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President Trump - We are Witnesses of a Turn of an Era

by Jens Berger
Trump managed to stage himself as a candidate waging a crusade against the political establishment. Only 9% of the population still stands behind the elected congress in a country where established politics has hit rock bottom. Was this the revenge of the degraded? Does politics only give more to the top 1% and loses sight of the remaining 99%. Traditional politics has no answer to these questions. Insulting voters is not competence. Neoliberal politics knows many losers and very few winners.

By Jens Berger

[This article published on November 9, 2016, is translated from the German on the Internet,]

This was an election between pestilence and cholera and the pestilence narrowly won. However, Donald Trump's victory is not surprising and his voters are not only crazy rednecks. This election was not about "left" or "right." Rather Trump managed to stage himself as a candidate who waged a crusade against the political establishment. Only 9% of the population still stands behind the elected congress in a country where established politics have hit rock-bottom. On the side of the democrats, Hillary Clinton personified the political establishment. At the end, Trump had the better cards. In the next days, we will surely hear countless malicious, stuck-up and priggish commentaries from our media and German politics. But we should pause. After the Brexit, Trump's victory is now the second turning point of modern history. Germany finds itself in the middle of a transformation process.


As a leftist liberal intellectual, Donald Trump's election victory is hardly encouraging. His victory is consistent even if this analysis hurts. For years if not decades, a policy was made against the majority of the population and the media did its best to bridge the ever greater gap with bread, circuses, and manipulation of public opinion. That this cannot work forever should be clear to everyone. Serious offers from the political left were knocked out. Now the political right has interpretation sovereignty and the establishment is shocked. They were all to blame!

At the end, the former industrial states in the North of the US decided the issue in the courting of the votes. The majority in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin voted for Trump. What once was the economic motor of the US is described ironically today as the "Rust Belt" and stands symbolically for the descent of the old industrial power of the US. There one sees nothing of the economic growth of the Obama era. Quite the contrary! There the US is the land of the hopeless.

The democrats scored points particularly in the states where the US is a modern country, where the graduates of expensive elite universities found businesses and the technology- and-service-sectors have their centers. Here people arrive in the 21st century, think in a post-materialist way and reflect more about LGBT rights and political correctness than about equal opportunities. Thus yesterday's presidential election is a sign of a country that breaks in two parts and is formally torn. The number of losers is clearly greater than the number of winners. So it is no surprise that the Clintonian "We can do this" is mocked.


Trump is not a thesis. He is an antithesis, the reaction to a political development that is regarded by a large part of the population as an aberration or abnormal trend. Are the rich becoming ever richer, the poor ever poorer and the middle class skidding down little by little? Are productive jobs moving more and more to low-wage countries? Is the power of banks and big businesses increasing from day to day? Does politics only give more to the top one percent and lose sight of the remaining 99%.These are all questions that must be affirmed with critical analysis. These are all questions to which traditional politics has no answers. Even more, these are all problems that were caused directly and indirectly by traditional politics. Who votes for whom when traditional politics represents the problem, not the answer?

Are these criticisms of Trump voters so incorrect? I do not think so. On this side of the Atlantic and beyond, politics bid farewell to the interests of the majority. On this side of the Atlantic and beyond, the fast stroke with which a small, liberal "elite" modernizes society was too high and the number of those who were not able to follow was too great. The land was governed past the majority of the citizens. Now the pendulum has struck back.

Democracy is the rule of the people in which the majority of the people make the decisions. At least that is the theory. In practice, however, politics is made all too often by a small minority for a small minority. In the political dialogue, only the minorities are addressed more and more. What politician dares to directly address the white man without a college degree?

Political America has hit rock-bottom. People did not vote for Trump because he had a clever program but because they despised the political establishment and Trump was the man with whom a money wrench could be thrown into the machinery and wreak the greatest possible havoc. The election was a revenge on the political system which could not be trusted to represent the majority's interests anymore.


One should not make it too simple and practice insulting voters. Trump voters are not dumb per se. Among his voters, there are persons who are dumb or vote for the wrong reasons. However, that is a symptom and not the cause. The cause is rather the result of decades of neoliberal politics that knows many losers and very few winners. Discomfort and unease among the losers are understandable.

Both this side and beyond the Atlantic, modern protest seems to be a protest dominated by the political right-wing… The political left-wing… is probably too intellectual, too politically correct and too elitist to become populist and transform past achievements.

If politics governs past the people, we in Europe will soon gain "our" Trumps. Therefore we in Germany should be very careful with malice and snide remarks. The media help the AfD (right-wing Alternative for Germany) that is against foreigners to stylize itself as the anti-establishment party. We are witnesses to a turn of an era. This side of the Atlantic, we do not need much imagination to imagine what will happen if politics does not immediately carry out a change of direction.


No. However a conservative rollback occurring in the US is foreseeable. Minorities whether blacks, Latinos and the LGBT community are the ones who will suffer. Trump's victory is certainly not good news regarding equal rights. Still, it is not very likely that trump will now convert the breezy statements from the election campaign. A wall on the Mexican border is as improbably as an entry prohibition for Muslims.

Changes in foreign and security policy result through Trump's victory. Trump will improve relations with Russia. East-West relations will probably improve through Trump's victory. The danger that a hot war could come out of the new cold war has fallen noticeably through the election. Trump's victory is certainly not bad news for the crisis regions in the Middle East. He often emphasized he preferred isolationism to interventionism. The transatlantic NATO strategists and hawks will have headaches.

In the good and the bad, we cannot forget that the "Anti-establishment president" will govern in the future against as Congress and a Senate with a majority of establishment politicians. During the budget conflicts, Congress and the Senate have shown the most powerful man in the world is powerless if his budget is frozen. Thus future anger and strife are pre-programmed if Trump takes his anti-establishment course seriously. But that remains to be seen. Trump will probably not act very differently than his predecessor in office. Breezy sayings were necessary to prevail in the primaries in the US election system. Whether Trump converts even only one of the demands from his election campaign is completely open. What will happen when the frustrated voters notice that Trump at the end of the day belongs to the establishment?


By Roberto J. Lapuente

[These excerpts published in November and December 2016 were translated from the German on the Internet.]

“The political forms of the post-factual (whether as Trump or as AfD (anti-foreigner Alternative for Germany) are usually described as symptoms of general dissatisfaction. Its policy flourishes since millions of people are estranged in their economic situation and feel suspended or uncoupled. Even if this is somewhat oversimplified, there is much truth in it. Still we must be concrete. Many voters decided for parties and faces with a post-factual competence because they were led by the nose by the economy.

Neoliberal economists were guided by post-factual emotions. They constantly spoke out against facts – on a small scale and on a large scale – whether they now turn unemployment into a personal lack of self-initiative or represent the minimum wage as a great danger or whether they represented casino capitalism as a safe bank – before the business went over the cliff or the private pension was promoted as the last rescuer from old age poverty. We always faced the refusal of facts and the ignoring of counter-arguments.

Neoclassicism, the basis of the economic thought structure of our time, was always an explanation with few facts. It is fertile ground for the post-factual. Whoever grounds his economy on it gives it the middle finger and gives facts the brush-off.


“Unhappy events abroad have re-taught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.” [..]


“People often talk about “racism/sexism/xenophobia” vs. “economic suffering” as if they are totally distinct dichotomies. Of course there are substantial elements of both in Trump’s voting base, but the two categories are inextricably linked. The more economic suffering people endure, the angrier and more bitter they get, the easier it is to direct their anger to scapegoats. Economic suffering often fuels ugly bigotry. It is true that many Trump voters are relatively well-off and many of the nation’s poorest voted for Clinton, but, as Michael Moore quite presciently warned, those portions of the country that have been most ravaged by free trade orgies and globalism – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa – were filled with rage and “see [Trump] as a chance to be the human Molotov cocktail that they’d like to throw into the system to blow it up.” Those are the places that were decisive in Trump’s victory.”
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