Donald Trump has already won
People are pissed off, and it’s starting to show
The floppy haired demagogue, Donald Trump, becoming President of the United States spells certain disaster and strikes fear into the hearts of the majority of voices that echo around my filter bubble (hang on, do bubbles have an echo?). But his success thus far in the 2016 US Elections points to something far more dangerous than his narcissistic premiership alone. Every Western country is displaying signs of an increasingly fractured society. Divided by those who benefit from globalisation and those who don’t.
Consider Trump, Farage, Le Pen et al. In a globalised world we can no longer take the parochially local view of the events that have produced these people. It doesn’t work to think about them as isolated incidents. More than ever, everything is connected.
Ask anyone the Sliding Doors type question, “if you had the power to change one event of history, what would it be?” and it would be a safe bet to assume that the majority of people would give some sort of Hitler related answer. Killing him, or preventing him being born with the aim of stopping the rise of the Nazi Party. Yet, Hitler was more likely a result of his environment, rather than the sole architect of the horrors that followed. The perfect conditions existed in Germany to allow him to rise to power. Removing him from the equation — in a world where time travel is possible, remember — would likely cause a vacuum that would just be filled by somebody else. It’s far more likely that timing and circumstances catapults people to fulfil roles throughout history rather than any individual rising to historical significance through sheer grit and will power. I know this is a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s far more likely than the meritocracy myth. We’re all just actors playing out roles specific to our time and context.
I recently visited a town not too far from the small West Midlands village I grew up in. It might as well have been another world from the one I’ve now become used to, I’m supposedly someone on the other side of the globalisation divide — the detestable, derided metropolitan elite — spending the majority of my time in relatively prosperous cities like London and Manchester. The town I visited is a post-industrial community left as a husk of its former self. The few remaining jobs are almost exclusively minimum wage McJobs or rapidly diminishing left-overs from the desolate industry that remains — and these will no-doubt be gone soon too. This tragedy is not an isolated incident. It’s a story that can be found in any small town, in any country who made their way in the world through industrialisation. Their inhabitants abandoned, left to grow despondent, feeling left behind, and forgotten about.
It shouldn’t be surprising that given those circumstances, feeling backed into a corner, those who have been beaten up by globalisation strike out in protest. The common thread shared between the current crop of populist politicians, who are taking the stage in many countries all across the world, is the fact that they all act as a dog whistle to those who are angry with the way things are going and represent some sort of anti-establishment protest. Making all the right noises and signals to offer a glimmer of hope. A siren to the disenfranchised, tempting all sailors who dare navigate the choppy seas to crash upon the rocks of their own demise.
If intervention isn’t taken soon these protests will spill out from traditional political mechanisms into blood on the streets. Hoards of people across the world are ready to throw open their windows and shout into the night that they’re as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
That brings me back to Donal Trump (sorry). Regardless of if he wins or loses the Presidency in November the problems faced by those who feel disenfranchised now will still exist and history will just throw up the next representative of anti-establishment ready to fill his shoes, dog whistle in hand. It therefore pays to think of Donald Trump as less of an individual and more as a placeholder, a proxy object, representing the anger of those left behind in society. That version of Donald Trump is the one that we must stop at all costs, not the person, but the idea of him, what he represents and the void he fills in the eyes of the left behind.
Removing the necessity for the Donald Trumps of the world to exist requires holistic thinking. Donald Trump is not merely defeated by beating him in election, he’s beaten by fixing the circumstances that have caused the disenfranchisement of so many people. As I see it, we can reduce the effects of inequality as a result of globalisation by focusing on three key areas:
Investing in better, more accessible education for everyone seems like a good place to start. Not just focusing on providing hyper-focused work skills to funnel people into jobs that will no longer exist, but providing everyone with the tools to better navigate the world, ask the right questions and develop critical thought and creativity.
I want to talk about the idea of a Basic Income (a periodic and unconditional payment of cash for everyone) in more detail in a future post, as it seems to provide the solution to lots of the problems I’ve been thinking about just recently. It allows an opportunity to build directly into the system an economic fix that will, by its very nature, help redistribute the positive effects of globalisation. Bringing back stability and providing support for everyone without discrimination.
Considering the UK for a moment, as I believe it’s one of the most pronounced examples of this, countries need to move away from centralisation in just a handful of cities. The benefits of globalisation need to be shared among the towns and villages and incentives introduced for regional development.
If we don’t start to think seriously about fixing the societal problems that engineer the success of people like Trump we will end up looking back at him as the golden age, as the disenfranchised will seek to express their anger and frustration through other means becoming more and more extreme until something is done.