Populism and Trump’s Rhetoric of Distrust for Multinationals

This article was originally published to On Global Leadership. Check out James Ron’s other writings there! President Trump has always been a fair-weather friend of multinational corporations, at one moment embracing them for political advantage and at the next shooting Twitter missives that trigger precipitous crashes in stock value. It’s a bittersweet friendship that lacks all the important elements: trust, respect and loyalty. One reason for the president’s infidelity is his long-held belief that working-class Americans dislike global corporations and, in particular, globalization. In many corners of the American electorate, corporations are viewed as the cause of all the U.S. industrial policies that have resulted in more automation, fewer jobs and reductions in wages over the last 40 years. At first blush, the presidential war of words does not appear to provide Trump with much of an electoral advantage. Indeed, dating back to President Reagan, the embrace of corporations, globalization and trickle-down economic theory – advocated by the neoclassical economist Milton Friedman – have long been a centerpiece of Republican politics. According to a nationally representative survey of 2,000 adults we conducted with the help of YouGov in late 2018, Republican respondents were indeed more trusting of multinationals than either Democrats or Independents. In our survey, we found that self-identified Republicans were a statistically significant 6% more likely to trust multinationals than Democrats and 15% more trusting than Independents. We found similar results when we compared early Trump supporters – defined as those who voted for him in the 2016 Republican primaries – to those who did not. Thus, although none of America’s political tribes has great love for these international corporate behemoths,...
Surveys: Police Critics are not Anti-Capitalists

Surveys: Police Critics are not Anti-Capitalists

By James Ron and Doug Guthrie After protests swept through Kenosha, Wisconsin, we thought it was worth asking: Do supporters of Black Lives Matter (BLM) seek more than police restructuring? Do they actually want to replace the capitalist system with something else more akin to socialism? This is a meme out there, but the facts belie the meme of the moment. “Black Lives Matter” has become a civil justice Rorschach test today. For some, its hate-signaling leftist, antifa ideology. For others, it’s an aggressive effort to destroy the very principles the United States was founded upon: freedom, democracy and capitalism. Even Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and President Trump’s personal attorney, has gotten into the name calling, describing the protests as a Marxist plot. There is some logic to the question of what’s behind BLM, as many of the fires set during demonstrations in Kenosha and elsewhere have targeted businesses and commercial buildings. In response, some corporations, including Apple, Target and Walmart, temporarily shut down their stores this spring. Is the call to “defund the police” really shorthand for “end capitalism?” To answer this question, we reviewed survey evidence from roughly 13,000 respondents in the United States and around the world. The data suggest that, on average, police critics in this country and elsewhere are in fact not opposed to business. Here and in other countries, the respondents who told us they mistrusted the police the most were also more likely to trust international and local businesses alike. Across the world, support for business goes hand in hand with skepticism towards police. This finding undermines...