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Trump’s Not the Problem. He’s a Symbol of 4 Bigger Issues.

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Video from Big Think

"If the problem was just Trump, it wouldn't be happening in other places around the world, says political scientist Ian Bremmer. All sorts of advanced industrial democracies have people getting angrier and voting more and more against the establishment. Even when their economies are doing well, four factors exist that rip at the fabric of civic nationalism. What's surprising, however, there is one developed country that isn't having such issues. What can we learn from them?" from intro on Big Think

TRANSCRIPT: IAN BREMMER: The problem is not Trump. Trump is a symptom. If the problem were Trump it wouldn't be happening in other places around the world. We actually see all sorts of countries advanced industrial democracies where people are getting angrier and they're voting more and more against the establishment. We saw that with the Brexit referendum, which was before the U.S. presidential election; We saw it in Germany with the rise of the Alternatives for Deutschland, an actively Euro-skeptic party for the first time since World War II; We have nationalists in the German parliament; We saw it with the recent Italian elections where they threw out all of the establishment parties and instead it's the Five Star Movement and the League, again Euro-skeptic, anti-immigration, populist political forces. This is very unusual and it's not coincidence. So why is it happening? One reason is because you have lots of members of working and middle classes that feel like they are not doing well economically and no one in the establishment is going to help them. "So let's vote for some change. Let's vote against free trade. Let's vote against the support of the establishment. Let's bring in something new." Second point. A lot of this is anti-immigration. Demographics have changed an awful lot in the United States, in Canada and in Europe over the past decades and a lot of people feel – people that have come before say "Wait a second! You're not taking care of me, but you're going to bring in these new people and these new people who I don't necessarily like or understand or trust? These new people who are getting benefits—but what about my benefits?! It's going to cost a lot of money to bring them in. Are they going to steal my jobs? Are they going to cause crime?!" —Even though in the United States we know that first generation immigrants don't actually cause more crime than those that have lived here. Nonetheless the willingness to believe that those "other people are bad and a problem" goes up a lot when you feel like your government's not taking care of you. So that's been a big piece of it. A third piece has been the military. You know the foreign policy establishment in the United States has been very willing to support the U.S. getting into wars around the world. But most of the sons and daughters of the foreign policy establishment don't actually fight in those wars themselves—That's also true of the political leaders that are responsible. As we know it's the poor people, it's the enlisted men and women. They get sent off, their families are left broken, their communities are hindered. They come back – Iraq, Afghanistan – billions upon billions of dollars wasted on these wars, enormous numbers of people that are killed or wounded or have post traumatic stress disorder. They come back they're not seen as heroes. The Americans and the allies didn't win these wars. The Veterans Administration doesn't take care of them. So as a consequence you see those people getting really angry and not voting for Hillary or Jeb. They're voting for Bernie Sanders or for Donald Trump. And then you have technology which is that technology today is increasingly driving people apart. We get most of our information in the United States from advertising companies that view us as commodities, products. They sell our eyeballs and our time on their sites to companies that pay money to ensure that we spend as much time as possible on Facebook and on Twit... For the full transcript, check out


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