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Conservatism takes a hit under Trump

Conservatism takes a hit under Trump
Article by: Kseniya Kirillova
Translated by: Inna Carboni
Edited by: Alya Shandra

In the first weeks of the Donald Trump’s presidency, what was clear long before the elections became even more apparent: this man is not capable of uniting American society.

It is fair to say that the task of uniting the country was never easy. In a country made up of people of different nationalities, races, religions, beliefs, orientations, etc. the slightest bias in one direction or another threatens to create polarization. And under the previous administration of the White House, this imbalance has occurred, although it was carried out quite smoothly.

Excessive political correctness which emphasized special attitude toward blacks and minorities, coupled with the cost of technological progress and failures in the fight against terrorism has led to the extreme polarization of the American society. Certain groups of people really got used to the “exclusivity” of their interests, which caused understandable resentment.

That is why correcting the situation, shifting priorities in such a way as to not irritate one segment of the population while soothing the discontent of others is a delicate task that requires a thoughtful and careful policy, and excludes simple solutions. In America, there was a clear yearning for healthy conservatism, able to swing the pendulum and balance between different interests.

However, the Republican Party, rather than to satisfy the essence of this request, decided to resort to the flashy and successful-looking populism of Trump. In the short term, this tactic was effective in that the Republicans managed to occupy the White House. However, in the long run it seems to permanently put an end to conservatism as such.

In fact, the best way to destroy an idea is to discredit it. The more Republicans support Trump in his most odious antics, the more GOP is perceived as “Trump’s party,” which leads to its rejection by the majority of the US population. Trump himself, as I wrote above, is not physically able to consolidate society.

In fact, it is simply impossible to unite the country around his blatant lies, cheap populism, gross incompetence, pathological selfishness and constant conflicting statements.

In this case, the absence of such unity in the society is rather a plus, because history knows many sad examples of nations uniting around a destructive leader, depriving the country of restraining mechanisms needed to block dangerous decisions.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that Trump and his team seem to believe in their own “alternative facts,” and live in their own illusory reality, preferring to ignore the general discontent. Thousands of protesters in major US cities are being described by them as a “provocation from the radical left”, although any reasonable person understands that among such huge crowd some radicals will inevitably appear. Anarchists and extremists always appear in a crowd, and even more so – in a protest crowd. However, to reduce everything only to them means to deliberately ignore a huge number of Americans from all social strata, for whom the behavior of the new president and his decisions are perceived as totally unacceptable. And it is absolutely inexcusable to gloss over the fact that the vast majority of protests in several cities have been completely peaceful.

At the same time, labeling all opponents, as “socialists” is rather ironic, given that many of the major experts have already noted that Trump in his economic policy borrowed more from socialism than the classical capitalism. Thus, the Russian historian Andrei Zubov, in analyzing Trump’s inaugural speech, compared it with the Bolsheviks coming to power in Russia.

Trump accused his own enemy, the US political establishment who didn’t want him to come to power, of the imaginary ills the nation is facing… But the Bolsheviks, who convinced the people of their miserable situation, blamed this misery on the established power – ‘the Tsar, the landlords, and capitalists’… Trump wants to build fences. He incites old immigrants against the new ones, as Lenin incited people from other regions against the Cossacks, the Kazakhs – against the Russians, etc. Trump appeals not to the conscience of every American… he appeals to the sticky feeling of envy, urging Americans to compensate for their inferiority by extolling themselves over others,” – says the historian.

By the way, Andrei Zubov is not the only one who connects Trump’s economic policies not with capitalism, but with a peculiar form of socialism, or at least with the protection of “old capitalists” from the new ones.

Trump’s electorate are mainly Americans from the heartland states who work in outdated or closing factories, mining industry, and auto industry. They are dissatisfied with the increasing globalization and the introduction of new technologies that require higher technical education and lead to unemployment among people like them who can’t compete with a highly motivated and educated workforce, replenished by immigrants… Trump’s promises to bring back the jobs and reopen closed plants in the US are simply absurd and unconstitutional as they contradict the basic principles of private property and free market, upon which the socio-political system and the economy of the West are based. The state simply has no right to force entrepreneurs to do anything at the expense of their profits,” – Tigran Khzmalyan writes in his article, comparing Trump’s policy to the errors of the Soviet Union, which eventually led to its collapse.

Historian Yuri Felshtinsky writes about the negative impact which could eventually be inflicted on the American manufacturer by Trump’s protectionism, noting that

the US auto market at one point was no longer competitive and lost its top position to Japan, primarily because for many years under the pressure of the American auto companies and trade unions it relied on the protection by their government rather than the laws of the free market.

However, Trump prefers to communicate only with his supporters, considering it unnecessary not only to negotiate with the rest of the country, but even to acknowledge its existence.

At the same time, according to the survey, at the time of the inauguration Trump was supported by only 40% of the population, i.e. 60% do not approve of his actions. If even in the tough, authoritarian Russia it is quite difficult for the authorities to ignore the 14% (and in fact – many more) “renegades,” what can you say about the majority of the population of the United States?

Meanwhile, the open contempt and disregard for the protest always leads to radicalization. The reluctance of the new administration of the White House to show even the slightest respect for and attention to the majority of its people led to the impression among a large portion of the US population, especially among the highly-educated segment, that the power in the United States was simply “seized” by a bunch of charlatans, who don’t care about its own citizens and are leading the country to ruin. Accordingly, such an attitude provokes, in some cases, destructive methods of protest.

In California, for example, secessionist tendencies are again on the rise and initiatives to leave the union are gathering steam. By the way, this campaign is no less in the interests of America’s enemies than Trump’s rise to power. Recall that before the elections, the leader of the secessionist movement «Yes California!» Louis Marinelli called Russia his “second home” and even moved to Yekaterinburg, because “he could no longer live under the American flag.”

Read more: The Russian element behind California’s separatism movement

But an even more severe blow, as was mentioned before, was the rejection of conservatism itself.

Problems of Islamic terrorism and illegal migration, indeed, need to be addressed. However, the way that Trump “addresses” them leads to the protests from his opponents – in the same categorical and aggressive manner as the methods of the president himself. After that, the problem itself is not simply hushed up, but simply crossed out. This means that at some point the pendulum will inevitably swing the other way – to radical liberalism that can, in light of Trump, receive a unique carte blanche on the principle: “Anyone but him.”

A similar situation exists now in Russia, but there, in contrast to the US, it has developed gradually. In the early years of his rule, Putin has tried to create an image of a “moderate conservative.” However, as long as all the “traditional values,” in the apt words of Dmitry Bykov, “come down to Motorola,” they were simply being rejected by many intelligent people. Sometimes it’s impossible to wash away the stain of discredited concepts. And that is what is happening now with the Republican Party in the United States. However, since Trump does not possess Putin’s steady confidence, his politics does not lead to the inherent unity of dictatorship, but to the growing discontent and anger of the protesters.

Meanwhile, Republicans are still largely being led by Trump, because, as was already mentioned, there are problems to be addressed, and the new president offers such simple, fast and unpopular decisions that Republicans would have never dared to carry them out without him. However, they face a serious risk of not calculating correctly between “too early” or “too late.” Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, too, was sure he could control Vladimir Putin. By the end of his life he admitted his mistake, but his story, as we recall, has ended very sadly.

Translated by: Inna Carboni
Edited by: Alya Shandra
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