Clump minus 10 – Déjà vu all over again

Some Republican voters are threatening violence in the event that their candidate loses on Nov 8th. Similar responses have been heard before in recent years in different parts of the world leading to unpleasant outcomes.

How do nasty people come to power? Usually it is because they have either legitimate or some degree of public support. And that seems to be the situation in the US where the Republican candidate for the presidency has the undivided support of thirty to forty percent of the electorate. What he would do with that support, if elected, is of concern to Canadians, and if he is not elected they should still be concerned since that support remains. A review of the fairly recent past is instructive of what might happen.

Consider some of the leading nasties of my lifetime. Mussolini (1883-1945) and Hitler (1889-1945) were voted into office and then destroyed the institutions and procedures which had given them power. Franco (1892-1975) gained power through a military coup, and then exercised dictatorial powers with the help of the Catholic Church, and his Italian and German allies amongst others. Stalin (1878-1953) and Mao Zedong (1893-1976) seized power after civil wars and never let go. Italy, Germany and Spain over time evolved into functioning democracies, while Russia and China remain totalitarian states.

Where are the good guys? Churchill (1874-1965) affirmed that some form of parliamentary democracy was the least-worst of known political systems. It provided a political beacon to numerous countries, both within and outside the former British Empire, and is practiced there today. When the time came, he was voted out of office.

In the US in recent years, both Roosevelt (1882-1945) and Eisenhower (1890-1969) provided democratically sanctioned political leadership. Roosevelt died in office, while Eisenhower left after completing two terms as President.

Two other politicians of note (and there are many others) are Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) and Nelson Mandela (1918-2013). Both had unusual paths to power, but left behind functioning democracies, although with various blemishes.

Freedom House rates countries and populations on their freedom in several dimensions. The long run trend is for greater freedom globally, but in the last ten years 105 countries have experienced a net decline in freedom while 61 have seen a net increase (Freedom House website).

The political scene in the US after the election will not be a pretty one whoever wins. All countries will be affected in the aftermath.

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One Response to “Clump minus 10 – Déjà vu all over again”

  1. Richard Flleul Says:

    Trump’s message hasn’t been targeted at the haves, but at the have-nots. He has raised a number of points that have struck a chord with the American public – hence the comparisons to Brexit. A few are listed below:

    • US has the lowest labour force participation rate since the 1970s.
    • One in five households do not have a single family member in the labour force.
    • 23.7 million Americans in their prime-earning years are out of the labour force.
    • This is the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.
    • Hourly earnings and weekly earnings are lower today than they were in 1973.
    • 45% of African-American children under six are living in poverty.
    • One in six men between the ages of 18 and 34 are either in jail or out of work.
    • Student debt is over $1.3 trillion and the national debt has doubled since 2008.
    • US trade deficit in goods reached nearly $800 billion last year.
    • The lowest rate of homeownership in 51 years.
    Even though Clinton II may well have it, Trump has raised some powerful points that will resonate with much of the population. Those same points could equally have been raised by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn. Whoever wins, the adoption of a populist agenda is now unavoidable. Even if Trump loses, Trumpism will live on.

    Statistics above from the Fleet Street Letter

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