Why else won’t Ms. Le Pen become president? Because she’s a woman. It’s uncouth to say that, but grand political analysis is also made up of petty prejudices.
.. She talks mostly about immigrants, terrorism, Islamism, colonization and the euro. Not so much about the status of women.
.. Their focus isn’t truth, only effects. And it works: Voters today don’t read long analyses; they remember forceful assertions.
.. Ms. Le Pen’s election would run counter to the course of history, the reasoning goes, and therefore it cannot be.
By antagonizing the U.S.’s neighbor to the south, Donald Trump has made the classic bully’s error: He has underestimated his victim.
Instead of branding Trump a toxic threat to Mexico’s well-being, he lavished the Republican nominee with legitimacy. Peña Nieto paid a severe, perhaps mortal, reputational cost for his magnanimity. Before the meeting, former President Vicente Fox had warned Peña Nieto that if he went soft on Trump, history would remember him as a “traitor.” In the months following the meeting, his approval rating plummeted, falling as low as 12 percent in one poll—which put his popularity on par with Trump’s own popularity among Mexicans. The political lesson was clear enough: No Mexican leader could abide Trump’s imprecations and hope to thrive. Since then, the Mexican political elite has begun to ponder retaliatory measures that would reassert the country’s dignity
.. Memos outlining policies that could wound the United States have begun flying around Mexico City. These show that Trump has committed the bully’s error of underestimating the target of his gibes. As it turns out, Mexico could hurt the United States very badly.
.. The episode seemed a return to the fraught days of the 1920s, when Calvin Coolidge’s administration derided “Soviet Mexico” and Hearst newspapers ginned up pretexts for a U.S. invasion.
.. Anti-Americanism, once a staple of Mexican politics, has largely faded.
.. What Mexican analysts have called the “China card”—a threat to align with America’s greatest competitor—is an extreme retaliatory option.
.. The painful early days of the Trump administration have reminded Mexico of a core economic weakness: The country depends far too heavily on the American market.
.. It rightly considered China its primary competition for American consumers. Immediately after nafta went into effect in 1994, the Mexican economy enjoyed a boom in trade and investment
.. Then, in 2001, the World Trade Organization admitted China, propelling the country further into the global economy. Many Mexican factories could no longer compete; jobs disappeared practically overnight.
.. Barack Obama’s administration urged his country to steer clear of Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure projects. These conversations were a prologue to the government’s decision to scuttle a $3.7 billion contract with a Chinese-led consortium to build a bullet train linking Mexico City with Querétaro
.. The average hourly wage in Chinese manufacturing is now $3.60. Over that same period of time, hourly manufacturing wages in Mexico have fallen to $2.10.
.. Mexico increasingly looks like a sensible place for Chinese firms to set up shop, particularly given its proximity to China’s biggest export market.
.. Mexico sold a Chinese oil company access to two massive patches of deepwater oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico. And in February, the billionaire Carlos Slim, a near-perfect barometer of the Mexican business elite’s mood, partnered with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile to produce SUVs in Hidalgo
.. Let’s pause to consider the illogic. Trump says that China is a grave threat, both militarily and economically.
.. Barack Obama’s vaunted “pivot” to Asia tried to keep China’s neighbors from succumbing to its gravitational pull. Thanks to Donald Trump, China is now better positioned to execute the most difficult maneuver in its own, North American pivot—pushing the U.S. and Mexico further apart.
.. One common complaint of populists, no matter their country, is that their nation has ceded sovereignty. This, in fact, has happened in Mexico’s case.
.. the Mexican government has been integrated into U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
.. The passenger list of every international flight that arrives in Mexico is run through American databases, and the results are passed along to American officers, some of whom are posted in Mexico City’s Benito Juárez airport.
.. Cargo bound for the United States is inspected before it leaves Tijuana.
.. it is the most frequently crossed border in the world
.. Mexico could assert its importance by dialing back these efforts.
.. America’s everyday relationship with Mexico is like The New York Times’ presence at White House press briefings or a president’s avoidance of conflicts of interest: It’s a modern norm that seems a fixture of governance, until it erodes and perhaps irreversibly disappears...So much of Donald Trump’s rise was predicated on a nonexistent fear: that Mexicans are pouring over the border. In fact, more Mexicans now leave the United States each year than arrive. But Trump could inadvertently trigger the waves of newcomers that he rails against...For the past few years, the border has been periodically flooded with Central Americans fleeing gang violence. Those surges could have been far larger had Mexico not stepped up enforcement of its southern border with Guatemala in 2014, largely stanching the flow of migrants. From 2014 through July 2016, with American prodding, the Mexicans detained approximately 425,000 migrants who were attempting to make their way to the United States...Remittances are extensively studied by economists. Ample evidence suggests that they are as effective an antipoverty program as anything devised by governments or NGOs: Families that receive remittances are more likely to invest in their own health care and education... Next year, the country will pick a new president... the likely winner is a familiar loser: the left-wing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador.. there’s a good chance that, in a year’s time, the populist Trump will be staring across the border at another populist... Amlo’s political party is called the National Regeneration Movement (morena)—he wants to make Mexico great again. Like Trump, Amlo professes an almost mystical connection with the people. He alone can channel their will... He despises collaboration with the DEA and relishes the idea of renegotiating nafta on terms more favorable to Mexico. “Everything depends on strengthening Mexico,” he has said, “so we can confront aggression from abroad with strength.”If Amlo becomes president, all of the worst-case scenarios, all of the proposals for petulant retaliation, would become instantly plausible.
.. Unwinding this relationship would be ugly and painful, a strategic blunder of the highest order, a gift to America’s enemies, a gaping vulnerability for the homeland that Donald Trump professes to protect, a very messy divorce.
Trump’s base turns on him
Steve Bannon’s downgrade is just one of many complaints. ‘We expect him to keep his word, and right now he’s not keeping his word,’ says one campaign supporter.
.. Their complaints range from Trump’s embrace of an interventionist foreign policy to his less hawkish tone on China to, most recently, his marginalization of his nationalist chief strategist
.. a belief that Trump the candidate bears little resemblance to Trump the president.
He’s failing, in their view, to deliver on his promise of a transformative “America First” agenda driven by hard-edged populism.
.. Lee Stranahan, who, as a former writer at Breitbart News
.. “There was always the question of, ‘Did he really believe this stuff?’ Apparently, the answer is, ‘Not as much as you’d like.’”
As Bannon’s influence wanes, on the rise is a small group of Wall Street-connected advisers whose politically moderate and globalist views are anathema to the populist cause.
.. Trump voters “felt like they were voting for an anti-establishment candidate — and they’re terrified, they’re losing faith,
.. Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham, called last week’s bombing of Syria a betrayal
.. he backed away from his oft-repeated campaign line that NATO is “obsolete.”
.. Other Trump boosters worry that he’s ditching his economic agenda.
.. backed off his vow to label China a currency manipulator
.. reversal on his position to eliminate the Export-Import Bank.
.. Larry Kudlow .. expressed dismay that the president hadn’t yet released a tax plan.
.. has yet to follow through on his pledge to rescind protections for undocumented parents and children put in place under former President Barack Obama.
.. Immigration is “why we voted for Donald Trump
.. some of his loyalists are beginning to compare him to another Republican who lost the support of the party’s base: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
.. It’s like dating a girl whose father cheated on her mother. She’s always going to be suspicious,” he said. “He’s got to constantly provide wins because he’s got an emotionally damaged base that’s been abused.”
No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right-wing populism
Democrats, in other words, would only be able to defeat Trump and others like him if they adopted an anti-corporate, unabashedly left-wing policy agenda. The answer to Trump’s right-wing populism, Sanders argued, was for the left to develop a populism of its own.
.. center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Supporters of these leaders, they argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left... countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration.. “Illegal immigrant households receive far more in federal welfare benefits than native American households,” Trump wrote in a 2016 Facebook post. “I will fix it.”.. The 10 countries with the lowest poverty rates in the world are all in Europe (the US ranks 34 out of 35 total countries in the OECD, an organization of wealthy countries). Researchers have also found clear correlations between the size of a country’s welfare state and social mobility, indicating that countries that provide citizens with extensive benefits, like Norway and Denmark, can help them better provide for themselves down the road... the European left is the victim of its own success.. economic issues receded in importance at the same time as Europe was experiencing a massive, unprecedented wave of nonwhite, non-Christian immigration... the Front National (FN). It was a populist party, one that argued that ordinary people were being exploited by a corrupt class of cosmopolitan elites. They were also authoritarian, constantly warning of the dangers of crime and the need for a harsh state response... In 1984, the FN had an electoral breakthrough, winning about 11 percent of the French national vote in the European Parliament elections. It had done so through a pioneering strategy of attacking nonwhite immigration without overtly making arguments for white Christian superiority — a kind of racism-without-racism — that appealed to voters’ fears about cultural change (and, later, terrorism) without making the kind of nakedly racist arguments that had been delegitimized by the Nazis... This was the birth of the modern far right — a continent-wide political movement that reinvented white identity politics for the post-Hitler age... These parties had no unified economic message. Some, like the FN, developed something called “welfare chauvinism” — an economic platform fairly similar to that of social democrats, but paired with an idea that immigrants should be excluded from receiving these benefits... the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class... Right-wing populists typically have gotten their best results in wealthier areas of countries — that is, with voters who experience the least amounts of economic insecurity... The far right has pulled in some working-class voters, butmost of its supporters are petty bourgeoisie (like shopkeepers) or low-educated, fairly high-income people (like successful plumbers). Swaying these voters through economic proposals will be difficult... a significant part of that electorate is deeply nativist.. Helle Thorning-Schmidt promised to deny benefits to asylum seekers if they were unemployed. The right-wing bloc won the election, and went on to pass a law that allowed Danish police to seize assets worth more than $1,450 from asylum seekers who enter the country... which included, among other things, renationalizing Britain’s railroads, abolishing tuition for British universities, and imposing rent controls to deal with Britain’s affordable housing problem. He’s even suggested reopening the coal mines that used to be a big part of Britain’s economy... Corbyn’s year-plus of Labour leadership has been something of a test case for this theory. So far, it has failed utterly... what Brexit voters said were the “most important” issues facing the UK. More than 40 percent said immigration; a scant 5 percent said “poverty and inequality.”.. The kind of voter who’s attracted to the far right just doesn’t care a whole lot about inequality and redistribution, Corbyn’s signature issues. Tacking left to win them over, as Corbyn has, is “a bad idea,”
.. “The working class of this country is being decimated. That’s why Donald Trump won,” Bernie Sanders said in his Boston speech. “We need all of those candidates and public officials to have the guts to stand up to the oligarchy. That is the fight of today.”
.. In two Midwestern states, Wisconsin and Ohio, Democrats ran Sanders-esque populists — former Sen. Russ Feingold and Gov. Ted Strickland, respectively. Both lost by a wider margin than Hillary Clinton did in their state. By contrast, the Democratic candidates who most outperformed Clinton’s statewide results — Missouri’s Jason Kander and Indiana’s Evan Bayh — ran as economic centrists.
.. the higher the percentage of black residents in a state, the less its government spent on welfare payments.
.. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites.
.. a significant shift to the left on economic policy issues might fail to attract white Trump supporters, even in the working class. It could even plausibly hurt the Democrats politically by reminding whites just how little they want their dollars to go to “those people.”
.. this kind of politics — not-so-subtly manipulating racial grievances to undercut support for social spending — has been practiced by Republicans and conservative Democrats for decades. Ronald Reagan, for example, famously used the specter of the “welfare queen” — an (implied) black woman who lived lavishly by manipulating the welfare system — as a rationale for his budget cuts.
.. tacking to the left on economics won’t give Democrats a silver bullet to use against the racial resentment powering Trump’s success. It could actually wind up giving Trump an even bigger gun. If Democrats really want to stop right-wing populists like Trump, they need a strategy that blunts the true drivers of their appeal — and that means focusing on more than economics.