How far to the right is Donald J Trump

The choice of fate or: Trump's fight against the law

It would be presumptuous to speak of the November 3rd election as the most important in US history, because that would wrongly minimize the role of great US presidents, without whom American and world history would have been different. But one thing is certain: the upcoming polls will be the most important of this decade, and probably even of this still young century.

"The Trump administration is jeopardizing American democracy like no other in modern American history," US political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt rightly state in this issue. But that does not adequately describe the importance of this choice. A renewed election victory for Donald Trump would have consequences that extend far beyond the United States.

In order to measure what is at stake for the USA, but also for the world on November 3rd, a loss report must be made at the beginning: In the past four years under the 45th US President is - even more than the idea of Democracy - a perhaps even more important principle has been honed, namely the rule of law, both nationally and internationally.

At its core, Donald Trump stands for the deregulation of the law, for a policy of de-legalization - and thus for a break in principle with international and primarily universalistic codifications. Should he win the election, there would be four more lost years on the global stage. With a second term in office, Donald Trump's policy of legal disruption would be continued, not least in the area of ​​climate change - just at a time when there is perhaps the last chance to pull the lever to an environmentally friendly, sustainable policy. The past few years have shown that without a United States willing to cooperate, this will not succeed. That is why November 3rd decides the future of the present and future generations worldwide.

Of course, Trump is not alone in the ranks of previous US presidents with his neo-isolationist policies. But in contrast to his predecessor George W. Bush, Trump did not even try to give the impression that he wanted to be bound by international codifications. And while Bush, driven by his neoconservative Camarilla, was running the project of global bellicose human rights interventionism and, for this purpose, before the United Nations, the lie of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction set up, Trump's policy was always directed inward. “America first” and nothing comes after that, was the motto, no matter what the cost of the rest of the world.

Trump thus stands for the fundamental rejection of the universalist traditions of the USA. Instead of international agreements, he relies solely on the principle of the deal. International obligations mean nothing to him, in their place is the radical friend-foe ideology, both externally and internally, as a defamation of entire states (“China virus”) and population groups (left and “antifa”).

By systematically demonstrating his disdain, even contempt for the United Nations, in word and deed, Trump deliberately destroyed multilateralism and thereby also renounced what had made up the international politics of the USA in the past, namely a mixture of hard and Soft power, from power politics with the help of diplomacy and law. Since the entry of the USA into the First World War, its internationalism, which has always been guided by interests, has been directed towards a legalized world community, starting with Wilson's idea of ​​the League of Nations of 1917, via the United Nations after 1945, to the idea of ​​a "New World Order" under George Bush senior after 1989 (his Son after 9/11 however brutally thwarted).

Trump, on the other hand, has no such breadth of variation, no interplay of power and law. Whether with the exit from the Paris climate agreement or the rejection of the WTO, WHO or UNESCO: Trump draws the final line. In his last international speech to date, he made an angry plea against globalization. "The future does not belong to the globalists," said the US President on September 24 by video link in front of the almost deserted UN General Assembly, "the future belongs to patriots". Wise leaders have always put the well-being of their own country and people first. Strong nations alone could make the world a better place.

Trump made it clear once again that he will only ever make politics for his country - America first with all brutality. At the same time, he gave his belated reply to the furious speech (“How dare you”) that Greta Thunberg had given the United Nations just a year earlier, whereupon the US President Twittered the young Swede with all the cynicism he had At her disposal, she mocked, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. It's so nice to see. ”Trump versus Thunberg - in these two people, also in their opposing emotionality, passionate outrage against raging resentment, the two opposing principles are most likely embodied at the moment: here the desire for global justice and regulation, there the purely selfish nationalism.

The abolition of the rule of law

Ironically, in the 75th year of the founding of the United Nations and the Nuremberg Trial against the main Nazi war criminals, the beginning of which on November 20, 1945 also marked the beginning of the internationalization of criminal law, in this month of all things that man could stay for another four years Office that has given the global validity of the law the most radical rejection. But with this - and that is the tragic thing about this election - Trump is ultimately not only acting to the detriment of America, but also to the detriment of the vision of a peaceful and just global community. The beneficiaries of Trump's policy, on the other hand, are all those who do not believe in the idea of ​​an international community of law and values, supported by the commitment to universally valid human rights, from Xi Jinping to Vladimir Putin to Jair Bolsonaro.

But not only on the international stage, but also in domestic politics, Trump's policy was primarily a struggle against the law. From day one, he honed the rule of law, his struggle was aimed at all powers controlling his power - the House of Representatives, i.e. the democrats who have been in the majority there since 2018, but above all the independent judiciary and the free press. Independent journalists who do not like him are simply referred to by Trump as "enemies of the people".

This shows: What Trump is under law and order understands, has nothing to do with the rule of law, but ultimately always means the law of the strongest. On the other hand, what constitutes democracy and the rule of law in the core, the self-commitment, even the submission of the individual to the law, Trump rejected for himself from the start.

He also fought against the law with the help of the "law" by strategically instrumentalizing it: There is little that the US President is as proud of as the appeal of 200 conservative, predominantly younger white men to the American federal courts, who will now speak law there for life in the Trumpian sense. [1]

The culmination of this strategy was undoubtedly the reversal of the balance of power in the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States. The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch had already cemented the conservative majority in the nine-member body for years. It is now to be expanded in the last few meters, after the death of the liberal judge legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with the vacant judge's post being filled by Amy Coney Barrett, the reactionary candidate by Trump's grace - a shameless move when you consider that the Democrats four years earlier, out of respect for the law, had waited until after the election to be appointed, thereby foregoing their own chance. With Barrett, on the other hand, the conservative parliamentary group in the Supreme Court would probably have a majority for decades with even six to three votes.

The rule of lies

Probably the most important means of Trump's politics in the fight against the law was and is his very targeted politics of lies - for the purpose of relativizing, even radically questioning every truth claim in politics. The decisive instrument for this is the conscious construction of "alternative facts", as Trump's then personal advisor Kellyanne Conway called it in 2017. Since then, Trump has been operating an information policy from the White House that is reminiscent of George Orwell's "1984". The Oval Office mutated into the Ministry of Truth, which creates its own truth and does not shy away from unrestrained denial of the completely different "facts" that have just been postulated.

The whole absurdity of the permanent Trumpian Twitter storm, its almost no longer countable untruths - the barometer of lies kept by the "Washington Post" now has more than 20,000 false or misleading claims during its tenure - like its seemingly ridiculous for a normal viewer Self-heroization always had a function, too: through permanent confusion and distraction from the essential, it repeatedly displaced the hard core of Trump's presidency - the fight against the rule of law in favor of absolute, uncontrollable power.

In this respect, it is hard to beat in irony that Trump found his master in the last year of his tenure in an event that can not be dealt with even the most brazen lies: 220,000 people who died of the coronavirus, 20 million unemployed Americans and a massive decline in the US economies are giving the lie to any attempt by the president to downplay the pandemic.

But even this does not give Trump defeat, on the contrary: In a true finale furioso, he once again offers his sharpest weapon, namely his entire resentment, even his hatred of the establishment to which he originally belongs. With the targeted stirring up of anger among his supporters, Trump consciously accepts the final abolition of the rule of law - if he does not even aim to do so - by unleashing a civil war.

Trump's request in the first TV duel with Joe Biden to the racist Proud Boys, “Stand back and stand by”, should be understood by the right-wing extremist addressees of the embassy as a call to violence. The fact that the Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, is one of the greatest enemy of the white supremacists, should be kidnapped by a far-right militia. Even that could not prevent Trump from rushing against the governor during an election campaign appearance. With "Lock her up" he uses exactly the same slogan with which he campaigned against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump is thus openly playing with violence against the law and with the possibility of a relapse into civil war. In this respect, it is no coincidence, but rather an expression of his absolute legal nihilism, that at the beginning and at the end of his legislative period, in 2016 and 2020, the same monstrous question is in the room: Will Trump recognize the result of this election at all - and with it the rule of law in of democracy? Four years ago, Trump threatened not to accept a defeat and thus attacked the high office of every democracy head-on, namely the act and outcome of the election itself. In this respect, for this election night, for once, “Tertium non datur” does not apply, either Trump or Biden. Because this time a third is possible, if not even likely - that there will be no result on election night and in the following days and weeks because Trump does not recognize a possible defeat.

Trump's goal is clearly to stay in power absolutely and by all means. The actual, final reason for this could be a pretty mundane one: According to the investigation of the "New York Times" Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt - and the next loans are due shortly. [2] Added to this is the urgent suspicion of tax evasion and embezzlement of funds. The Manhattan prosecutor is therefore apparently preparing a criminal case against the US president for dubious financial transactions in his corporate empire. The fear of the accompanying loss of face could be the real reason for his struggle for power. Because with the miserable end of President Trump, the illusion of the successful businessman also ended; with the loss of power, his building of lies would collapse like a house of cards. At the moment, it is not his alleged immunity to the virus, but rather the - if not absolute - political immunity of the president that protects Trump himself from the harshness of the rule of law.

A lawsuit, on the other hand, would reveal how Trump has preyed on the state - his prey Rackets, of the almost mafiotically acting Trump clan. “Never before has a US head of state mixed up his presidency with his private financial interests as much as the current incumbent,” states journalist and US expert Claus Hulverscheidt. "According to calculations by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a non-governmental organization in Washington, President Trump ran into a conflict of interests with businessman Trump exactly 3403 times in 1341 days of office." The basic distinction, the separation of private and public, abolished and the state was privatized. For Trump, state affairs were always deals in his favor. America First ultimately always meant in his eyes Trump First.

Character test for democracy

Because he now fears the collapse of his own building of lies - as an allegedly successful real estate tycoon and the best president of all time - Trump wants to immunize himself against an indictment with the bitter defense of his power. Whatever the outcome of the election, one thing is already certain: if Donald Trump is voted out of office - provided his departure also follows - will remove Trumpism in power, but not the Trump type.

Trump, "The Donald", is the hero of many corona deniers only because he is the epitome of a completely unleashed, random individualism. Trump is and remains the test of character for the stability of the US to democracy - and at the same time the teaching example of how quickly an established democracy can tip over towards autocracy.

Should Joe Biden actually lose the election, it would also be so catastrophic because a country with more than 300 million inhabitants would have shown that it is unable to match a suitable candidate against one, so far only through the remnants of one functioning rule of law prevented dictator to muster. After Hillary Clinton's nomination in 2016, this would be the second and far greater historical failure of the US Democrats. Four years ago, Trump was still a political one black box. This time, however, the voters know exactly what is at stake - because the failure of the president could not have been clearer than in the past few months. Re-election would therefore be unforgivable.

If, on the other hand, Biden wins - and Trump actually recognizes the result - this election victory for the Democrat would of course not be a panacea for national and international problems. Also a Joe Biden
will not suddenly switch from “America first” to “The world first”, but rather make the Europeans, and especially Germany, more responsible. But at least with Biden, also because of his strong influence as a long-time foreign politician, there is a real chance that the United States will return to the project of the West and to the vision of a universalist community of values ​​alongside the Europeans. In view of the enormous global problems of hunger, flight and climate change, this would be the only chance for the urgently needed global governance within the framework of the United Nations - and against the rising corona of purely nationalist autocrats.

[1] More than one in five of the 890 federal judges was appointed by Trump, see Julia Monn, Donald Trump changes the face of American jurisprudence in an express train, in: "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", August 25, 2020.

[2] Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire, The President’s Taxes, in: “The New York Times”, September 27, 2020.

[3] Claus Hulverscheidt, He takes what he can get in: "Süddeutsche Zeitung", October 18, 2020.