Donald Trump: a president like the others

by Hervé Pugi.

It was to everybody’s surprise that American voters voted the Republican candidate Donald Trump to lead their country. The antithesis of the system, with populist rhetoric, will therefore go and take Barack Obama’s place. The sense of hope and change that was abundant eight years ago now seems to have given way to a sense of anger. To the detriment of the whole planet? That remains to be seen… 

American political culture is so paradoxical that it succeeded in sanctifying the concept of a vote, that of choice, even though all of the elected persons who entered the White House in recent decades have, regardless of their label, fundamentally pursued the same policies, whether at federal or international level. No, there is certainly no place for major rifts or new impulses in Washington. This certainly explains the fact that in this country which presents itself as a universal beacon of freedom and equality, there is never any room during major debates for these secondary figures, Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), Jill Stein (Green Party, Darrell Castle (Constitution Party) or Evan McMullin (Independent).  At the same time, why bother with multi-partyism when the Democratic and Republican candidates have always worked towards greater… inaction? Democracy, the bread and butter of the US, is being confiscated by two parties and nobody has anything to say about it…

In fact, Donald Trump has promised a lot at every level. More than the determined but ultimately cautious « Yes we can” of his charismatic predecessor, the outrageous Trump often played the card of “Yes, I’ll do”, intended to bring greatness back to a country that, like so many others, had been hit by globalisation and a slow but inescapable decline. History proves that the greatest empires are destined to fall. Some, starting with European chancelleries, are worried, while others, such as Vladimir Putin, are rejoicing, but everybody is ultimately waiting to see what this mandate will result in…

Yet, we are taking bets on expecting moments of palace revolution, major political inflection or a visionary project in the future. The former reality TV candidate does indeed have no choice but to wholeheartedly fulfil the task assigned to him: to ensure the continuity of American omnipotence. Whether that be at a political, economic or cultural level. This is what Barack Obama tried to achieve during his two terms, with varying levels of success.  This is what any person elected to lead the United States must do: perpetuate a political vision that goes beyond pre-electoral divisions. Those who are used to be elected, not to govern. It is a fact that there are hardly any other freedoms in a country where political power remains closely linked to the business world and the military-industrial complex.

In fact, we daresay that there is nothing to fear from Donald Trump, as populist and dangerous as he may seem, that there would have been hope for Hillary Clinton, who all the same missed her damn appointment with history.

The strength of the status quo is so powerful that even the initial willingness displayed by the first black president of the United States was broken by these invisible walls. The election of Barack Obama was to revolutionise the country, or even the whole planet. Eight years have passed and the award of the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 and little will have been accomplished in relation to the hopes placed in him. Quite symbolically, it is under his presidency that the movement Black Lives Matter, which denounces systematic violence of the authorities towards the black community, has taken off. The harsh reality. This inability to bring people together, to breathe life into a new collective project and to influence the course of events will have triggered the downfall of the Democratic candidate. It is certainly not the end of the system. No, Donald Trump – who, along with his opponent, had a very low popularity rating (35% positive opinion) – has not triumphed over the system. He just conquered in a particular context…

The late Howard Zinn, Professor of Political Science had the opportunity in his day to explain that “representatives spend more time with each other than they do with the voters that they represent and they quickly form a private club that complies with what Robert Michels called, “a mutual assistance pact” against the rest of society”. That could explain Hillary Clinton’s failure on 8 November. But the historian and activist also had the opportunity to say that, “a representative tends to become a member of a certain elite and often enjoy privileges that weaken the interests that they must support according to their mandate’s demands”. This is the fate that awaits Donald Trump, so popular with the working classes, deserted by the Democrats who prefer the company of show business stars, yet who is light years away from their everyday lives and their concerns.

We must therefore not be too surprised if the president of the United States, proclaimed to be out of the ordinary, will leave those who believed in him and those who ferociously feared him with mixed feelings, because there is a reality that should never be forgotten.  By taking over the White House, the winner of the election knows that he is abandoning everything that characterises him. Race, nor colour, nor religion, nor gender count.  There are only the supreme interests of the nation. In fact, there will never be men or women, black or white, Democrats or Republicans in the White House. There is only the president of the United States. For better or for worse.

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