Dalkey Literary Awards - 20th June 2020
Dalkey Literary Awards - 20th June 2020

President Trump? Are you ready?

“Are we experiencing a collective Weimar moment?”

We’re with Myles Dungan, Vincent Browne, Peter Frankopan, and journalist Mary Fitzgerald who will be moderating the debate and has opened up the discussion about the “trump phenomenon” with a tricky question.

Mary refers the panelists to journalist Andrew Sullivan’s article from New York Magazine, entitled America Has Never Been More Ripe for Tyranny, and mentions the rise of populist movements that allow for Trump.

“We seem to have worked ourselves into a place where we’re polarised and  we are at a particular point of compression,” Peter says.

 

“If you’re born into the bottom 20% in America or the UK, statistically you’re going to stay there,” Peter is pointing to the rise of populist movements exemplified by the rise of Trump and the pro-Brexit campaign, as a result of a deepening inequality.

Vincent says that he thinks both Hillary and Trump are the least suitable and most extraordinary choices as candidates for the US presidency. Mary poses the question of how to explain the rise of Trump to Vinny. “The deepening of inequality in society,” Vinny replies, agreeing with Peter.

“Why Trump? Because he’s beyond the beltway, he’s even beyond the Tea Party,” Myles says.

Talk moves very quickly from the impact of the rise of China on the current US elections, to the migration crisis as going some way to explaining Trump’s popularity.

Being stuck in the middle between all the pressures coming from China, Russia, and conflict in the Middle East goes part of the way in explaining the current American psyche, Peter says.

Is there a thread linking the rise of Trump with the rise of far-right movements in Europe, as well as the rise of China, that explains why these things are happening in this specific moment in time, Mary asks the panel.

“We’re not living in a hermetically sealed world where you say one thing and it doesn’t go beyond the country,” Peter says, mentioning how the rhetoric like Trump’s spreads worldwide and causes massive offence.

Mary is pointing to how the more globalised the world becomes, the more people seem to be retreating into more nationalistic identities. Is the fracturing of the media is responsible for this in part?

Myles says that certainly the media has been complicit in giving Trump a platform because he’s good box office, and then points to how Rupert Murdoch has come in favour of Brexit given the fact that he has an in with Downing Street in a way he does not in Brussels.

“The nation-state is not the right format by which we can solve the world’s problems whether we like it or not we are a globalised world,” Myles says.

 

Peter says he hopes that the reality of Trump is in fact exaggerated. “If Trump gets into the White House the system swallows him up and there’s no way he can have his way, which would be a good thing.”

Maybe not an optimist’s but certainly a realist’s perspective, bring the discussion to a close.