For years, corporate-guru Donald Trump has managed to keep his voice in public discourse by writing books with Guy Kawasaki and hosting NBC\’s \’The Apprentice\’.
Trump must not believe that\’s enough to keep him relevant in 2011, so he\’s dwarfed his previous entertainment feats by gathering support and testing the waters for a presidential run. After a campaign of interviews on cable giants like Fox News Channel and CNN\’s \’Piers Morgan Tonight\’, he even spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), presumably to gauge his reverence among fellow jingoists.
What\’s far more interesting than Trump\’s P.R hype machine for the presidency is the actual content of what he\’s saying, which happens to be very revealing. It also begs the question, would candidate Trump \”make America great again\”, and what does that really mean from one of the most powerful members of the country\’s business class?
In an interview with Piers Morgan (and in several other interviews), he makes the argument that the U.S has now become the “laughing stock” and the goal of “moon-monthly” for other countries. Trump claims to be a stalwart of common sense and inventor of real solutions. He admires Sarah Palin, free markets, and free enterprise. He \’supports our troops\’, which means about as much as supporting the people in Ohio.
At CPAC, Trump repeated, “The world today doesn\’t treat us respectfully. They do not treat us properly.” And if he doesn\’t think he can beat Obama in 2012, then he won\’t run. But even if he doesn\’t, \”we have to take our country back\”.
Historically, it\’s important to understand where Trump is coming from on these issues. Does he practice what he preaches? Nobody cares about what Brezhnev or Kennedy thought, they care about what they did; and this standard should apply to any world leader. What\’s far more important, however, is to understand the historical value of the involvement of American corporations in what\’s called globalization. This is crucial to understanding the implications of what Trump really supports.
In case after case of international business analysis, a common denominator for the U.S role is pretty obvious. \”What we say goes\”, to quote George W. Bush. The U.S is an outlaw state, it imposes international law, breaks it, and Britain is our lieutenant (see wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). Privately concentrated economic power (financial institutions, multi-national corporations, insurance companies, war contractors, pharmaceutical companies, \’big oil\’, and investment firms, etc.) gets exactly what it wants. It insists on strong statecraft to protect and grow its international investments.
\”U.S. business wants a \’favorable climate of investment\’ abroad, and military regimes that will crush labor unions and otherwise serve foreign business meet that demand.\” – Edward S. Herman
Now, Trump correctly points out that this insistence on a powerful state that ruins other parts of the world for profit has been rather limited in certain ways for the past decade. For starters, the incompetency and extreme nationalist views (even for the U.S narrow political spectrum) of the Bush administration was rather irritating for the business community. Corporations don\’t want a stupid and corrupt state, they want a functioning and powerful state that works exclusively for them.
Trump also states that the Chinese enjoy a huge trade advantage from the U.S. because they can sell cheaper products here than locally produced businesses . The U.S has suffered an annual trade deficit of $38.7 billion from China. He suggests that we deal with the problem by imposing a 25% tariff on Chinese goods, also known as a radical violation of his so called \’free market principles\’. Despite the contradiction, the tariff sounds appropriate given the circumstances, but impossible to approve in Congress. This, of course, is where the \’making America great again\’ rhetoric ties in.
Let\’s examine closely some real examples that show Trump is exactly right; China will not be pushed around by U.S business interests, and it\’s not because they hold 1/14 of our debt. This makes us seem less \’great\’. China\’s been around for 3,000+ years, and its semi-fascist government is fully aware of the country\’s massive capacity to industrialize and realize its full potential for long-term economic growth. Just like how Truman and his Wall Street advisers didn\’t care about Stalin\’s crimes against humanity (instead praising him for his sponsorship of the USSR\’s economic growth), the U.S doesn\’t give a damn about China\’s human rights violations. We have more important concerns, like the happiness of our oil companies.
Just a few years ago, the U.S was bewildered by China\’s refusal to make adjustments to the yuan exchange rate against the dollar, as well as its intensely improving relationship with Chavez and Venezuelan oil (that\’s just for us). The brilliant Bush administration decided to protest by reducing the Premier\’s celebratory invitation in Washington from a big dinner to a standard luncheon.
In response to this, the Chinese flew straight from Washington to Venezuela to take pictures with Chavez and sign a major petroleum pact. The U.S was furious. Chavez\’s goal of reducing his country\’s dependence on the U.S market may precipitate a global shift in which China will benefit by helping to meet its exponentially growing energy demands with Latin American oil. Therefore, Latin America becomes less poor, and we get less oil and a rise in petro prices.
In the case of Venezuela (and countless other similar examples), we\’ve been supporting a military coup to overthrow Chavez for just these reasons for over 10 years. To emphasize Wharton School (Trump\’s alma-mater, coincidentally) Professor Edward S. Herman, \”U. S. business wants a \”favorable climate of investment\” abroad, and military regimes that will crush labor unions and otherwise serve foreign business meet that demand.\”
Now that we\’ve established Trump\’s analysis of U.S international relations, that narrows our focus into one acceptable question; what does Trump mean by \”we need to make America great again\”?
With respect to his perspective on trade relations, he would make America great again for his people, which just means properly reassuring establishment business. He\’d expect other countries to provide our corporations with what they call a \’favorable climate for investment\’, while providing a reliable state that protects business from the ravages of the market on a national and global scale. Four years of Trump would attempt to create a real utopia for those with economic power. His administration would promise a perfectly competent polyarchy, where only private power, what James Madison called \’the wealth of the nation\’, makes decisions.
According to Donald Trump, only then would the world \’respect us\’ like it once did.