Quick Take: Why I'm not voting for Trump

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

It's after Labor Day. That means we're back to work, right? At least I hope most of us are, and if you're not, that's because you choose not to be. It's a tough time. I know. But there's also going to be a couple of months of just true head splitting craziness in my country as we are as divided as any time in my lifetime and an election is with us.

I'll tell you that one of the things that bothers me most is the vilification. The idea that if someone supports not your candidate, that they have to be an idiot. They have to be a racist. They have to be a bad person. They have to be whatever it is. I mean, I find so many people that are increasingly only spending time with that piece of the population that kind of agrees with them or at least doesn't disagree politically. And that is no way to run a country, right? I want to say, I mean, you know, anyone that's been following me knows that I've not been a big fan of President Trump in his capabilities in office. But I don't vilify half of the population, 35%, 40% of the population, that continues to support him.


And I think it's important to understand why people would continue to support and vote for President Trump. I think there are a number of reasons for it. They're not going away. I mean, the first is for those who simply have a solid socially conservative agenda for the country and see that the judges that are appointed under Republicans, whether Trump or anyone else, are moving in that direction and those under a Democrat will move in a very different direction. This is certainly the case for the overwhelming number of evangelical Christians that support Trump. It's true for a lot of other social conservatives and traditional Republicans, as well. I accept the fact that Trump personally, in no way reflects any of those values. Whether it's not reading the Bible, or not treating your neighbor like you treat yourself, or honoring, you know, your mother and father and family and marriage and wives, and all of that stuff. But that has very little to do with the policy outcomes. And so you're asking people to vote directly against those interests. That's one set.

The second set money. I mean, taxes are lower. The regulatory environment is much looser, much less restrictive. Trump has been incredibly strongly pro-industrial interests, pro-swamp, pro-military industrial complex. I mean, the lobbyists, the special interests that reflect all of those organizations are in cabinet in very large number. If you're making a lot of money in this country, you have done better. A lot of people say that we have a K-shaped recovery in the United States. In other words, people that are very rich are doing very well and people that are poor are doing quite poorly. Well, Trump has been a part of that. A part of why inequality is growing, though it was growing before him, and also part of the reason why the top 10 1%, 0.1% in particular, does so well. Those people are largely still donating a lot of money to the Trump campaign and still largely voting for him. I'd be very surprised if the 1% ends up turning out on balance against Trump and a lot of those business interests, too.

You then have people that are GOP loyalists. There aren't as many of them, but anyone certainly who believes that they can get a job under the Trump administration. That's a fair number of people and their families, people that think that they will be able to be aligned with that for the next four years, those are Trump loyalists. And you may argue that they should be willing to vote for something other than their own personal pay ticket, but for a lot of people, that's pretty relevant. That's another reason to vote for them.

You then do have the racial dimension and some of that is racism. I certainly believe that Trump is going to win overwhelmingly with all of the white nationalists in the United States. But I also think a lot of whites, particularly under-educated whites who see the country changing and not in their favor, in the sense that there's been a lot of immigration, but no one is taking care of those people. Their wealth is not increasing. Their employment levels aren't increasing. Their drug addiction levels, their suicide rates, their life expectancy, their broad health, I mean, all of these things have gotten worse. And they didn't improve under eight years of Obama. Now, certainly Trump saying, "I'm not going to accept more immigration." The first thing he did when he became president was try to engage in this Muslim ban. I think a lot of white Americans feel like that speaks to them. And again, for many, that has direct racial and racist overtones.

For others, it's I'm voting for my family, I'm voting by community. And these people, these globalists who open the borders internationally, but they don't pay attention to people at home, it reflects that. And I mean, I would put, for example, my own family in some of that category. I mean, you know, we lived and grew up in the projects in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and the Puerto Rican kids that we grew up with, that we were very much friends and there was no sense that they were particularly different, but the new kids that were coming over from places like Cambodia and Lao, I mean, there was a lot of racism both in my family and among my community towards them because they were more recent. And why were they letting them in when we weren't taking care of people that had been there earlier? So, I think nativism and nationalism is a big piece of this as well.

And when you put all of those things together and then you add to it the idea that there are people that just are protesting, they want to break the system, they can't stand the establishment, they think they've been lied to for decades from the media, from the scientists, from the wealthy people, from the rest. And, yeah, they know that Trump lies all the time. And they don't necessarily think he's a good guy, but at least he's fighting against, and driving crazy, getting inside their heads, all of these pointy headed academics and experts and media types who are truly hated, truly reviled by many in the United States, who, again, feel like they're doing perfectly well, but what about me? And those people are prepared to vote for just about anyone who is opposed to their enemy. Remember the old saying, the enemy of my enemy is my brother? And so, in that regard, Trump is a brethren of a lot of deeply unhappy people in the United States.

And, you know, I think that if you add all of those groups up that I just mentioned with the understanding that there's a lot of overlap, you get the vast majority of the 40 odd percent of Americans that are going to support Trump no matter what he says or does. And given the Electoral College in the US, so it's not a majority that decides who is and isn't going to be president, that makes him not quite a coin flip to win, but close. Now, there are a lot of reasons to vote against him, and I talk about those a lot, so I'm not going to spend as much time on it, but for me, the most important reason to vote against him is the sheer incompetence. This is not a Democrat or Republican thing. I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans in my life before. I am not a member of a political party, but I generally support people that I think are capable of doing their jobs. That's true when we hire people at Eurasia Group. If we're hiring a tech person, I want someone that has shown me that they've actually done well in similar tech jobs before. Not someone who's prepared to just disagree with everything that we've done historically. An analyst, I want someone that's shown that they have a track record of being good analyst.

In the case of the American government, I don't want someone who is a good brand builder or a good electioneer. Trump is, by the way, great at those things. No, I want someone that actually has experience running something successfully. And the things that Trump has run historically, he has largely not run successfully. He's bankrupted stuff, right? Where I think that, you know, I generally am less aligned with senators and with members of Congress. I'm more aligned with governors and mayors, especially that have been around for more than five or 10 years, because they're people that have actually have a track record of running large, complicated institutions with people that don't like and agree with each other. And if they've done that effectively, generally, you think they're probably going to be better off as president.

I also tend to support people that like expertise. That don't think they have all of the answers. Because running a country is a hard and complicated thing, and most people around you, if they're better, can help you with it. I think one of my great successes in running Eurasia Group is not trying to make my way be the answer when I don't have the answers for most of these things. I mean, you know, you don't want me making calls on Nigeria. You want our top Nigeria expert who grew up there and understands the place and knows all the leaders personally and traveled there 40-50 times, as opposed to me who's been there twice in my life, right? You want the people that really have expertise making those decisions. And this president is one who does not respect expertise. He thinks that he is the stable genius that has all of the answers and that tends to create real problems, especially in a crisis. And I think one of the reasons we've underperformed, not the only reason, certainly there have been problems with the federal system and there's problems with Americans not paying attention, not listening, all sorts of problems, but one problem is a president that thinks he has all the answers, he doesn't need expertise, and therefore people around him that are willing to defer much more than they should to whatever the president happens to say or believe. And that leads to a very ineffective and inefficient leadership style that I think we're suffering from right now.

So, yeah, as a consequence of that, I'm not going to be voting for Trump going forward. I don't endorse candidates. I never have. But I do think it's important that we not vilify people on the other side, because I think there are lots of legitimate reasons why people have different views, even in this election, even with someone who I personally consider to be the least fit for office in my lifetime. I don't think that 40% of the country is stupid or evil or deserves to be dehumanized. I think we're still all Americans and we need to hopefully increasingly celebrate those differences and work together as opposed to revile them.

So, that's a little bit of me after Labor Day, coming back to school, back to work, and I'll see you all very soon. Be good.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

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