I’ve been thinking about how the world must be seeing the notion of President Donald Trump. Like him or not—I don’t, and I can’t begin to express just how odious I think he is—he can be the 45th President of the United States of America aka the Global Parent.
The Trump appeal centers on his willingness to mix it up, talk truth to power, tell it like it is, try new things, etc. Obviously, there’s no substance there. His positions are ever-changing. He doesn’t know much about the issues. And many of his supporters don’t believe him when he talks about what he will do. Ultimately, what he’s really selling is his claim that America is weak and poor, and that he alone can make us strong again.
So, back to the world. Notwithstanding Mr. Trump’s claims, the United States is the Global Parent of the planet. We lead, and nothing important happens without us. We are, simply, the straw that stirs the drink.*
Trump and his movement bring to mind family dynamics. Parents bring home the bacon, make and enforce the rules, and provide stability. Frankly, those of us who do / have done it well know it gets a little bit boring. And it can be is expensive. But it’s all part of the role.
And the kids? For sure, they get to test the limits. But, in testing the limits they know you are there to provide support and protection. How far can they go? Depends on your kids, and you. Still, you are the one who waits up, checks in, and cleans up the messes. It’s your job!
Mr. Trump and his crew are seemingly suffering from a mid-life crisis. They don’t want the United States of America to carry the burdens associated with parenting the planet. And, for sure, being the global grown-up does burden us. How?
We spend more than the next seven nations, combined, on military defense, and 37% of total world expenditures on defense. (Figures courtesy of National Priorities Project.)**
In raw numbers we spend $37 billion on foreign aid. That is less than 1% of the federal budget, and about $10 per month for each of us, but it’s still a lot of raw dollars. (Again, figures courtesy of National Priorities Project.)
Our dollar is the monetary “go to” in the world, which means our economy suffers when it is strong, as against other world currencies. The concept is pretty simple: If our dollar is strong it takes more Drachmas, Euros, and Shekels to buy them, and to buy goods sold by someone—an American—who uses dollars to buy raw materials, pay rent, pay workers, etc.
(I have offered but a few examples here, and I have ignored all of the many benefits associated with being the wealthiest nation, ever.)
And the real burden? We don’t get to do crazy sh*t. The world expects us to be stable. Yes, other countries can have coups, fight wars, elect crazy people, mess with their economies, walk away from billions of dollars of borrowed money, etc. And plenty of them can say all kinds of rotten stuff about the United States of America. And we have to take it, just like the responsible parent does when the kids do stuff and mouth off. The fact that they act out does not allow us to!
So in Mr. Trump I think we are seeing the neighbor’s child, the one who acts out over and over again. Unfortunately, that child is in his sixties now, and the antics are not funny anymore.
The world is a serious place. America is its leader, for better and worse. We can’t stand the risks associated with electing the jerk down the street to lead us as we lead the rest of the world.
**Whether that spending protects the world is debatable, and too much of it is driven by domestic economics. Regardless, if we were not Mom and Pop for the world, we’d be spending much less.