The view from Billinudgel

Tall poppies
We do not yet understand the forces Donald Trump has unleashed

Tarquinius Superbus makes himself king. John Leech. Source

The gloating of right-wing commentators over the victory of The Donald is not only hypocritical and offensive, it is downright deluded.

They are so exhilarated at the defeat of Hillary Clinton that they are not really worried about the election of a man who is just about as far away from them and their elitist concerns as it is possible to be.

Trump is not a conservative – in most terms, he isn’t much of anything. But his natural interests are that of a leftist iconoclast – almost an anarchist.

Now that his own fortunes are secure, he is happy to swing a sledgehammer through the economy and everything that it has stood for the last 50 years either in the interests of his most gullible supporters (the ones who really are deplorable) or just for his own self-gratification.

The troops of Cory Bernardi, George Christensen and Pauline Hanson have been augmented by the supercilious commentariat of the Australian in asserting that the Trump victory is a defeat for political correctness. Well, that may be a minor side effect, if the voters of the rust belt had ever heard the term. But their real concerns were overwhelmingly economic.

Their marching song was ‘The Internationale’: “Arise, ye prisoners of want.” And their attitudes were the belligerence of ‘The Marseillaise’: “Against us tyranny’s bloody banner is raised … To arms, citizens… let an impure blood soak our fields!” Even the Australian right have made comparisons with the French Revolution of 1789 and the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1966.

But these were not simple political upheavals; both developed into untold bloodshed and terror in which the bystanders who originally approved them were inevitably consumed. Fortunately Trump is unlikely to be allowed the licence to follow their examples.

But he can, and probably will, unleash chaos. His instinct is for a kind of Fortress America with protectionism and exclusion inside its walls and reckless military adventures across the rest of the globe. This is the bit that those in Australia who pretend to be conservatives have largely ignored.

They are ready and willing to appeal to people they imagine are enchained by the culture of the left, but they believe that they can be freed by the repeal of section 18c and the abolition of the Safe Schools program. They would oppose to their deaths (or the loss of their privileged positions, which is much the same thing) the idea that it might be time for a decent rise in the minimum wage, let alone a tax hike for the wealthy to reduce rising inequality.

Far better to rant about the dangers of boat people, of Muslims, of any outsiders who can be invented as a threat. They are globalists only to the extent that it suits their immediate interests. The problem is that their hero of the hour, The Donald, is not and has never even pretended to be a globalist – or anything else really, other than a deal-maker who is always looking for advantage.

Presumably they know this, but for the moment they party on. Such are the entitlements of rich and powerful. And after all, isn’t Trump one of them? Well, yes; but so was Tarquinius Superbus. Not all the tall poppies will survive.

Mungo MacCallum

Mungo MacCallum is a political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy. Visit his blog, The View from Billinudgel.

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