He most probably won’t, but everyone who ever heard of Donald Trump may have had thought about what happens if Trump gets elected president. Maybe even a few of his supporters. This article asks the “what if” question and scratches along some issues that made the rise of Trump-superstar even possible.
Concluding from Trumps behaviour and his claims, which seem to follow no reasoning but his own mood, it seems unpredictable what Trump will do next. However, a picture can be drawn of a future where Trump is American president from this very unpredictability if we apply the paradigms of modern capitalism. These may be arguable but for an outlook on things they shall serve as basic premises of political mechanics on a global scale.
There are some commonly known paradigms about the modern world. For once, if you cannot put a price tag on something, it´s of no value. That includes humans, art as such and education to some degree. Another fact is that democracy is a facade, if not a show. For the latter, America is a role model not just in putting up electoral shows but abusing „democracy“ for imperialistic causes.
Values are attached to interests, hence they diverge from any socio-economic view. There is corporate interest in a economic manner; there is corporate interest in a social manner; there is individual interest – the hardest one to determine, especially with Donald Trump. All of them exist and interfere, creating an entwined pattern that constantly changes its shape. However, it seems that economic corporate interest is currently dictating life, enabling billionaires to even get considered by voters for a political role in a democracy. This fact points to the core of the (democratic) issue: that people support candidates but do not make candidates. The USA are a pioneering nation in putting up the right show for the election of presidential candidates where the voter’s support is just that: support, not election.
Why would that be?
Americas role in the world.
The USA have a well documented record of global economic dominance. Like any country in the world it fights an ongoing battle to secure resources. Unlike other countries however the USA are leading by exporting „values“ transported by its media industry and by securing interests by means of conflict and interfering with foreign governments to have them acting in favour of the western world.
The core of the issue is that the United States on one hand proclaim to be an independent nation that is based on democratic values and checks and balances but seemingly behaving as it is not guided by these. Poking around in internal affairs of a nation seems afetal unless the nation’s state is affecting foreign policies – which it does especially with the USA. The plain fact that many people outside the US know the name Trump as well as the election dates for American presidency indicates that internal affairs of the US are a concern to the rest of the world. Quick question: when is the next election for your national government?
Frankly, the US is the modern example of blending economic values with political ones. Especially the political term freedom seems to be overloaded with freedom of trade and economic liberty, hence there is the term neoliberalism. One could say, the democratic term „freedom“ has been replaced with its economic counterfeit, leading to decay of its meaning in a social context.
Things are of value if it can be determined economically. Humans, treated in a sense of human capital, are valued in this very context as valuable only if they can contribute to profit maximisation. Josef Marquard Wintrich once left a statement that became a mantra for law students in Germany: That an individual human is not to be degraded to a simple means, an object. It is a practical extract of Immanuel Kants philosophy prohibiting instrumentalisation of a human being.
Using people as cheap labour within the borders of a nation our outside, keeping them just below the existential minimum to survive (to function worker) is one fact that need scrutinising under the aspect of instrumentalisation. Leaving people in dire straits after a military invasion into their country is not just simple neglect but a means of weakening resistance to own enterprises on their land. Iraq, 1991 and after. The same goes for influencing, en- or dethroning foreign governments, ignoring democratic structures – before and after the process. Iran, 1953. The list is long and it is not to blame the USA as a nation; the land of opportunity has just nurtured a devastating
corporate attitude that has gone global.
Trumps behaviour is a welcome change
Back to Trump: initially, his behaviour is erratic and it seems a big anti-pattern to current politics. The latter may be the reason why people see a change and a chance in it. „Make America great again“ is a sentence where its meaning can be dissected over a thousand pages. However, people need concise answers to their problems – which may seem addressed by Trump just by being „authentic“. This very “authenticity“ of Trump as one who speaks his mind and transports a feeling of „we can do“ – in a different way Obama did – seems like a welcome change for people tired of a wrongly understood political correctness.
This political correctness is meant in a wider meaning than just on American uni campuses with mixed student groups; in fact, I suspect it to be a motor of racism and nationalism as such people feel suppressed by PC. A suppression, subjectively perceived as such. There was a day when gaps in social life began to open by the closure of socially critical facilities such as public pools or public libraries (this is a claim by the author, as numbers are very hard to find, but Europe is a bright example of this currently happening). These gaps raise concern, anger with people. There’s a feeling creeping in that contains the conviction that the government either does not care or is helpless against an unleashed neoliberalism that demands competitiveness before anything else. Political correctness is a patch on these gaps that tries to render common sense obsolete.
There we go. Trump stands against these “gaps” – he speaks out. Political correctness as a patch gets ripped off the social issues but a bandage of nonsense is used to cover it up under some national pride. A pride that ties people together to solve their own problems. A pride with flaws, without brain; like a struggling animal that is in a blind rush to leave the trap it’s caught in.
A phenomena of the current capitalist system is that it lures with promises of wealth and leaves a void on the other side of it. As people search for meaning in their life, or at least guidance, the only guidance this system gives is consumerism. It has no other answer for the ever-growing group of people who do not succeed in this game. Trump acts as if he has an answer to everything – and if not, he blames the problem just for being their, shooting it. It must feel like a big relief when (verbally) shooting problems make them go away. Trump may incorporate a dream of a leader that people request once they run out of options with their current environment.
The American environment dictates: Without hard work no achievement; without the risk no reward; without a job no quality of living; without elbows no success. The latter is true as a fact but only within the current reality that is based on a questionable paradigm of growth. We talking about a subtle fear – not to be underestimated as its outlook is existentially devastation. An outlook that needs to be questioned too. Will you really suffer more when you are without a job? How far would you go to earn money? Would you work 200 hours for 35US$ in pursuit of the dream or the fear of starving?
Behavioural psychology has well documented that anxiety of loss is outweighing the driving force of emotions of pleasant experiences. Anxiety gets neurologically amplified by their „negative bias“ and remains longer as a pattern in our brains than others. Frankly, fear is the best motivation. It is about us westerners who cope with their own problems, sorrows and fears. The fear of losing our relative wealth for once. While it is estimated that the average Trump-voter has an annual income around $72.000 it does not affect the fact that fear of a degrading life standard is real. As real as the typical bliss ignorance of a western citizen. For instance, only one out of ten Americans can roughly identify the role of Edward Snowden.
Donald Trumps attitude seems fearless as he acts and speaks. The substance of his opinions falls way behind the way he is claiming them. It is an attitude found by scared people that push forward with a battlecry.
Trump as uncontrollable element? Who or what controls a(n American) politician?
In theory, a politician as a person is only controlled by his conscience. In praxis it is interest: Personal interest and corporate interest in its widest sense. Independently of the content of these interests, certain policies are beneficiary to certain people and groups. In a democracy, a basic principle is to benefit …