Trump and Duterte: The rise of hugely-popular demagogues in America and its Philippine colony

It is hardly surprising that demagogues have come to dominate national Americana politics on both sides of the globe. Funny enough, two such popular demagogues happen to be making waves on the East and West both in bastions of American values — in the United States itself where anti-immigrant Republican candidate Donald Trump is ruling the primaries and in the former US colony of the Philippines where anti-crime vigilantist Rodrigo Duterte is ruling the polls.

The two societies, at the same time theses and antitheses of the other, seem to have converged in a common political dilemma.

rodrigo_duterte_donald_trumpAmerica is beset by a disgruntled middle class whose jobs are being taken away by technologies developed by a tiny but powerful class of tech-savvy capitalists who, instead of sharing the productivity gains of their innovations with their fellow Americans, rake it all in and channel it all to their investments in Chinese factories on the other side of the planet. The once-powerful industry of America is being hollowed out from within by its own technology and voters in the American heartland are suffering as a result.

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The Philippines, for its part, is populated by a crime- and terrorism-weary voter base who utterly distrust their own police force, lack confidence in the ability of their government to reform their snail-paced and corrupt criminal justice system, and are dazzled by the Singaporesque charms of the oasis of peace and order Duterte had created in his feudal domain in Davao City.

These are the same conditions that saw the rise of other warlike tyrants in human history — poverty, widespread public contempt for an entrenched ruling elite, and a public’s increasingly justifiable fear of different-looking foreigners and fearsome alien cultures flourishing in their midst. Demagogues, it has long been observed after all, are products of their own societies. Indeed, what we may be seeing is a growing backlash against a wave of gentrification in these societies spurred by agents of that “One Percent” that has been made a bogeyman by groups that now clamour for radical, borderline anarchic change, through which resonate the ideas of people like Trump and Duterte.

At stake are the futures of cherished ideologies that have come to define the aspirational characters of Western society and its colonies.

People in America’s coastal cities have been so gentrified that a strong belief system that vastly-different cultures could co-exist under the secular, rationalist, individualistic order created by Western civilisation has come to dominate social discourse. Whist this may be true to some extent, there seems to be a fear amongst the hipster classes there to explore the hypothetical limits of that idea. Perhaps those limits are staring us in the face today. This is at least worth thinking about rationally instead of quickly dismissed as the rants of “right wing xenophobia mongers”.

In the Philippines, voters have been led to believe for 30 years that political wisdom emanates from the popular sentiment. Like America’s growing disillusionment with fundamentalist multiculturalism, this “yellow” idea has since degenerated from a well-entrenched euphoric sentiment in the aftermath of the 1986 “people power revolution” into the merely-quaint hipster myth that it is today. Many now see the looming end of the American-style democratic experiment that Filipinos have been subject to over the last three decades. Successive presidencies since 1986 (punctuated by the current one) have all but failed to realise truly inclusive progress for Filipinos — a consistent spiral that has created the now fertile ground for the ideas of a man like Duterte to take root.

Perhaps all this is just a response to natural, social, economic, and political forces that have presented really big problems that ultra-representative democracy and delusional political correctness are now ill-equipped to take by the horns. Indeed, the failure of capitalism and democratic ideals to contain the rise of Islamic terrorism and the onslaught of climate change’s impacts on Western lifestyles stand in stark contrast with the more decisive, concrete, and resolute steps forward towards addressing these being made by more traditionally-governed societies like Russia and China.

Perhaps then, the rise of people like Trump and Duterte represent a long-overdue boiling over of public anger and disillusionment long-suppressed by the pressure to be “politically-correct” that has all but become a new religion in “the free world”. Interesting times ahead, indeed.

25 Replies to “Trump and Duterte: The rise of hugely-popular demagogues in America and its Philippine colony”

  1. Of course, its expected that many of the comments after this to totally miss the point of what “demagogues” are all about.

    The comments section will become a series of campaign advertisements instead.

    1. Not here yet, but on the FB Page, there is a whole lot of “Duterte is not Trump because Trump is a racist and Duterte is not” ululations from the usual balasubas crowd. 😀

      Pinoy nga naman talaga. They don’t read. That’s why they routinely elect crooks and dumb people.

  2. ” This is at least worth thinking about rationally instead of quickly dismissed as the rants of “right wing xenophobia mongers””

    Well said.

    It’s like the Emperor’s new clothes. Trump is the child who is shouting the true sentiments of the majority with regards to immigration.

  3. Ironically America brought it upon itself by outsourcing its industry to Asia (cheaper rates, I know cause i work at one), effectively shifting manufacturing powerhouse to China.

  4. Benign0, despite the obvious differences, I think you’ve missed some more fundamental similarities between the US and the Philippines. Specifically: lack of critical thinking skills and a poor standard of public education; outrageously complex tax laws designed to favour the ultra-rich; political corruption; a violent and ill-trained police force; rampant poverty and poor nutrition; media filled with lowest-common-denominator nonsense; and a very high level of religiosity (but not spirituality).

    If the US were predominantly Catholic, I suspect it would look a lot like Mexico today. By a fluke of history, its adopted religion emphasizes personal responsibility for one’s fate (as opposed to ‘bahala na’) and a curious love of material goods.

    As in the Philippines, the US is held together by the elites – it’s just that the US elite class is somewhat bigger than that in the Philippines. It’s really no surprise that the great unwashed masses in both countries are voting for similar people.

    1. Indeed, you nailed a lot of it. The US probably stands out among other First World nations as the least egalitarian of the lot.

      It also seems to have the weakest government vis-a-vis corporate power. In Europe, for example, regulators virtually have Google by the balls. In the US, on the other hand, Google rules at the top of the heap of their oligarchy with impunity. The real government in America is Big Corporate which contravenes Uncle Sam’s efforts to secure the nation’s interests by giving away America’s most prized technologies to its enemies under the guise “globalisation”, “free trade”, and “free flow of capital”.

  5. As usual the GRP blog gets what is happening outside its borders wrong.
    THE USA, and THE EU, have had their manufacturing base OUTSOURCED to China/India through ‘Free-Trade’ deals legislated in the respective countries Houses of Legislation. These ‘Free-Trade’ deals have allowed Corporations to outsource the jobs the citizens in these countries used to work in to China/India and then bring the products produced outside the countries borders to be brought back in to the USA/EU UNTAXED/With NO TARRIFF imposed. This allows for no penalty to be imposed upon the Corporation that has deserted the workers who labored to make that corporation great in the first place.
    In short, it is Economic Treason.

    1. Nah. I’m right as usual — because, guess what: the legislators are in the pockets of those big corporations that benefit from those deals. And that is why those legislators legislate what they legislate.

      All roads lead back to that simple reality, dude.

  6. and BTW, it is not the job of Capitalist or Democratic ‘ideals’ to deal with Islamic terrorism.
    In the West, real capitalism longer exists.
    What is now in place in the West is Crony-Capitalism and it is a cancer.AND just exactly what makes communist China a ‘more traditionally governed’ society? WTF ?

    1. Brush up on your history. Authoritarian centralised governance has a way longer history than “democracy”. That’s what makes that style of governing millions of bozos a more traditional way of doing things.

  7. I believe Donald Trump is telling the Truth, to the American people. He is not a demagogue. A fellow who made billions of dollars, on his own. A good manager of his company is not a demagogue.

    His issues are right:

    1. Illegal immigration.
    2. Terrorism.
    3. National Security.
    4. Border security.
    5. Jobs going overseas.
    6. Unrestrained debt, to trillions of dollars.
    5. War on terror with ISIS/radical Islam.

    The Dude knows what he is talking about.

    Duterte is a demagogue, a foul mouth lunatic viagra poster boy.

    Duterte is taking us to Fascism. He got no plans for the economy; plans to defeat NPA, MILF/ISIS/Al Queda. Duterte has no plan on how to stop the Chinese, from annexing Philippine territories. He has no plans to remove the squatters.

      1. Donald Trump was given a US $1 million loan from his father. He made it into billions. His children are not spoiled by their wealth. They made their own businesses. One children, manage his real estate business.

        This is why this country, the U.S., is great. People here are innovative, and can start a small business, that grow big.

        Steve Job, the late founder of Apple Corporation, started in his garage, to design and make the Apple PC. Microsoft Bill Gates, was a college drop out, and he started the Microsoft Corporation.

        There are many companies, that started small; they grow as large corporations. Innovativeness is the KEY here.

        I do not find this trait in Filipinos. Some are good in small sari-sari stores. Most go as OFW slaves. Racket business , scams and thievery are what the Filipinos are good at…

    1. Demagogues appeal to people with needless and paranoid fears and do not respect other people’s right to life. For example, there are people who believe a newly moved-in neighbor practicing new age yoga is practicing witchcraft, or a newly movied-in neighbor from Haiti is practicing voodoo on them, or that a gay neighbor is actually after their six-year-old son. To allay fears, they want to just shoot dead these neighbors, and believe they have every right to do so. That’s the kind of people that Trump and Duterte appeal to.

      1. If you research dem·a·gogue meaning. I think all politicians are. They capitalize to people’s desire and prejudices to get votes.

  8. The best measure of a politician’s electoral success was becoming not how successfully he could broker people’s desires, but how well he could tap their fears.

  9. “…the more decisive, concrete, and resolute steps forward towards addressing these being made by more traditionally-governed societies like Russia and China.”

    oh, sure. of course, these countries still had to go through the Great Leap Forward under Mao and those inconvenient purges under Stalin. something like what we saw on a smaller scale under Marcos and we’d see again (slightly bigger and a hell lot bloodier) under Duterte.

  10. I pity this globalist liberal idiots. Look at them they look like FOOLS especially CNN & other mainstream media. Lot’s of billionaire investors lost a lot on this election and they are mad to the corporations organizing pollsters and surveys. On the other hand, see how this globalist scums laying out the mindset of humanity, the people are so dumbed-down, they couldnt even ask themselves a simple basic question. What if I go for Hillary or Donald? How does it affect me as an individual or as part of the human race?

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