(This article by Rowan Webb first appeared in the August 2019 edition of the IPA Review).
We are living in the age of disruption, argues Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister Stephen J. Harper. In what appears to be a near prerequisite in writing about modern political matters, Harper begins his discussion with an assessment of US President Trump’s successful electoral campaign.
Harper argues that one of the most talked- about political victories of our time reflects the current discord between nationalism and globalisation is having on communities, economies and governments worldwide.
Harper’s sharp and concise commentary presents a compelling case for a more responsive attitude toward legitimate concerns regarding immigration, technology and trade, by advocating for a pragmatic and balanced leadership approach toward the restoration of equilibrium between nationalism and globalism.
Harper advocates a conservative approach less focused on ideologies and more on economic and social policies
The results of the United States election and Brexit showcase clear evidence that much of the world is dissatisfied with the current status quo. Described as “any political movement that places the wider interests of the common people ahead of the special interests of the privileged few”, the movement of what is most commonly referred to as populism is undergoing a clear rise. President Trump’s supporters have been routinely portrayed as alleged ‘racists’ and ‘bigots’, yet Steven Harper’s analysis of Trump’s victory suggests many Trump voters were lower to middle class Americans tired of watching incomes decline in the age of globalisation, while current political establishments routinely communicate the message that policies of free trade and globalisation were for their benefit.
Harper contends that a large number of Americans are struggling economically and feel left behind in today’s globalisation and free trade focused climate. The gap has continued to widen between rich and poor. Americans faced with economic difficulties could no longer accept the contention that free trade and globalisation were for their benefit.
Economic disparity sprouted the seeds of a rise in American nationalism. Harper adopts the terminology of division as between the “Somewheres” and the “Anywheres”.
The “Anywheres” are the elite: those without financial boundaries who readily traverse the globe and subsequently have little to no attachment towards places from where they came. The “Somewheres” are the working class, educated and losing jobs due to the current domination of globalisation.
While no Trump advocate personally, Harper argues the US President was the only candidate willing to tell the “Somewheres” that he understood the severe impact free trade and globalisation were having on their economic standing. Trump was the beneficiary of votes from those who previously had directed their political support elsewhere.
Stephen J. Harper in full flight at 2010 WEF.
His contention is supported by the fact Trump won with significant margins in states such as Michigan and Wisconsin, where the average income was negatively affected by the influence of globalisation and free trade.
Harper’s analysis of the inequity of the US trade agreements with China makes the very concept of “free trade” seem laughable. With one trading partner restricting the sales of goods in their country while flooding the market of their trading partner with cheap goods produced for minimum wages, the concept of these agreements being beneficial for US citizens is alarming to say the least.
In layman’s terms, some things are simply good for some and bad for others. Harper declares trade agreements must work for both “Anywheres” and “Somewheres”, and that governments must seek to balance
market forces with human needs. Harper’s use of the American President’s successful election campaign as a continued reference point throughout the book allows him to present intelligent and readily comprehensible commentary and analysis on globalisation, free trade and other issues such as market economics and immigration in a highly insightful fashion.
He argues the real political debate should be centred on creating a better economic future for families with lower and middle incomes. His argument is well balanced and supported, throughout a calm and intelligent discussion placing evidence ahead of emotion.
Harper presents a balanced and well supported advocacy for a conservative governmental approach that’s less focused on ideologies and more on economic and social policies that help everyday citizens.
Right Here, Right Now is a timely and important commentary on the current political climate, likely to leave many a reader wishing they could vote for a Stephen Harper in their own nation’s elections.
Harper’s excellent and all-too-rare exploration of the reasoning behind President Trump’s successful election campaign provides an enlightening insight into the current global political climate and a potential reference point for estimating how future political trends may well develop unless equilibrium is restored between nationalism and globalism.
While referencing his own government on multiple occasions, Harper should be rightly commended for avoiding ‘memory lane’ and only bringing up his own time as a world leader to showcase his thorough knowledge on key political issues.
With its unique ability to present numerous complex political issues in a readily understood format, Stephen Harper’s Right Here, Right Now provides its readers with the knowledge to truly make a difference in the age of disruption.
Rowan Webb is a digital content specialist passionate about the future of Australian journalism.