The decay of power and the rise of President Trump

The book “The End of Power” by Moises Naim was published in 2013, three years before the rise of President Trump. He wrote about how the power of established institutions is being dissipated by changing demographics, technological advancements and shifting mindses, and the risks.

This paragraph from chapter 11, ‘Power Is Decaying’, section ‘Make Life Harder for the “Terrible Simplifiers”, reads like a foretelling of the rise of Trump:

The decay of power creates fertile soil for demogogic challengers who exploit disappointments with incumbents, promise change, and take advantage of the bewildering noise created by the proliferation of actors, voices, and proposals.  The confusion created by changes that come too fast, that are too disruptive and undercut old certainties and ways of doing things–all by-products of the More, Mobility, and Mentality revolutions–offer great opportunities for leaders who bad ideas.  Top bankers who championed toxic financial instruments as creative solutions, US politicians who promise to eliminate the fiscal deficit without raising taxes, and, at the other extreme, the French president Francois Hollande’s decision to levy an extraordinary 75 percent tax on the income of the rich are only a few examples.  Information technology evangelists, those who believe that technological “fixes” alone will solve hitherto intractable human problems, also tend to overstate their claims and end up being “terrible simplifiers.”

This paragraph from the section ‘Strengthen Political Parties: The Lessons from Occupy Wall Street and Al Qaeda’, could have described the weakness of Hillary Clinton as a candidate against Trump:

The end of the Cold War, and, more specifically, the collapse of communism as an inspirational idea blurred the ideological lines that gave many parties their unique identity.  As electoral platforms because indistinguishable, the personalities of candidates became the main, and often the only, differentiating factor.  To win elections, political parties relied less on the popular appeal of their ideals and ideas and more on marketing techniques, the media prowess of candidates, and, of course, the money they could raise.  Naturally, the same scandals that tarnish individual politicians also affect the political organizations to which they belong.  Again, freer media and more independent parliaments and judiciaries ensured that corrupt practices once carefully hidden or silently tolerated became painfully visible and obviously criminal, thus degrading the “brand” of the party.  The public tarnishing was also fueled by political parties that could no longer distinguish themselves ideologically from their opponents and relied on corruption accusations and scandals to define political rivals in the minds of voters.  It is impossible to ascertain whether political corruption actually increased in the past decades, but it certainly has been more publicized than ever.