According to a report on the CTV News website, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper has brought some much needed good sense to the debates about the impact of Donald Trump’s presidency. “On Wednesday, he was speaking at a Five Eyes panel discussion in London, U.K., where he said he thinks Trump’s “America First” policy will outlast the president’s tenure and that the “rapid, unorthodox, populist political change” will be part of the American fabric after Trump leaves office.“
“America First” is nothing new, as I and others have explained it was the core of American policy for 150+ of the past 250- years. President Trump isn’t breaking new ground or saying anything original … he’s simply ‘leading‘ America in the direction that something like half the country actually wants to go and those tens of millions of Americans have said they want to go that way.
Equally, “rapid, unorthodox, populist political change” is here to stay … the information age has seen to that. It was always fairly easy to stir up populist sentiment, and not all populism is inherently bad, but the information revolution has let people like Donald J Trump hear the ‘voice’ of the discontented masses and tell them what they want to hear in return. The leave faction used it ~ the instant gratification provided by modern social media ~ in the Brexit campaign, several European leaders are using it now, Donald Trump uses it as do his counterparts in China and Russia. There is nothing good or bad about social media, it’s just a tool; a shovel is a tool that I can use, productively, to dig a hole and, perhaps, less productively to crush someone’s skull.
I don’t know how much longer Donald Trump will be president … two more months? two more years? six more years? As Prime Minister Harper said, it doesn’t matter … the Trump Party will still be around and American politicians will still heed the fear driven call of scores of millions of voters to put “America First.” The next president will, almost certainly, have a better grasp of economics and business than does Donald J Trump and (s)he will not make all the same silly strategic mistakes but (s)he is unlikely to make a 180° course correction, either. Politicians in democratic states are, mostly, in the business of, as the late Alberta Premier Ralph Klein is reputed to have put it, figuring our which way the mob is headed and then rush out front to lead them there. In America’s case the mob seems headed towards isolationism and protectionism … the next president and perhaps the one after that are likely to want to lead them in that direction.
For Canada that probably means that most of what we might call the Trudeau agenda ~ climate change, feminism, First Nations, the United Nations, etc ~ are all going to run counter to American policies and actions. That doesn’t mean that Canada needs to abandon those policy goals, but it probably does mean that they will need to be tempered with more more realism, more assertive free(er) trade policies and an increased emphasis on security and defence.
Oh, and to all my American friends: Happy July 4th! You are great people who are blessed to live in a great country … celebrate that!