As extensive a scrutiny as can be conducted from North America of the leading Western European media outlets reveals with distressing clarity that Europe understands practically nothing of American politics. As a veteran of over 20 years of the Bilderberg and Trilateral Commission and other transatlantic gatherings of eminent and influential people from all of the Western European and North American countries, and of the Davos circuses, I did what little I could to make the United States more comprehensible to Europeans. That the Trump era has raised this incomprehension to its highest point is perhaps not entirely surprising, especially as many Americans – and almost all Americans known to Europeans – did not understand how Trump was elected president in 2016.
Per capita income growth in the U.S. declined from 4.5 per cent annually in the last six Reagan years to 3 per cent under President Clinton, 2 per cent under George W. Bush, and one per cent in the Obama years. By 2016, half of Americans had had stagnant real incomes since the Clinton era. In such a pecuniary society as the United States the political consequences of such a trajectory are likely to be fatal.
The fundamental political reality of America is that it is a jungle, which is its strength and its weakness. The America of Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses exists, but it is essentially a facade and so are the northeastern and California establishments Europeans know, other than when they produce a political leader of great virtuosity such as Franklin D. Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan.
This unsentimental and instinctive culture of strength and meritocratic/Darwinian success creates tremendous competitiveness, extraordinarily high levels of achievement in almost every field, and has enabled the United States for over a century to operate on a scale that the world had not imagined to be possible.
But it also needlessly and brutally grinds millions of people who deserve better in such a rich country, to powder. Like all jungles, the United States is in constant fermentation and agitation and its most influential inhabitants are the human equivalent of great cats and the largest constricting snakes.
Donald Trump polled constantly for decades and he changed his official party designation seven times in 13 years waiting for his opportunity to test out his theory that he could win the nation’s highest office by combining great celebrity and the ability to represent himself plausibly as the average American’s champion against the various elites with the credibility he had earned by making billions of dollars in extremely tough industries and in becoming a phenomenal television personality who led his prime time television slot every week for 14 years. He became a popular capitalist as well as a show business personality.
Garish and unutterable hucksterism as much of his more publicized antics were, caricature as he often was of the Ugly American, his successful application of this political formula make him the most accomplished person in his career prior to his inauguration of all other American presidents except those who contributed vitally to the founding of the country and its institutions (Washington, Jefferson, Madison), those who victoriously commanded great armies in just wars (Grant and Eisenhower), and perhaps Herbert Hoover for his relief work in Europe during and after World War I and for building a worldwide engineering company.
Only about half of Americans and a very few foreigners grasp that, in the 2020 election, 81 million unsolicited ballots were sent out to names on obsolete voters lists. Many millions of ballots were not verifiable, passed through unknown hands, and were cast without official scrutiny in drop-boxes after the formal election had closed. If 50,000 votes had flipped in Pennsylvania and two other states, Trump would have won in the Electoral College, which was the subject of his complaint on January 6, 2021 when he did absolutely nothing to incite or encourage violence.
The fact that the courts refused to hear any of the 19 constitutional challenges to voting and vote-counting changes and that the national political media have locked arms to declare any complaint of Trumps about the 2020 election as a “lie” has inspired him and his scores of millions of followers with an immense and righteous resolve.
The voters now remember that Trump ended unemployment, illegal immigration, petroleum imports, North Korean provocations of its neighbours, cut the taxes of 83 per cent of Americans without inflation, reduced crime rates, and made important progress towards a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East.
More Americans are horrified at the politicised corruption of the justice system and the intelligence services as in the Russian-Trump collusion nonsense, than by Trump’s personality, which is in any case often quite refreshing and much less grating now that he is an underdog fighting spurious legal harassment rather than a newly arrived, unfledged political braggart. The Biden administration is a shambles in every significant policy area, combining Senator Bernie Sanders’ extravagant socialism with a semi-senescent, sticky-fingered, spavined political wheel horse as an almost incomprehensible figurehead president.
Barring the unforeseeable, Donald Trump is on an accelerating glidepath to a clear victory and America and the world will be better for it.