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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Donald Trump may be a one-off but his politics are not a one-off

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 16th 2016

Donald Trump may seem like a throwback to earlier, uglier times, but he is actually a very modern phenomenon.

He is easy for opponents to hate, ridicule and throw insults at – from ‘fascist’ (which he most certainly isn’t) – to racist, misogynist and demagogue which, whether they are right or wrong, get in the way of understanding his politics and their widespread appeal.

Donald Trump is favourite to win the US Republican nomination to be President of the United States, the most powerful nation in the world. This wasn’t meant to happen. The Republican establishment thought he would blow himself up, or go away after he had his fun and enlarged his fame. With it more than likely that he will face a damaged, discredited Hillary Clinton on November 8th, there is a chance next January will see the inauguration of President Trump. Did someone say season four of ‘House of Cards ‘was unrealistic? It hasn’t got anything on reality.

How did the United States end up in this mess? First and foremost, Trump cannot be seen in isolation. Instead, he is the cumulative creation of thirty years of toxic Republican rightwing delusion and fantasy. Once upon a time in America lunatic paranoia was the preserve of the revolutionary left: think the Black Panthers and the generation of 1968. Now it is anchored in, and has taken over acres of, the right, won large parts of the Republican grassroots, and has support in numerous shock jocks and outlets such as ‘Fox News’.

It is impossible to comprehend the degree of right wing extremism which has tainted and tormented the Republicans since Ronald Reagan. It vilifies and refuses to understand opponents, stigmatising welfare, poorer people, and black and ethnic minorities. Government is seen as an organised conspiracy, taxes evil, while almost anything is legitimate to win elections – from depriving millions of citizens of the right to vote, blatant gerrymandering, and stopping a state count via the Supreme Court (Gore v. Bush 2, 2000). Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to the Future: The Age of Uncertainty

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 28th 2016

Politics and public life are meant to follow neat, tidy, predictable patterns.

Experts and forecasters are supposed to be able to give informed analysis on future change. This doesn’t always work out. Even experts have a continuity bias, while sudden events or factors can emerge, seemingly from nowhere that no one foresaw.

We are living in a time where the art of prediction is becoming more difficult. Think of the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, the insurgency of Bernie Sanders in the US Democrat race, or the emergence of Donald Trump as frontrunner in the Republican contest. Before that there was the indyref which was meant to, first not happen, and then be a walkover for the union. Now this pattern is repeating itself with the EU referendum, which the establishment is telling everyone will be a foregone conclusion.

What is going on? How many people said Corbyn couldn’t be elected Labour leader? Myself included. It is rumoured that Corbyn himself had similar views, and then came to the shocking realisation that he was going to win. Read the rest of this entry »

Donald Trump’s appeal tells us that something is wrong with America and the West

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, December 13th 2015

Only a generation ago, just after the Berlin Wall fell, liberal democratic opinion across the West was confident about the future.

This was the era of the long boom across the West, the Clinton era of ‘Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow’ in the US, and the Blair’s ‘Dreams Can Only Get Better’ in the UK. All of this hubris and hype was brought down to earth by the banker’s crash of 2008, but this was only the start of things going wrong.

Today a very different mood exists across the developed world – one of anxiety, foreboding, fear and nervousness. The top issues in the UK according to Ipsos MORI are immigration at 49%, the NHS on 34% and the economy on 27% with defence, foreign affairs and terrorism on 13%. After a spate of recent terrorist attacks, people are feeling insecure, looking for quick answers, and open to the allure of populist politicians.

It isn’t a surprise that Marine Le Pen’s right-wing Front National won the recent French local elections. Or that UKIP has ongoing appeal and resilience – Scotland and London apart. Across Europe, racist, xenophobic parties have won significant support such as Golden Dawn in Greece. The Hungarian PM Viktor Orban says that we must ‘keep Europe Christian’ in response to the refugee crisis, while the Polish Law and Justice Party government promises an era of authoritarianism and curbing immigration. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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