Trump scores at CPAC: what it means

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

I thought I would talk today, I haven't spoken much about former President Trump since he's no longer president and I intend to continue that practice. But given this weekend and the big speech at CPAC and the fact that in the straw poll, Trump won and won by a long margin. I mean, DeSantis came in number two, but he's the Governor of Florida, CPAC was in Orlando, so that's a home court bias. In reality, it's Trump's party. And I think given all of that, it's worth spending a little bit of time reflecting on what that means, how I think about these things.


Because if he runs again and this is a long ways away, thank God, because I'm not ready for election coverage, but it's pretty clear that right now he would be the ex-ante favorite and probably get the nomination easily. And that means that he could easily become president yet again. It reminds me of Bolsonaro in Brazil. I mean, somewhat it's almost astonishing to believe that Bolsonaro was elected president to begin with, given who he is, what he is, what he represents, and yet elections coming up late next year, he could easily win again. He's in the low forties right now, approval in Brazil, that being the case, this is a guy that could become president again. So, you have to take yourself out of how you feel about these people and recognize what they represent in terms of political influence and power. And I say that because when I think back on the coverage that I did for four years of the United States during Trump's presidency, I have to admit, I found the Trump presidency emotionally exhausting, because almost everyone was outraged all the time. I mean, the volume... It's like Spinal Tap, the volume's always up to 11. Every tweet, every video, every news program with how much they love this guy or how much they can't stand this guy, incredibly divisive and that made it extremely challenging to be analytically balanced and fair. Especially, because I personally find Trump and have always found Trump since he first started flirting with the idea of running for office, completely unfit for public service for lots of reasons, right?

I mean the orientation towards authoritarianism, the personal corruption, the incompetence, the extraordinary narcissism and all of those things made me feel he was completely unfit. And to have that feeling, and that's an emotional response to someone who is president of the United States, and as a political scientist, the job is, if you're doing it right, is to be a referee, it's to call balls and strikes, it's not to be on one team or the other. That's actually extremely difficult to do consistently when you know that you have, if you're being honest with yourself, an emotional feeling. And by the way, being a referee doesn't mean bothsidesism, it doesn't mean 50-50, it means calling balls and strikes. Some people get walks, some people strike out, you're trying to be objective.

So, I mean, that doesn't mean that suddenly you give people that represent QAnon an equivalent platform to those that represent science and truth. No, QAnon is ludicrous and stupid, and they should be dispensed with as such. Flat earthers, anti-vaxxers, Obama birtherism, which remember, is how Trump kind of got his start in terms of presidential campaigning, all equally bullshit, none of them deserve the time of day. What it means is to take the emotions out of it. It is to try to call balls and strikes for Trump just as you would for someone that you don't have that emotional agita about. And it's admittedly much harder when everyone is screaming all the time. And I would say that there were a few lessons that I take away from that.

The first is to consistently recognize the limitations of presidential power. In other words, just because something is being tweeted, doesn't mean it's becoming policy. And understanding what is doable and what is not doable. It's also the whole, not a coup. I mean, if the military is not involved, a professional military in the United States, that consistently reports to the people, is independent from the executive, from the Joint Chiefs, to all of the former Secretaries of Defense, up to the rank and file in the military, the National Guard, you name it, all of them are completely separate from Trump. And that reality of patriotic service that continues in the United States, hasn't eroded in the United States. Very important to recognize that when you see lots of shiny objects that are being thrown around by either the former president or by the media that is covering.

Secondly, a recognition that the administration is broad, it is not just Trump himself. And therefore, assessing what the administration as a whole is doing their policies, their efforts, how aligned they are with previous Republican policies, how aligned they are not. Draining the swamp was not something that was being done, but appointing lots of conservative judges absolutely is. I mean, all of these people that hate Trump that say that Trump completely subverted the Republican party, well, actually a lot of his policies were aligned with the Republican party. Why? Well, because it wasn't Trump that was driving them, it was the administration that was driving them, or it was the Republicans in the legislature that was driving them. That's important too.

Also, the need to recognize when they do something that is successful. Even if you know that people that follow you are going to come after you for saying that or be disappointed. So, like the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, you may not like the execution, but the actual deal is an improvement on previous NAFTA, something that could have been done before, wasn't, now is, you say, "Yes, that's actually an improvement in policy." And I've spent time looking at all of the policies that have been engaged in under the course of Trump that were obvious successes, improvements. The Abraham Accords, another obvious example, the peaceful breakthroughs in diplomatic relations between Israel and a number of Arab States in the broader Middle Eastern region.

And then of course, calling out things that are poor policy, that are thoughtless, that are the process breaking down. The extraordinary amount of personnel churn, for example. Leaving the World Health Organization, or even worse, Trump organizing mask-free rallies in the middle of a pandemic, leaving the Paris Accord. I mean, all of these things, again, when you're focused on the policy, as opposed to the person, a lot easier to say, "Okay, this makes sense, this doesn't make sense. Let's talk about that, let's divorce it from individual feelings and emotions."

And then the funny thing is, and this was an interesting lesson for me, right after the election, right after Fox News called Arizona and it was clear that Biden had won, it was the end of the Trump administration, and so I, after four years of trying to be intellectually fair about what I did and didn't think about the Trump administration, trying not to be driven crazy by all of the divisiveness, basically saying, "okay everybody, so now Trump's gone, Biden's going to be president, now is the time to reach out to your neighbor, to your friend, your former friend, the member of your family that's a Trump administration and say, 'Look, I know how you feel.'" And I thought that from my perspective, at that time, very narrowly, I was thinking, "well, people aren't Trump supporters or Biden supporters, people are human beings and the amount of their humanity that's consumed by politics is tiny." I mean, what you really are is a soccer mom or you're into football or you're into tennis, or you like to go out and drink with your buddies or all those things that define you more effectively than who you happen to have voted for. And all of us, that is true for all of us, but what I hadn't appreciated enough given being in my head of, "I'm going to do my best to be analytically correct," all of that, is that the divisions in the United States driven by Trump and exacerbated by the media, made people on the other side feel abused.

I mean, four years of abuse, Trump won by being such an incredibly toxic and divisive candidate against the other side, us versus them in America. And when you've been in a relationship like that for four years, the first thing you're prepared to do when finally, you see the end of that tunnel is not say, "Okay, let me reach out to the person that's abused me." No, no, it's this catharsis that you need, it's this extraordinary outpouring of emotion. And as someone who focuses more on international affairs in the United States, it reminds me of the way the United States has for a long time treated developing countries, right? Which is not our problem, right? I mean, we're not treated as equivalent human beings, they may or may not be expedient for the United States, but actually it's really about us, it's not about them. Whether you talk about exploitation of resources or military presence, and yeah, we talk a great game on human rights, but the reality is, "what is in it for us?" Because it's America first, whether we say that or not.

And when you go and talk to someone that isn't American about US foreign policy, that as on the other side of that, whether in Central America or in Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, Southeast Asia, you don't start with a conversation of, "Well, let me explain to you why we should all have a kumbaya moment right now," you actually need to listen to a lot of anger that comes from the relationship with the United States. And so, the fact that there was this immense hostility to me for having dared to suggest that the Americans that had just won their election against Trump after four years of the anger and of the feelings of abuse should let bygones be bygones, they thought I was objectively insane, or worse, really ill-intentioned, and came after me hard. And I... That was a learning process frankly, I wrote underneath my initial posts I'm like, "Hey, or alternatively, if I got this completely wrong and you'd like to tell me to fuck off, please tell me to fuck off." And I think that it was a useful lesson.

Number one, do not take yourself seriously, right? I mean, you get things wrong, and you admit that you get them wrong. You missed something, you admit you missed something. But also, frankly, getting the entire country for a couple of days to tell me to "fuck off," was a little bit of my effort to help bring the country together. If that we could agree, all of us could agree on one thing, it was telling Ian to "fuck off" right after the election, and that actually felt like a public service, so I was happy to do that.

I hope everyone's good. Again, be safe, avoid people, and I'll talk to you all real soon.

Meet Zoe Marshall, grandmother, fishmonger, and thriving business owner.

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=

When Zoe Marshall decided to switch careers in her forties and become a fishmonger, she was scared. After leaving her job of 23 years, Zoe was forced to pivot in order to keep her family's home. Despite challenges, she forged ahead, opening Sea-Licious. Accepting Visa payments in her fishmonger shop, this access to commerce helps Zoe provide convenience to her customers and confidence in their transactions. Though she's one of the only women in the fish market each morning, her business and its place in the local community are flourishing with Visa's help.

Learn more about Zoe and her story.

Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

More Show less

Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

More Show less

For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

More Show less

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

More Show less

Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal