Populism and nationalism are not policies, but ideologies, which when rigidly applied or taken to extremes, have terrible consequences. Populism concentrates on the problem, rather than the solution. Nothing is every built on existing solutions. It is more of a tear down and rebuild philosophy, Underlying populism is a focus not on problems of society, but on government itself. An excellent example was Trump’s campaign slogan, “Let’s drain the swamp.” The message was that policies in the Obama administration were only what lobbyists wanted, and he was truly independent of their efforts. The more Hillary Clinton spoke of her background in government, the more she became part of the “elite” class who were causing all the problems.
Populists exaggerate the problem and are vague on the solutions. Trump frequently goes from an exaggeration to an outright lie. Populists are constantly at war with opponents who they claim will only make matters worse by continuing government policies. Case in point was Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the EPA, taking an axe to hundreds of environmental rules, on the basis of deregulation. He had no interest in protecting the environment. He allowed and in fact appointed “elitists” or fossil fuel lobbyists guide federal policies. I guess Pruitt would defend his policies as doing what is best for the nation in helping companies explore for oil, ultimately lowering the cost of gasoline.
Nationalism says that a country does only what is in its best interest. With Trump, it seems anytime we are part of an international organization, we have this tremendous clout to determine outcomes. Case in point, is Trump’s verbal attack of Germany at the NATO summit.
Trump renewed the long-standing U.S. criticism of the project on Wednesday, and doubled down by tying it to the future of NATO. “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking on camera. “We have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that’s being paid to the country we’re supposed to be protecting you against.”
Trump was referring to the Nord Stream 2. It will take another blog to Here is the irony of nationalism – other countries can’t tell us what to do, but we can tell them how to run their countries. I will explain the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in a later blog.
The third element is a pro-business agenda. The tax cut is a very much part of this. It seems not much of the tax cut is being put to use to expand manufacturing. It likely will drive up our deficits. With trade tariffs, this will in the short term help some businesses, particularly steel and aluminium manufacturers. It is likely to hurt US car makers, and drive up the price of cars. In Florida, the orange and grapefruit growers are worried about being priced out of Asian markets due to reciprocal tariffs.
So, if populism focuses only on the problem, and nationalism guides policy decisions, the end result as in the coming trade war, likely will hurt Trump’s pro-business agenda. International cooperation will be dwindling under Trump, as he pushes America first, and above everything else.
The travel ban is an excellent example of populism and nationalism, accomplishing very little. Certainly, the Muslim world thinks very little of our president.
Getting tough on immigration, was rooted in populism and nationalism. It was founded on exaggeration and frequent lies. The resulting family separation and horrific outcomes were predictable. It was a bet that executive authority would triumph over judicial restraint. It didn’t.