High levels of insecurity among the masses

Insecurity is the key factor that propelled Mr Donald Trump to the White House ("The science behind the rise of Donald Trump"; yesterday).

Let me pose this question: If Singapore allowed several million foreigners to illegally take up employment and permanent residence without even holding a passport, would citizen opposition to the resulting labour market anarchy be considered racist?

How angry would Singaporeans be if this went on for 50 straight years, as it has in America?

For five decades, America's media and senior politicians called such concerns "racist". They made no distinction between real racists and people merely terrified of losing their jobs.

Interestingly, not all Americans opposed to immigration are white.

While some analysts stereotyped Mr Trump's reliance on white, working-class votes, they overlooked states such as Florida and Texas, which have large Hispanic populations.

Americans of Mexican and Cuban origin voted for Mr Trump in large enough numbers to deliver him these two states, which many assumed Mrs Hillary Clinton would easily win.

Similarly, if a foreign bureaucrat dictated how many foreigners Singapore lets into the country, would citizens tolerate such a violation of national sovereignty?

They certainly would not - and that was the real reason many Britons voted to exit the European Union.

Europeans who oppose the EU and Americans who oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership are often not against importing Japanese stereos or French wine.

But that is not the point. Contrary to textbook economics, large currency movements - not competitiveness - often decide who wins market share and who loses their jobs.

Furthermore, international trade pacts often go beyond liberalising the importing of goods: They often make it illegal for governments to pass laws against multinational corporations, even if their behaviour hurts working-class citizens of a country.

Elitist political analysts never saw Brexit or Mr Trump's victory coming because they are in a social class that enjoys the benefits of uncontrolled immigration and trade while denying their serious social or economic cost.

They are incapable of anticipating political trends because they have no notion of what common people must endure in this globalised day and age.

Eric J. Brooks

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'High levels of insecurity among the masses'. Print Edition | Subscribe