DON’T FALL FOR POPULISM’S FALSE PROMISES
It never ceases to amaze me how much smarter and perceptive politicians are before and after their time in office but never during. Case in point: Stephen Harper’s new book, which looks interesting. But I have to quibble.
I don’t believe the future belongs to populism. Harper is right about his main observation, that: “A large proportion of Americans, including many American conservatives, voted for Trump because they are really not doing very well. In short, the world of globalization is not working for many of our own people.”
True as far as that goes. Whether Trump supporters could tell you exactly what may have happened to the standards of living of everyone including themselves if North America had remained at 1970s levels of technological lack of advancement, while the rest of the world adopted just-in-time delivery, automation, and all the other fun stuff we can no longer live without would be an interesting question to ask them, but fortunately for them nobody ever does that.
Harper says we have a choice between trying to convince Trumpians “that they misunderstand their own lives, or we can try to understand what they are saying. Then we can decide what to do about it.”
I don’t think they misunderstand their lives. But they misunderstand a whole bunch of nearly everything else. I’ve listened to them a lot, and as far as I can tell what the folks who vote for whatever populist yahoo is on offer have to say is, “we’re sick and tired of not being respected and of not having a big enough say over the rules we have to live under, move over elites we don’t need you,” which is sometimes translated as “lock her up.”
Basically they’re have-nots and left-behinds who don’t want to be that way, but aren’t too sure how to get out of their unfortunate basket.
I don’t know quite how to explain this without sounding condescending to the havenots, but of course it’s the people with options, the “elites,” who make rules for everyone. How many high school dropouts who had three kids before they reached 25 get to be senior assistant deputy minister of anything worth mentioning, you figure?
I’m not saying the system doesn’t need fixing. But electing the nearest bull because you’re sick of the existing china shop will not result in nicer dishes in your cupboard. It will only result in a big old mess to clean up ... by the have-nots.
I DON’T BELIEVE THE FUTURE BELONGS TO POPULISM.
Stephen Harper is right about his observation that many Americans voted for Trump because “they are really not doing very well,” writes Brigitte Pellerin.