In 1922, Vladimir Lenin wrote that “Stalin concentrated in his hands enormous power, which he won’t be able to use responsibly,” owing to his rudeness, intolerance, and capriciousness – qualities that Donald Trump has in spades. His acquittal by the Senate was a dark day for American democracy, but his reelection could be lights out.
NEW YORK – “In just three short years,” US President Donald Trump declared in his recent State of the Union (SOTU) address, “we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny.” This baseless pronouncement – more propaganda than reality – recalled Joseph Stalin’s 1935 proclamation that “Life has improved, comrades; life has become more joyous.”
When Stalin touted “the radical improvement in the material welfare of the workers” brought about by the Soviet regime, production statistics were lagging; famine had ravaged populations, especially in Ukraine; and the Great Purge – a brutal campaign of political repression – was already in sight. Likewise, as Trump praises his administration for supposedly restoring America’s greatness, US allies and friends are scrambling to reduce their dependence on the US, which has become both a threat to global stability and an international laughing stock.
Trump’s declarations about the economy are similarly misleading. Yes, GDP growth remains relatively strong, and stock prices have reached record highs. But, as Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer pointed out after the SOTU, “millions of people struggle to get by, or don’t have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans, or prescription drugs.” The “blue-collar boom” that Trump touted has left out a significant share of blue-collar workers.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one to read two commentaries for free? Log in