Donald Trump who is currently facing 75 lawsuits is President Elect. Trump is the latest in a line of populist politicians. He makes impossible promises, appeals to the basest sentiments and the forgotten voter. But history shows that these ‘champions‘ of the people are a portent that humans are walking blindly into another period of destruction. That does not make me a prophet of doom. For despite me seeing war on the horizon, as the ancestor of an enslaved people, I am proof that the human race is resilient. Nonetheless, we have to take steps to use love as a defence against hate, practise empathy and embrace ‘others’. Otherwise, we are all in trouble. So we must be the best of whoever we are because right-wing populism never ends well.
Usually, when the masses protest, it is against The Establishment. Not anymore. The dispossessed, the neglected, the scared, as well as the racist, have found shelter in the Alternative Right (Alt-Right) movement. It is a brand of populism led by cult figures who fight against liberals. That would be somebody like me with a live and let live attitude. Figures like Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen promote white nationalism. They argue effectively if inaccurately that immigration is the root of all problems.
Trump read the mood of America and with his charisma, he became their leader. For many Trump, an establishment figure himself became the anti-establishment leader. He dismissed the best politicians, not with policy or logical argument but insult and rhetoric. Trump has promised to open coal mines and build a wall to keep immigrants out. He knew how to play to his audience. Just like Robert Mugabe who reclaimed the land and gave it to the people. It was a great populist move. However, the new landowners did not have the skills to run the farms. Consequently, people are going hungry, and the economy is bust.
Populist Promises In Africa
Trump is not the first president without moral authority, lacking intellectual depth, international experience and policies who has tried to govern a democracy. Post-colonial Africa has had its share of demagogues promising the people the earth and delivering little. Robert Mugabe who had such progressive social policies has turned Zimbabwe into a pariah state which has lurched from hyperinflation to deflation. In The Gambia, the soon to be (maybe) former leader Yahya Jammeh was going to cure asthma and Aids with his mystic powers. But he accuses the opposition of witchcraft! Following the recent elections, which he lost, the country is in a state of emergency.
South African President Jacob Zuma, presides over a crisis in education, the highest unemployment rate since the end of apartheid, and a country in the grip of xenophobia. He has also declared that minorities have fewer rights than the majority. Zuma, who barely survived an impeachment vote, has no moral mandate to be President. He has been subject to 783 corruption charges before the courts and has squandered public money including a profligate upgrade to his home.
These leaders and others like them have oodles of personality and believe their hype. They surround themselves with ‘yes men’. Unfortunately, being a demagogue gets in the way of developing systems and procedures that drive a nation forward. So, nationalism turns into xenophobia. Xenophobia then becomes clannishness with tyranny and corruption in its wake. Ironically America has fallen for the same type of extremist and populist demagogue they criticise.
Trump Populism and America
Trump said, perhaps accurately, I can ‘shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose voters’. He has promised to drain the swamp. But instead of getting rid of The Elites\Establishment he has hired half of Goldman Sachs. Along with 13 former lobbyists. Jared Kushner, one of his senior Whitehouse advisers is his son-in-law. The Secretary Of State is Rex W. Tillerson. He is the president and chief executive of Exxon Mobil and does not believe in climate change. Instead of Trump being the anti-establishment revolution, he is the right-wing corporate evolution.
However, it will be too late when his supporters realise he has broken his promises. The war would have happened. So we have to use love as a defence against hate, practise empathy and embrace ‘others’ now. We must be the best of whoever we are because right-wing populism never ends well.
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