Bremmer rounded out the 2019 RCLA Town Hall Lecture Series at the Van Wezel.
Some Sarasota residents may be feeling 10% less crazy about politics.
At least, that's what Eurasia Group president and founder Ian Bremmer, promised when he started his Ringling College Library Association Town Hall lecture Thursday.
After cracking jokes about how Julian Assange's stint in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London aged him — "Holy hell, what happened to Bernie Sanders?" and "You can't live with a cat by yourself for that long." — Bremmer got down to business.
He promised to make audience members less crazy about politics by focusing on three things: what is happening at home, Russia and China.
"With these three things, I'm going to tell you why politics feel so bad today," Bremmer said. "When you’re watching the news and you’re thinking, ‘Oh my god, war,’ or, ‘Oh my god, they hate each other,’ if you remember these three things, it will actually explain a large majority, and in some cases, almost all, of why it's happening.”
Upon examining what is happening at home, Bremmer said the U.S. problem is very similar to those nearly every wealthy democracy in the world face.
“Lots of our citizens increasingly feel like the system does not work for them,” he said. “They feel the leaders are not as legitimate as they used to be, that they are being lied to.”
Those sentiments of a rigged political system, Bremmer said, can be seen in feelings about Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump, in the yellow vest movement in France and in New Zealand’s Christchurch mosque shooting.
Economic inequality, anti-immigration sentiments and military response are just a few of the internal problems Bremmer cited, which he said are only exacerbated by social media platforms where people can choose to only follow those who believe the same way they do.
“You take those four reasons and you get an unprecedented level of political polarization inside every wealthy developed democracy in the world,” he said. “It is not just happening here.”
The next factor Bremmer said people should take into consideration is Russia.
Because Russia is in economic decline, its people are doing everything they can to undermine the U.S. and other wealthy countries, he said, citing the creation of the fake social media campaign “blacktivist” and Russian support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“They want a weaker U.S. They want a weaker Europe. They want a weaker trans-Atlantic relationship, and those are all the reasons why we have the stability that we have,” he said. “They are putting money, offensive cyber capabilities, disinformation, into making our societies feel more rigged.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, he said, is the third factor — China.
China is not in decline, and is instead growing economically. Bremmer said as China grew, the Americans assumed it would become a free market economy and more politically open like the U.S.
However, as it grows, China has seen the end to presidential term limits, is avoiding a free market economy by investing in key strategic sectors and is allocating money to U.S. allies through its Belt and Road initiative.
“China is not trying to make it worse for us,” he said, “but, they are building an alternative model that lots of countries around the world are increasingly aligning with or hedging toward.”
If people keep those three ideas in mind, Bremmer said they will have a much better chance of understanding today’s geopolitical climate.
Bremmer rounded out the 2019 Town Hall series, but the 2020 season lineup was announced during the event.