Did Trump mainly create jobs
US election This is why Donald Trump is so popular with Americans
Interview: After a tough head-to-head race, the Democrat Joe Biden won the US election against Donald Trump. But why does a man like Trump have so many supporters anyway? In an interview with editor Gundula Zilm, the German-American political scientist Brigitte Schulz from Enkenbach-Alsenborn explains an apparently inexplicable phenomenon, the almost insoluble task of Biden and teaching for Germany.
Ms. Schulz, most polls predicted a clear victory for Joe Biden. They also?
No, I even feared that Trump would win again. A lot of people don't admit they are voting for Trump. Racism also plays a role: Not many dare to say that they are afraid of Kamala Harris as a possible president. A black woman: that's worse than Obama! But apparently without the black votes for Harris, Biden would not have won. Statistics currently say: 92 percent of black women voted for Biden.
And 82 percent of black men. But the expectation of Biden was even higher.
82 percent is not a little! I was even happy that black people voted for Trump because that means a bit of normality. There were also many new positions. Some blacks voted for Trump for economic reasons.
Has Trump actually created jobs? Or was it just felt because he had promised?
The job market had already recovered when Trump moved into the White House. But he also cut taxes on small and medium-sized businesses, which resulted in more jobs.
But that alone is not what has given Trump so much support. Why is he with so many Americans - 70 million! - so popular? While almost all Germans shake their heads at him.
In Germany we have a party system in which you have to work your way up. It is inconceivable that someone like Trump could simply run for office. Trump voters are mostly less educated people.
Workers whose jobs are threatened by automation and globalization are hardly represented by unions anymore, because they were systematically undermined and destroyed under President Reagan and therefore have hardly any contact persons for their needs. At the same time, the Democrats cared less and less about the worries of the common people. This created a vacuum that Trump could jump into. He expresses what many of the people think. Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin did just that in 2008 and started a dangerous trend.
Trump is not the cause, but only a symptom of the split - Obama said two years ago.
Yes. The different groups - rich and poor, blacks and whites - stay among themselves. Where should the impulses come from to think differently? In addition, the television stations are ideologically shaped, build enemy images, and each group can only confirm its own opinion: a Democrat does not watch Fox News, a Republican does not watch MSNBC. So not only the uneducated lower class votes for Trump, also many in the white, affluent upper class. Their motto is: If you are rich, you owe nothing to the poor, because your wealth is based on your own hard work.
Where did this attitude come from? In Germany there is a much more social consensus.
Americans ideologically got stuck in the 18th century. In the 19th century the labor movement in Europe fought for many rights for the general public. America always complains about the state. Today in a democracy that no longer makes sense! Because we can change something! The deep distrust in the state and the fear of direct democracy are still deeply rooted in the Americans.
But how does it go together: on the one hand, a distrust of the voice of the people, on the other hand, a populist like Trump can make it to the presidency because he does not have to work his way up in a party, but is supported by the people.
The founding fathers probably couldn't have imagined someone like Trump in their wildest dreams! But they have already built in a barrier: the Electoral College, that is, the system of electors who ultimately elect the president. They can turn things around if the people really choose a completely unqualified or ideologically undesirable candidate.
That didn't work four years ago ... But has a limit now been crossed in terms of the acceptance of Trump? More and more Republicans are turning their backs on him. Fox News was unfaithful to him and announced Biden as the winner very early on.
Trump is like a mafioso who demands unconditional loyalty and richly rewards it. But as soon as someone expresses criticism, it becomes dangerous for him. In the meantime, however, he has insulted so many at Fox News that they have had enough. In addition, he behaves so childishly that many turn away. And switch to the winner in a very opportunistic way.
Speaking of winners: It is not yet clear whether the Senate will get a democratic majority. What's your forecast?
I don't think so, although that won't happen in Georgia until January in two runoff elections. Even then, the Democrats would not have a 50:50 majority in the Senate, but Kamala Harris could then cast the decisive vote. My hope is that Biden - as a middle man and knowing many Senators - can win over the less radical Republicans. There, too, some could turn around. Much also depends on what happens by January 20th. Whether it should come to civil war-like conditions.
Do you really believe that? Or are you just afraid of it?
I don't find it absurd. If Trump says enough times that the election “was stolen” and that Biden is illegally president, it can mobilize Republican militants. On the other hand, many blacks may now feel empowered to rebel against long oppression.
So the deep divisions in society may only get worse, you say. How can Biden overcome this split? That seems almost impossible.
Biden does not come from the elite, but from the working class - and therefore has better chances of reaching the left lower class of Trump voters. He is also credible due to the many personal strokes of fate. And as a traditional Catholic - not like the fanatical Christians who believe in the impending end of the world.
Such fanatical Christianity could arise in America because the immigrants were able to unconditionally enforce their faith in the country at the time?
Yes, the emigrated Protestants also had no opponent like ours, where the two large Christian churches have to grapple with each other. And as a substitute for the state, many Americans seek support from the Church. Often preachers shamelessly take advantage of this.
In Kamala Harris there is a lot of hope that, as a black woman, she will be able to unite society; she is almost treated as president. But I have doubts. It was similar with Obama and the disappointment was great: as a black man, he tended to deepen the division per se, because many whites perceived a black president as an affront.
Achieving a change in a country like the United States is like turning a supertanker on the high seas. A president can only strengthen some groups and weaken others. But Harris cannot either change the core, the economic fabric and make America a fairer country.
Doesn't she have a chance at all?
After all, she has shown what a black woman can achieve in America. And is a role model for young girls.
Do you think that a split like the one in America is possible here too? Or is this excluded because we don't just have two parties?
Right, in the US there is only black and white, but politics takes place in the shades of gray. Nevertheless: In America it also took a few decades. Therefore you have to be very vigilant at the beginning! Democracy is a delicate flower that always has to be watered. She needs moral courage and an exchange. And while in the USA capitalism is practically a law of nature, in Germany people are constantly grappling with different systems.
About the person: Brigitte SchulzBrigitte Schulz, who was born in Kaiserslautern in 1947 and grew up in Enkenbach-Alsenborn, went to the USA at the age of 21 and began to study political science there, with a focus on international relations. After completing a Masters at the London School of Economics and a doctorate from Boston University, she taught and researched in various countries. From 1989 until her retirement in 2013, she was a professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Since 2015 she has lived with her current husband in her home town of Enkenbach. She has German and American citizenship.
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