The US election is followed by people world wide. It’s only natural that we are curious about who is going to lead the strongest economic and military power in the world, as well as our most important ally. I usually don’t pay much attention to the early stages of the nomination process in the Republican party, however. I can’t avoid it completely because media seem to cover everything, no matter how far this is removed from politics. So I thought The Huffington Post made a wise decision when they a few weeks ago moved Donald Trump from the politics to the entertainment news.
Trump is the reason I am a little interested this early in the race. Not because I think he has something sensible to say or because I think he has a chance of winning. On the contrary, I think he will fail on both accounts. Could you imagine someone behaving more like Kim Jong-un of North Korea, the deceased Hugo Chávez of Venezuela or Vladimir Putin of Russia? I guess there wouldn’t be any need for a diplomatic corps anymore as no one would be on speeking terms.
The reason I find this interesting is because it reminds me of a situation many Europeans are familiar with. During the 1980’s and 90’s the Norwegian Progressive Party (FRP) had a leader whose style was a lot like Trump’s and it was hard to win debates against him. He was very populistic, especially when he talked about immigration. The other parties talked about breaking the FRP-code and making sure this party never got into office. Majority governments in most European countries means a coalition, so the parties in Norway made it clear they would never let FRP join a coalition, which is basically saying they don’t respect the last remnant of democracy we have left.
When the Conservative Party decided to invite FRP to join their coalition after the election two years ago, the Swedes were outraged and stated that Norway had allowed an extremist party to join the government. I rememember Swedish media stating that this could never happen in Sweden, but it did. Sweden Democrats got just under 13 % in the parliamentary election in 2014, which gave them 49 seats. In a poll in July 2015 this party landed on 23,3 %, only 0,8% behind the biggest party, the Social Democratic Party.
We see this disturbing trend all over Europe, especially in former communist countries. People are afraid and that makes them do stupid, desperate things. It went so far in Greece that they voted an unreformed communist party into office and a Nazi party got 18 seats in parliament. This is not unique and we’ve seen right wing parties with similar success in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and United Kingdom in recent years. We might call that stupid, but it has just as much to do with desperation.
I am not sure what to think about the Republican race so far, but it seems to me that even though the first televised debate was a disaster for Trump he might recover because the rest of the field doesn’t appear much stronger. Trump stole the headlines even when he failed, but if he can stay in the race I think he will stand out more as a bad idea when the field narrows.
I am going to end with the most intimidating job interviw I can imagine. George James Tsunis wanted to become the next US ambassador to Norway. This may not seem like a very important position, but naturally US authorities don’t want to send incompetent people to an allied country, which means you have to give answers that please John McCain. The embassy in Oslo was without an ambassador for 16 months until Mr. Tsunis finally withdrew his nomination in December 2014. He clearly wasn’t prepared, and didn’t know anything about the country he was going to represent the USA in, but I believe he would have run into difficulties anyway. I think the Republicans were waiting for the new Senate with a Republican majority. Politics is more about defending your side than making things work.
As for Donald Trump, it remains to be seen how much damage this debate did. I hope the other candidates don’t do the hostile appoach where they appear to set democratic rules aside to keep another candidate away from power. That could give Donald Trump many sympathy votes. You might call that stupid, and I’d agree. But I believe it’s human and at this stage many have good reason to feel the desperation they have felt in Greece for a long time. People want someone to make everything right again.
Many believed in Obama because he didn’t sound like the other candidates. He sounded like John F. Kennedy, and maybe he was the best since JFK, but someone trying to accomplish what Obama promised would probably face a lot of opposition. Changing an old political system may not be as easy as Obama thought. I am sure Trump thinks he would be in charge if he moved into the White House, but politics is a lot more complicated than business. In the end his somewhat anti-Republican strategy may be his downfall.
But Trump is right about one thing. With Russia and China growing strong together we should all wish for a great America, but I believe it should be a union based on Christian values. That’s what made America great in the first place.