Leading Article: The Imposter

The Spectator, May 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

Leading Article: The Imposter


Following Tuesday night's Indiana primaries, the race for the Republican nomination is effectively over. Talk of Donald Trump being overhauled in a contested convention in July evaporated when Ted Cruz withdrew from the race after seven successive defeats. Compromise candidates have ruled themselves out, and Trump's former opponents are reluctantly rallying around. It really has come to this: the people of the most powerful country on earth will be asked to choose between Hillary Clinton and her former campaign donor Donald Trump.

It cannot be assumed that Trump will be defeated in November. This week, for the first time, a poll put him ahead of her. The world is sooner or later going to have to face up to the possibility that a man whom our own Parliament recently debated banning from the UK, and whom the German magazine Der Spiegel recently called 'the most dangerous man in the world', might soon be leader of the world's most powerful nation and commander-in-chief of the world's largest military.

Is Donald Trump really such a danger to the world? Yes, but not in the way most of his critics usually assert. As the National Review has pointed out, Trump's ascendancy means that Reagan-style conservatism is now in exile from the Republican party. He will attack Hillary Clinton from the left on every-thing from her Iraq vote to social security. But it is not his incoherent and contradictory foreign policy which we have to fear. It is his much more consistent -- but seriously wrong -- economic ideas that would inflict the most damage.

His victory speech in Indiana started attacking Mrs Clinton's economics, saying that she 'doesn't understand trade', apparently because Bill Clinton agreed to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The notion of international competition frightens him. To Trump, free trade is a system where 'companies just think that they can move, go to another country, make their products, sell it back to us and we get only one thing: unemployment'. Jeremy Corbyn would have said the same thing, if he had the courage. Trump, like so many on the left, wants to build a wall around America not just to keep immigrants out but keep its companies in.

As he put it this week, 'We're not gonna let companies leave. Now if they want to go to a different state; good luck, compete. But when they start going to different countries, and in many cases countries that devalue their currency and make it impossible for our companies to compete, that's not gonna happen. And if they wanna do it anyway there will be consequences and there will be very, very serious consequences.' It's worth quoting because this is the message that is resonating with a great many Americans. Trump is inviting them to feel afraid of the world and unconfident about America's ability to compete. …

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