Elites cannot act against their own interests, right?
Donald Trump has been running a populist campaign against the establishment. To many of his critics, this is absurd.
Why should a billionaire care for the working class? How can a man whose shirts and ties are made in China be against trade deals? Is Trump credible when he calls for a wall at the US-Mexican border, knowing he hired Mexican workers himself?
Trump is so much part of the elite that his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton even attended his wedding to Melania.
It appears that Trump belongs to the establishment which benefits from the status quo. Why would anybody who is a ‘winner’ in the system want to change it?
These critics, however, miss two important points.
First of all, the critics assume that members of the elite are only motivated by their personal financial interests. This, however, denies human nature. People have strong feelings on what is just and right. Elites have the means to become champions for others they sympathize with. Continue reading “From Moses to Trump: elites against the establishment”
A conflict with Turkey and Russia on opposing sides. The violence causes a stream of refugees towards Europe. Are we talking about Syria in 2016?
Although history never repeats exactly, there are a remarkable number of similarities between events of today and what happened in 1864. Over 150 years ago, there also was a caliphate and terror motivated by religion.
The Ottoman Empire has fought a series of wars against czarist Russia. These great powers had conflicting interests in the territories bordering the Black Sea.
When Russia conquered the Caucasus in 1864, it ethnically cleansed the indigenous peoples. Hundreds of thousands of Islamic Circassians fled to the Ottoman Empire. Many of them went to the Ottoman provinces in the southern Balkans, what is now Romania and Bulgaria. Continue reading “The sultan, the czar and the refugees”
The rise of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum have led to a lot of commentary on democracy itself. Understandably these comments usually come from people who dislike the outcome. But that does not mean they do not have a point.
This article looks at the democratic process up to the casting of the ballot. How the votes are counted, what is done with the result, how votes are translated into representatives and policy, the influence of non-elected lobbyists on legislation… is outside the scope of this post.
If this post comes across as cynical, it’s probably because it describes reality.
A lot of pundits have a cartoonish view of democracy, which can be summarized as follows:
- People get informed on issues, programs and candidates
- Voters weigh the arguments
- A rational evaluation leads to a decision in the form of a vote
Even if commentators do not actually believe this is how it works, their opinions betray that they think it is how democracy should be in the best of worlds.
Let us now scrutinize how elections work in reality. As always on this website, we take a step by step approach to make all assumptions explicit. As a thought experiment, a number of possible changes to the existing election process are suggested. I pose some fundamental questions that should be answered by those who are not satisfied with the status quo.
Continue reading “How to win votes”
The rise of Trump should interest everybody in “the West” for two reasons. First of all, many problems faced by the United States are similar to those in Europe. Secondly because of the immense economic, political and above all cultural influence America has on the world.
The media portray Donald Trump as a sexist, a racist and an ignorant warmonger.
Is this picture correct? Why are so many voters attracted to him? This post lists the items put on the political agenda by the Trump campaign.
Slogan: Make America Great Again
Summary: America First
Enforcing immigration law. This means that illegal immigrants – who by definition broke the law – should be deported from the USA. A wall at the border with Mexico should prevent future illegal immigration. Trump links illegal Mexicans to crime. His adversaries reinforce this point by burning the American flag and waving Mexican flags while harassing his supporters at one of his rallies.
Continue reading “What voters like about Donald Trump”
Helicopter money (HM) is money printed by the central bank that is given to the people. Figuratively speaking, Mario Draghi would fly over the Eurozone and drop new €50 bills out of a helicopter to the population below. In the first part of this series, I explored the possible sources of HM. The current post looks at the political constraints that prevent the ECB from firing up the engines of its helicopters. Continue reading “Helicopter money part II: politics”
Donald Trump is a genius. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is a brainless blowhard. The man is following a very rational strategy.
The entire business empire of Trump is built around his name. For years, he has cultivated the image of a successful rich self-made man who gets things done. His name is on his skyscrapers, and he was the star of the reality TV show The Apprentice.
When Donald Trump announced that he would be running for president of the USA in the summer of 2015, he had a wealth of experience in self-promotion and in using the media to his advantage. Continue reading “Trump and the media”