Wednesday 20 January 2021

In November 2016 like many other people I lamented the election of Donald Trump, an event which represented the worst tendencies in America coming into clear view and a dangerous development for the USA and the world.  In that post I highlighted the scariest aspects of the Trumpian world which I summarised as follows:

  • The rise of fact free debate and belief in crazy conspiracy theories.
  • The rise of being able to repeat a lie multiple times and have it become a “truth” – despite evidence to the contrary.
  • The rise of not trusting experts – “I know more about ISIS than the generals”.  Really – how can that be?
  • The links to Russia and comments about NATO are really worrying.  I hope we never see it happen but the Baltics are really at risk.
  • The rise of a bullying and misogynistic culture – remember that culture in any organization comes from the top.
  • The rise of the idea that business is an “I win – you lose” game.
  • The idea that Mike Pence may become President.

Fortunately in reality the US did not withdraw from NATO, even if it did in spirit, and Russia didn’t invade the Baltics.  We also avoided a Mike Pence presidency although one starting immediately after the Capitol insurrection would have been welcome at that point.

 

In the blog I also talked about ‘MAGA’ being code for an imagined past that never happened, it is now clearer than ever that it is also code for white supremacy.

 

After four years of following the situation closely, almost obsessively, I feel like I can step back just a little from worrying about the US.  The good news is that we can be more confident and optimistic about America again but of course the underlying problems have not gone away, belief in crazy conspiracy theories has got worse and Trump demonstrated the power of the ‘big lie’, a lie that almost succeeded in over-throwing the legitimate government and preventing the legal transfer of power.  The decline in trust of science and expertise continues to be very worrying.  You also cannot under-estimate the difficulties the new administration will have just in repairing the damage done to departments and agencies.  Irrespective of the huge policy differences and politics, the incoming Biden top team are facing a set of massive leadership challenges just rebuilding traditionally capable organisations.

 

Globally we face three existential challenges; the urgent need to transition to a net zero and regenerative economy; nuclear weapons; and the rise of authoritarianism.  The inauguration of President Biden represents the USA taking positive steps in all three areas, stepping back from authoritarianism, taking a positive step towards a net zero economy, and reducing the threat of nuclear war.  However, we cannot be complacent about any of them and in particular we need to combat the rise of authoritarianism at every turn, in every country.

 



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Dr Steven Fawkes

Welcome to my blog on energy efficiency and energy efficiency financing. The first question people ask is why my blog is called 'only eleven percent' - the answer is here. I look forward to engaging with you!

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