The United States will become Trumpistan
Trumpistan, land of the scorched earth
It is one of those scenes that is indelibly burned into the collective memory of a nation: Donald Trump molested Jim Acosta at the first press conference after the midterms in the White House. The CNN journalist tries to keep asking factual but uncomfortable questions. The president, in turn, calls him an "outrageous, terrible person". A trainee tries to wrest the microphone from Acosta, who does not allow herself to be confused - in the viewfinder of the live cameras. Hours later he was banned from entering the White House on the grounds that he had "laid hands on a young woman".
Even on the downwardly open Trump derailment scale, there is hardly anything comparable to date. Mr. "Grab 'em by the pussy" Trump charges a correspondent who tries to do his job with harassment. It is a turning point in Trumpistan, the land of the scorched earth.
The incumbent president has brought political culture and social interaction in the United States to an all-time low. But the party bickering in Washington has been growing bitter for years and decades. Bill Clinton could already tell you a thing or two about it during his tenure. A new level of irreconcilability was reached with the emergence of the Tea Party movement, parallel to Barack Obama's presidency, who did not get far with his offer of bipartisan cooperation in Congress. And now Trump. He is the undefeated champion of discursive poisoning. Condescension and contempt are his most prominent qualities, on the ashes into anti-politics he has home advantage. Nobody there is fooling him.
The wiser among Trump's opponents have understood that. Even before the mid-term elections, Obama's former chief strategist David Axelrod, who had successfully beaten two presidential elections, said to Politico: "Escalation creates escalation. There is a great debate among the Democrats about how to deal with a completely unrestricted Trump. He is ready to do anything to do and say what is in one's interests. That is value-free, amoral politics. Some think that one has to fight fire with fire. But I fear that we will all perish in a conflagration. " Indeed, the path to violence in this denatured atmosphere is short: in the last days of the election campaign, letter bombs were sent to unpopular opponents. The alleged perpetrator: a fanatical Trump supporter.
Axelrod, who today heads the Institute for Politics at the University of Chicago, among other things, is acknowledged by opponents to have a keen sense for the mood of the people. Civilization, he says, is an enormously important element in politics. He believes that "people don't long for a democratic version of Trump". Rather, they were looking for someone who could bring the country out of the hothouse of hatred the United States had been in for so long.
But that required partners, or at least no bitter total obstruction on the part of the Republicans. And that cannot be seen after these elections. The Grand Old Party has been held hostage by the President. With the midterms, even more Trumpians moved into the Capitol. A party that for many years was shaped by the three undercurrents of fiscal, social and security conservatism has become an electoral association for a vulgar egomaniac without any civic spirit and without any understanding of office.
But that doesn't seem to bother anyone for the time being: If you listen to the Republican think tanks in Washington, DC, the Hudson Institute and especially the Heritage Foundation, where most of Donald Trump's whisperers sit, you can get the impression that the political purpose is justifies all means. As long as Trump asserts the party's interests, it is ready to forgive him everything - really everything. Ministers from his government say quite frankly: "While he is taking all the fire, I can achieve my goals."
... creates escalation
The pragmatic irreconcilability and zero-sum mentality is widespread in US society. Today, 20 percent of Americans have severed a close relationship with a friend or family member due to political differences. And the renowned polling institute Pew Research found out this year that more than two thirds of Americans believe that "their side" more often loses than wins in the political struggle. Even among Republicans, who for the past two years controlled the White House and both houses of Congress and had almost unlimited power, 53 percent of those surveyed believed that their political aspirations were being neglected.
As a result, there is just as little consensus on views on what the country's major issues are. Pew Research again: 72, 77 and 81 percent of the Democrats see climate change, the large income differences and the lax gun law as important, but only eleven, 22 and 25 percent of the Republicans respectively. With the current hot topic of illegal immigration, it is the other way round: This is a relevant topic for 75 percent of Republicans and only 19 percent of Democrats.
This ongoing polarization is the basis on which the machineries for the 2020 presidential election campaign are only really getting started. Whether David Axelrod's analysis materializes in the campaigns in the democratic primaries actually seems questionable. But if the Democrats get involved in an infight at Donald Trump's level, it can already be said that civilized US society will be affected even more than it already is.
One of the oldest democracies in the world would then possibly not only be a damage but also a liquidation case: Trumpistan, a synonym for the total loss of democracy. (Christoph Prantner, November 9, 2018)
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