Trump and the End of the Western Establishment

By David Bokumabi
Guest Writer

Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America, despite the fact that both parties, the majority of international media and politicians all over the world were against him.

How is this possible? What does it say about the country and what is the message to other countries in the western world?

Trump’s election was not an accident. It was the decision of millions of American citizens. But most of the people who significantly helped him to win the White House do not show their faces, give TV-interviews, or participate in various polls.

Trump predicted in many of his speeches that the silent majority was going to take its country back on election night, and this is exactly what happened.

The silent majority is the strongest opponent of liberal and established policies, not only in the U.S., but in other western countries as well.

The far-right movement in Europe is becoming stronger because of issues in domestic policies, the war in Syria and mass immigration. Brexit was the beginning, Trump’s victory the next critical step, and now it seems inevitable that politics in Germany, France, Austria and Holland will also change.

The message that this election sent to populist parties is that any country, with its strong silent majority, can fight the establishment and change its policies.

Norbert Hofer, the leader of the nationalist and anti-immigration Freedom Party in Austria, campaigned on “strengthening the country’s borders and its army, limiting benefits for immigrants and favoring Austrians in the job market” – blatantly scapegoating immigrants to present a solution for the difficult issue of unemployment.

Hofer’s party holds 40 percent of the 183 seats in the National Council and is the second strongest party in Austria. The same is happening in France.  Marine Le Pen, who preaches populist policies, is expected to have a solid chance at a win in the French presidential election in 2017.

She wants France to re-establish its own currency and get out of the European Union (EU).

“It would be very different. It would be the comeback of France, of the France that you like, of the France that hundreds of millions inhabitants of the earth love,” Le Pen said in an interview with CNN.

“There would be no place for multiculturalism under a Le Pen presidency,” she said.

Far-right movements are also strong in Germany and the Netherlands. Frauke Petry, the leader of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AFD), might win the presidency, especially since people are currently unhappy with the immigration policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany is the most powerful country in the EU, and the impact on Europe as a whole would be even more dangerous if the AFD would set the tone in Germany.

It does not take a political scientist to guess whether or not right wing politicians in Europe were satisfied about the results on election night. The U.S. is in many ways a role model for European countries.

“It’s a sign of hope for those who cannot bear wild globalization. They cannot bear the political life led by the elites,” Le Pen said about the outcome of the U.S. election.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the populist movement in Holland and a loyal Trump supporter, wrote on his Twitter account: “The people are taking their country back, so we will #MakeNetherlandsGreatAgain.”

Right-wing party leaders are thrilled with the American elections because now they can use the U.S. as a tested example.

“Look, the situation in the U.S. is similar to here. The media and all the other parties don’t like us, but in America, you see that the true will of the people is on Trump’s side, and in Germany, the true people’s will is on our side,” Petry, of Germany, said.

The media and established politicians have to find a way to deal with these new movements. It is apparent that all populist parties use similar patterns of communication not just to influence, but also to provoke people.

Donald Trump’s victory is also a hint for a changing culture. It seems like the West has not been as liberal and open-minded as we thought we had been in the last couple of decades. “First food, then morals,” Berhold Brecht said in one of his famous quotes. People who vote for Trump or support populist parties in Europe are not necessarily evil or racist, but it is easy to manipulate people if they do not feel safe.

Trump, Petry and Le Pen are emotional, not ethical decisions.