President Trump: for many the worst fear has become reality. The U.S. turns to an authoritarian leader; the democracy faces a historic challenge.
That was no election campaign. That was a national crisis. And now the greatest imaginable catastrophe stands at its preliminary end: Donald Trump is the U.S. president. The unimaginable has become reality.
A narcissist, a notorious liar, a sexist, a racist, a chauvinist, a populist, a demagogue – often documented in this year-and-a-half election campaign, as drastic as it may sound – is now what one generally calls the most powerful man in the world. Even the imagination of many politicians is insufficient to measure the consequences of this election. In any case, it is not daring to predict that Trump will plunge the U.S. into enormous problems.
Will he really build a wall on the Mexican border? Will he no longer allow Muslims to enter the country? Will he deport millions of illegal immigrants? Will he lead the U.S. out of NATO? Will he isolate the U.S. economically and politically?
The world must be afraid of the U.S. with such a president, yet this time it is not America’s superiority that triggers fear, but instead the country’s brutal weakness, embodied by the often downright pubertal-aggressive president. Trump is the embodiment of a sick system: a system that has produced too many losers for too long.
Convenient Democratic Consensus
Every vote for Trump was a blow with the fist against the political establishment. The voters allowed themselves to be seduced by his winner image. Trump portrays that he can do anything; that he does not need to abide by the rules, that in case of any doubt, he can even be above the truth. Everything seems possible with him. You need three jobs to make ends meet? Not anymore if I am president! You’re afraid of terror? You won’t have to be with me in the White House. You think that Latinos and blacks are taking women away from you? That will be changed immediately.
Many underestimated the danger that emanates from Trump. When he declared his candidacy, no one believed Trump would win in the Republican primaries. And even when he then was nominated to run as the party’s candidate against Clinton, no one believed he had a real chance. Yet the allure of the uninhibited was too great. The Republicans had agitated against the elite for a long time, against those up there. It was this mood that made Trump strong.
To simply reject Trump was simple for the cosmopolitans, liberals and dissidents in the country. But there was no enthusiasm for Clinton that emerged from this Democratic consensus. Nothing trendsetting.
Clinton was not the right person to defeat Trump. She embodies what many Americans do not want at the moment – the continually controlled opportunism of classical politics. Bernie Sanders, who, like Trump, used public anger for himself and who Clinton beat in the primaries, would probably not have been the better president, but he would have been able to fight against Trump using similar weapons.
Barack Obama’s term of office turned Democratic opponents loud and uncompromising. These people long to return to a time when racism and misogyny shaped the United States. Now these people, actually a minority in the U.S. in fact stand on the winning side thanks to an antiquated electoral system, and Obama’s political legacy is acutely endangered.
With Trump’s victory, the U.S. is turning to an authoritarian leader. The attraction of an authoritarian arises from the inability to tolerate differences and ambivalence. Trump won because he drew on these constructs. Trump discredited responsible conduct on both a large and small scale, and made use of the prosperous chauvinism of the rich, the middle class fear of decline and the wrath of those left behind.
In spite of this, one cannot condemn Trump’s voters. It was precisely the white workers who first and foremost ensured Trump’s victory that often experience political discussion as humiliation. A predominant intellectual minority not uncommonly pokes fun at them. The white worker, stumbling through day to day, must see the privileges he deserves held instead by elite university students. That doesn’t sit well indefinitely.
The Ultimate Test for Democracy
Instead one’s fight is with Trump’s voters. Because whoever fights proves that he does not consider himself in possession of the absolute truth. Those who really fight retain lingering doubts about their own position. In the political fight, the aggressiveness of Trump and his supporters must be curtailed. He himself said he could become another person if only he were president. He could be the absolutely most politically correct person. That is difficult to believe. But it is worth a try to bring Trump to the ground of realpolitik.
That will certainly be difficult. Trump lacks perspective about himself and his judgments. And he possesses an unshakable self-confidence that will certainly not diminish with his election victory. Therein lies the greatest danger for America, for the world.
America is a strong democracy; Trump is the ultimate challenge to this.