Trump is a blip. Here’s why.


So Donald J. Trump is the 45th US President by a healthy margin in the US’s arcane electoral college system despite losing the popular vote, propelled there in part by disaffected white working class voters in a so-called “whitelash”.

Many columnists seem to believe that Trump’s victory was about the economy, but it wasn’t as this fascinating article by Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London, shows.

Kaufmann helpfully addresses himself to the policy choices of Western governments in the face of the changing tectonics of the for-now dominant white vote. But I think that’s probably largely unimportant, in the long run of geopolitics.

Trump’s sandcastle, built of white anger, white frustration, white fear and – yes, I’m afraid – white greed will be washed away by the tide of history.

His narrow victory over Hillary Clinton is the White Man’s Last Hurrah, because you just can’t fight demographics.

According to the latest statistics, there are 324m people in the US, accounting for 4.35% of the world’s population.

Currently, 62% of the people living in the US are non-Latino/Hispanic whites – whose voting preferences were key to Trump’s electoral success. That’s just about 200m people, or roughly the number of people who live in Brazil or Pakistan.

Now, those 200m people, or rather their ability to elect a President with a military machine more expensive than the next 26 countries put together, are the most powerful group of people on Earth. They have been since 1917, when the US emerged from its isolationist cocoon to intervene in WWI and stake its place as World Leader.

But that 100-year reign is coming to an end. America has been great for over a century, regardless of Trump’s claims that it now isn’t, but the next century will see it becoming relatively less great, by its own narrow definition, with every year that passes.

China, the world’s most populous country, has a population of 1.379bn people, over four times that of the US. India, the second, has 1.33bn. Together they make up 36% of the global total.

While China has jammed on the brakes on the baby front, its population is still growing by 0.49% a year. India is still racking up 1.26%. The US is somewhere in the middle at 0.75% but – here’s the rub – the US fertility rate is just 1.84 births per woman, below the replacement rate of 2.1.

In other words, the core US population is in fact shrinking. It’s only growing thanks to immigration. Not only that, but the white fertility rate is lower than the national rate, at 1.76.

In other words, non-Hispanic white women aren’t having enough babies for the US white population to even stand still in numerical terms. By 2042, non-Hispanic whites will, for the first time in US history, not be the majority of the US population.

Fewer people = less influence. But, most importantly for the world’s biggest market economy, fewer people = smaller market.

China’s economy will be more significant than that of the US by 2018, according to Forbes magazine. It grew initially as a manufacturing economy, with low wages and producing all manner of things, most of which its population couldn’t afford. That is changing. The growth of the Chinese middle-class means it will become less and less dependent on the US as a customer.

India is some way behind in economic terms, but its population will soon surpass China’s, and undergo the same economic densification, fleshing out its own consumer middle class. Brazil and Indonesia will overtake the US in population terms fairly soon and will probably undergo the same process.

The combination of being a shrinking market and China and India becoming larger markets is a double-whammy for the US.

Trumpian economics – tax cuts for the rich (another crack at the discredited notion of “trickledown”), massive cuts to public spending to try to cut the deficit and lower financial regulation (do these people ever learn?) could be a catastrophe.

Far from protecting US jobs, worker ‘protections’ such as tariff barriers and hostile trade deals will only make matters worse. If you don’t believe, I’d heartily recommend you read any of economist Tim Harford’s books, which will explain how protectionism costs jobs and makes industries uncompetitive.

The globalisation genie is already out of the bottle. Not even a personality as big as Trump can stuff it back in.

Personally, I don’t think Trumpian economics will be an enduring thing. As the Brexiteers are finding, it’s far more difficult to make reality the slogans which got you elected. The world is just too complex, too inter-connected and full of infinite layers of mechanisms and committees and treaties and conferences that a blustering narcissist can’t just sweep away like a vexatious lawsuit.

Anyway, who cares? Away from the US, the tide of history will continue. The US will continue to diminish in demographic terms, and therefore as a market, as China, India and the other large, developing countries – with the possible exception of Russia, which is disappearing down a whole ‘nother rabbit hole – get steadily richer.

And as the US economy diminishes in relative importance, so its global power will wane. Just over 100 years ago, the biggest economy in the world was Great Britain’s, and it had a military to match. Today, not so much.

War, and its bastard child, terrorism, are the wild cards in the Trump deck. With due note to Godwin’s Law, Hitler went to war because he knew he had to in order to keep Germany growing in the way he wanted. Countless other demagogues have understood that war shuffles the deck like nothing else.

Trump may resort to it, as Bush did, but I think even that is a dim possibility. There are too many people with too much to lose to trigger the nuclear war that will destroy us all and prevent me from digging out this blog in 20 years time to say “see?”.

Equally, small land wars like Iraq and Afghanistan – while intense, and a prized opportunity for the US military to try out its new toys – are so exhausting and so expensive, with such little real gain for the “victors” that they make for bad politics.

As for the War on Terror, Trump may nuke Raqqah – the ISIS ‘capital’ – but that kind of mass murder of civilians (not exactly unprecedented in US history, let’s face it) will only scandalise the world and unleash whole new waves of complex terror, and I think his generals will persuade him out of it.

He may try to build his Wall. He may try to deport 11 million people. He may try to turn back the clock on social reforms. But ultimately, there is nothing he can do to reverse the tide of history.

The White Man’s time on the Iron Throne is over. And Trump, no matter how much of his larger-than-life persona he is able to translate into policy, will be a blip.

Will Democracy eat itself?


It strikes me that the main threat to Democracy might be Democracy itself.

Imagine if you will a nightmare scenario where a bunch of manipulative, lying politicians with the collusion of a media hooked on the delicious uncertainty of false equivalence – “Creationism v Evolution, which is right? Join us after this break where we talk to two ‘experts’ for a 50/50 pro/con debate!” – trick millions of people into voting for something which promises easy solutions to complex problems.

Oh, wait, we just had that didn’t we? I’m sure I saw people I don’t care about talking about having watched it on Gogglebox.

Yes, you were tricked. You know you were, you Leftovers. You are just too ashamed to admit that you were taken in by a bunch of ruthless liars led by two journalists – journalists, I mean, really? – and a bloke who thinks smoking doesn’t cause cancer.

You bought a shonky second-hand cut-and-shut pile of crap featuring proven lies, the relentless denial of expert commentary or indeed the validity of expertise itself, absurd equivalences-which-weren’t, planet-busting levels of sophistry and promises so fake they had to be quickly walked back within hours of the vote (eg the “£350m for the NHS” Bus Of Lies, over which the Crown Prosecution Service is currently pondering whether it’s worth pressing criminal charges (hint: they won’t)) and now we’re all driving the lemon. Gee thanks. That’s the last time I give you the PIN number on my card.

Whoever wins the US presidential election – and at the time of writing we were still a day or so away from knowing the result – a proven liar, multiple-bankrupt, racist, misogynist bully who boasts about sexual assault will have managed to get over 40% of voters to turn out for him. 40%+ of a supposedly-educated, supposedly-developed country.

Now, a significant proportion of Trump supporters, are, well, let’s say not exactly the country’s brightest. Not that I think a college education should be a prerequisite for voting. However, those members of the ‘LGBT for Trump’ group, or the woman pictured proudly wearing her ‘Trump can grab ME by the pussy!!’ t-shirt at a rally would, I fear, have their voting licence suspended in the Kingdom of Brandonia, the world’s first truly benign despotic nation (more details to follow…).

But this is far from confined to the US. BBC Radio 4 interviewed a Leave voter in Barnsley the other morning who was surprised at the recent High Court decision on Article 50 because he thought we had already left the EU, the moment the result was announced. Yeah, sure we did. Can I sell you a car, mate? It may look like a lemon…

Such rabid lunacy was only the tip of a whole steaming assberg of “WTF???” which ripped open the side of the SS United Kingdom on its idiotic voyage across the Referendic Ocean, when Captain David Cameron was overcome by hubris and thought he could pilot it between the Swivel-Eyed Rocks of Illusory Control and the Shoals of Complete Indifference. Oops. Times 50.

But this is the problem with democracy. It is no longer fit-for-purpose. The people cannot be trusted. Boaty McBoatface – the name for the new British Antarctic exploration vessel chosen by overwhelming public assent by those people who could be arsed to vote (sound familiar?) – was, happily, overruled by spoilsport elitists in favour of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, with the “fun” name relegated to christening the thing’s secondary lobster-pot or something. And that’s the last time they’ll ever have an online public vote for that kind of thing, believe me. They. The elite, that is. Spoilsports. What do they know?

Boaty McBoatface proves that in a world where the Photoshopping – or otherwise – of Kim Kardashian’s bottom of more general fascination than, oh, I don’t know, the Syrian refugee crisis, that the delicious elixir of Democracy is too, too potent for idiots, who will just abuse it.

Like cannabis, Ecstasy or Spice, Democracy should be banned until we have had time to take a better look at the data. And then ban it.

In our new Post-Facts world of Pretend Equivalence, Creationism is the same as Evolution as long as two commentators can go head to head for five minutes on 24 hour Infotainment, er 24 hour News while we wait for end-to-end coverage of Whitney Houston’s funeral. On Planet P.E., the evidence for Climate Change is the same as Not Believing Experts On Climate Change.

And the endless research, data and expert opinion saying the UK’s best bet was – notwithstanding all its faults – to Remain in the EU became the same as a big fat lie on a big fat bus told by a big fat elitist millionaire buffoon standing in front of it, lying.

On Planet P.E., where the dangerous drug Democracy is running rampage, the environmental scientist gets the same vote on Climate Change as the man who needs to wear a Bacofoil balaclava and hide under the kitchen sink; the highly-trained health & safety officer gets the same vote on transport matters as my sister’s ex-boyfriend, who refused to dim his headlights to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic “because the beams cancel each other out”; and the human rights barrister with 25 years’ experience saving innocents from Death Row gets the same vote on criminal justice reform as the Rotherham taxi-driver who thought voting Leave would “get rid of all the Muslims.” (hint: it won’t, never would and couldn’t possibly in any way, shape or form you utterly thick racist knobhead).

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Democracy in principle, used safely by responsible people, but in our modern, inter-connected, impossibly complex world it’s rather like being a passenger in a car driving towards a cliff when you are pretty convinced the driver a) may not know how to drive, b) may be drunk or high or both, or c) may have a death wish. Or all three. No wonder the Chinese want nothing to do with it.

Like Michael Gove, I like Dungeons & Dragons. Unlike Michael Gove, I rather like experts being in charge of things experts should be in charge of, without being gainsaid by people who not only aren’t experts, but believe they are.

Question is, who’s really more stupid? People who are thicker than a whale omelette (not their fault, generally), or the people who let them at the wheel of the motor when they’re cliff-adjacent? The people who voted Brexit, or the people who let that happen in the first place?

Answers on a postcard to Despairing Elitist Remoaner, Told-You-So, Cliffbottom, Little England.