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November 18th 2016 print

Peter Smith

Trump’s Brazen Insight

With red ink engulfing welfare-heavy national budgets, identity politics has become the last, desperate gambit to mine the pockets of the productive, hence the alliance of the Islam and the left. The president-elect's genius was to recognise those being milked are themselves a marginalized group

trump smugWhen reason guides the minds of men and women, free-market capitalism and prosperity follow. Reason can either be beaten down or, alternatively, elevated by cultural norms. Islamic cultural norms provide an example of the former; Christian norms an example of the latter. Reason is the enemy of progressive politics. That is why Islamists and the Left find common cause.

Progressive policies are disastrous. They produce human misery: debt, dependency, and division. Debt emerges pari passu with unfillable promises of free stuff. Dependency emerges as regulatory obstacles are put in the way of full employment and the unemployed and the dispossessed are seduced with baubles. Division emerges as sets of citizens are pitted against each other in desperate acts of vote-buying.

But surely progressives aren’t bad people? I will leave the question open. It is an open question when supposed good intentions are not informed by bad experience after bad experience. Okay I have gone too far. They are not bad people. I will settle for deluded or self-serving.

Left-wing prescriptions have a use by date. The use by date transpires when, as Margaret Thatcher so aptly put it, “you run out of other people’s money.” What the heck do progressives do then? In the best of all worlds they convert to conservatism, as I did, or at least take their bat and ball, go home and sulk. We don’t live in this world so, for the most part, progressives double down.

Their difficulty is that their rationale of the past, representing working people seeking a better deal, no longer holds water. Working people have long since got the better deal. Capitalism has given it to them. Result: constituency gone. The conclusion: target and build up other, motley constituencies of special interests.

These constituencies are those serially dependent on taxpayer support; those who value the habitat of yakka skinks over people’s livelihoods; those who hold the wellbeing of refugees higher than those of citizens; and those who form ethnic minorities. Who is left behind? Those left behind are the white working class; those who in former days formed the left’s core constituency. But it’s worse than that. Policies which benefit special interests almost always damage and marginalize the interests of the white working class.

Enter Donald Trump, brazenly appealing to the newly marginalized. Seven out of ten whites without college degrees voted for Trump according to exit polling (Edison Research). This was roughly the same proportion as Latino women voting for Hillary Clinton. And by the way, white women overall (53%) voted for Trump. Those misogyny charges didn’t cut it.

One of the frustrations of the coverage of the US elections was the overwhelming focus on the candidates’ personalities rather than on their policies. Expect no change in future US elections. The press is in the pocket of the Democrats and the Democrats have no credible policies. Ergo, the press will continue to focus on digging dirt on Republicans. The Washington Post had twenty reporters gunning for Trump. It is a wonder they found so little on a flamboyant rich guy when you think about it.

No left-wing parties across the globe have credible policies. They are out of other people’s money to spend. A claim of inequality is their last desperate economic cause du jour. But it is a blind alley for the left. The only way to produce less inequality without devastating the economy is to adopt conservative policies of less government and less regulation. Inequality rises when economies struggle and falls when they are buoyant, as competition for labour drives up wages.

The only viable future path to power for the left is via identity politics (and, I should add, competing with the greens in scaring people about global warming or whatever comes next after that scare cools down). Clinton got an estimated 88% of the black vote, 65% of Latinos and 78% of the LGBT community. My question is whether these people were swayed by policies or by their minority status. I think the latter and this is problematic for the left. Their loyalty too has a use by date. You can only fool minorities for so long.

Trump has the opportunity (which he forged uniquely himself) to show that conservative policies of deregulation and low taxation work to create jobs and prosperity. The ties that bind minority groups to the Democrats, I predict, will fray under the onslaught of economic progress. With any luck this will be contagious beyond US borders. But, in any event, sooner or later, the left will need to morph again as the current profile of identity politics loses its traction.

The likely direction of this morphing is towards Islam. Muslim identity will withstand economic progress. “Islam and modernization do not clash, says Samuel Huntington (Clash of Civilisations) as, in different words, does Peter Berger (Islam and Secularism in the Middle East): “it is often the daughters of secularised professionals who are putting on the veil and other accoutrements expressing so-called Islamic modesty.”

Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission provides a template for a future grand Left/Muslim alliance. Judging by the Left’s enthusiasm for importing Muslim refugees they have already grasped the point.

Watch the agenda develop as Muslims take leadership roles in left-wing parties. London Labour Party mayor Sadiq Kahn is a prime example. Keith Ellison is another. Touted as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee (Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s old job), he has plenty of radical Islamic links in his past. The only way to counter this threat is to limit the size of Muslim populations in the West by stopping further Muslim immigration. That is one of the prime reasons that the Democrats, and the left more generally in the West, are so bitterly opposed to Trump.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [19]

  1. Bran Dee says:

    Yours is a sobering thought Peter that the Left has one identity group completely and reliably on board, the Mohammedans. We have noted how the Left supports those on hijrah or emigration to the west [Mohammed's Hijra from Mecca to Medina on Friday July 16,622 marks the start of their calendar with its 354 days in the lunar year].
    Trump has been brilliant in the many steps to his success, and he is concerned about hijrah to the US and this may alert the world. Who, however, in Australia is indicating alert leadership: no Liberals [except Cory Bernardi], no Nationals,no Labor, no Greens? Christian Democrats, and Australian Liberty Alliance are alert to the problem but they gained no seat in the Federal Parliament. That means Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party deserves support as the equivalent to the Trump Republicans.

  2. Bill Martin says:

    Very insightful again, Peter. Allow me to add the following comment.

    Each time the subject of entitlement comes up, l find it impossible to avoid the conclusion that the widespread support of the phenomenon is due to the goodness inherent in human nature. The notion of looking after each other is regarded as just and noble while the opposite as mean and selfish. Genuine champions of welfarism concentrate their efforts on making the “cradle-to-grave” system of care and support as foolproof as possible in order to minimise its exploitation by the unscrupulous, but have little or no idea how the economy of a society works. They, eagerly supported by similarly ignorant citizens but especially the hordes of beneficiaries – whether recipients of the largesse or dispensers of it – represent a formidable force in wealthy western societies. Rare is the politician who dares to openly challenge such force. In fact, most of them – usually also ignorant of economic realities – are happy to ride on the waves whipped up by it and reap the votes on offer. In conclusion, the ranks of the useful idiots are vast and powerful, indeed.

  3. ianl says:

    Peter, you have analysed it quite well. It does seem likely that the Left will embrace Islam more fully as The Last of the Mohicans, as it were. I don’t expect the current on-board identity minorities to loosen their grasp that easily, though.

    Given the childish outrage being vented by the losers after these elections, including the puerile reactions of the Aus Govt and its’ chief bureaucrats, I have concluded that the smug, politically correct, self-described “elite” deserved this big, vulgar Mack truck careering through the centre. Certainly these people have learnt and conceded nothing, so a metaphorical nuclear blast seems to be the most effective method.

    Brexit, Waffle by one wobbly Nat seat, the SA grid self-immolating, Baird (NSW) retreating amoeba-like, the US election, the Orange by-election, the rise of real political opposition in Europe. This sequence of events seems to tell them nothing.

  4. Jody says:

    All well and good but I’d mortgage my house Trump is going to spend like a drunken sailor and there’ll be more debt. He’s already talking about expanding the military; where’s the money coming from?

    • Bill Martin says:

      Jody, you forget that he is a successful entrepreneur with a string of financial victories and failures, so he understands perfectly well the importance of managing finances correctly. Concerns about the Trump presidency are certainly valid, but economic policy is not a valid reason for it.

  5. Bran Dee says:

    Jody the money comes from expanding the economy and having workers pay tax rather than receiving food stamps as the unemployed in the US.
    Australia has a bureaucracy and a leadership that believes growth [immigration, real estate boom, etc] without cuts is sufficient and a PM who believes ‘Jobs and Growth’ with single issue tunnel vision. This PM should, in addition, be winning the ideological issues to make the country more able to reap the benefits of free enterprise that Peter Smith has pointed as the only way to increase prosperity.
    Turnbull or his minister could reprimand the ABC Manager Michelle Guthrie for bagging Donald Trump and he could work to remove the chair of the ABC board, Jim Spigelman, the old Labor warhorse who as a young man 44 years ago was adviser to Gough Whitlam when in 1972 he replaced the entire ABC board as being too conservative.
    When Labor returns to office they dismantle what conservatives have constructed but when a Conservative government is in office they allow the socialist roadblocks to remain.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      When Labor returns to office they dismantle what conservatives have constructed but when a Conservative government is in office they allow the socialist roadblocks to remain.

      BD, I think you will find on analysis that both sides play a game of spoiling, and have been doing so for a long time. It is built in to the very foundations of our parliamentary system.
      Tony Abbott said when he became Opposition Leader, that his job was to “oppose, oppose, oppose.” No matter what Rudd-Gillard-Rudd wanted to do, he was agin it.
      If his title had been say, ‘Leader of the Alternative Government’ perhaps his mantra would have been ‘alternativise, alternativise, alternativise.’
      Would have been a lot less dramatic, but better all round. IMHO.

      • Bill Martin says:

        I mostly agree with you Ian, but I don’t recall anything proposed by Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government that shouldn’t have been opposed.

      • mags of Queensland says:

        I think you will find, with a little research instead of reading from the Labor playbook, that Tony Abbott said his job was to oppose bad legislation. If he just opposed everything, as you say, then many of the poor pieces of legislation that we are carrying the cost of today, would not have got up – e.g NDIS.

        I think you have a problem making rational judgments when it comes to the conservative side of politics.

    • Jody says:

      I do hope you’re both right!!

  6. Ian MacDougall says:

    The Carbon Tax was introduced on July 1, 2012 by he then Gillard government. Rudd talked of climate change as “the greatest moral issue of our time.” Then he went to water on it.
    Gillard was non too strong on it either, and it was formally abolished it on July 14, 2013, under Rudd 2, in favour of an emissions trading scheme.
    But the denialostrich Abbott abolished it completely, along with the Mining Tax. A most foolish and irresponsible move, IMHO, even though it was cheered by the political right, and particularly by Gina Rinehart. A nod was given in the direction of the science in the verbiage accompanying his phony ‘Direct Action’ scheme, which was actually a gigantic operation to pass taxpayers’ funds direct to the coffers of agribusiness. (Small rural operations like Yours Truly’s never saw a cent.)
    “What did you do in World War 2, Daddy?”
    “Oh, I was a secret agent in this country for the Empire of Japan.”
    It was down at that level.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-10/carbon-tax-timeline/5569118

  7. Ian MacDougall says:

    And Trump according to his biographer ( http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a49065/trump-believes-in-eugenics-according-to-trumps-biographer/ ) The Trumpenstein believes that he is genetically superior.
    No prizes for guessing where that leads.
    Heil Drumpf!

  8. mags of Queensland says:

    I think everyone is getting a bit ahead of themselves. We have yet to see just what trump is going to do as apart from what he said he would do.