It is one of the most bizarre but instructive phenomena brought on by Trump’s unanticipated victory in the American election. The so-called “politically correct” dictatorship seems to have passed from the left to the extreme right, contaminating many supposedly “objective” commentators who try to trivialize the event and deny democratic legitimacy to the voices concerned about this election.
During the campaign, fans of the real estate mogul accused those who dared to challenge the discourse or the proposals of their hero as proponents of “politically correct” fanaticism, regardless of how false, irrational, grotesque, xenophobic or insulting the comments may have been, especially those coming from the mouth of a candidate for the presidency of a major world power. But from the moment the unthinkable happened and Trump triumphed—according to the Electoral College, but not according to the popular vote where Hillary Clinton’s lead has passed one million—we have heard a rousing chorus of opinions calling for “democratic normalcy,” dismissing the fears raised by the new president’s tenure. After all, he won the election through a sense of exclusion felt by millions of voters and, on the other hand, he has already shown signs of moderation and prudence following his victory. This is the best of all possible worlds, despite the walls—both symbolic and real—that Trump proposes to build to isolate America within the unreality of his dreams. There is a new political correctness in motion, following behind the savvy indecency that brought Trump to the White House.
It is funny how when one looks to “explain” Trump, as Vítor Bento did in Público last Wednesday, hiding what Trump really is, represents and plans to bring with him—for the greater pragmatism that now he’d like to see in him—they do it while accusing the “thinking elite” of labeling Trump’s voters as “sexist, chauvinist, racist, xenophobic, rude, primitive [and] deplorable.” To be honest, it is important not to forget where the story began: sexism, racism, xenophobia and brutishness characterized Trump’s whole campaign (which Vítor Bento ostensibly ignores, just as he has ignored the multimillionaire’s history, the history of a man who has bragged about escaping fiscal responsibility, who has been involved in fraud and bankruptcies, and who proposes to reduce taxes for the very rich on behalf of those marginalized by the system).
Did angry voters identify with Trump, despite everything they could not help but know about him? Apparently yes. But it is precisely this that should disturb us and make us reflect. How did this happen in a democracy like the America’s, and how is it possible that threats of populism and aggressive nationalism are the order of the day in other apparently consolidated democracies? Are we on the way to a “Third World-ism” that secretly grows in so-called developed societies, or are we on the road to the social regression of the 1930s, when Hitler came to power through the popular vote? It may be appropriate to recall the most enlightened words of Angela Merkel on values that should govern our relationship with America after Trump’s victory, as if those values were already threatened: “democracy, freedom and respect for the law and the dignity of man.”
The new political correctness of Trumpism may come at the price of renouncing this heritage of values and may nurture the populist and authoritarian temptations that grow within democracies. A civic uproar is urgently needed to combat this possibility.