“History of men is the history of the continues replacement of certain elites as one ascends another declines, such is the real phenomenon, though to us it may often appear under another form.” (Pareto, 1968, p. 36)Vilfredo Pareto
Up to the present, 45 American Presidents served in the 244-year history of American Democracy. Many of these presidents have been noted for their local, regional and global influences. To illustrate, from George Washington to James Madison, from Abraham Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Donald Trump, we see that more than one American president has been influential in the history of the world. In particular, the power of the US governments having an ability to change in the financial markets as well as the political atmosphere worldwide was depending on the American State System, which could gradually increase the governments’ political, military and economic power until the 2010s, rather than globalisation.
Interestingly, institutionalisation and the free market played a significant role in the 45 American Presidents following more or less the state tradition of the US. When unemployment in the US reached 25% from 1929 to 1939, it affected all spheres of American life (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1948). Hence, Franklin Roosevelt, for instance, was elected to end the depression in 1932 American Presidential Election. Congress accepted the “New Deal”, which includes many regulative policies on the free market and contained policies supplying a very significant amount of work among displaced families (Amedo, 2020). This regulatory state model has affected government policies of Europe, Asia and even Australia. Until the end of the 1960s, the social welfare state had widened its sphere of influence as it began to be implemented in America in such a political atmosphere. This article aims to show that presidential elections of the US are not independent from social events of their historical context. Moreover, the election, which will take place on 3 November, will be the last election that the US will have as a superpower. Since the new lion has acquired the weapons of the old one, no action is required to defeat the US anymore.
Environmental Agenda of the 1970s and Reagan-Thatcherism
“The great question of the 1970s is shall we surrender to our surroundings or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air to our land and to our water.” (Nixon, 1970)Richard Nixon
The reason why the climate change and ecology movements are politicised, more precisely in the media, political organisations and society, is closely related to the New Social Movements after the 1960s. Moreover, environmental and women activism has manifested itself in different places in history, but current ecological movements generally have their roots in sources published in the 1960s and 1970s. To illustrate, ecofeminism arose from the convergence of feminist studies and the numerous struggles for social equality and environmental justice, equality of gender, ecology, race, and so on (Gaard, 2011). In 1962, the announcement of Rachel Carson’s novel “Silent Spring” exposes a broad audience to the environmental risks of chemicals. In this the quote from Richard Nixon (37th president of the United States)’s 1970 speech shows that environmental activism found its place in the spirit of the period of the 1970s and gave direction to the political agendas of countries.
On the other hand, just a few years after Nixon, the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, enacted a political agenda whose economic concerns above environmental awareness. Although both presidents, namely Nixon and Reagan, were members of the Republican Party, and even a few years apart, not decades, they advocated conflicting environmental policy. For example, Reagan removed solar heaters from the roof of the White House and appointed EPA (Environmental Protection Agency which is primarily established by Nixon) director Gorsuch Beauford, who enabled the first rapid drop in the number of toxins filed. Ronald Reagan’s understanding, which often neglects environmental awareness, laid the foundations of today’s Republican Political Agenda. In this regard, the 1980s were the time when the world introduced the de-regulatory state model of 40th American President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Replacement of Power
Donald Trump, the 45th President of the U.S.A., chose his electoral motto, “Make America Great Again!”, just as the famous words were stated by Ronald Reagan years ago.
When Reagan had come to power, he had wanted to take America back to its “golden ages”. However, there was a financial system where banking crises manifested themselves in every ten years. He took Americans to a world where inequalities increased, and values became commodities.
Perhaps, Reagan was the most influential public figure in recent American history, but he had pursued a policy that weakened the country’s special power day by day. With the recognition of China by the International Labour Organization (ILO), American companies opened corporations in China one after another. Vast amounts of US dollars entered into China. However, they reinforced its rival in the most potent time of the US.
In this context, it is necessary to underline the withdrawal of the US from the Middle East, which started with Obama, while the investments in East Asia of the US increased. However, even though democrats and republicans seem to agree on the matter of China, they do not have an agreement on this issue. To illustrate, in recent days, the 44th American President, Barack Obama met with voters in Pennsylvania to support Joe Biden. Obama stated that Trump is insufficient to serve America.
Moreover, he accused him of doing business with Chinese entrepreneurs and even hiding his money in China. While Trump and his republican team are suspecting the democrats of their late intervention in the Chinese issue, the democrats accuse Trump in terms of shutting down the US economy and failing to enforce sanctions.
Suppose the policy on the Democrats’ Agenda is implemented. In that case, American Dollar will be devalued, the market value of its product will be lost. Moreover, middle-class white Americans will face unemployment. That is why the Chinese issue will remain as an internal problem for the US. On the other hand, Republicans might strengthen China while keeping the money inside the states with policies seeming neoliberal, but essentially nationalist.
To sum up, most of the American Presidents, who have served since the American War of Independence, have affected people and the countries within a global influence. Many of these presidents were deeply affected by the political, social and economic atmosphere of their time. They prepared policies concerning the circumstances that they have. Since the Golden Age of the US, many of the presidents generally won against their competitors with the help of the US institutions and the free marketing. However, specifically for the competition with China, the rules of free market do not seem beneficial for the market in the US. In this regard, the upcoming election will probably be the last American Presidential Election in which America will live as a superpower. Referring back to Pareto, there is no doubt that this superpower will hand over his authority to a new “lion” who is more robust than he can maintain his power.
Amedo, K. (2020, April 22). The Great Depression, What Happened, What Caused It, How It Ended. Retrieved from the balance: https://www.thebalance.com/the-great-depression-of-1929-3306033#citation-41
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1948, July). Labor Force, Employment, and Unemployment, 1929-39: Estimating Methods. Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1948/article/pdf/labor-force-employment-and-unemployment-1929-39-estimating-methods.pdf
Gaard, G. (2011, November 2). Ecofeminism Revisited: Rejecting Essentialism and Re-Placing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism. Feminist Formations(23), 26-53.
Macgregor, S. (2013, October 11). Only Resist: Feminist Ecological Citizenship and the Post‐politics of Climate Change. A Journal of Feminist Philosophy. doi:10.1111/hypa.12065
Nixon, R. (1970). President Richard Nixon on the Environment in 1970. United States of America: Dorst MediaWorks.
Our Changing Climate. (2017, June 23). Why is climate change so political? October 1, 2020 tarihinde https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8MOJAMbzKs adresinden alındı
Pareto, V. (1968). The Rise and Fall of the Elites:. New Jersey: The Bedminister Press.