened and private organizations became stronger the wealth instead of spreading started getting concentrated in few hands. Of course, few people have escaped poverty of course a vibrant middle class has been created yet there are millions who have got tired waiting for a drop of that trickle. Each passing day their frustration has only increased. This has driven people to depend on Governments to take care of their needs and requirements. Proliferation of Globalization meant jobs were getting off shored to locations which would save cost. The hope was that the people who would lose jobs would somehow up-skill themselves find greener pastures and continue to take benefit from the evolving economic situations. Moreover, evolving technology meant there were more automation of jobs, more mechanization of work and more reliance on robots. This led to reduction in the demand for manual workforce. Over dependence on Private sector to generate jobs and fuel growth was not creating the number of jobs required. Thus people around the world have shown a renewed belief in Governments to help improve their condition.
Also the point to be noted here is that as Market driven economics took center stage and large corporations became the engines for growth, Governments were increasingly seen as facilitators. Facilitators who could devise policies to benefit private companies, devise policies that could increase their profit. This reached to such a stage where both seemed to be feeding off each other completely self absorbed and oblivious of the growing section of frustrated and deprived sections of society. The ‘system’ became self serving forgetting the epithet of “Of the People, By the People and For the People”. Thus the question now was more about dignity and equality. There are sections of society that has felt itself to have been deprived a fair share of the pie in this evolving economic scenario. It’s a section that has felt humiliated and neglected at the hands of their own governments or by the very companies that were meant to improve their condition. They feel even the media looked the other way and didn’t highlight their plight. This inequality in available opportunities and continual deprivation led to seething and simmering anger among many. An anger that was waiting to find it’s voice.
The Message Over Personality
Look at the set of events that have unfolded across the world in the last year. US elected a person of dubious character and UK voted for the contentious Brexit. Both these events were counter intuitive and shocking. In both these events some very cleverly designed propaganda was used to sway people. Most of the material used for such propaganda campaign were found to be fake. Also in this age of information revolution to verify claims isn’t that difficult at all. Yet Trump is the President of USA and UK did vote for Brexit. How could one explain this? Has the world dumbed down or against the run of events have people chosen to be deliberately ignorant? I think there is more stronger reason behind this. This reason lies hidden in the sequence of events I describe in the earlier section. The deprived and angered section of society has finally exerted themselves. They finally found someone who was willing to listen to their problems and raise their issues. They finally found a platform where those issues that were close to their heart were heard without being ridiculed. Thus despite being led by dubious leaders who used questionable means, people have rallied behind them. I believe people have chosen the “Message” over the person who was espousing it.
The reason why I feel that people have chosen the message and not the personality is because, if we look at election campaign leading up to the Inauguration day, the Republican party saw Donald Trump emerge as their leader. Similarly, among the Democrats, Bernie Sanders received an overwhelming response and gave Hillary Clinton very tough fight till the very end. If we look at the “Message” of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, on could find a lot of similarities. In fact some say that if Bernie Sanders was the chosen as the Democrat candidate then he might have defeated Trump hands down.
I think it’s important to understand that Trump comes to power as an apolitical and anti-establishment. He is 70 and is already rich. This all indicate it’s not going to be business as usual. No matter how odd his policies appear they are consistent to the “Message”. In fact he has nothing to lose by resorting to contentious policies and shaking up the entire system. In that bargain if some of the deprived section of the society managed to get a portion of the expected pie it would be a success. Even if they don’t it’s not a failure. How that could be achieved and whether it is achievable or not is beyond the point. Also if people like Trump must be countered people will have to forget the ‘Personality’ that is driving the policies and focus only and only on the “Message”. If anyone has a “Message” that is better than the “Message” of Trump and has a ‘people connect’ people will hook onto whoever provides that message. The mantra should be Address the “Message” not the person behind it.