With President Donald Trump bearing down on completing his first six turbulent months in office, which have rattled the halls of Congress and governments worldwide, this in-depth feature with global forecaster Gerald Celente provides the perspective you need to understand how these events are forming future trends.
PROTECTIONISM, POPULISM, PROMISES, PITFALLS
What can we expect from Washington and the Trump administration? Is the anti-globalization/protectionism movement in the US a trend or fad?
Prior to the 2016 race for the White House, which actually began in 2015, the two political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, were pro-globalization, anti-protectionist.
What a difference an election cycle made!
Go back to 2007 and 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were battling for the Democratic presidential nomination.
One strategy Obama used to defeat her was to win over Rust Belt workers who lost manufacturing jobs. He connected Clinton to her husband Bill Clinton’s infamous North American Free Trade Agreement.
On one hand, NAFTA permitted nations to flood markets with goods and commodities they could produce cheaply or had in abundance, undercutting domestic suppliers in other member nations. For example, US corn went to Mexico and Canadian lumber came to the United States. NAFTA also removed restrictive barriers that allowed American manufacturers to ship production to cheap-labor markets.
The latter issue was a major concern to many blue-collar Midwestern workers whose jobs were lost due to the trade pact. As a candidate, Obama harshly criticized NAFTA. To woo Rust Belt voters, he pledged to renegotiate NAFTA once elected.
Long forgotten, with the passage of time, is how presidential candidate Obama played his audience. After he made that pledge in his campaign swing through Rust Belt states, Obama’s vociferous protectionist campaign rhetoric aroused fears in Canada, a major trade partner and beneficiary of many NAFTA provisions. To allay fears he would weaken the treaty, in March 2008, a “senior member” of Obama’s campaign team phoned the Canadian ambassador, Michael Wilson, to assure him to “not be worried about what Obama says about NAFTA.” It was made clear to the Canadians that Obama’s NAFTA bashing “should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”
In plain English, Wilson was told, “Don’t worry about Obama honoring his word.” He, like all politicians, will say what he has to say to lie his way into office.
Broken campaign promises are a fixture of the political process, but in this case, the signal was telegraphed months before Election Day. Obama’s NAFTA stance was more than just a ploy to play on the protectionist sentiment of Rust Belt voters; it was an ominous indication that, whatever his talk, he would deliver little “change,” much less “change you can believe in.”
Less than 100 days into office, Obama backtracked on NAFTA. Following a meeting between Obama and then President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, Ronald Kirk, the United States trade representative, said, “They don’t believe we have to reopen the agreement now.”
Not only did he decline to reopen the NAFTA agreement, Obama would go on to sign three free-trade deals — with South Korea, Panama and Colombia — that were strongly supported by Republicans but opposed by many Democrats.
And, Obama had vigorously championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Hillary Clinton called the “gold standard” while secretary of state. But she too would change her tune when it came to counting votes. Playing to the populist mood and playing to the polls, when Clinton became a contestant in the 2016 Presidential Reality Show®, she suddenly backtracked on her pro-trade, pro-TPP position.
Keeping to his word that he would kill TPP if elected president, Trump did so immediately upon taking office. Now, however, trial balloons are being launched by the White House to gauge public reaction to possibilities that Trump is considering a variation of that deal.
And as for renegotiating NAFTA, the president’s choice for US Trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, who wants to “modernize” NAFTA, was confirmed by Congress in May. Under terms of the agreement, it should be noted that the president has great latitude to renegotiate and/or terminate NAFTA. On May 18, the Trump administration notified Congress that it plans to renegotiate NAFTA and would start the process 90 days from the notification.
On the China trade-deal front, there appears to be more talk than action in closing the $300 billion plus US trade deficit with China. While candidate Trump bragged that he “beat China all the time… all the time,” the recent 10-point China trade plan billed as “early harvest” and touted by the White House as “gigantic” and “Herculean” bore little fruit, according to one of the president’s most ardent supporters.
“This is disappointing on many levels,” said Dan DiMicco, former CEO of steel production company Nucor. As a campaign adviser to candidate Trump, DiMicco was widely featured in the business media throughout the campaign. “We are rewarding China before stopping their massive trade cheating,” he said.
While the president has great latitude to renegotiate trade deals, will he gain support from the Republican Party on these and other key socioeconomic and geopolitical issues?
With the exception of a small faction, the Libertarians among them, Republicans have long been pro-global traders. But come election time, we believe they will shift with the political winds that we forecast will continue to blow populist.
Trump also is backtracking on a number of campaign promises that gained him favor with Libertarians. Among them are his recent support for the Export-Import Bank and a low-interest rate policy, which he opposed as candidate Trump.
As for the Libertarian element within the Republican Party, while it expresses anti-globalization/anti-multinational sentiments, that group is very much opposed to foreign entanglements, the military industrial/security complex and is a strong supporter of constitutional rights.
These issues are extremely important to the populist faction that helped elect Trump. But now, those backers are questioning their support for him since he launched a missile strike against Syria, dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, ratcheted up war rhetoric and sanctions with North Korea and Iran and has expanded US military presence in Africa and Yemen.
And, with Trump filling his Cabinet and key White House positions with billionaires, multi-millionaires, generals and defense contractors, his failing to live up to his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” also is a negative for Libertarians/populists.
WEALTH GAP REVOLT WIDENS
What are the drivers pushing the strong protectionist economic trend that helped Trump defeat his free-market GOP challengers during the primaries, and then beat Clinton?
It’s about jobs. And it’s bigger than the United States. Anti-globalist/populist movements are strong in Britain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, etc.
While populist political movements were defeated in France’s and the Netherlands’ recent elections, and the AFD (Alternative for Deutschland) party is losing voter traction in Germany, it was the messengers, not the message. It was the personalities of the candidates that turned off the public, not the fundamentals of what the populist movements represent.
Citizens across Europe believe free-market policies have dramatically lowered their earning potential and increased the cost of living, all while they’re paying more taxes and receiving less government services as the rich get richer. Let them eat cake! Revolutions were started for less than this.
It’s a fact. According to a recent Oxfam report, just eight individuals have more wealth than half the world’s population… the 3.6 billion people in the poorer half of mankind.
Going back to the US, it’s more of the same. Just 20 of America’s richest people own more wealth than the bottom half of the nation’s population combined. According to our research, it wasn’t only Trump The Messenger that won the election, it was primarily the message. It was the message that Occupy Wall Street popularized: The 1 percent have it all, and the working class, slaves in Slavelandia, can hardly make ends meet.
Thus, with so many jobs offshored, Trump adroitly played the protectionist card by promising to bring back those jobs sent abroad by “free marketers.”
LOUSY JOBS, ROTTEN PAY
With little progress being made on the economic front relative to Trump’s plans to dramatically cut taxes and heavily invest in infrastructure repairs, will issues such as immigration reform and building the great wall on the Mexican border, etc., dominate the political landscape, thus supplanting fiscal policies in future elections?
No. Remember the campaign slogan popularized by Bill Clinton when he won the presidency back in 1992? “It’s the economy, stupid.” It was “It’s the economy, stupid” back then, and “It’s the economy, stupid” today and tomorrow. It all comes down to the bottom line. And as the data prove, middle-class Americans are sinking to the bottom.
When adjusted for inflation, US workers’ wages have been stagnant for 50 years. Meanwhile, it is estimated that CEO compensation, when adjusted for inflation, increased nearly 1,000 percent over the past 40 years.
And the gap between the top and the bottom keeps widening. Today, CEOs of S&P 500 companies earn nearly 350 times the pay of the average US worker. When I entered the workforce as a young man out of college in 1970, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was around 40-to-1.
Thus, while immigration and cultural issues play strongly in campaigns and make media headlines from time to time, the business of the nation is primarily business. However, racial, gender, social and geopolitical issues will serve as building blocks for political platforms, and exploited when desired.
Also, when all else fails, they take you to war. Go back to March 2000. How many millennials and Gen Xers remember the enormous dot.com market crash?
How many people today remember how down and out the nation was as it slipped into recession? And how disappointed Americans were with the election of George “The Dunce” Bush, whose popularity rating was rapidly falling after being in office just several months? Then, it suddenly spiked following 9/11.
So, while “It’s the economy, stupid” that generally is the basis for winning or losing elections, when war breaks out, and flags wave and yellow ribbons are tied to anything that doesn’t move, patriot fervor trumps socioeconomic fundamentals.
SILICON VALLEY vs. RUST BELT
If the 2016 and upcoming 2018 midterm elections are economically driven, what political party will the public favor?
Again, for the majority of the public, the major pressing issue in their lives is personal income, not party affiliation. They’re working longer, earning less and going deeper in debt. That was the Trump card in the 2016 presidential election.
It again is important to note that it was more than Trump The Messenger that won the election; it was the populist message. Remember, according to exit polls, nearly 60 percent of voters said Hillary Clinton was not trustworthy, while only one-third said she was. Trump also had one-third who said he was honest and trustworthy; two-thirds said he was not.
Two days before the election, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” featured a focus group discussing how it felt about the presidential campaign that dragged on for over a year and a half: “Terrified,” “exasperating,” “horrifying,” “disgusted” and “nightmare” were some of the comments.
A Gallup Poll proves it. Last year, on average, only about 15 percent of Americans approved of how Congress was handling its job. So, in essence, party power is not what it used to be.
As for economic insecurity, look at the numbers. Obama bragged he created over 10 million jobs while in office. But 94 percent were low-paying temporary jobs, according to a Harvard/Princeton study. And, since 2009, 95 percent of the wealth created went to the top 5 percent.
Why is there a populist movement? Some 51 percent of full-time working Americans earn $30,000 a year or less.
When election results are analyzed, Trump lost the East and West coasts and large urban areas, but won Middle American states.
Thus, the majority of personal wealth in the United States is concentrated on the coasts… the Silicon Valley/Wall Street effect and all the collateral industries and businesses that support and profit from them.
Rust Belts now occupy many of the once-rich industrialized American heartland states. In those middle-of-the-nation states, middle-class jobs have been replaced with health care, food preparation, hospitality, retail, nonprofit and other lower-paying jobs.
THE NEW PROGRESSIVE POPULIST PARTY
So, considering the economic facts and fundamentals, which political party do you forecast most Americans will support in upcoming elections?
As it stands now, and as it has stood for decades, voters often cast ballots for the lesser of two evils.
It would be wise for Americans to look at what happened in France. Political rookie Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old former Rothschild banker who started a new party just one year ago, destroyed the two established political parties by winning the French presidential election and becoming the youngest to serve as head of state.
If it can happen in France, it can certainly happen here. I forecast that within the decade, there will be a real third-party movement in America that will challenge what essentially has become a two-headed one-party system.
I call this movement the progressive-populist party. It will serve as a counterbalance to those favoring free-for-all globalization and multi-nationalism by combining progressive economic and social philosophies with Libertarian approaches toward preservation of personal privacy, restricting excessive state and federal governmental regulation and restrained foreign-policy involvement.
THE TOILET PAPER OF RECORD
Following her loss to Trump, Clinton and the general media consensus was that Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee cost her the election.
As for the DNC hacking allegations costing Clinton the election: Recently, the world was hit by one of the greatest hacks of the Internet Age. It spread to nearly 80 countries. In part, this is the way The New York Times, the self-proclaimed “newspaper of record,” described how hackers pulled it off by exploiting software from the United States National Security Agency:
Security experts described the attacks as the digital equivalent of a perfect storm. They began with a simple phishing email, similar to the one Russian hackers used in the attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other targets last year (New York Times, 13 May 2017).
Attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other targets? What targets? What proof? This from the self-proclaimed newspaper of record? More accurately, it’s The Toilet Paper of Record peddling conspiracy-theorist “let’s hate Russia” McCarthyism propaganda.
Despite claims by so-called experts and US government agencies that Russia hacked the DNC, WikiLeaks, which made the emails public, denied receiving them from Russian sources. Furthermore, despite The New York Times blaming the Russians, there has not been one piece of evidence supplied by Obama’s intelligence chiefs, nor the January 6 government report, to support their claim that Russia hacked Democratic emails.
The same is true with Clinton allegations, made without a shred of evidence, that she lost because Russia wanted to “undermine our democracy” and that President Vladimir Putin has a “personal beef” with her because she said the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections were rigged.
HILLARY DEFEATS HILLARY
If the Russians were not responsible for Clinton’s loss, considering how popular Obama was at the end of his term and how hard he campaigned for her, why did she lose to Trump?
Hillary Clinton lost the election because she is Hillary Clinton. A new book, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, details how the Clinton campaign lacked vision, was filled with infighting and fronted a candidate who blamed everyone but herself for her loss.
Despite her playing “the first woman to be elected president of the United States” gender card since she launched her campaign in Spring 2015, Clinton received 2 million fewer votes from women than Obama did in 2012. Also, some 2 million black voters who cast ballots for Obama in 2012 did not cast ballots for Clinton.
And as for Obama, no other sitting president in modern history hit the campaign trail as he did for Clinton.
When asked why he was so committed to her getting elected, Obama said, “Everything we’ve done is dependent on me being able to pass the baton to someone who believes in the same things I believe in. So if you really care about my presidency and what we’ve accomplished, then you are going to go and vote.”
Obviously the electorate had enough of him and someone who believed as he did, and it had nothing to do with the Russians or hacked emails. In a repudiation of eight years of Obama rule, besides losing the presidency, the Democrats had a net loss of 1,042 state and federal posts, including congressional, state legislative and governor seats.
Clearly, while Clinton and Obama campaigned to continue the Democratic legacy, meaning essentially more of the same, Middle America chose to vote for Trump’s promise of “economic hope and change you can believe in.”
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders and special interests if elected. Did he fulfill his promise?
No. Look at the numbers and the names of those who he brought into the White House. There are several former members of Goldman Sachs. Scores of high-level administration positions went to industry executives, former business lobbyists, generals and military industrial complex contractors. There are none from Main Street.
From information released by the White House, four Trump aides have personal fortunes averaging a half-billion dollars apiece, and the combined wealth of all 27 officials who hold the position “assistant to the president” or higher, is around $2.3 billion.
WELCOME TO DUMFUKISTAN
Traditionally in America, following an election, regardless of who wins, there is a national sentiment to support the victor. Not this time. Why?
Democrats and the media have not stopped promoting the conspiracy theory that Russia helped Trump win. Immediately following the election, there was a recount of votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, traditionally Democratic states that went to Trump. And there were calls for the Electoral College to change votes to support Clinton.
And now the Democrats and the presstitute media are dealing the impeachment card with each Trump misstep and allegation, true or false, that they can use in attempts to remove him from office. Even sore loser Hillary Clinton has joined the impeachment chorus.
So low has the US media sunk to sink Trump, that with each passing day they pass off blowhard comments by comedians as intellectual fodder to dump on Trump. Among them:
• “John Oliver blasts Trump for Comey firing”
• “Rosie O’Donnell likens Donald Trump to ‘Satan’ at LGBT awards”
• “Stephen Colbert fires away at Trump: ‘You’re a bad president. Please resign’”
• “Fallon devastated by Trump interview”
• “Bill Maher offends Trump supporters with crude Ivanka Trump incest joke”
For the most part, these cheap shots from Mickey and Minnie Mouse-quality performers are taken seriously by millions of people, from low class to high-brow. These two-bit comics have become moral authorities and political sages. So important have they become, that during the campaign election cycle, candidates saturate the comedy show circuit, yucking it up, stooping down and bending over to the TV court jesters.
And for his part, Presidential Reality Show® superstar Trump himself sinks down to the comedic news level, attacking the clowns on Twitter and on the air: “Trump resumes feud with Rosie O’Donnell on Twitter” and “‘A no-talent guy’: Angry Trump attacks Colbert over late-night takedowns” are just a few examples of how low the presidential bar and US mainstream media have sunk.
On a grander scale, it is a symbol of an American cultural and philosophical decline. The few statesmen that exist are effectively banned by the media. TV clowns and political hacks have been elevated to statesmen status. The president of the United States is a TV reality-show champion.
America is a nation divided as we have never seen in modern times. It’s at many different levels. Whites and non-whites oppose each other. The race issues, i.e. Black Lives Matter, along with strong anti-Trump sentiments, are very prominent on college campuses on both coasts and in larger cities throughout the nation.
Thus, as temperatures rise this summer, all it will take is a flashpoint event, a series of Ferguson, Missouri incidents, police shootings, etc., to escalate a race war. As a result, each party will gain strength from opposing forces.
On individual levels, there is no room for discussion. Facts don’t matter. Only belief systems and personal preferences do. Expressions of opinion challenged with hard data are viewed as direct attacks: “How dare you do not believe in the belief system that I believe in!” Friends can’t be friends if they espouse different political beliefs. Even family members are at war with each other.
In fact, among the Democratic Party faithful who yearn to bring back Obama, any mention of his murderous war policies and “I’m really good at killing people” drone-strike record — which has killed thousands of innocents and destroyed entire nations; his bailing out of banksters; his backtracking on campaign pledges to prosecute Wall Street criminals; his doubling the national debt; his signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that robs American citizens of habeas corpus rights; his promotion of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal; not closing Guantanamo as he promised he would the first day he took office, etc. — are taken as personal affronts and met with denial.
Undeniably, Obama nostalgia is a distorted view of history, as is Trump’s pledge to “Make America Great Again.” TJ