For a while Edward Bourke was Australia's biggest, mini Trump supporter. When I first met him in early 2016 he was running a very DIY effort to get Trump elected via Twitter and a site called thetrumpcampaign.com. And now it’s 2018 and Trump is president, so I guess it worked.
But while Trump’s life has been transformed, Edward’s is mostly the same. He’s now 17 and about to embark on his final year at school, studying English, maths, RE, and of course, economics. But he tells me that he’s also started a few new businesses, including a wristwatch design house called Stilvoll Sein (meaning "to have style” in German) as well as a conservative blog called The Daily Rile—which produces such headlines as “Edward Bourke makes bold donation to art gallery."
So Edward’s life is mostly the same—in the sense that it’s just as bombastic and bizarre as it used to be. Because how does a 17-year-old start a wristwatch company? Or make a “bold” donation to an art gallery? And how does he feel about Donald Trump, now that the guy is actually running the universe?
I was curious, so I asked Ed to come into the office for a chat.
Edward showed up in his usual suit and pocket square combo, but this time sporting a pair of cowboy boots. “If you walk around Melbourne, you’ll see so many people wearing the same thing,” he explains as I take some photos. “Sometimes I just like to break it up and put some lizard skin in there.”
We find some couches and Ed’s mum—who gave him a lift from their Mt Macedon home—sits away from us and fiddles with her phone. Ed stretches out, placing his boots on the coffee table and we get down to business, starting with the Trump presidency.
“Well I think it’s pretty concerning… Trump seems to be dragging his policies more and more to the left,” says Ed. “And I think that’s particularly concerning because I think he’s alienating his core conservatives.”
I immediately have to stop him just to clarify—”Wait, you think he’s gone too left?”
“Absolutely” says Ed and explains how he watched in astonishment as the Trump administration placed a 300 percent tariff on Canadian-built Bombardier jets, which, as he points out, has been terrible for American airlines like Delta. “So he’s trying to control the free market, which just punishes companies.”
I suggest this policy is totally in line with Trump’s isolationist, America-first ideology on trade and commerce, but Ed disagrees. And actually, the only area we agree on is how Trump has created a very standard-issue plutocracy, when he originally promised to be anti-establishment.
“I think most politicians end up lying,” says Ed, sadly shaking his head. “And I think it’s unfortunate that Trump is becoming more and more like the politicians he rallied against.”
We made a video with Ed a few years back. You should watch it:
We move onto other topics, such as Ed’s foray into wristwatches, which he says he designs with a school friend with production outsourced to China. “We got to know the manufacturer and spoke to them personally. We put a lot of thought into what we’re manufacturing.”
And then, when it comes to running businesses, it turns out Ed runs another two. First, there’s Ardent Stallion Capital Management, a London-based hedge fund, and Kapitel Kapital Aktiengesellschaft, a German asset-focused investment group.
“But how do you manage two foreign companies from Mt Macedon?” I ask.
“Well, with a lot of Skype and things like that.”
And I nod politely and let it go. If Edward really is running two foreign-based financial service companies over Skype while completing Year 12, he’s incredible. And if he’s not, well, both companies have websites, so he’s still incredible. As a quick comparison, I was all about filming my mates jumping into bushes and pretending to be on Jackass at 17. Comparatively, Ed is a genius.
We finish our conversation talking about 2017, and I ask Ed to look back and tell me what he learned.
“Well I’ve learned how important it is to change your view,” he says, smiling. “I used to be more stubborn. I still am and I don’t like to admit I’m wrong. But I’m learning to change my views and I think that’s really important.”
The other thing that marked Ed’s 2017, he says, was investing more time and effort into friendships, although he doesn’t go into detail. “I just think I was more social than in previous years. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been spending more time with friends.”
I ask him whether he has a best friend, but he says he doesn’t do best friends. “Although I do have someone I’ve started a business with,” he says. “We go to school together as well and we have similar views and interests. We started our minimalist watch company together.”
As we finish up, I walk Ed and his mum to the door and we talk about schoolies and his plans after school. “I’ll probably go somewhere like Europe or the Middle East,” he says as we wander outside. “I have a great respect for Middle Eastern culture and I think a gap period there would be fantastic.”
And then they take off. Edward Bourke and his chauffeur mother, back to Mount Macedon, just until Ed inevitably runs the world.