Make Populism Great Again!

A politically correct liar will always gain more votes than a liar who is politically incorrect. This is a known fact. Or at least it was before Brexit and Donald Trump’s election. I would like to start by stating that I do not sympathise in any way with Donald Trump, but calling him a sexist, racist, bigot or narcissist is not enough to convince someone that hungers for change.

In truth, the establishment is not the only thing to blame for Trump’s ascension. Bad decisions and failed policies are normally the reasons behind the ascension of populist leaders, whose propaganda is based on the idea of change. This change can go either way – far left or far right. But that is not the whole picture. Apart from the fact that he was not a member of the establishment, the “anti-Trump” movement was exactly what he needed to promote his platform.

What really surprised me was the way that Donald Trump, a candidate with so many flaws, could create a movement with almost 63 million supporters in the polls. Even more surprising if we consider the negative reactions in the social media. I am well aware that Facebook and Twitter have the ability to transform even the most despicable of beings into huge popularity phenomenons. It’s all about the buzz that is created and the visibility that it grants. It’s easy to understand how Donald Trump was transformed into an american Maria Leal – someone with a total lack of competence that grows in popularity due to a strong presence in the social media. This happens thanks to the enormous amount of idiots that roam the social media everyday and love to glorify idiots worst than them. With a propaganda machine so large, Trump almost had no need for a campaign machine. All he needed was to go viral.

However, The Resistance (as it is being called by the opposition) against Trump goes on, something that is only understandable until a certain level because he won the elections. Rousseau once said that when the party that wins is not the one that we voted for, then maybe, it was a mistake to think that our choice was the best for the majority of the individuals. It is strange that nowadays that is not how a defeat is interpreted by the losing side, and such a snob sentiment tends to bore me. The idea that “my values matter more than yours” is a dangerous one because it would be almost like stating that democracy only works when we get the result we wanted. Why is it acceptable that a religion can make a woman cover her face with a burka, but unacceptable for someone to vote for Donald Trump? If stupidity becomes a religion in the western world, should we not tolerate it as well?

As a closing statement, I would like to say that I hope that Trump has four moderately bad years in office. Not so bad that it would mean the end of civilization, but enough for Europe to do what it has been failing to do for the last couple of decades and that is to assume its position as a world power. The USA’s constant support meant that Europe never had to devise a solid and strong strategy in terms of international geopolitics and simply had to follow the USA as its lapdog. A strong Europe, capable of solving its own problems without training wheels instead of simply hosting summits, would benefit everyone, including the USA. An open space where democracy is taken seriously, without demagogues or populism, where a prime minister would not promote a referendum and campaign against austerity, just to impose more austerity when the people voted against it.

I hope for four moderately bad years for Trump as an eye opener for European leaders to understand which is the path not to follow. Because if there is one thing that we can take from this is that telling people not to vote for Trump, Brexit and Le Pen, because it will have horrible consequences in the future, is useless. Some people are already living horrible lives.

José Eduardo Matos

José Eduardo is a Masters in Economics student at NOVA SBE, member of NOVA Debate Club and NOVA Economics Club, and works as an investigator for the Ministry of Finance. He is particularly fond of discussing politics and economics with a little touch of humour.

Last modified: 01/10/2017