Should a minority be afraid of Trump
Donald Trump becomes US President : Do we have to be afraid?
Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. He was democratically elected with a clear majority. His party, the Republicans, dominates both houses of Congress. Trump will also be able to shape the constitutional court according to his ideas.
All of this has been known since Wednesday morning, and yet in the eyes of many people it reads anew every time like a bad joke. Donald Trump? Really Donald Trump?
This is this extravagant builder who has never held a political office before, went bankrupt a few times, switched to show business. Who wants to build a wall on the Mexican border and let Mexico pay for it. He calls for no more Muslims to enter the country and who is not afraid to speak out publicly about women and minorities. This is the one who claims that the whole system - the politicians, Wall Street, the media - is corrupt and spreading lies. Who can be quick-tempered and probably also choleric.
The most powerful man in the world
Exactly that. Donald Trump is now the leader of the free west, the most powerful man in the world.
Almost 60 million Americans voted for it. And they knew what they were doing. They trust him to make their country great again. Depending on the state of affairs, it must be about seduced, disappointed, angry, left behind, authority-fixated, uneducated or racist people. In short: their political will is interpreted as political insanity. The majority of Trump supporters would therefore be less guilty.
This description already contains the seeds of further polarization. Trump supporters feel bullied, pathologized, and despised by the elite. The elite reacts to this - because they consider the accusation to be completely absurd - with bullying, pathologization and contempt. Hardly anyone breaks out of this spiral. The camps have sealed themselves off from each other.
One symptom of this is the amazement, even shock, with which the Democrats took note of Trump's election victory. It can not be what may not be. You don't know anyone who voted for Trump. Europe's elite were equally perplexed by Brexit. Such shocks are treasonous. They tell of many invisible walls that separate social groups that are no longer curious about each other. What does the other think, what moves him? The neighbor should not be understood, but rather condemned.
Shouldn't one condemn Trump and his voters?
But don't you have to condemn Trump and his voters? For their racism, Islamophobia, sexism, ignorance of climate change, their closeness to Vladimir Putin, their distance from NATO? Trump himself says he is the leader of a "movement". That should sound like passion and uncompromising attitude. He treated his opponent, Hillary Clinton, not only as an opponent, but also as an enemy ("lock her up!").
Such words should not be put on the scales, believe his followers and warn against exaggerated "political correctness". But he has power, on whose word something happens. Nobody has looked into Trump's heart yet. We only have his words. When a dog owner lets his pit bull off the leash and then dashes towards you, baring his teeth, the appeasement “don't worry, he just wants to play” rarely reaches its goal.
What does Trump want? Nobody knows. Maybe he just wanted to be president, to show everyone how great he is, alone against everyone, like Gary Cooper in "High Noon". Much enemy, much honor - in the primary campaign, first throwing the Bush dynasty out of the running and then finally the Clinton dynasty and their helpers, Michelle and Barack Obama, he did it. This triumph seems to give him diabolical joy.
Trump has overridden almost all election campaign laws: The angry white man no longer plays a role demographically, it said. Hispanics will go to Clinton in droves. Because the minorities are getting stronger, no election can be won against them. Alienating women as voters takes bitter revenge. Consistency in campaign speech is more important than authenticity. All nonsense. Those who believe in themselves work miracles: Trump has revived this original American dream.
Is his power a curse or a blessing? At least it means the end of all excuses. Now no system can be blamed for the grievances or the fall of America, no blockade in Congress, no corrupt elite clinging to their benefices with tricks. Now Trump has to show what he wants - and can. He alone, once again, but this time not in the role of the promise of salvation, but of the bringer of salvation.
In his address at 3 a.m. at New York headquarters, he announced that he would double economic growth and launch a gigantic government infrastructure program that would create jobs for millions, but would be financed without tax increases or new debt. Good luck. You will recognize him by his deeds.
He raised expectations
Trump has raised expectations that he could not even satisfy with Herculean powers. Some of his constituents liked him because, at least it felt like he was showing the middle finger to the establishment. Others liked his simple, harsh, no-frills language. Thumbs up, thumbs down. Do not recite party convention resolutions or wrap yourself in empty phrases. Let hear how you speak and I'll tell you who you are: Just imagine Dieter Bohlen playing against Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The contrast would probably be just as sharp.
But to instigate a conservative cultural revolution without gay marriages, minority rights, women's emancipation, and general religious freedom? To be uninhibitedly chauvinistic, to show white and Christian superiority arrogance? Imposing punitive tariffs on Chinese imports, risking trade wars, having the wrong climate policy held up against you after every hurricane? Deport illegal Latinos, although many have been integrated into society for years? All of this drove Trumpists to the polls. It takes a lot of imagination to envision the implementation of these projects. The new office could suddenly make Trump appear very small, shrunk to a size on which no longing for salvation can be projected.
So don't we have to be afraid? Yes - from infection. Trump has shown that apocalyptic rhetoric, nationalistic promise, xenophobia and chauvinism can win elections. Western liberalism is more fragile than its exponents ever suspected. Next March, elections will take place in the Netherlands, and Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party, PVV, is at the top of the polls. In May there will be elections in France, where Marine Le Pen made a name for itself with the Front National, which was the strongest force in the 2014 European elections. In September, the AfD could move into the Bundestag. In any case, Europe has no reason to just look at America with concern.
A functioning defense alliance is more important
However, democratic legitimation of political power means something different than being a strong opposition party. Compared to the AfD, it is possible to show a “clear edge”, as it is called fashionably. Trump, however, as president embodies the will of the majority of his people. This is a turning point. It confronts liberal people with the task of defending their values without dragging the canon of values of the ruling dissidents into the mud. A right of resistance to ruling right-wing populism can only be justified if it systematically attacks the essence of liberal democracy. In addition to the separation of powers and the rule of law, this also includes freedom of religion, asylum and minority rights.
He may not yet know what agenda Trump is pursuing. For Europe it follows that in its actions it must make itself more independent of developments in America, as far as possible. For example: the weal and woe of the transatlantic relationship do not depend on trade agreements like TTIP; to exaggerate them symbolically would be harmful. A functioning, reliable defense alliance is more important. And if an increase in European defense spending is the price for America under Trump to continue to commit itself to NATO and its assistance obligations - then the discussion should be open and calm. Because not everything that will come out of Trump's mouth in the future has to be wrong simply because it comes out of Trump's mouth.
We Europeans don't have to be afraid. But we need patience and strong nerves.
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