the genius of Donald Trump

I keep promising myself that I will ignore Donald Trump, but am unable to keep my promise. If Mr Trump were just a businessman and reality TV star, I would ignore him and his tweets. But he is the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. What he says and tweets has consequences.

Anyway, FT columnist Gideon Rachman has some thoughts on the intelligence of Mr Trump that I found interesting. Mr Trump is clearly not stupid. He is very bright, but in a political sort of way. He has an uncanny ability to sense that a majority of white Americans are worried that they are becoming a minority in their own country. Moreover, he knows that they have suffered the humility of enduring a black President who was elected by popular vote. In a democracy, with the percentage of white voters falling, it is realistic for them to expect and to fear the emergence of more black and brown rulers in the future.

The US president is clearly not a genius in any normal sense of the word. Rex Tillerson, his own secretary of state, is reputed to have described his boss as a “f***ing moron”.

But Mr Trump has a legitimate claim to three other kinds of “genius”: political genius, instinctive genius and evil genius. ….

It should never be forgotten that a majority of white Americans voted for Mr Trump. ….

His ideas about race and immigration are nasty — but they are also widely shared, and not just in America. Japan accepted 28 refugees in the whole of 2016, and precisely three in the first half of 2017. It is virtually impossible for non-ethnic Chinese to gain citizenship in the People’s Republic of China, whose citizenship laws make explicit reference to “Chinese blood”. The EU has been split down the middle by the Polish and Hungarian governments’ refusal to accept EU-mandated quotas of refugees. The demand to “take back control” of British borders was fundamental to Britain’s Brexit vote. And the decline in Angela Merkel’s political fortunes in Germany has been closely linked to the chancellor’s decision to open her country’s borders to more than 1m refugees.

Gideon Rachman, “Donald Trump and the many meanings of genius“, Financial Times, 23 January 2018 (gated paywall).



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