The main sources of background information for my posts are The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I read the Economist but most of the time it is either too esoteric or else too far removed from the specifics of U.S. fiscal and economic policy which I am interested in. But this week they have hit the nail on the head regarding Donald Trump and his fellow right-wing populists around the world.
Says the Economist:
- Populists differ but the bedrock for them all is economic and cultural insecurity. Stagnant wages hurt a cohort of older working-class white men whose jobs are threatened by globalization and technology. Jihadist terrorism pours petrol on this resentment and extends populism’s appeal.
- Nobody should underestimate how hard it is to take the populists on. It is a huge mistake to dismiss their arguments by calling them fascist or extremist. Such disdain risks suggesting that political leaders are uninterested in the real grievances the populists play on.
- The best way to overcome resentment is economic growth – not putting up walls. The best way to defeat Islamist terrorism is to enlist the help of Muslims – not to treat them as hostile.
- Voters are often more reasonable than the populist leaders who are trying to appeal to them. Most of them would sooner hear something more optimistic than rage against a dangerous world.
- Politicians also need to deal with the populists’ complaint that government often fails them. Reluctance to deploy more troops against the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq does not appear to be a serious strategy to defeat it.
Conclusion: There is a clear path forward for candidates with a positive message of openness and tolerance and realistic plans to make the economy grow faster. Who is best situated to deliver such a message? Stay tuned!