Sunday, May 8, 2016
Trump: a European style right winger?
Does Donald Trump have an ideology? He has dumfounded the Republican Party, and has accomplished the unthinkable, forged an alliance against him of traditional establishment types, social policy, fiscal, and small government conservatives, free trader Republicans, and mutual defense strategists. Trump is all over the map but usually non supportive on their issues, and he is either doubling down or backing off of some and filling in the blanks in none. Where he has been consistent is reaffirming his anti-immigrant, nationalistic, Muslim ban, trade protectionist campaign. If he does not fit the GOP’s traditional elements that make up their party, that does not mean he has a political philosophy. He does. We can find his ideological cousins in Europe and some in American history.
Aside from the demographic groups he has alienated with his racist, sexist, and xenophobic remarks or his style of demagoguery and strong man, he has found a sympathetic niche. They are mostly white blue collar males who feel left out of economic recovery from the great recession, those who fear the US will become a country governed by Sharia law or threatened by secret infusion of ISIS terrorists, or are the last gasp of a white male dominated country they see slipping away from them. They are willing to overlook his economic solutions, other than protectionism and infrastructure development. Trump’s original positions would have provided more tax relief to the rich and he was hostile to raising the minimum wage. This would counter gains in job creation by protectionism and infrastructure funding. (He is since waffling a bit)
He does fit into an ideological slot, however, and we have seen some of it before from George Wallace, to the late 1930’s American Firsters, to Pat Buchanan, but none of these have risen be within striking distance of the White House. Most Americans have to be reminded of these movements because since they did not succeed, they have faded from many memories nor they do not see him as resembling a Nazi or a South American dictator.
In our current era, he most resembles Europe’s extreme right. These are not social or fiscal conservatives, but hyper- nationalists, ant- immigrant, protectionist drum beaters. Many attribute the terrorist attacks by militant Muslims from Charlie Hebdo, to Paris, to Belgium, to the failure of Europeans to integrate immigrants into their culture, driving them to ghetto sanctuaries of fellow ethnics where a first generation born person is nurtured and attitudes developed. Sadly, there is a long tradition in Europe of ethnic conflicts and tribal loyalties which fertilize the roots of these extremists.
San Bernardino was an outlier. The shooters were benefitting from the American economic dream and integrated into the work place. However, they were a two person sleeper cell who came to the US with an agenda, initially radicalized not by ISIS but by the Saudi Salafist clerics that also gave rise to Al Qaeda and many others.
The hostility and discrimination toward Muslims is fueled by these extreme right wing parties such as the National Front in France led by Marine Le Pen, the Fidesz Party in Hungary, the Freedom Party in Austria, and others in England, Poland, and Sweden. An encouraging development last week was London electing a Muslim mayor when Muslims are only 12% of the population.