Ndinawe Byekwaso

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Trump???s Challenges and his Strategy of Making America Great

Posted by Ndinawe Byekwaso on March 13, 2017 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)


Disappointment Handed Trump Victory

As elaborated elsewhere in detail, the frustration of many Americans with the socio-economic policies that emanated from the New Right, adjusted later by Obama but not sufficiently catering for the marginalised poor, handed election victory to Trump, who is a rightist advocating economic nationalism and American supremacy. Trump got enough votes to win the election because the living standards of the majority have been declining, except for the one percent rich hence the frustration. While the living standards have been declining, the security situation has been worrying. Some commentators, like Akaki (2016 p. 10), have remarked that the US has been reduced to the status of a failed state. Quoting the International Institute for strategic studies, Akaki defined a failed state as “a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic and responsibilities of sovereign government no longer function properly”. While the black Americans enthusiastically voted for Obama thinking that he would cater for their interests, it was during Obama’s regime that they were more frequently killed in the US than any other time in recent history.

Because the blacks were disappointed with Obama , like other dissatisfied voters, never turned up in large numbers to vote Clinton. Generally the voter turn up was low. “Nationwide, Trump’s 59.7 million votes are (were) about 1.2 million behind the 60.9 million Romeny got when he lost four years ago, based on initial projections.... Clinton won the popular vote with 59.9 million votes, 6 million fewer than the 65.9 million Obama won in 2012” (Reuters, 2016 in Saturday Vision p.4). As things stand, apparently any president in the US under the current system must serve the interests of the entrenched rich establishment but not the marginalised poor. Possibly Obama, who promised a change the people were yearning for, was brought up to divert the poor from identifying the cause of the predicament they are usually in, especially the blacks in the US. If Obama, with a social democratic orientation did not stop the marginalisation of the poor, how will Trump, a rightist, fare?

Trump’s Challenges

Without reconsidering the stance of Keynesian social democracy where the government took responsibilities for maintaining a high level of employment and adequate living standards for all citizens, Trump claims that he will make America great again by creating jobs. How are his plans of cutting taxes and building infrastructure through deficit financing far different from the stimulant packages undertaken by Bush and Obama? The plans will most likely benefit the one rich percent, like the stimulant packages did.

According to the private-sector-led strategy of development he does not oppose anyway, the pursuit of self-interests by individuals in a society, who are said to be naturally egoistic (in Stokke 2005), to make as much profits in order to accumulate as much wealth as possible under unfettered competition, promotes development. Perhaps this is what Trump meant when he talked about creating conditions for individuals to reach their preferred level by exploiting their full potentials. It seems his plans to build infrastructure is a strategy to primarily create investment opportunities for the rich to make profits with job creation for the workers as a secondary objective.

Fighting Corruption under the Ideology of Individualism?

Trump promised to rout corruption. Will he manage when he is promoting the principles of self-interest? According to Margret Thatcher, who was associated with the resurgence of rugged individualism in world together with Ronald Reagan, “there is no such a thing as society, only individuals and their families” (quoted in Heywood 1997 [2002] p. 50). Surely how can one have the spirit of fighting corruption when s/he does not bother about what happens to the society except himself/herself and his or her family? Let us watch what happens in the US during Trump’s reign. To many people, corruption is a disease of Africans. In Uganda, as some people have been heard saying (including university lectures), that corruption committed by the government led by people south-western part of the country. Why does corruption exist in the US? This is because the vice is linked to the system of capitalism.

Is Trump Supported by the Establishment?

From his campaign trail, it appeared that Trump did not have the support of the mainstream Republicans. However, apparently he had the support of the inner circles of the establishment. For instance, how did the organ of the state – the FBI raise the issue of Clinton’s emails when time for elections was nearing, which changed her rating for the presidency downwards? It seems the public opinion was manipulated by the establishment in favour of Trump. In any case, why was Trump so confident of winning to the extent that he believed that if he did not, then the elections would have been rigged? It appears he knew that there was a strong backing of the establishment behind him.

Trump’s Strategy of Making America Great Again

It can be guessed from his gestures of having good working relationships with Putin, who apparently has also ambitions of making Russia great again like it was at the time of Soviet Union, that Trump most likely is bent on weakening or disorganising the European Union dominated by German economic power, a process that that started with Brexit. At the same time, it can also be guessed that the social democracy still being practised by the Scandinavian countries will to be discouraged it serves as a bad example to the people of America.

Regarding China that has been attacked on several occasions by Trump as being responsible for unemployment in the US, Trump will halt or destroy its growing influence in the global economy by relocating American capital back home. Under the policies of neo-liberalism, promoted by the New Right, foreign investments from the US were encouraged into China. The foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) take advantage of ‘China’s abundance of low-cost labor, … import ‘parts and components that are assembled into finished products, such as consumer electronic products and computers, and then exported. Often, the value-added to such products in China by Chinese workers is relatively small compared to the total value of the product when it is shipped abroad’ (Morrison 2015, 23). As a corollary, the Chinese economy will be seriously hit if the FIEs relocate back to the US. This is the Weapon Trump wants to use to destroy China’s growing influence in the world. Then he will indeed be the great power in the world to talk about. Even if Russia has become assertive in the world affairs of recent, it is weak economically mainly relying on the exportation of oil and gas to the West, whose price can be manipulated as it happened in the recent past.

For the countries of the South, the recolonisation process, which Trump is not shy about anyway, especially in Africa, but which started with the neo-liberal economic policies of the New Right, extended further by land grabbing characteristic of the colonial era (Boras et al. 2011), will be completed with foreign settlers (investors) taking over the land and dominating all the economic activities of the affected countries.

It was rumoured that Trump will work upon African leaders who have clung on to power for too long. However, from historical experience, Republicans are not keen about issues of human rights and democracy. They usually work with the leaders who serve American interests. Since the principle of Trump is the US first, then he is not expected go after long-serving African rulers if they are loyal in serving American interests; instead most likely he will use them as agents of recolonisation. In any case, does Trump care whether Africans, he despises, are ruled by dictators or not? Put it differently, has the West ever been interested in good governance in Africa when they ruled it without conducting elections during colonialism and instead resorted to indirect rule, apparently in place even today?

 

Ndinawe Byekwao

University lecturer and political economist by orientation

Email: ndinaweb@gmail.com

Tel: 0772490266/0753490266