When prime ministers leave office, they usually write their autobiographies – or, in Kevin Rudd’s case, two volumes of memoirs. Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister from early 2006 to late 2015, is different. Instead of penning a self-serving account of his decade-long tenure, spinning history and settling scores with rivals or the press, he has written an important book on politics and leadership in the age of disruption.
In Right Here, Right Now, Harper makes it clear he is no Donald Trump fan. Trump is, after all, a rude and crude buffoon. But far from being an accident of history, the US President reflects trends in other Western democracies, especially across Europe.
President Donald Trump leaving the White House to travel to Florida for Thanksgiving.Credit:AP
A surge in support for various nationalist movements underscores the growing resentment of a governing class many voters feel has turned a deaf ear to their legitimate grievances. These movements, Harper observes, represent a cry for help from ordinary people who have been disoriented by globalisation and mass immigration.
Trump, for all his self-evident flaws, dared to state in public what many people feel: that economic globalisation, despite lifting so many people out of poverty across the globe, hurts low-wage, manufacturing workers in lost jobs and stagnant wages; and that uncontrolled immigration makes ordinary people feel their national identity is being undermined and that identity politics seems only to intensify intolerance.
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