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Related Categories: U.S. | Government & Elections
Trump's fight against the law
by Albrecht von Luecke and Erhard Crome
Friday Oct 30th, 2020 2:07 PM
Trump stands for the rejection of the universalist traditions of the US, for the abolition of the rule of law and the reign of the lie.
Trump's fight against the law
by Albrecht von Lucke

[This article published in the November 2020 issue of Blaetter is translated from the German on the Internet, Trump's fight against the law
by Albrecht von Lucke

[This article published in the November 2020 issue of Blaetter is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.blaetter.de/ausgabe/2020/november/die-schicksalswahl-oder-trumps-kampf-gegen-das-recht.]



It would be presumptuous to speak of the election on November 3 as the most important in US history, because that would wrongly minimize the role of great US presidents, without whom American, but also world history would have taken a different course. But one thing is certain: the coming election is the most important one of this decade, and probably even of this still young century.

"The Trump administration endangers American democracy like no other in modern American history," US political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt rightly state in this issue. But this does not yet adequately describe the significance of this election. For a renewed electoral success of Donald Trump would have consequences that would go far beyond the United States.

In order to assess what is at stake on November 3, not only for the United States but also for the world, it is necessary to start with a notice of loss: In the past four years under the 45th U.S. President, perhaps even more than the idea of democracy, a more important principle has been honed, namely the rule of law, both nationally and internationally.

Donald Trump stands in essence for the deregulation of law, for a policy of de-legalization - and thus for the fundamental break with international and primarily universalistic codifications. Should he win the election, four more lost years would be on the global stage. A second term in office for Donald Trump would continue his policy of legal disruption, not least in the climate field -just at a time when there is perhaps the last chance to shift the lever to an environmentally friendly, sustainable policy. Without a cooperative United States, as past years have shown, this will not succeed. That is why November 3 will also decide worldwide on the future of present and future generations.

Of course Trump is not alone with his neo-isolationist policies in the ranks of the previous US presidents. But unlike his predecessor George W. Bush, for example, Trump has not even tried to give the impression that he wants to be bound by international codifications. And while Bush, driven by his neo-conservative Camarilla, pursued the project of a global Bellicist human rights interventionism and had the lie of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction constructed for it before the United Nations, Trump's policy was always directed only inwards. "America first" and nothing comes after that, was the motto, if it costs the rest of the world what it wants.

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 commitments mean nothing to him; they are replaced by the radical friend-foe ideology both externally and internally, as defamation of entire states ("China virus") and population groups (leftists and "antifa").

By systematically demonstrating his contempt, even contempt, for the United Nations in word and deed, Trump deliberately destroyed multilateralism and thus also renounced what U.S. international policy had been in the past, namely a mixture of hard and soft power, of power politics with the help of diplomacy and law. Since the U.S. entered World War I, its internationalism, which was always also guided by its interests, was directed toward a juridified world community, beginning with Wilson's idea of a League of Nations in 1917, through the United Nations after 1945, to the idea of a "New World Order" under George Bush senior after 1989 (which, however, brutally counteracted his son after 9/11).

Trump, on the other hand, knows no such range of variation, no interplay of power and law. Whether with the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement or the rejection of WTO, WHO or UNESCO: Trump draws the final line. In his last international speech so far, he made an angry plea against globalization. "The future does not belong to the globalists", said the US president on September 24th via video link before the almost deserted UN General Assembly, "the future belongs to patriots". Wise heads of government always put the well-being of their own country and their own people first. Only strong nations could improve the world.

With this, Trump made it clear once again that he will always make politics only for his country - America first with all its brutality. At the same time, he also gave his belated response to the furious speech ("How dare you") that Greta Thunberg had given at the United Nations just one year earlier, whereupon the US President mocked the young Swedish woman on Twitter with all the cynicism of the power at his disposal: "She seems to be a very happy young girl, looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. That is so nice to see." Trump versus Thunberg - in these two persons, even in their opposing emotions, passionate indignation against raging resentment, probably embody the two opposing principles most strongly at present: here the desire for global justice and regulation, there purely selfish nationalism.

The abolition of the rule of law
In the 75th year of the founding of the United Nations and the Nuremberg Trial of Nazi war criminals, the opening of which on November 20, 1945, also marks the beginning of the internationalization of criminal law, this month of all days, the man who has rejected the global validity of the law most radically could be confirmed in office for another four years. But in doing so - and this is the tragedy of this election - Trump is ultimately acting not only to the detriment of America, but also to the detriment of the vision of a peaceful and just world 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 a commitment to universally valid human rights, from Xi Jinping to Vladimir Putin and Jair Bolsonaro.

However, Trump's policy was not only on the international stage, but also in domestic politics, primarily a fight against the law. From day one, he honed the rule of law and fought against all the powers that control his power: the House of Representatives, in other words, the Democrats who have held the majority since 2018, but above all the independent judiciary and the free press. Trump simply calls independent journalists who he does not like "enemies of the people".

This shows that what Trump understands by law and order has nothing to do with the rule of law, but ultimately always means the law of the strongest. What, on the other hand, is at the core of democracy and the rule of law, the self-imposed obligation, indeed the subjugation of the individual to the law, Trump rejected for himself from the very beginning.

His fight against the law he certainly also fought with the help of "law" by strategically instrumentalizing it: there is little the US president is so proud of as the appointment of 200 conservative, predominantly younger white men to the American federal courts, who will now pronounce justice there for life in Trump's 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 panel for years. Now it is to be expanded in the last few meters, after the death of the liberal judging legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with the filling of the vacant female judge's post by Amy Coney Barrett, the reactionary candidate of Trump's Grace - a shameless move, if one considers that the Democrats had waited four years before with an appointment until after the election out of respect for the law, thus giving up their own chance. With Barrett, on the other hand, the conservative faction at the Supreme Court would then probably be in the majority for decades with even six to three votes.

The reign of the lie
Probably the most important means of Trump's politics in the fight against the law was and is its quite purposeful policy of lying - for the purpose of relativizing, even radically questioning every claim to truth 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 from the White House has pursued an information policy reminiscent of George Orwell's "1984". The Oval Office mutated into the Ministry of Truth, which creates its very own truth and at the same time does not shy away from unrestrained denial of the completely different "facts" postulated just a moment ago.

The whole absurdity of the permanent trump of the Twitter storm, its almost uncountable untruths - the barometer of lies maintained by the "Washington Post" now stands at more than 20,000 false or misleading statements during its term in office - as well as its self-heroicization, which only seems ridiculous to a normal observer, always and above all had a function: Through permanent confusion and distraction from the essential, they have repeatedly displaced the hard core of Trump's presidency - the fight against the rule of law in favor of power that is as absolute and uncontrollable as possible.

In this respect, it is hard to beat the irony that Trump, in the last year of his term of office, has found his master in an event that cannot be stopped, no matter how brazen the lies: 220,000 people died of the coronavirus, 20 million unemployed Americans and a massive decline in the US economy punish every attempt by the president to trivialize the pandemic with lies.

But Trump is not defeated by this either; on the contrary: in a true final furioso, he once again offers up his sharpest weapon, namely his entire resentment, even his hatred for the establishment to which he himself originally belongs. By deliberately stirring up rage among his followers, Trump quite deliberately accepts the final abolition of the rule of law-if he does not even aim for it exactly-through the unleashing of a civil war.

Trump's request in the first TV duel with Joe Biden to the racist Proud Boys, "Stand back and stand by", is likely to be understood by the radical right-wing addressees of the message as a call for violence. The fact that some of Trump's supporters have long since been determined to do anything is proven by the fact that the Democratic Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, one of the greatest enemy images of the white supremacists, was to be kidnapped by an ultra-right militia. But even this could not stop Trump from rushing against the governor in an election campaign. With "Lock her up" he used exactly the same slogan with which he had made his front in the 2016 election campaign against Hillary Clinton.

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 right-wing nihilism that the same monstrous question is being raised at the beginning and end of his legislative period, in 2016 and 2020: Will Trump even acknowledge the result of this election - and thus the rule of law in democracy? Four years ago Trump had already threatened not to accept defeat and thus frontally attacked the high office of any democracy, namely the act and outcome of the election itself. In this respect, for once, this election evening is not "tertium non datur", either Trump or Biden. Because this time a third is possible, if not probable - namely 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 obviously to stay in power by all means and without fail. The actual, final reason for this could be a rather banal one: According to the investigations of the "New York Times", Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt - and the next loans are due shortly.[2] In addition, there is the urgent suspicion of tax evasion and embezzlement of funds. The public prosecutor's office in Manhattan is therefore apparently preparing criminal proceedings against the US president for dubious financial transactions of his corporate empire. The fear of the resulting loss of face could be the real reason for his fight for power. For with the miserable end of President Trump, the illusion of the successful businessman also ended; with the loss of power, his pack of lies collapsed like a house of cards. At present, it is not, therefore, his alleged immunity from the virus, but still the president's political immunity, albeit not absolute, that protects Trump himself from the rigors of the rule of law.

With a lawsuit, however, it would become obvious how Trump has made himself the prey of the state - the prey of his racket, the almost mafia-like Trump clan. "Never before has a U.S. head of state intertwined his presidency as much with his private financial interests as the current incumbent," notes journalist and U.S. expert Claus Hulverscheidt. "According to calculations by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a non-governmental organization in Washington, President Trump had exactly 3403 conflicts of interest with businessman Trump in 1341 days in office"[3] With this, the US president has abolished the decisive basic distinction of civilization, the separation of private and public, and has pursued the privatization of the state. For Trump, the affairs of state were always deals in his favor. In his eyes, America First ultimately always meant Trump First.

Character test for democracy
Because he now fears the collapse of his own edifice of lies - as an allegedly successful real estate tycoon and the best president ever - Trump wants to immunize himself with the bitter defense of his power against an indictment. But whatever the outcome of the election, one thing is already certain: a removal from office of Donald Trump - provided that his departure follows - will eliminate the 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, disorderly individualism. Trump is and remains the character test for the Americans' resistance to democracy - and at the same time the textbook example of how rapidly a democracy can tip over towards autocracy.

Should Joe Biden actually lose the election, this would also be so catastrophic because a country of more than 300 million inhabitants would have demonstrated that it is not in a position to put up a suitable candidate against a dictator who has so far only been prevented by the remnants of a functioning constitutional state. After the nomination of Hillary Clinton in 2016, this would be the second, even greater historical failure of the US Democrats. Four years ago Trump was still a black box in terms of realpolitik. But this time the voters know exactly what is at stake - because the failure of the president could not have been clearer than in the past months. Re-election would therefore be unforgivable.

Should Biden win against it - and Trump actually recognize the result - this election victory of the Democrat would of course not be a panacea for national and international problems. Even a Joe Biden
will not suddenly switch from "America first" to "The world first", but will instead make the Europeans, and Germany in particular, more responsible. But at least with Biden, also because of his strong influence as a long-standing foreign policy expert, there would be a real chance that the United States would return to the Western project and the vision of a universalistically oriented community of values alongside the Europeans. In view of the enormous global problems of hunger, flight and climate change, this would probably be the only chance for the urgently needed global governance policy within the framework of the United Nations - and against the emerging corona of purely nationalistically acting 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 at the speed of an express train, in: "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", 25.8.2020.

2] Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire, The President's Taxes, in: "The New York Times", 27.9.2020.

3] Claus Hulverscheidt, He takes what he can get, in: "Süddeutsche Zeitung", 18.10.2020.
' November 2020
The election as a farce: Donald Trump and the rise of the autocrats '
CURRENT ISSUE NOVEMBER 2020
November 2020
In the November issue, political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt analyze how a policy of enmity is increasingly disintegrating US democracy. The journalist George Packer sees - in view of the U.S. presidential election on November 3 - a last chance to re-create America. The economist James K. Galbraith pleads for a return to the Roosevelt New Deal in times of crisis. "Blätter" editor Daniel Leisegang warns of a digital Cold War between the USA and China. And political scientist Melanie Müller sheds light on South Africa's double battle against corona and corruption.

American fault lines
by Erhard Crome
[This article published on Oct 26, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.linksnet.de/artikel/48078.]

While the German political class is hallucinating a "world order election" (Der Spiegel) in the U.S. and eagerly absorbs any news that suggests a lead for Joe Biden, and every book that luridly describes Donald Trump's mistakes and weaknesses, there are also thoughtful voices. One is that of columnist Ezra Klein, born in 1984, who has already worked for renowned print media and television stations in the U.S. and is now editor-in-chief of a news website called Vox, which is known as "progressive. His book is very fresh, published in the USA in 2020 and has just been published in German. The German title: "Der tiefe Graben" is a bit fuzzy; the American title is: "Why We're Polarized". To pursue this question, he has evaluated countless political and political science books, sociological studies and surveys. The book is the result of all that he has done as a political journalist for years. And it is factual, even if Klein makes no secret of his aversion to Trump.
His introduction contradicts usual catastrophe reports: The election results of 2016 were by no means surprising; most voters had chosen the same party as in 2012. "The decisive factor was that white voters without college degrees turned sharply in Trump's direction and that it was their over-representation in key states that secured his victory. His positioning in the Republican Party was tantamount to a hostile takeover, but: "Trump picked up the party where it was.
The question is how it came about. Since the middle of the 19th century, US politics has been characterized by a two-party system - Republicans and Democrats. As early as 1950, the U.S. Association of Political Scientists criticized that the two parties were too similar and worked together too smoothly. Many voters were therefore at a loss. The parties should polarize more. A call, said Klein, "that sounds like satire to today's ears". In fact, at that time there were four parties hidden in the US party system: liberal Democrats, predominantly in the North, the "Dixiecrats" in the South, conservative Republicans and liberal Republicans.
After the Civil War in the United States (1861-65), between 85 and 94 percent of blacks in the southern states had registered to vote, compared to 5 percent in 1944. Legal hurdles, structural racism and the terror of the Ku Klux Klan ensured that the reactionaries who had organized themselves in the Democratic Party (Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican to hold the office of president) were able to dominate the South for almost a century and thus also take a strong position in Washington: From 1896 to 1932, Southerners made up two-thirds of the Democratic faction in the House of Representatives, and by 1953 their share had at no time fallen below 40 percent. Liberals and socially oriented Democrats, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, always had to make their peace within the party with the reactionary dixiecrats. This system collapsed after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 under Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson.
After that, the parties reorganized themselves: the Democrats became liberals, openly to the left, and the Republicans became conservatives, more or less openly to the right. This polarization was ideological in nature; there are no longer any Democrats in the House of Representatives who are more conservative than any Republican and vice versa; and it was both issue-based and identity-based.
This political polarization is reinforced by several factors. People who consider party politics important are active in the parties; it is not only about issue-based realpolitik, but about identities. The parties make certain political offers and clearly emphasize differences. Candidates who are selected represent them and strive to mobilize a polarized electorate, thereby further polarizing it. In addition, the parties and candidates in the United States make a living from the donation system. Criticism is often levelled at large donations from large corporations. However, they "only" want politics to take their interests into account, which is a rational process; collecting small donations from many activists and voters, on the other hand, tends to increase the polarization and thus the irrationality of politics. In other words, the polarized party supporters and activists strengthen the polarizing candidates and at the same time weaken the party apparatus and the parties, respectively. "Neither Donald Trump nor Bernie Sanders would have had the slightest chance in the 1956 primaries,” but the one won the 2016 primaries and the other almost did.
The new media and the Internet, which at the time of their creation democracy theorists hoped would give mature citizens new information opportunities, have caused a new split in society. For "most people, politics is a hobby, they pursue politics like they pursue a sport or a band". As a result, people are no better informed politically than before, and political participation has not increased either. The decisive factor in the 21st century is not access to political information, but interest in political information.
At the same time, the Internet offers the possibility that polarization will bring together more and more groups of specially interested people who indulge in their specific identities in media cocoons. The system of political media is organized around polarization, reinforcing it, deepening political identity and driving up the costs of politics. Thus, the news media is not simply an actor in politics, but one of the most powerful. They continue to polarize. Outrage sells well. It is easier to mobilize against something than for something. "Negative party ties" are stronger than positive ones: one does not begrudge the other side, which is perceived as hostile, any success.
In the background is the demographic change. The majority of those born today are not white. (Whereby Hispanics in the USA do not count as white so far.) Soon, according to Klein, there will be a record percentage of the US population of foreign origin. As a result, "the left feels a cultural and demographic power that it can only occasionally translate into political power, and the right has political power but feels increasingly [...] attacked culturally.
Tjhe America "that elected a black man as president" seemed an America "in which a future was written that would be fascinatingly different from the past.” The America that Trump chose, on the other hand, was one "in which a future would be written that would be frighteningly similar to the past. The Republicans were predominantly dependent on white voters and Christians, the Democrats a coalition of liberal and non-white Christians, Jews, Muslims, New Agers, atheists, Buddhists and so on. On November 3, it will be decisive who is able to mobilize his voters more strongly.
In the end, however, Klein emphasizes that the U.S. political system is in a "legitimacy crisis. This can only be countered if it becomes "depolarized" again.
International politics
Erhard Crome, born 1951, Dr. rer. pol. habil.; consultant for peace and European policy of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation; member of the editorial board of the journal Berliner Debatte Initial.








It would be presumptuous to speak of the election on November 3 as the most important in US history, because that would wrongly minimize the role of great US presidents, without whom American, but also world history would have taken a different course. But one thing is certain: the coming election is the most important one of this decade, and probably even of this still young century.

"The Trump administration endangers American democracy like no other in modern American history," US political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt rightly state in this issue. But this does not yet adequately describe the significance of this election. For a renewed electoral success of Donald Trump would have consequences that would go far beyond the United States.

In order to assess what is at stake on November 3, not only for the United States but also for the world, it is necessary to start with a notice of loss: In the past four years under the 45th U.S. President, perhaps even more than the idea of democracy, a more important principle has been honed, namely the rule of law, both nationally and internationally.

Donald Trump stands in essence for the deregulation of law, for a policy of de-legalization - and thus for the fundamental break with international and primarily universalistic codifications. Should he win the election, four more lost years would be on the global stage. A second term in office for Donald Trump would continue his policy of legal disruption, not least in the climate field -just at a time when there is perhaps the last chance to shift the lever to an environmentally friendly, sustainable policy. Without a cooperative United States, as past years have shown, this will not succeed. That is why November 3 will also decide worldwide on the future of present and future generations.

Of course Trump is not alone with his neo-isolationist policies in the ranks of the previous US presidents. But unlike his predecessor George W. Bush, for example, Trump has not even tried to give the impression that he wants to be bound by international codifications. And while Bush, driven by his neo-conservative Camarilla, pursued the project of a global Bellicist human rights interventionism and had the lie of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction constructed for it before the United Nations, Trump's policy was always directed only inwards. "America first" and nothing comes after that, was the motto, if it costs the rest of the world what it wants.

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 commitments mean nothing to him; they are replaced by the radical friend-foe ideology both externally and internally, as defamation of entire states ("China virus") and population groups (leftists and "antifa").

By systematically demonstrating his contempt, even contempt, for the United Nations in word and deed, Trump deliberately destroyed multilateralism and thus also renounced what U.S. international policy had been in the past, namely a mixture of hard and soft power, of power politics with the help of diplomacy and law. Since the U.S. entered World War I, its internationalism, which was always also guided by its interests, was directed toward a juridified world community, beginning with Wilson's idea of a League of Nations in 1917, through the United Nations after 1945, to the idea of a "New World Order" under George Bush senior after 1989 (which, however, brutally counteracted his son after 9/11).

Trump, on the other hand, knows no such range of variation, no interplay of power and law. Whether with the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement or the rejection of WTO, WHO or UNESCO: Trump draws the final line. In his last international speech so far, he made an angry plea against globalization. "The future does not belong to the globalists", said the US president on September 24th via video link before the almost deserted UN General Assembly, "the future belongs to patriots". Wise heads of government always put the well-being of their own country and their own people first. Only strong nations could improve the world.

With this, Trump made it clear once again that he will always make politics only for his country - America first with all its brutality. At the same time, he also gave his belated response to the furious speech ("How dare you") that Greta Thunberg had given at the United Nations just one year earlier, whereupon the US President mocked the young Swedish woman on Twitter with all the cynicism of the power at his disposal: "She seems to be a very happy young girl, looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. That is so nice to see." Trump versus Thunberg - in these two persons, even in their opposing emotions, passionate indignation against raging resentment, probably embody the two opposing principles most strongly at present: here the desire for global justice and regulation, there purely selfish nationalism.

The abolition of the rule of law

In the 75th year of the founding of the United Nations and the Nuremberg Trial of Nazi war criminals, the opening of which on November 20, 1945, also marks the beginning of the internationalization of criminal law, this month of all days, the man who has rejected the global validity of the law most radically could be confirmed in office for another four years. But in doing so - and this is the tragedy of this election - Trump is ultimately acting not only to the detriment of America, but also to the detriment of the vision of a peaceful and just world 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 a commitment to universally valid human rights, from Xi Jinping to Vladimir Putin and Jair Bolsonaro.

However, Trump's policy was not only on the international stage, but also in domestic politics, primarily a fight against the law. From day one, he honed the rule of law and fought against all the powers that control his power: the House of Representatives, in other words, the Democrats who have held the majority since 2018, but above all the independent judiciary and the free press. Trump simply calls independent journalists who he does not like "enemies of the people".

This shows that what Trump understands by law and order has nothing to do with the rule of law, but ultimately always means the law of the strongest. What, on the other hand, is at the core of democracy and the rule of law, the self-imposed obligation, indeed the subjugation of the individual to the law, Trump rejected for himself from the very beginning.

His fight against the law he certainly also fought with the help of "law" by strategically instrumentalizing it: there is little the US president is so proud of as the appointment of 200 conservative, predominantly younger white men to the American federal courts, who will now pronounce justice there for life in Trump's 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 panel for years. Now it is to be expanded in the last few meters, after the death of the liberal judging legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with the filling of the vacant female judge's post by Amy Coney Barrett, the reactionary candidate of Trump's Grace - a shameless move, if one considers that the Democrats had waited four years before with an appointment until after the election out of respect for the law, thus giving up their own chance. With Barrett, on the other hand, the conservative faction at the Supreme Court would then probably be in the majority for decades with even six to three votes.

The reign of the lie

Probably the most important means of Trump's politics in the fight against the law was and is its quite purposeful policy of lying - for the purpose of relativizing, even radically questioning every claim to truth 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 from the White House has pursued an information policy reminiscent of George Orwell's "1984". The Oval Office mutated into the Ministry of Truth, which creates its very own truth and at the same time does not shy away from unrestrained denial of the completely different "facts" postulated just a moment ago.

The whole absurdity of the permanent trump of the Twitter storm, its almost uncountable untruths - the barometer of lies maintained by the "Washington Post" now stands at more than 20,000 false or misleading statements during its term in office - as well as its self-heroicization, which only seems ridiculous to a normal observer, always and above all had a function: Through permanent confusion and distraction from the essential, they have repeatedly displaced the hard core of Trump's presidency - the fight against the rule of law in favor of power that is as absolute and uncontrollable as possible.

In this respect, it is hard to beat the irony that Trump, in the last year of his term of office, has found his master in an event that cannot be stopped, no matter how brazen the lies: 220,000 people died of the coronavirus, 20 million unemployed Americans and a massive decline in the US economy punish every attempt by the president to trivialize the pandemic with lies.

But Trump is not defeated by this either; on the contrary: in a true final furioso, he once again offers up his sharpest weapon, namely his entire resentment, even his hatred for the establishment to which he himself originally belongs. By deliberately stirring up rage among his followers, Trump quite deliberately accepts the final abolition of the rule of law-if he does not even aim for it exactly-through the unleashing of a civil war.

Trump's request in the first TV duel with Joe Biden to the racist Proud Boys, "Stand back and stand by", is likely to be understood by the radical right-wing addressees of the message as a call for violence. The fact that some of Trump's supporters have long since been determined to do anything is proven by the fact that the Democratic Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, one of the greatest enemy images of the white supremacists, was to be kidnapped by an ultra-right militia. But even this could not stop Trump from rushing against the governor in an election campaign. With "Lock her up" he used exactly the same slogan with which he had made his front in the 2016 election campaign against Hillary Clinton.

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 right-wing nihilism that the same monstrous question is being raised at the beginning and end of his legislative period, in 2016 and 2020: Will Trump even acknowledge the result of this election - and thus the rule of law in democracy? Four years ago Trump had already threatened not to accept defeat and thus frontally attacked the high office of any democracy, namely the act and outcome of the election itself. In this respect, for once, this election evening is not "tertium non datur", either Trump or Biden. Because this time a third is possible, if not probable - namely 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 obviously to stay in power by all means and without fail. The actual, final reason for this could be a rather banal one: According to the investigations of the "New York Times", Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt - and the next loans are due shortly.[2] In addition, there is the urgent suspicion of tax evasion and embezzlement of funds. The public prosecutor's office in Manhattan is therefore apparently preparing criminal proceedings against the US president for dubious financial transactions of his corporate empire. The fear of the resulting loss of face could be the real reason for his fight for power. For with the miserable end of President Trump, the illusion of the successful businessman also ended; with the loss of power, his pack of lies collapsed like a house of cards. At present, it is not, therefore, his alleged immunity from the virus, but still the president's political immunity, albeit not absolute, that protects Trump himself from the rigors of the rule of law.

With a lawsuit, however, it would become obvious how Trump has made himself the prey of the state - the prey of his racket, the almost mafia-like Trump clan. "Never before has a U.S. head of state intertwined his presidency as much with his private financial interests as the current incumbent," notes journalist and U.S. expert Claus Hulverscheidt. "According to calculations by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a non-governmental organization in Washington, President Trump had exactly 3403 conflicts of interest with businessman Trump in 1341 days in office"[3] With this, the US president has abolished the decisive basic distinction of civilization, the separation of private and public, and has pursued the privatization of the state. For Trump, the affairs of state were always deals in his favor. In his eyes, America First ultimately always meant Trump First.

Character test for democracy

Because he now fears the collapse of his own edifice of lies - as an allegedly successful real estate tycoon and the best president ever - Trump wants to immunize himself with the bitter defense of his power against an indictment. But whatever the outcome of the election, one thing is already certain: a removal from office of Donald Trump - provided that his departure follows - will eliminate the 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, disorderly individualism. Trump is and remains the character test for the Americans' resistance to democracy - and at the same time the textbook example of how rapidly a democracy can tip over towards autocracy.

Should Joe Biden actually lose the election, this would also be so catastrophic because a country of more than 300 million inhabitants would have demonstrated that it is not in a position to put up a suitable candidate against a dictator who has so far only been prevented by the remnants of a functioning constitutional state. After the nomination of Hillary Clinton in 2016, this would be the second, even greater historical failure of the US Democrats. Four years ago Trump was still a black box in terms of realpolitik. But this time the voters know exactly what is at stake - because the failure of the president could not have been clearer than in the past months. Re-election would therefore be unforgivable.

Should Biden win against it - and Trump actually recognize the result - this election victory of the Democrat would of course not be a panacea for national and international problems. Even a Joe Biden
will not suddenly switch from "America first" to "The world first", but will instead make the Europeans, and Germany in particular, more responsible. But at least with Biden, also because of his strong influence as a long-standing foreign policy expert, there would be a real chance that the United States would return to the Western project and the vision of a universalistically oriented community of values alongside the Europeans. In view of the enormous global problems of hunger, flight and climate change, this would probably be the only chance for the urgently needed global governance policy within the framework of the United Nations - and against the emerging corona of purely nationalistically acting 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 at the speed of an express train, in: "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", 25.8.2020.

2] Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire, The President's Taxes, in: "The New York Times", 27.9.2020.

3] Claus Hulverscheidt, He takes what he can get, in: "Süddeutsche Zeitung", 18.10.2020.

November 2020
The election as a farce: Donald Trump and the rise of the autocrats '

CURRENT ISSUE NOVEMBER 2020
November 2020
In the November issue, political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt analyze how a policy of enmity is increasingly disintegrating US democracy. The journalist George Packer sees - in view of the U.S. presidential election on November 3 - a last chance to re-create America. The economist James K. Galbraith pleads for a return to the Roosevelt New Deal in times of crisis. "Blätter" editor Daniel Leisegang warns of a digital Cold War between the USA and China. And political scientist Melanie Müller sheds light on South Africa's double battle against corona and corruption.

American fault lines
by Erhard Crome

[This article published on Oct 26, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.linksnet.de/artikel/48078.]

While the German political class is hallucinating a "world order election" (Der Spiegel) in the U.S. and eagerly absorbs any news that suggests a lead for Joe Biden, and every book that luridly describes Donald Trump's mistakes and weaknesses, there are also thoughtful voices. One is that of columnist Ezra Klein, born in 1984, who has already worked for renowned print media and television stations in the U.S. and is now editor-in-chief of a news website called Vox, which is known as "progressive. His book is very fresh, published in the USA in 2020 and has just been published in German. The German title: "Der tiefe Graben" is a bit fuzzy; the American title is: "Why We're Polarized". To pursue this question, he has evaluated countless political and political science books, sociological studies and surveys. The book is the result of all that he has done as a political journalist for years. And it is factual, even if Klein makes no secret of his aversion to Trump.

His introduction contradicts usual catastrophe reports: The election results of 2016 were by no means surprising; most voters had chosen the same party as in 2012. "The decisive factor was that white voters without college degrees turned sharply in Trump's direction and that it was their over-representation in key states that secured his victory. His positioning in the Republican Party was tantamount to a hostile takeover, but: "Trump picked up the party where it was.

The question is how it came about. Since the middle of the 19th century, US politics has been characterized by a two-party system - Republicans and Democrats. As early as 1950, the U.S. Association of Political Scientists criticized that the two parties were too similar and worked together too smoothly. Many voters were therefore at a loss. The parties should polarize more. A call, said Klein, "that sounds like satire to today's ears". In fact, at that time there were four parties hidden in the US party system: liberal Democrats, predominantly in the North, the "Dixiecrats" in the South, conservative Republicans and liberal Republicans.

After the Civil War in the United States (1861-65), between 85 and 94 percent of blacks in the southern states had registered to vote, compared to 5 percent in 1944. Legal hurdles, structural racism and the terror of the Ku Klux Klan ensured that the reactionaries who had organized themselves in the Democratic Party (Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican to hold the office of president) were able to dominate the South for almost a century and thus also take a strong position in Washington: From 1896 to 1932, Southerners made up two-thirds of the Democratic faction in the House of Representatives, and by 1953 their share had at no time fallen below 40 percent. Liberals and socially oriented Democrats, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, always had to make their peace within the party with the reactionary dixiecrats. This system collapsed after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 under Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson.

After that, the parties reorganized themselves: the Democrats became liberals, openly to the left, and the Republicans became conservatives, more or less openly to the right. This polarization was ideological in nature; there are no longer any Democrats in the House of Representatives who are more conservative than any Republican and vice versa; and it was both issue-based and identity-based.

This political polarization is reinforced by several factors. People who consider party politics important are active in the parties; it is not only about issue-based realpolitik, but about identities. The parties make certain political offers and clearly emphasize differences. Candidates who are selected represent them and strive to mobilize a polarized electorate, thereby further polarizing it.

In addition, the parties and candidates in the United States make a living from the donation system. Criticism is often levelled at large donations from large corporations. However, they "only" want politics to take their interests into account, which is a rational process; collecting small donations from many activists and voters, on the other hand, tends to increase the polarization and thus the irrationality of politics. In other words, the polarized party supporters and activists strengthen the polarizing candidates and at the same time weaken the party apparatus and the parties, respectively. "Neither Donald Trump nor Bernie Sanders would have had the slightest chance in the 1956 primaries,” but the one won the 2016 primaries and the other almost did.

The new media and the Internet, which at the time of their creation democracy theorists hoped would give mature citizens new information opportunities, have caused a new split in society. For "most people, politics is a hobby, they pursue politics like they pursue a sport or a band". As a result, people are no better informed politically than before, and political participation has not increased either. The decisive factor in the 21st century is not access to political information, but interest in political information.

At the same time, the Internet offers the possibility that polarization will bring together more and more groups of specially interested people who indulge in their specific identities in media cocoons. The system of political media is organized around polarization, reinforcing it, deepening political identity and driving up the costs of politics. Thus, the news media is not simply an actor in politics, but one of the most powerful. They continue to polarize. Outrage sells well. It is easier to mobilize against something than for something. "Negative party ties" are stronger than positive ones: one does not begrudge the other side, which is perceived as hostile, any success.

In the background is the demographic change. The majority of those born today are not white. (Whereby Hispanics in the USA do not count as white so far.) Soon, according to Klein, there will be a record percentage of the US population of foreign origin. As a result, "the left feels a cultural and demographic power that it can only occasionally translate into political power, and the right has political power but feels increasingly [...] attacked culturally.

Tjhe America "that elected a black man as president" seemed an America "in which a future was written that would be fascinatingly different from the past.” The America that Trump chose, on the other hand, was one "in which a future would be written that would be frighteningly similar to the past. The Republicans were predominantly dependent on white voters and Christians, the Democrats a coalition of liberal and non-white Christians, Jews, Muslims, New Agers, atheists, Buddhists and so on. On November 3, it will be decisive who is able to mobilize his voters more strongly.
In the end, however, Klein emphasizes that the U.S. political system is in a "legitimacy crisis. This can only be countered if it becomes "depolarized" again.

International politics
Erhard Crome, born 1951, Dr. rer. pol. habil.; consultant for peace and European policy of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation; member of the editorial board of the journal Berliner Debatte Initial.
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Trump is violent, incompetent and authoritarianMarc Monday Nov 2nd, 2020 5:18 AM
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