6 thoughts on “Trump elected US president, a British view

  1. The painful truth is that Trump is a bigger part of all of us than we care to admit.

    This may be easiest to grasp if we look through that quickly forgotten moment once called “Bernie Sanders.”

    Without resort to racism, greed or vanity, Sanders engaged with the same disillusionment that comes from a US corrupted and hollowed out by corporate power.

    Corporate money had bought election after election since the 1980s Thatcher/Reagan love fest.

    In this partnership, Britain was always the Bonnie to to the US Clyde — no less brutal, just less conspicuously so.

    It was the joint US-British addiction to “trade liberalisation” that has thrown the world into moving jobs out of industrial societies, wealth out of nation states and banking outside tax jurisdictions.

    Modern economics became just one bank job after another.

    Anyone challenging this new world order was faced with supra-national trade agreements; stripping citizens of the right to retain or repatriate assets, and giving corporations the right to sue citizens (and countries) for anything threatening a company’s right to “profit taking.”

    As a seasoned tax-evader, Trump was part of the tribe he also denounced; just a different kind of bank robber. Trump’s real interest is in messianic power. Blaming everything on immigrants, or Hillary, offers a scapegoat to the country’s woes, not an answer to them.

    In Britain, Ukip (and Brexit) followed the same line: denouncing the “evil bureaucracy” of the EU but happily leaving Britain chained to the corporate fiefdom of the WTO.

    In lieu of real politics, immigrants became the surrogate source of everyone else’s impoverishment.

    What Sanders grasped — and explained — is that it is neoliberalism that has sent the world careering towards an ecological and ethical crisis.

    Sanders knew that “democracy” had been the first thing sacrificed on the altar of the market. He also knew that troves of economists had forgotten that markets without rules are always amoral.

    Only humans bring morality to economic systems. Yet the mainstream political class (in both Britain and the US) became blind to an overarching truth, once summarised by Ernst Schumacher as “Buddhist economics.”

    This is the duty to create a world in which our children can grow safely and creatively, our communities thrive harmoniously, and our planet breathe easily.

    It continues to be our greatest existential obligation. Trump has stuck two fingers up at all this; threatening to dump US climate obligations and clean energy commitments, promising instead to “suck soot” from coal magnates.

    The US media seems enthralled by the idea that Trump will grab the planet by the crotch and race after “the politics of crude,” just to please US polluters.

    Britain has watched this debacle unfold with a salacious interest usually reserved for sleazy soap operas.

    It has offered a distraction from an ugliness of our own; what festers beneath the lid of Brexit and beyond.

    There were “high ground” arguments for both staying in and leaving the EU.

    The “high ground” ones for leaving could have been found in setting higher standards/doing things “better” outside. My disdain for the Brexit campaign that surfaced was that it never reached beyond the freedom to stand for “less.”

    It was the vision of Britain as a “cheap as chips” society.

    Ukip occupies a world of permanent climate denial, not too different from Trump’s.

    But Britain’s Conservative government is not far behind them.

    Within the EU, Britain has lobbied to delay implementing the EU directive on emissions from coal power stations.

    Our courts have judged Britain “illegal” in our non-delivery of EU air quality standards.

    Britain demanded (and got) a right to lower renewable energy targets than the rest of the EU (and will still fail to meet them).

    We have consistently sought to water down EU-wide anti-tax evasion strategies. And Britain blocked EU moves towards a financial transactions tax.

    Of course we are not as crude as Trump. Britain’s corruption tries to retain a sense of “class” and “breeding.” It is a subtlety reserved for the more consummately dishonest.

    This was a space the Clintons once thought they could occupy too, but now they can’t. And nor can we.

    The US has to find an olive branch to avoid the nation unravelling in a post-election debacle.

    They may find it if Clinton wins and were to give Bernie Sanders the remit to reconnect “lost America” to the American dream.

    Sanders would undoubtably want to do so within a politics of hope — and redistribution.

    For “left behind” America this would include the prospects of a decent home, education, job, skill set, wage, healthcare and environment. It is something “the richest country on Earth” can surely deliver.

    Only the super-rich would scream foul. And perhaps it’s time they did.

    Britain could even lend a hand, for it too has a Bernie Sanders option waiting in the wings.

    Britain’s option is called the Corbyn Manifesto (and can still be found online).

    In the welter of highly personalised accusations around Labour’s leadership election, scant attention was given to how profound some of the Corbyn promises are — engaging with issues that threaten the planet rather than just parliamentary vested interests.

    Theresa May can swan off with her corporate sponsors to promote climate-destroying deals. She may endorse airport expansions the planet cannot sustain, and hand seats at the COP-22 climate discussions to lobbyists for coal and oil. But the rest of Britain should be looking elsewhere.

    Jeremy Corbyn’s “sustainability” proposals are the only genuinely ground-breaking, Earth-saving, hope-building agenda in town.

    The question is whether we can force discussion on to these bigger issues and away from the daily drivel of Westminster vanities.

    If there is a lesson for Britain in the US’s fall into the politics of ugly, it is that real, transformational politics is still the only antidote.

    We are so much better than this — and now we need to be. “Ugly” is just the default position of the lost.

    Alan Simpson is former Labour MP for Nottingham South.



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