After Trump
charles beckett

@ Jay Parker (I)

Dear Jay, thank you for your comment. I’m glad you felt that this accurately summed something up about the anger and frustration you feel.

If I was asked to name the ‘culprits’ for these changes, it would be a very long list. The truth is that I have some sympathy for the politicians because these are very complex questions with very few good answers, and because the politicians themselves are part of a system which is flawed and compromised. That is not to say that it is not a system with many admirable features — and arguably one of the best democratic systems people have created so far. But it is still far from perfect, and in the long term, if it is not reformed, it will experience serious problems.

I certainly do not mean to argue that free trade and liberalisation are in and of themselves bad things. In many ways they are necessary and hugely beneficial things. But when they are carried so far, they do also have certain economic and social costs. Not enough attention has been paid to these costs, and in particular the way they fall disproportionately on the working class and lower middle classes. Especially those people employed in manufacturing industries.

Or rather, attention has been paid — a lot has been written and said about these distributional effects by economists and others (see, notably, the work of Sir Tony Atkinson in the UK) — but too little has been done to offset them.

In the long run, there has to be a political cost, too. And that takes the form of anger and even despair among some voters. If it is ignored for long enough, it will seek more extreme forms of expression. First the Tea Party. Now Trump. Tomorrow — who knows?

That is what I worry about. And I also worry that the political arena is now so polarised that, even if attempts are made to address some of these problems and to reconcile Right and Left, things are too far gone for those attempts to succeed.

I can understand that you feel angry and you want to punch back at your opponents. But I can only say that I see a dim future for the country if neither side is able to make any concessions or try to reach a constructive compromise.

All the best, and thanks for reading.

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