U.S. Democracy

The Trump Turning Point

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Rampant inequality and a political system that is skewed in favor of top earners have created discontent and ideal conditions for a candidate like Donald Trump to exploit, but the defeated Democratic party will likely be forced to reject neoliberalism to remain politically relevant.

  • Facts


    • In the first three years of the economic recovery after the 2008 financial crisis, 91 percent of the gains went to the top one-percent of earners in the U.S., according to some economists.
    • From 1978 to 1998, the mortality rate for U.S. whites aged 45-54 fell by 2 percent per year on average. After 1998, U.S. white non-Hispanic mortality rose by 0.5 percent a year. No other rich country saw a similar turnaround.
    • Donald Trump will be sworn in on January 20 as the 45th U.S. President after winning the election with promises of tax cuts for the wealthy, infrastructure spending and bringing back manufacturing jobs to America. Many of his policies could further exacerbate rampant inequality.
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Federal Shutdown Into Third Week
Rising inequality, an unfair political system, and a government that mostly acts for the elites created ideal conditions for a candidate like Trump to exploit. Source: DPA [M].

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. I would hate to say “I told you so,” but his election should not have come as a surprise.

As I explained in my 2002 book “Globalization and its Discontents,” the policies we have used to manage globalization have sown the seeds of widespread disaffection. Ironically, a candidate from the same party that has pushed the hardest for international financial and trade integration won by promising to undo both.

Of course, there is no going back. China and India are now integrated into the global economy, and technological innovation is reducing the number of manufacturing jobs worldwide. Trump cannot recreate the well-paying manufacturing jobs of past decades; he can only push for advanced manufacturing, which requires higher skill sets and employs fewer people.

Rising inequality, meanwhile, will continue to contribute to widespread despair, especially among the white voters in Middle America who handed Trump his victory.

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