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Nationalism Now: Farage Wins, Trump Stuns, and Le Pen in the Lead
A New Nationalism
The Economist’s recent cover story had Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Nigel Farage, and Marine Le Pen dancing under the banner of “The New Nationalism.” A trend is sweeping not just the West, but the entire world. People are fed up with bureaucracies in far off cities telling them what to do. They are ready for local, accountable, yet nationalistic governments that prioritize their interests over those of other countries.
They are ready for a change. They are ready for a 21st century nationalism.
However, this is not, as The Economist notes, a time when major powers are giving in “to various sorts of chauvinism.” This errant description is one of the many reasons why Mr. Trump and other leaders have been so successful during this anti-establishment era. Trump, Farage, and others have advanced the view that globalism is something that must be slowed down in order to put the emphasis back on the individual and the nation over the globe.
Yet, this does not make “for a more dangerous world,” as a majority on the left would claim. It is amazing to see the major publications continue to decry Trump’s win and other populist movements sweeping other governments as dangerous. This reordering is what the people want. The people are exhibiting their patriotism and priorities, not their chauvinism or racism.
Now, the architects of the European Union (EU) are realizing it is disintegrating. Nationalism did not drag the world into two wars. Fascism and a maniacal dictator with dastardly aims did. Citizens crave countries with borders and laws that favor the existing citizens over incoming immigrants. The EU removes borders and we are now seeing the beginning of the end of that organization and the open borders policies enacted by its bureaucrats. The British voted to leave over the summer. And countries such as Poland and Hungary have been overcome by the same nationalist wave. The US has now chosen to put “America-first” in this time of global chaos and shifting citizenries.
Is America’s inward turn a positive thing for the rest of the world? And is it just the beginning? Or the continuing of an accelerating worldwide narrative?
“Please don’t for a minute think that the change ends here,” Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party during Brexit, wrote in Britain’s mass-circulation Sun tabloid last month. “Voters across the Western world want nation state democracy, proper border controls and to be in charge of their own lives. Further political shocks in Europe and beyond are coming.” Farage urged Trump to use the same Brexit-style campaign in America. And, it worked.
Little do the mainstream media and political establishment realize that Trump’s win is just the beginning. The populist-nationalist wave that helped propel Trump to power did not start in the United States and it is not going to end there. The Washington Post says something has to change if the populist rout is going to be stopped. However, Trump-like candidates promising “strong action over rule of law, unilateralism instead of cooperation and the interests of the majority above the rights of ethnic and religious minorities” continue to win significant victories.
“Their world is collapsing,” tweeted a jubilant Florian Philippot, senior adviser to French far-right leader Marine le Pen, following Trump’s victory. “Ours is being built.”
With the French presidential elections to be held next spring, National Front leader Le Pen is poised to add Paris to the list of world capitals under nationalist control. While seen as a long shot for some time, Trump and Brexit have now given her campaign new legs, showing she has more than a chance.
America-First and Le Pen in First
But just what unites all these overlooked voters into looking for something drastically different than the same status quo? Well, for one, it is the economic anxiety over the rising wages going to the top while the rest of the middle-class jobs remain stagnant or nonexistent. In addition, rapid increases in immigration have alienated many citizens seeing their cultures erode and jobs disappear. These voters are also uneasy with the increasingly interconnected world that appears to do little for them in terms of making their lives better. Overall, it is primarily a disgust with the same-old self-serving political elite that does not have their best interests at heart. Therefore, this political environment has been fertile ground for those promising to bring back the nation to its better days.
Long story short, globalism has gone too far.
Mr. Trump delivered his best America-first, anti-globalism speech ever on December 1st during his “Thank You Tour” of the Midwest. “We spend too much time on what divides us,” Trump began, “now is the time to embrace the one thing that unites us -- AMERICA.” While Hillary Clinton spoke to Latinos, women, and African Americans, Trump spoke to all Americans, regardless of skin color, gender, or creed. That is one reason why he won.
We have to look after our own citizens first. We are a nation of immigrants, sure, but we need to prioritize those who are already here and must do everything possible to make Americans’ lives better. “America first,” Donald said was paramount. Our leaders have not prioritized job creation enough. “They forgot about the American worker,” Trump declared. Instead of doing whatever furthers the economic interests of the American worker, the left has worked to divide Americans into groups and segments of society, further increasing the gap between the two polar political opposites in the US.
The Donald concluded, “Global is wonderful, but right now we want to focus on our national community. Never again will anyone’s interests come before the interests of the American people.” This wave of populism has swept onto the shores of France as National Front leader Marine Le Pen has taken a commanding lead in the polls following Trump’s epic upset.
Le Pen is now eight points ahead of her closest rival. She secured the support of 29 percent of those surveyed by Ipsos, putting her eight points ahead of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, representing Les Républicains, and a decisive 15 points ahead of the Left Party’s, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Independent recently reported. Current President Francois Hollande has such poor approval ratings that he has already decided to not run for re-election next year. It is now up to Prime Minister Manuel Valls to rescue the center-left contingent in France.
The political preferences are tilting fast to Le Pen’s side in the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks of the last couple years. At the last elections in 2012, a year after taking the reins of her party, Le Pen came third in the first round with almost 18 percent of the vote, behind Sarkozy with over 27 percent and eventual winner Mr Hollande with 28.6 percent.
Since then, however, her country has come under attack by a wave of ISIS-inspired attacks while her party has gained strength through a string of electoral successes, making her a serious contender for 2017. Prime Minister Valls even conceded that a Le Pen win next year is “possible,” her bid boosted by the shock election of president-elect Donald Trump in the US Presidential elections in November and the Brexit vote in the UK in June.
Mr. Valls said: “If she does make it to the second round she will face either a candidate of the left or the right. This means that the balance of politics will change completely.” A change in the balance of power in politics is occurring in the state capitals of Washington DC, London, and as we will soon dissect, Rome. Is Paris next? No one thought Brexit would succeed. And no one believed Donald Trump had a chance of winning. Something is going on that cannot be forecasted or predicted.
They Just Don’t Get It
Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned following the Brexit referendum, said that Le Pen’s election in France would be a body blow to the EU. "If France were to elect Marine Le Pen, that would be obviously a very big body blow for the European project," Cameron said at a conference in New Delhi. Instead, Cameron said he hoped for the victory of "a mainstream party that can unite people behind their candidacy.” By mainstream, Cameron means status quo. A party that can be held hostage by big banks and other special interests instead of one that is one-hundred percent accountable to the people.
Cameron and others of the same political elite are the ones getting the boot. They still don’t see what is happening to them. They are being rejected. They will fight tooth and nail to hold onto what power they still have. Yet, they are being kicked out one by one for something different, something accountable. Something that helps their lives, not the lives of others in far away places, or those that would like to call your country, “home.”
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry detailed Le Pen’s evolution and the evolution of her party over the last year in The Week. The National Front has expanded from a party focused solely on crime and immigration with a smidgen of tax cuts and deregulation to “a full-blown populist embrace of a strong state.” This strong arm tactic during a time of immigration-fueled chaos is striking a chord with French voters. Le Pen’s party now discusses the many harms of free trade from globalization, the horrors of bank bailouts, and even entitlement cuts. Gobry writes that Le Pen has an uncanny message discipline, unlike one of her orange-skinned counterparts. “Even as the migrant crisis swept the airwaves, Le Pen took a self-imposed hiatus from appearing in the media until the campaign started in earnest in the fall. Everyone in France already knows where she stands on immigration, and headlines about waves of migrants streaming in did her work for her much better than she or anyone else could have.” This kind of picking your spots and letting events play out has helped Le Pen pick up points in the polls. The National Front in France now has a wide appeal. And Le Pen has more than a chance in becoming France’s next president.
In Italy, they tried their luck at a referendum vote that also had a Brexit-style outcome over the weekend. Therefore, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pulled a Cameron and tendered his resignation on Wednesday, following the vote after just three years in charge. Almost 70 percent of the electorate came out to vote for or against the constitutional reforms that Renzi’s Democratic party proposed that would have transferred more power from the regions to the national government, showing the real importance of this vote to the Italian people. The end of Renzi’s government marks the 63rd government for Italy in just 70 years.
This defeat in Italy for the globalists will likely plunge the country into a new phase of political uncertainty. Not unlike what we are experiencing here in the United States. But, that is what people voted for. There is not going to be an economic impact of any significance following this Italian upset, especially after what happened in nearby Austria.
In some good news for the globalists seeking to keep the EU together, Austria voted against the far-right Freedom Party candidate Hofer. Instead, his opponent Alexander Van der Bellen, a Green Party politician who ran as an independent, won over 53 percent of the vote versus Hofer’s less than 47 percent. The anti-establishment forces have been dealt a mild blow in this loss. But it is likely only a rolling speed bump as proven by the EU’s lack of confidence in further referendum votes.
The beleaguered European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said to stop giving the voters the chance to roll back EU membership. “We can't deny or take away the people of Europe's right to express their views,” Juncker stated. “Regarding referenda on EU membership, I think it is not wise to organise this kind of debate, not only because I might be concerned about the final result but because this will pile more controversy onto the huge number already present at the heart of the EU.” The EU is failing before our very eyes. It could very well die a long, slow death with Angela Merkel and Germany coddling it together to its dying days.
Juncker remains in denial however, further insisting that “the existence of the EU is not in doubt.” However, he admitted its weakness is “a lack of love” among the EU’s millions of voters. The European people do not like the EU. Plain and simple.
Do you think this wave of nationalism/populism is a new dawn for our politics? Or the beginning of the end of democracy?
The Shock Waves Will Continue
All of this anti-establishment flavor mixing around the pot of globalism has led to former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers to reflect on whether this free trade, open borders style of governing is working.
The anti-globalism trend is playing out in Asia as well. Summers points to the appearance that “any interest in universal values of openness of human rights is very much secondary to the reassertion of national strength” in the countries of Turkey, Russia, China, and India. But what else unites a diverse citizenry besides its nationality, language, and culture?
While many decry this wave of nationalism as dangerous for the future stability of governments, the populist wave continues to crash over country after country because many people feel they are drowning. Too often, people feel their lives are beyond their own control. They are horrified by the bureaucrat in DC or Brussels who thinks he knows better than him.
Summers calls for a redirection of the global economic dialogue from “international integration for its own sake” to a more “responsible nationalism.” Indeed, even Summers cannot deny the fact that the US, EU, and Japan have been growing economically at rates that would have been deemed unacceptably low just a decade or two ago. According to analysis from the Congressional Research Service, America’s economy is growing at the slowest post-recession rate since after World War II. The research arm for Congress went on to note that “Although this expansion is already the fourth longest since the 1850s (34 quarters to date), the slow pace of economic growth means the overall gains have been relatively small. … Real GDP has grown at an average pace of 2.0% per year during the current recovery, compared with an average rate of 4.3% during the previous 10 expansions.” This time of slow and uneven growth is prompting countries to go another direction as workers remain impatient and frustrated over their prospects for bettering their lives. While many believe that pulling back from globalization is a net negative, it will have many other positive benefits for the American worker that has not been a priority in recent years.
Will 2016 be the year we began to turn away from globalization or the year we retooled the strategies of globalization to be, as Summer stated, “reoriented away from elite and toward mass interests?” The stakes are high and the future is unknown for now. What is a known quantity is that we will be experiencing political change and upheaval over the next few years. We are already seeing it with the successive victories in the UK, US, and now Italy.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, Trump distilled his America-first message that won him the presidency when he said, “There is no global anthem. No global currency. No certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that flag is the American flag. From now on, it is going to be: America First . . . Never again will any other interests come before the interest of the American people.” This is all the American people want. They want to be put first. They want to be on the minds of their leaders. We are all Americans, so let’s put ourselves at the top of the list.
Trump’s new friend Vladimir Putin believes that Trump will adapt just fine to this new and evolving geopolitical landscape. “The fact that Trump managed to achieve success in business, suggests that he is a smart man,” Putin said in an interview to NTV, a Russian television channel. “And as he is smart, that means he will fully and quite quickly be aware of a different level of responsibility,” he added.
Putin has spoken before of his hope that Trump will help restore a working US-Russia relationship. It will be interesting to see the rapprochement between Russia and the US under a Trump administration. "Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man. And if (he is) a clever man, then he will fully and quite quickly understand another level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting from these positions," Putin said.
Trump is a very smart man and did not get to become president-elect by accident. He has ample executive experience. He knows how to delegate. Knows how to hire the right people. And he will be the decisionmaker at the end of the day, doing whatever is best for the most people of his country. He didn’t have to run for president, but he loves this country enough to set aside his monetary interests in order to “Make America Great Again.”
Nationalism is coming now, whether you like it or not. The ever-increasing globalism and interconnectedness of all major economies will probably be put on hold. New deals will be struck. Jobs will come back to our shores. The EU will continue to crumble. Countries will do what is in their best interests. This is only natural. The status quo is over. A new dawn is beginning.
Better strap in for another shock or two.