Why Trump Is No Trend

In Trump, Americans, the citizens of world’s richest and most powerful democracy, have made an utterly stupid choice.

But does that show a global trend towards triumph of authoritarianism? As it was being fashionably said a couple of years ago, is the Washington Consensus losing to Beijing/Moscow Consensus? Should the democrats of the world embrace pessimism?

I have the following argument against this line of thinking.

  1. Trump is in a class of his own. He is more of a pampered and spoilt boy than anything else. He is no Putin, Erdogan or Xi Jinping. He is not India’s Narendra Modi by miles. He might be a bit like Silvio Berlusconi: a ridiculous, vain party boy.
  2. China or Russia have always had authoritarian regimes. Russian democracy is a sham. Same is true to a lesser extent of Turkey. Rise of Putin or Edrogan didn’t coincide with rise of Trump. If you want play a pessimist, all you can say is Russia and China are nowhere near the pathway to democracy even in the 17th year of 21st century.
  3. The US should compare the notes with India, world’s biggest democracy. Modi coming to power seemed to embolden the shrill and crass nationalists in India, especially those in his party. But halfway into his term, the Indian democracy is as vigorous as it was earlier. The aura surrounding him began to fade only couple of months after his swearing in. This shows that a sufficiently entrenched democracy can survive authoritarian leaders and hyper-nationalism. I predict that those who voted for Trump will be disillusioned very quickly. The situation would like in U.K. after Brexit poll: now that you bought it, you don’t know what to do with it.
  4. The anti-immigrant sentiment is now very strong. Coupled with migration of US jobs to Asia, it probably was THE reason the white Americans voted for Trump.

But it can’t be seen as a symptom of democracy on the back foot. People in the US, UK and Europe were spooked by the immigration because the level of immigration and resultant cultural infiltration is unprecedented. Globalisation started when the Europeans colonised Asia and Africa, but during the high noon of Raj, chicken tikka was not the national dish of Britain, hell, even Indian themselves hadn’t probably discovered it then. Last two decades saw a reverse colonisation. The period also saw rise of Islamic terrorism. It saw loss of jobs to the Asians. It saw millions of Muslim refugees trying to enter Europe. It saw terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. So getting spooked was natural, but it’s a reaction. Would it give rise to neo-fascism? I don’t think so. Trump, with his incompetence and stupidity, may end up discrediting the anti-liberalism. George Bush the second, after all, paved the way for Obama the first.

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